These books were a comfort to me this year. In Handle With Care, Lore Ferguson Wilbert articulated many of my own thoughts on physical touch and writes with candor and warmth. Fred Rogers’ words in You Are Special were like the quiet encouragements of a patient counselor. In An Invitation to Silence and Solitude, Ruth Haley Barton was my personal counselor, allowing me see my need for a rhythm of silence. Anne Bogel’s book, Don’t Overthink It, made me feel less alone in my tendency towards decision fatigue and anxious spiraling. In Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund makes a compelling case for Jesus’ profound tenderness towards His children. These books were restorative and calming to me this year and I highly recommend them.
Here are five memoirs I read this year that are compelling and beautifully written: Let Justice Roll Down by John Perkins, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Born Again This Way by Rachel Gilson, What is a Girl Worth? by Rachael Denhollander, and Losing My Cool by Thomas Chatterton Williams.
Several years ago, when I was grieving the losses of babies through miscarriage and wading through a season of unexplained infertility, I sought out resources to help guide me through my pain. Alongside the Bible, I read as many books and I could find on infertility, loss, and the meaning of suffering. Three books became pivotal to me during those years: A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis (his wife died), Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller (cancer diagnosis), and The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts (terminal cancer). In the last year, I read two more books that I think would have also benefitted me back then, and that I would now add to the list: Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop (baby died) and Suffering is Never for Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot (widowed three times). In all five of these books, the authors do not shy away from the reality of their personal suffering. The way they render their pain gave me permission to acknowledge my own. They also describe how they coped, not with a quick, triumphal pivot but with humility and hope. Were I to write my own book on suffering, I would try to emulate these.