As the last decade drew to a close, I was curious to look back over my reading notebooks and ask myself the question: what was the best book I read each year?

In classic Amy-fashion, having opened pandora’s box—lists, books, and patterns are my catnip—this simple question morphed into three blog posts. I found myself pitting oh say, Wonder against Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less in 2016. It was like watching the worst boxing match on the planet, wincing at each blow.

I conceded I was on a fool’s errand and allowed myself two books from each year: best fiction and best nonfiction.

And then I almost added more categories because not all fiction or nonfiction are equal. Stop the madness Amy! Just pick a book!

So I did. Tomorrow I’ll share my fav fiction read from each year of the last decade and the day after that my fav nonfiction read.

Today, I want to share my thoughts reviewing a decade of reading.

Faithfulness adds up.

Would you be shocked to hear that I read 621 books last decade? I sure was! I knew that I was reading (duh!) and at the end of every year I was curious how many books I’d read that year. But, I never added up the years until now. On average, that is 62.1 books a year, 5.175 books a month, or 1.29375 books per week.

Like you, I had weeks where I did not read much, if at all. International moves, illness, traveling, my dad’s death, starting two ministries, writing four books, watching the Denver Broncos. My lowest year was 56 books in 2015, which surprised me. Nothing big happening that year, so go figure. In 2011 I made the goal to read 70 books and hit it. And nearly died in the process. Most of December was dedicated to reading the shortest books I could find, not my noblest book choices, that’s for sure.

But day in and day out, the years passed and I read 621 books.

Seasons are reflected in reading choices.

Good golly, but if anyone looks over the books by years, themes emerge. I can see when my thinking towards writing shifted and I read voraciously about the craft. The year after I relocated from China I read memoirs like a drowning fool, looking to cling to anyone else’s story in hopes of making sense of my own. Leading two organizations (Velvet Ashes and Global Trellis) has flavored my reading choices.

Reading formed me.

Seeing a title, author, or my thoughts on a book brought back memories to mind. I was reminded that much of what I know, think, or believe was formed by my reading.

Thankfully, I also saw on my lists books I disagree with or no longer would recommend and that’s good. If I’m only reading people who think like me, I’m not going to grow very much as a human!

Solitary, but not alone.

Over and over as I poured over my lists, I smiled at how often I noted, “Read for the June Velvet Ashes Book Club” or “Read this for Tuesday Night Book Group.” And over and over I noticed how reading in community broadens my reading selections, pushes me to read books I’ve been meaning to read, and helps me see what I would have missed as we discussed it.

If you are wanting to read more, it’s this simple: join a book club. If you are not sure of any in your area, join the Velvet Ashes Book Club. We are reading the novel Chasing Francis this month and I am loving it! Case in point, Chasing has been on my to-read list forever. I’m so glad to be reading it!

Stay posted for th Summers Reading Challenge! That’s also developed me as a reader.

Any chance you kept a list of the last decade? What patterns did you notice? I’d love to hear how reading the last ten years formed you.

Happy Reading!


P.S. Up tomorrow? Best fiction of the decade! Day after? Best nonfiction of the decade!

Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash

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