what i read in january.

I feel refreshed after a month of getting back into a reading routine and gaining momentum after a two month period of finishing not. one. single. book. In summary, I read 24 books in 2016 with an average of 2 books a month! I hope to kick that number in the butt in 2017, but am pleased about the titles I accomplished and lingered over this past year. You can find all my past book reviews here. 


  • Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything In Between) by Lauren Graham

Writers: how therapists buy summer homes. 

Lauren Graham is the main star of two of my favorite shows, Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. This memoir, unlike A Year In The Life, was no disappointment. (Although the endings of both leave the same confused and hopeless feelings. Just a warning.) Graham took us through the beginning of her career, season by season through Gilmore Girls, gave writers some fantastic tips, skirted us through the adventures of her love life, and gave a lovely tribute to Parenthood. It was light and breezy – there wasn’t a real common thread that pulled the whole book together in harmony which at times annoyed me.  I received this one as a gift on Christmas day and had it finished within a week! If you love Gilmore Girls as much as I do, definitely pick this one up. As a bonus, I already had Lauren’s voice in my head as she told her stories and that added to the simple charm of the book!


  • Writing Down The Bones: Freeing The Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

I write because there are stories that people have forgotten to tell, because I am a woman trying to stand up in my life. I write because to form a word with your lips and tongue or think a thing and then dare to write it down so you can never take it back is the most powerful thing I know. I am trying to come alive, to find the distances in my own recesses and bring them forward and give them color and form.

This book was the best book I have read about writing to date. I have had this one on my shelf for almost a year, but once I gave this book more than a glance, I couldn’t put it down. I decided to not highlight my favorite segments, because I wouldn’t quit highlighting. I love Goldberg’s unique voice, how she faces the struggles, reality, and glory of writing. I’ll keep this one nearby for years to come and pull out an essay or two when I am feeling discouraged and at a dead-end in my projects. Natalie Goldberg is a Buddhist, so at times the book stretched out of my belief system and comfort zone, but it’s important to read a bit from people you don’t understand and overall that didn’t overshadow the heart of the book! I was expecting a boring yet helpful book on writing, and instead was met with a poetic, thrilling, helpful account!


  • Girl Meets Change: Truths To Carry You Through Life’s Transitions by Kristen Strong

When God uses change to send us packing, He sends us with the promise of blessing too.

January held some gut-wrenching change for me, and the rest of the year will be no different, so I picked this one up on a whim when I was taking care of my responsibilities at my church library. This book was a helpful companion, and I would recommend it, especially for those who are new to the faith or need a “change of scenery” so to speak! Kristen Strong was a new author for me. Honestly, I didn’t like her style of writing at all, but the heart of the God-given truths kept me going until the last page.

Currently reading…

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp (for the second time)

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend 

Abiding in Christ by Andrew Murray

Way of the Heart by Henri J. M. Nouwen

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Friends, what are you reading right now? Do you have a monstrous reading goal marked for yourself in 2017? Tell me what you have recently hated or loved!






what I read in July.


Half of my heart is grieving that these are the last few weeks of summer, while the other half is quietly anticipating the comeback of skinny jeans and Grey’s Anatomy. There is still much beauty to savor, and the beauty of autumn to anticipate.

As far as reading goes this month, I kicked off by finishing one of the best books I have ever read, and then put many books down or procrastinated opening them out of pure boredom.

scary close by donald miller blog review emilee

17. Scary Close: Dropping The Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller 

You can’t control somebody and have intimacy with them at the same time. They may stay because they fear you, but true love casts out fear.

No love is conditional. If love is conditional, it’s just some sort of manipulation masquearading as love.

Scary Close was a book that I had on my shelf for several months. I didn’t dive into it because I was afraid of how much it would convict me, because just look at that tagline. Although I know that was a silly reason, I believe that God led me to the pages at just the right time in my life and once I got going I finished it within just a few days. I’ll be the first to admit that I hate dating books. But, I especially loved this one because it didn’t have boundaries that only applied to friendships, dating, or marriage — it played into all of those components, although most of the stories come from Donald’s dating life and from his engagement period. The book takes you through personal mud as you contemplate insecurities, performance anxiety, manipulation, being too careful, and true love that equals immense amounts of grace. It was truly one of the best books I have ever read, and I don’t say this lightly. Donald has such a unique writing voice that I have always loved; it instructs you like a teacher, makes you laugh, and invites you in like a friend. He shared in particularly vulnerable ways in Scary Close that was essential, convicting, and breathtaking for the sake of the message of true intimacy.

Recommendation status: GET YOUR HANDS ON THIS BOOK, REGARDLESS OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP STATUS. I believe that the truths within it are vital to healthy, grace-filled relationships.

226 pages.

Books I Have Put Down and/or Rejected This Month…

  • For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. I got over 200 pages in. I plan on finishing it eventually. I swoon at Hemingway’s style, but the plot was boring me.
  • Hemingway in Love. I’ll finish this one alongside For Whom The Bell Tolls in the distant future, hopefully.
  • It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke. This book is easy-to-read and tackles an incredible topic, but I’m taking it back to the library because it was always on the backburner between all the other books I am reading.
  • Walking The Bible. I just never got far enough in it to be hooked!

I am all about giving books a solid chance, but sometimes there are other ones on the shelf that deserve more of my attention at the present moment.

Up Next On The Reading List…

Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Marsh

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper

A Testament to Freedom by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

All The Light We Cannot See

Wise Blood by Flannery O’ Connor




summer reading list || 2016

My expectations are high – maybe even unrealistic. But, these are the books that I am eyeing right now and want to spend at least a little bit of time in over the next few months! Although I want to be disciplined in reading of more of what I already have, don’t hold me to only these because I live in a world with lots of friends who write convincing book reviews. I’m sure I’ll finish a good number of these, and find many others along the way!

• Surprised By Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis — Terry Linovall, PH. D.

• Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail — Cheryl Strayed

• Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking — Susan Cain

• The Great Divorce — C.S. Lewis

• Gone With The Wind — Margaret Mitchell

• Scary Close: Dropping The Act and Finding True Intimacy — Donald Miller

• Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life — Eric Metaxas

• Walking The Bible: A Journey Through The Five Books of Moses — Bruce Feiler

• Ethics — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

• The Swiss Family Robinson — Johann Wyss

• I Will Always Write Back — Caitlin Alifrenka, Martin Ganda, Liz Welch

• Ruth & Billy Graham: The Legacy of a Couple — Hanspeter Nüesch

• All The Light We Cannot See — Anthony Doerr

• How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels — N.T. Wright

• Jesus the Messiah — Donald Guthrie

• Dean & Me (A Love Story) — Jerry Lewis

• Onstage Offstage — Michael Bublé

• Frank Sinatra: An American Legend — Nancy Sinatra

• Undaunted: Daring to do what God calls you to do — Christine Caine

• It’s Not What You Think: Why Christianity Is About So Much More Than Going To Heaven When You Die — Jefferson Bethke

• Karl Barth: Theologian of Freedom

• No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering — Clara Bensen

• Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life With Less Baggage — Allison Vesterfelt

• The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life — Hannah Whitall Smith

• Home of Our Hearts — Robin Jones Gunn

• One More Wish — Robin Jones Gunn

• David Livingstone: His Life and Letters

• Through Gates of Splendor — Elisabeth Elliot

• For Whom The Bell Tolls — Ernest Hemingway

• Between The World And Me — Ta-Nehisi Coates

• Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian — John Piper

There may be a lot here, but I still love your input and there are never too many books. Am I missing a classic that I must get my hands on? What are you reading?

what i read in april.

What an eclectic mix this month!

I am so glad I read all three, but I don’t know if I’ll be reading them again in their entirety:

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10. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’ Connor

He felt he knew now what time would be like without seasons and what heat would be like without light and what man would be like without salvation.

These stories were heartbreaking. What I love most about these quirky, weird, redemptive stories is that in almost every single one there was a hopeful character as well as a cruel cynic. As I looked back nearing one hundred years since some of them were written, I could see the racial “improvements” that have been made since that time. It was hard to read at points for that reason, but I’m glad I hunkered myself down and made myself read them all.

My favoite stories for both feels and exquisite writing were: The Geranium. A Stroke of Good Fortune. The River. Parker’s Back.

Would I recommend it to you: See Flannery by Brad Gooch.

550 pages.

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11. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.

Maybe I’m building my own damn Chocolate Factory.

If you’ve ever read Yes Please by Amy Poehler, it’s like that. But better, in my opinion.

I loved this book, and I blitzed through it in a matter of days.

Shonda has such an amazing mind, and the most incredible sense of humor. I disagreed with most of her moral statements, but I knew I would. I loved getting to know her beyond Thursday nights (where all her shows air weekly these days). It was both inspiring and hilarious.

I laughed out loud countless times. Which, by the way, almost made up for all the tears she has provoked cruelly in me during these past 12 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy.

Would I recommend it to you: If you have ever watched Grey’s Anatomy, or any other of the wacky, stunning creations from Shonda, you must read this book. If not, I just don’t think any of it would be appreciated or make enough sense when it comes to the parallels between Shonda’s breakthroughs and her character’s.

300 pages.


12. Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor by Brad Gooch

As for biographies, there won’t be any biographies of me because, for only one reason, lives spent between the house and the chicken yard do not make exciting copy.

As I read this biography and read about how her contemporaries described her, I keep repeating just one word in my mind when it comes to Flannery: fascinating. Her works were so unusual, especially for a devout Catholic at the time. She was deeply invested in her faith, and extremely hard at work on her craft of writing until her last days of life. I loved being able to place her work in the context of her life (reading about her college years in Iowa were especially fun!), and to see the parallels of her experiences to what she wrote in her stories. It was also fascinating to read about all of her friendships throughout her life. Many friendships took places through letter writing, while others were invited over to the family farm to sit on the front porch and discuss theology. What I love most about Flannery is that she knew she was different, she was too quiet and stubborn for most people’s liking, she was well aware of the expectations set up for her by her friends and family, yet she wasn’t afraid to stand out and just do her thing as she felt called to do it. She died young from lupus at the age of 38. Biographies are so rich, and Brad Gooch did an impeccable job with this one.

Would I recommend it to you: Flannery is not for everyone. She’s weird, and everyone told her so when she was living. But she also was super talented, fearless, and had deep faith. This is what makes her words worth reading. If you ever do read her complete stories or any of her other fiction, though, please use Flannery by Brad Gooch as your companion along the way!

374 pages.

Did you read anything inspiring, hilarious, or quirky this month? Have you started any summer reading lists yet? I hope you’re carving out time in this crazy life to slow down and read. It’s worth it. 

what i read in march.

March was full of starting and working through several thick books (as well as returning a few books that I didn’t deem worth my time back to the shelf) — this led to this tiny book being the only one I completed, but what is lacking in volume it gained in meaning. Wow.

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9. The Life of the Beloved by Henri J.M. Nouwen

“What is required is to become the Beloved in the commonplaces of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities of everyday life. Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about, and doing from hour to hour.”

As you may know, I read a book that included Henri J. M. Nouwen last year, and fell in love with his theological roots and whimsical writing style.
This book was different than I expected upon seeing it’s reviews over the world-wide web, but this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The story on the book is this: Nouwen wrote it to his secular friend who pleaded with him, “Why don’t you write something about the spiritual life for me and my friends?” This, as you can imagine, leads to a meaningful journey, but ends in a way that surprises the reader, and delights and challenges the Christian. Henri freshly introduces us to the way of the Christian through these four words: taken, blessed, broken, and given. It was a book that both led me to big truths, and also gave an idea of how I was to begin to implement those truths in my life. What a humble, yet stunning, reminder of who we are to be to the world.

Would I recommend it to you: for the love of all things holy and beautiful, yes.

149 pages.

Stay tuned, some of the other titles I’ve opened this month could be in one of my next reviews! —>

The Complete Stories of Flannery O’ Connor
Flannery by Brad Gooch
It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke
Seven Women by Eric Metaxas
No Baggage by Clara Benson
Undaunted by Christine Caine
How God Became Kind by N.T. Wright
…and others! Can’t wait to read more!

sweet sixteen renovation.

Hey friends! IT’S BIRTHDAY WEEK! Almost sixteen years ago a little girl was born six weeks early before anyone had a chance to decorate the nursery. In celebration this year, my Mom and Dad gave me a total room makeover. I loved my room before, but it was time to reorganize, make it fresh, and give it a true coordinating theme (for the first time EVER). They gave me a budget to stay within and I began planning immediately! Pinterest was a substantial help, as always. Here are the before pictures.

Keeping it totally real with my chair full of quilts and clean clothes. That’s life.
My ‘office’ area that went unused most of the time. It was lovely, but just an easy place to gather clutter.
Overall view as you walked in.
Books on books on books.
Washi tape is my best friend. Love displaying photos and my sketches this way.
Totally unrelated. But hey, it was in the lineup. I love this dog.
Speaking of not being related. #butfirstletstakeaselfie
PAINTING DAY! Pictured is my Momma and Grandma Kenny making proper preparations.
I promise I did more than take pictures.
bye, bye tan walls….
hellooooo, mint chocolate chip dream! (that wasn’t the name of the paint, but it should have been – in reality, cool sea air and dreamy green won out.)
My accent walls – chalkboard paint and mint green!
Opposite wall – cool sea air accompanied by chalkboard wall.
I camped out in the guestroom for around two weeks in between painting day and the actual completion. It was a total mess.

*Consider this your drum roll*

THE FINAL REVEAL! Pictures do not do it justice.
My Dad made my pallet bed. I’ve always wanted a white down comforter so bedding was one of my top priorities. A majority of my bedding, accessories, and storage are from Target, with the exceptions of gifts, thrift stores, etc. Audrey Hepburn blanket from the movie Breakfast At Tiffany’s was a Christmas gift from Icing.
Former desk area converted into relaxing and writing space.
Storage for art supplies, Greek study tools, letters, and old journals.
I can’t decide what is the most beautiful… my bookshelves, my bed, or all of the coordinating contrasts.
Little details. Pretty storage.
Highlight: Hollywood style lamp to the left. It’s dramatic. I LOVE the look and practicality of it. Found at Wal-Mart. Polka dot wall decals found at Target.
A combination of Target, The Lighthouse thrift store, and Hobby Lobby. (Plus my personal Coldplay lyric drawing.)
Giddy over these bookshelves. Pictured is the shelf of books I haven’t yet completed.
Washi tape, doodles, Zooey Deschanel, and TSWIFT.


My chalkboard wall will change constantly, but here is one of my first creations!


Exciting countdowns!
Creation currently above my bed. Props go to Hannah Brencher and Sam Smith for the gorgeous inspiration.
My girl Audrey Hepburn.
I’ve been watching this Fruit of the Spirit sign at The Clay Gourmet here in town for (embarrassingly enough…) years. It was one of the first purchases I made for my room and we chose the paint colors after referring to it.
Side table for papasan chair. Table from Hobby Lobby. Vase from AcMe Gifts. It’s a simple, sweet corner filled with sentimental value as well. (Picture is one of the homes we lived in while in Mississippi. Miss that place dearly.)
Pictured on the right is me enjoying a surprise birthday party held for me on my golden birthday on February 8th, 2007.

Thus concludes your tour! Thankful for my birthday gift. I’ll rearrange it and enjoy it for a long time to come.

If anyone is interested in an interior decorator, I just might be available. 😉

love does and other books of january.

For all of last year, I Instagram-ed every book that I read. I would include it’s number in the lineup of how many I had finished since January 1 with a comment or two. I ended up reading thirty books in 2014. Instead of doing that regularly again this year, I’m hoping to write more about each book that I read here at 1999. So, I’ll be sharing what books I’ve read and a short review every few weeks or months, depending on my progress. So, here goes, from the keyboard of the real-live, church librarian…

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling.

(finished on a I-can’t-put-this-thing-down evening before bed. notice line of books in background. SO much yet to read.)

I picked up this book during a short browse through the bestsellers at Target. I hadn’t heard much about Mindy Kaling before, but the title alone grabbed my attention. I was hoping that it was some deep, yet sarcastic, guide on how to love being an overall loner, but in that sense, I was greatly and sadly disappointed. But, it was HILARIOUS. She is a writer for the sitcom The Office and this book made me want to watch the series. I was totally mesmerized by her chapter titles alone. I was disgusted by her religious comments, so I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone because you have to take it with a grain of salt. But, if you’re willing to sort the good and the bad (cuss words and the like) – it was wonderful for a good laugh and to know I’m not alone in many of my quirks. The chapters were short (a huge bonus) and the blend of her honesty and jokes had me laughing in the isles of Target before I’d even purchased it.



I’ve begun reading through the books of the Bible that I haven’t yet read from beginning to end in order to fill in many gaps, especially in the Old Testament where I’m not as educated as I want to be. I had read Genesis before, but I decided to kickstart there. Out of three books of the Bible I read this month, I believe I took the most notes on Genesis. Every few paragraphs I was jotting down something in my journal about how God was speaking to me through the people’s lives. I was reminded about how imperfect they were and how generous God is. Joseph’s integrity has stood out to me even weeks after I have finished being in this particular book daily.

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst.

(finished as the sun was setting in route to grocery shopping with the family)

This was a well-timed gift. This quarter the high school students at CCCOV are joining in on adult classes, and I chose the class going over this book. Even in the first week that I began reading, my thought process began to change on how God wants me to use my time. Of course, the book was written for married mothers so at times I was discouraged because I couldn’t relate to many of her personal stories – but it was to be expected considering the main majority of people that will read this book. All in all, it was a WONDERFUL read that I would recommend to anyone that feels chained in by responsibility and people-pleasing. It doesn’t give you freedom to always say no, but it does give you the freedom to investigate and understand when it is ‘best’ to say yes.



Numbers is often an overlooked book of the Bible, so I was curious to study it. I found that this time around the story of Balaam’s Donkey And The Angel and the Oracles following made me think the most out of all 36 chapters. It’s so easy to see the people’s failures coming up as you read and to be mad at how they resent the companionship of God. Then you realize, that if the story of your life was written like theirs, it would be strikingly similar. I was humbled by reading these stories and words of conviction.



Your God is a jealous God. Do not pervert justice. The fulfillment of promises. Blessings and more blessings. Purge the evil from your midst. Do not fear because God fights for you. The Lord turns curses into blesses on your behalf. If you make a vow and do not be careful to follow it, you might as well have never made it at all. The Lord God redeems. The word is near you. Choose life. The Lord wounds and heals.

This was the Deuteronomy that I fell in love with everyday. As the paraphrased list shows, it was an eclectic group of stories, messages, and commandments but each once spoke life to me – and always, always there is conviction if we are not stubborn enough to ignore it.

Love Does by Bob Goff.

(another late evening because there’s-only-sixty-pages-left…)

This book is majorly popular on Instagram these days. That’s partly why I didn’t want to read this book. Not because I wasn’t intrigued by the beautiful cover, title, and tagline, but it seems like a much lighter nonfiction read than I usually want to get my hands on. Bob is a wonderful man and, once I got into it, I didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to gain more inspiration on what living differently looks like for him personally as he glorifies God in all of his relationships. It was a light read as I expected, but I’m glad I read it – it’s highlighted from cover to cover. It inspired me to do things not just because that’s how I’ve been told to do them, but to dream big. To think about how to reach out and make true friends all across the world. He stepped on my Greek-loving, stalking-Jesus toes many times, but I needed it. There should be less learning about Jesus and more living for Jesus. (They are BOTH important.) Love truly does more than it reads and I need to remember that. But I’m still going to write everything down. 😉

Oh, and how do I find time to read all these books that you hear so much about? The mystery remains, because I have no idea… but I do know that I am not myself if I don’t read a little each day. These next few months, I’ll begin digging a little deeper in classics and biographies, but I’m going to make sure to take time for novels. I find it’s very important, at least for me personally, to read a little bit of different literacy cultures at all times.

I’m forever in love with words and they way they change my life, my mood, and my world every single day.

That’s it for January, friends. What have you been reading? Or, rather, what are a few of the books on your reading list for the next eleven months? I hope that we can exchange a few finds with one another along the way.