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8 of my Favorite Fiction + Nonfiction Reads of the Year

One of my favorite pieces of writing advice is to read a lot.

Noooo problem.

While I’m enjoying a fascinating story, I’m also building up writing muscles I can use for my own work. It’s a double-win.

And this advice doesn’t mean staying in your genre. You can–and should–read fiction and craft books and Magnolia magazine. The different genres splash some spice to your work.

This year, I didn’t read as much as I wanted to. Growing a human while chasing another wild one proved a taxing endeavor.

All the same, I found a few gems this year worth passing along. If you’re down for historical fiction, writing craft, and a bit of Christian nonfiction living, this list is for you.

(Note: I've used affiliate links in this post, which means that if you purchase, I'll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Consider it helping a fellow book nerd!)

Historical Fiction

The Hidden Side by Heidi C

This time slip novel runs with two women in two different decades. In the modern day, Natalie Abbott tries to downplay the tightening tension in her family. But when her son does the unthinkable and confirms her greatest fears, Natalie questions not only her identity but God’s too.

Meanwhile, Mercy Howard desperately wants freedom for her young country on the brink of independence in 1776. But achieving that liberty comes at a bloody price. Mercy must decide whether she’s willing to pay it.

This book made me a HUGE Heidi Chiavaroli fan. I’m currently reading another one of her delicious books. Christian fiction sometimes exhausts me with endless exposition and shallow characters. But Heidi explores humanity in all of its complexities and how a divine God meets us in those broken places.

Counted with the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

Connilyn takes us all the way back to Egypt, when the Israelites were enslaved and all hope seemed lost. Kiya, our young Egyptian protagonist, is sold by her father to a cruel mistress who enjoys humiliating her. But Kiya meets a fellow Israelite slave who changes everything for her.

Kiya must reconcile the frailty of the Egyptian gods she once revered to the compassionate but powerful God of the Israelites.

I’ve always loved biblical fiction that digs deeper into the biblical narrative. I think Connilyn took a few creative liberties with the story, but it’s absolutely still worth a read!

West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

When I read this book’s blurb to my husband, he thought I was reading a mad lib. So yes, it’s a unique story, but that’s what drew me in!

Woodrow Wilson Nickel is a victim of the Dust Bowl, having lost his family and all he holds dear. But everything changes when he meets two giraffes who somehow survived a hurricane on a boat transporting them across the Atlantic to the US. A profound bond develops between the animals and the desperate boy, who is willing to cross the country with them at all costs.

This isn’t a Christian book but I don’t remember any significant triggers or unclean scenes!

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green

Let’s go back to WWII, but this time instead of Europe, we’re going to the States, where scared, grieving Americans grappled with the reality of German POWs in their hometown.

Johanna Berglund, a linguistics student fluent in German, is dragged to her hometown, where a POW camp is located, to work as a translator. But the last thing she wants is to return to the demons she left at home. Told through letters, this book is a unique take on a WWII story.

Johanna bothered me a lot at first and I debated continuing. But as her character developed, she softened for me and I couldn’t stop reading until the end.

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes

I’m a sucker for the time slip novels, it seems.

Every night, Lucy Clairmont and her parents relished in creating maritime stories around the fire. When a young orphaned boy stumbles into their life and home one night, Lucy and the boy–Dashel–start a lifelong and life-changing friendship.

The book follows the pair as they grow up, move towns, endure grief, and somehow find each other again in the most unlikely of places. I loved the maritime themes and the sweet romance of this book.


Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E.B. White

This is a technical manual every writer should have by their side. Read it through once to get inspired. Then pull it out every time you're ready to edit. This timeless craft book will strengthen your writing, I promise!

Developmental Editing by Scott Norton

Ok, this book gets a big asterisk next to it. Scott offers enough value to recommend to budding writers, but the format and examples fall flat.

If you’re starting to work on a book, you’ll definitely want to take a bird’s eye view of it. Ensuring a cohesive flow of argument, logic, and consistency will create a book readers will grab again and again.

A lot of writers miss this step. Many start writing chapters instead of doing the hard work of creating an outline.

So, if you’re in this stage, this book will definitely help.

The examples, however, might not. I organized a book club with fellow editors using this book and a majority of us skipped through the extensive and unhelpful examples that take up a lot of the chapters. The examples are also not biblically based and very culturally motivated.

So, if you read this book, my tip is to read the teaching content at the beginning and end of each chapter and skip over the examples.

Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms by Justin Whitmel Earley

Ok, not a writing craft book. BUT I still highly recommend it for all families, no matter the kid’s ages.

The small, daily rhythms of our lives–sometimes more than the big events–make us who we are. So are we being intentional with them? How can we use our habits to remember Christ in all we do?

Justin walks through all of the major pieces of a family–mealtimes, bedtimes, discipline, screen time, marriage, and more–and offers simple, repeatable rhythms to teach ourselves and our kids to love God and others.

I loved the simplicity, intentionality, and practicality of this book!



Hey, I'm Mikaela. 

I'm an editor and writing coach. 
Want to overcome the panic of a blank page? 
Discouraged by negative thoughts? 
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