5 Books to Read to Jumpstart the New Year

Looking for some inspiration to get you going this year? I read some great books last year that challenged both my faith and creativity and motivated me to pursue good work and cultivate a deeper devotion. If that’s what you need as you work through goal setting and resolutions, then consider the following titles. These are great books to read to jumpstart 2016.

5 Books to Read to Jumpstart 2016

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Start by Jon AcuffStart: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff

I love Jon Acuff! In Start he challenges you to face your fears and pursue awesomeness. We all want to do work that matters in this world and that can only happen when you determine to ditch the mundane and start on the journey to awesome.

I HIGHLY recommend the audiobook (or any of his books on audio for that matter) because Acuff reads his books really well and it’s an extremely entertaining listen!

The Art of Work GoinsThe Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do  by Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins is another of my favorite authors and in his latest book, he talks about looking at calling and creativity and what it takes to pursuing what you were meant to do in life.

When you can take a passion, that thing that you wake up dreaming about every day, and pair it with the mission to to fulfill the needs of others, you’ve got something wonderful. But it takes rising above the status quo and chasing something more than what society expects of you. No gimmicks here. Just hard work, passion, and a love for your fellow man. I read the hard copy I have (which was great cause I did much underlining!) but you can get the audio as well. Goins reads it himself and it is a pleasure to listen to as well!

Tortured for ChristTortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

Okay, so let’s shift gears to something a bit more intense. I lie — way more intense. I listened to this as an audiobook and amazing doesn’t do this book justice. I’m going to take the liberty and assume that your spiritual life could use some bolstering. Mine always does.

I don’t spend enough time truly considering the religious freedom I enjoy and what Christians have suffered and continue to suffer for the cause of Christ. Don’t start another year forgetting what being a Christian truly means. Start off the year with a spiritual awareness, humility, and boldness to live for Christ in all you do. This book isn’t for the faint of heart but I HIGHLY recommend it. It will give you a series kick in the pants and should send you to your knees in prayer.

Radical David PlattRadical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

This is another kick-in-the-pants kind of book. Not quite as intense as the previous title but inspiring nonetheless.

It’s easy to get comfortable in our microwaved, mega-sized, over-hyped, suburban church culture. But is what we have what Jesus had in mind when He was here? No doubt our experience is worlds different from that of the 1st-century church.

This year, take a counter-cultural look at your Christian experience and challenge yourself to embrace the walk Christ set out for us. I listened to the audiobook version of this one and it was quite enjoyable!

Make it Happen CaseyMake it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take a Leap. Live on Purpose by Lara Casey

This one’s for the ladies. Casey tells the story of her life before she truly got a life. I remember listening to this audiobook in the car and thinking “Yes! I so needed this!”. Life is full of surprises and takes turns that we couldn’t have anticipated. Living in fear isn’t the answer. Embracing purpose and taking chances, trusting God leading and timing is the way to live a meaningful life. If you’re nervous about starting something new, if you’re tired of being stuck in the mundane and don’t know how to get out, if you need encouragement and the assurance that you’re not alone, then read this book. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a heavy audiobook listener and can definitely recommend this one!

Lara Casey also has a great website with some great products that are definitely worth checking out!

What titles do you have on your book list this year?

Happy Reading! 

The blogger at Purple Ink Studios is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

The 2016 Reader's Notebook Page

2016 Audiobook Challenge

2016 Audiobook Challenge

Hosted by Jennifer @ The Book Nympho & Melanie @ Hot Listens

For full details, check out the original post.


  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
  • Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+

I get a huuuge amount of my reading done via audiobooks so I’m going for the Binge Listener level.

I’ve got a lot to read in 2016 and this will help me keep up the pace!

Completed Books:


20. The Slump

This is post 20/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

Okay, it’s for real now.

I’ve written about the dip, when you push through a setback during a project. Well now it’s Day 20 and I’ve hit the slump. It’s when you’ve got nothing but you’ve still got to show up. Yep this is it. I’ve got absolutely nothing.

But I’m still writing. And I’m still going to hit the publish button.

This is the real deal.

Tomorrow will be better.


16. Show Up | 31 Days

This is post 16/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I did not sleep well last night.

You know that feeling you get right before you’re about to get sick? Almost a sore throat? Almost a fever? Almost an achy body? But not quite. But enough to drain you. That’s what’s up right now. My body is fighting and I’m dragging. So I tossed and turned for I don’t know how long last night and feeling the effects of it this morning.

But life still has to happen. Stuff still has to get done. Morning is here and I still have to show up.

You know the feeling you get when life is not going the way you thought it should? When you need answers but they’re so illusive? When you need a plan B but you can’t find it? When you would love to just crawl back into bed until everything works itself out and you can function properly again? We all get to that place at one time or another.

But life still has to happen. You still have to get up and show up. If you don’t, nothing will ever change, you won’t ever grow, and the challenge will overwhelm you.

It takes bravery.

You don’t have to like it. You just have to show up with honesty and dignity and make the best of it. But you don’t have to be miserable either. No matter how difficult a situation is, there is always a ray of light somewhere.

And if you can’t find that ray of light for yourself, be that ray of light to someone else. Say hello. Give a smile. Lend a hand. Maybe someone else is struggling too. Maybe someone else needs someone to show up and be a friend. Maybe someone else needs someone to show up and say a kind word. Maybe someone else needs someone to show up and take responsibility.Maybe someone else needs someone to show up and fix a problem, make a change, or be a shoulder to cry on. Don’t let your challenges keep you from being a blessing to someone else.

No matter how difficult life gets, be brave. Get up and show up. And tomorrow, do it all over again.

You know that feeling you get when you don’t know what to write about? It’s not brilliant but it’s still 400 words. I’ll take that.


13. Comparison Kills | 31 Days

This is post 13/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

Ever read a book and think, man! I wish I could write like that! That author has such a great way with words! Happens to me all the time. And then I look at other blogs. They’ve got amazing graphics and gorgeous type and posts that get shared all over Pinterest. Writer’s confession: I get a tad jealous. Not the green-eyed monster variety, but the wistful sigh kind where you wish them every writerly happiness but wish that you could be like that too. Right now.

It’s like when you’re single and everybody and their mother is either getting engaged, getting married, or having children. You’re happy for them but you can’t help wishing it were your turn too!

And then it goes past wishing. You start comparing. She must be successful because she has this and that. You’re obviously not successful because you don’t posses this and that. She has come this far in her life because she did these things and went to those places. You’re obviously behind schedule because you did not. She’s prettier. She’s more educated. She has more experience. She has more money.

Comparison a vicious cycle. And it kills. It kills your drive, your creativity, your passion, your authenticity, your honesty, and your dreams.

There’s nothing wrong with looking at someone else’s life and taking note of their successes and failures. We can learn from one another and we should. It’s like when you’re at the gym and the person next to you is killing it on the elliptical. You’re inspired and start hustling a little harder yourself. That’s good. But what if you look at that person and start thinking, Man, she’s so good at that! I wish I was that good. I wish I looked that good in yoga pants! I’ll never have such an awesome figure. Her hair even looks good! Why can’t I ever get that messy bun look when I do my hair? I’ll bet she’s got a gorgeous husband and a couple of really great kids too. WHAT IS MY LIIIIIIIIIFE!!!!!!?!?!?! 

Some people are challenged by the people around them and that takes maturity and guts. I’m not naturally like that. I have to work hard at staying in my lane, not paying too much attention to the progress of the people around me, and quit comparing myself to them. Cause the truth is, you don’t know what their life is like. You don’t know what challenges they face or the battles they have to fight every single day. You don’t know what it cost them to get where they are. You don’t know how long it took them to get there. If you did know, you wouldn’t be so quick to compare.

Every life has a back story. Every victory has its moments of defeat. We can’t judge a life based on the snapshot view we have. We can’t compare our whole experience to the few details we know about someone else. It doesn’t work that way. You have to be honest with yourself and willing to be authentic with everyone else. This is your story. God has unique plans for your life. None of that is going to look like anyone else’s experience and you wouldn’t want it to.

Don’t let comparison kill. You don’t want to look back years from now wishing you had been your best self rather a cheap knock off brand of someone else.


7. The Next Step | 31 Days

This is post 7/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I’ve just committed to NaNoWriMo. Again.

I mean, I’ve got a working title and everything. 

Two attempts in past years and I’ve never finished NaNoWriMo. And my Inner Idiot is poking furiously at me cause he’s totally indignant.

What do you think you’re doing? You have no business trying to write a novel in a month!! You think you’re going to write 50,000 words? Really? When are you going to have time for that!?! You’re kidding me right now!

Yeah, I know, I have no business writing a novel in a month but you know what? It’s a next step. 

Writing for 31 days in a row is a step in the direction of really owning this thing called being a writer. I know that when I get up in the morning, a blog post needs to be written and published before I go to bed that night. Intellectually, it sounds so basic and it is but in reality, it’s so hard. But it’s day 7 and I haven’t skipped a day yet. And I’m committed to the next 24. Who says I can’t crank out 50,000 words in 30 days?

Oh yeah, my Inner Idiot. But who’s listening to him anyway? Moving on.  

I’m a write… Oh, it’s so hard to write or say those words, like I haven’t earned the certification or something but *clears throat* let’s try again.

I’m a writer. But practice isn’t included. I want to be a good writer. I want to treat it like it’s a real thing not just something I do here and there. I’m not trying to write the next American classic, I’m just taking on the challenge of honing in my craft. 

Because writing’s my art. 

I’m kind of on this kick of doing hard things whether or not it’s your passion or are particularly good at it. And that’s just a function of what I’m personally going through. First steps are hard because we don’t know what’s going to happen. Next steps are hard too but now you’re gaining some momentum and that’s got a freak factor all it’s own. But you have to take that first step. And then you have to take the next step. And for me, NaNoWriMo is the next step. 

In college, I had a rhythm to my work. One test after another after another. One set of classes this term and another set the next term. The work was hard but I pretty much knew what the next step was.

But that’s so not how the real world works. More often than not, you take the next step not knowing what you’ll find or how it’ll turn out. You just pray you’ve done your research, asked the right questions and prepared as best you could beforehand.

But you can only prepare so much. At some point you just have to do. Yeah, it’s scary as all get out and yeah, maybe you have ‘no business’ doing it but if you feel that pull, that calling, that’s a real thing and it deserves your notice. And when you get to a point when you feel like God’s placed something in your heart to do, and you can’t think about anything else, then take that first step. 

And then take the next.