“Five years from today, you will be the same person that you are today, except for the books you read and the people you meet.”
― Charlie Jones

My Dad used to tell me that quote all the time when I was growing up. I always thought it was an exaggeration, until I became a reader. Now I believe it with all of my heart.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about my book choices. If you know me at all, you know that I love to read. I try to at least read 1 book/month: I call it “12 in 12” on my goals, and this year I upped it to “15 in 12.” I have 3 Pinterest Boards dedicated to books that I recommend: 1. Life + Faith, 2. Business, 3. Enjoyment. I also tag my books with #nancyrayreads on Instagram, which has been a really fun way to share what I’m currently reading! So yes, I’m a reader. I absolutely love books, and believe that 1 good book can change your life forever.

I began thinking of how I choose the books I read, and how I have time to read them all. I thought I would share that with you today, in hopes to turn you into a reader too! Here is my simple philosophy on choosing and reading books:

1. Only select books that come recommended by a trusted source
2. Choose a balance of books that touch on every aspect of life
3. Read a little every day (I read at least 15 pages/day, during my morning routine)
4. Read one book at a time

It’s really a simple philosophy! And it works for me. I know it may not work for you, but I’ve acheived a lot of success when abiding by these 4 guidelines. My husband would disagree with #4 – he loves to read several books at once. I, however, am not a multitasker like he is! I like to read 1 book at a time. The point is – do what works for you.

This year, I am basing my book choices on the Life Balance Wheel. (Note: There are several versions of the Life Balance Wheel, but I like Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life best.) This way, I can make sure I am reading books to enhance each major category of my life. I believe that a well balanced life is a happy life, and that is what I strive for even in my readings.

Before reading my 2013 Book list, you’ll notice a few things:

1. There is an uneven number of books in each category. That’s because I just keep adding to my list of books I want to read, and when I find a new one I place them in the appropriate category. I might not get to all of the listed books in 2013, but I will roll them over to 2014 if needed.
2.  Some are marked with an asterisk (*). Those mark the books I have already read this year.
3. There are more categories than listed in the Wheel of Life. That’s because I have split some of the categories into two, in order to create more specific categories to accurately reflect my life.
5. The “Social Relationships” Category books all fall within other categories, since they are books that I am simply reading with my small group, book club, or friends.  (Ex: Greater = Spiritual, Leadership Matters = Career.)

So, here we go!

Nancy Ray Reads : 2013 Book List

Descending into Greatness

The Monk and the Merchant*
Think and Grow Rich*

Martha’s Rules
The Art of Possibility
Unnecessary Endings

Marriage and Family Relationships
– The Meaning of Marriage

Social Relationships: Book Clubs and Small Group readings
– Daring Greatly*
Leadership Matters (Currently Reading)
What you do best in the body of Christ 

Personal + Intellectual Development
His Excellency George Washington
Boundaries for Leaders

Health (Physical Well-Being)
– Wheat Belly
Born to Run

Rest and Relaxation (Physical Well-Being)
The Great Gatsby*
The Storyteller


I hope this helped you! I encourage you… no, I implore you! Become a reader if you’re not one already. It takes a little self discipline, and it pays off greatly.

Please leave a comment with any books you recommend that I add to my list! I would love to hear from you!

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Thank you Nancy, this post has come at a perfect time. I am a reader. Or rather, I certainly have been. I enjoy reading. I have been slipping into bad habits for some time now. I used to catch public transport to and from work, and a train journey provided the perfect opportunity to devour books. Now I drive daily, which means I do a lot more listening to the radio, but very little reading. A goal I am working on is to get into bed at 9:30pm, and have half and hour to do nothing but read before lights out. I can see that this done five nights per week would make a huge difference. Thus far I have achieved one night… last night! (Gotta start somewhere!). Thank you for the reminders of “read a little each day” and “read one book at a time”. I like these. Annie x

I’m currently reading Jon Acuff’s new book, Start, and it’s awesome! I would definitely recommend it for the career category, although you are already pretty full there! :)

Hey, Nance-pants! I’m SO EXCITED you posted your 2013 book list and reading thoughts. If you haven’t already, read The History of Love by Nicole Krauss – I can’t even begin to tell you why. I’m trying to keep a running list of my own on my Avelist account (http://avelist.com/ind6957) if you’re interested!! Hope you’re well!!

Sweet Nancy, it’s been so long since we did the deb ball together but I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog! I’ve read most of the books on your list– you’ve got great taste. For health books, you should check out the Beauty Detox Diet by Kim Snyder. It’s awesome! xoxo

Hey Nancy, we met while camping a few weeks ago, and I promised to leave a comment, so here it is! :) I am an avid reader too, and by avid I mean, my boys have had to fetch clean socks from the laundry basket because I was too engrossed in a book to fold the laundry! I am definitely trying to balance reading helpful, spiritual, based books with pure enjoyment ones.
I did just finish a GREAT novel though, which I read in just a few days. “The Lost Wife” by Alyson Richman
SO good.
Do you ever keep track of your books through an online site like Good Reads?

I really love this idea, Nancy, of making sure you’re reading books that make you well-rounded and touch on the different aspects of your life. I’m definitely adopting this approach! I finally finished reading 7 after putting it down for a few months–such an incredible book. I always suggest any book by Anne Lamott, especially her newest Help, Thanks, Wow (such a fast read and so inspiring). I have so many books on marriage but one of my favorites is Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. And a really great business book I read awhile ago was The E Myth. I still find myself using some of the strategies listed in there. Thanks for sharing your 2013 list with us!

Hi Nancy – as an English Lit major, I stopped reading after graduating from college – too many tutorials, no writing/reading for pleasure and a lot of analytics!! Just started consistently again and some on your recommendation :) I find reading on the subway is a good time to get through some chapters. One good book I read recently is Lucky Girl by Mel-Ling Hopgood, which details her reconnection with her Taiwanese family after being adopted from there by a Western family. Another one is called The Girls Who Went Away, about forced adoption in the 60’s and that I could not put down for ages!! I tend to like books with a social justice or real life component :) Sometimes I wish I liked fiction as much as some people do! :) That’s great that you make it such a priority.

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