Every now and again, I look at a stack of recently-read books on my dresser/desk/bookshelf and think to myself, “I should really tell people about these books and see if they don’t want to read one or two of them for themselves.”
And then I don’t.
Because while reading books is a delightful & relaxing escape, blogging about them is more like work. However. Since I can’t seem to find the time/energy to blog about profound and insightful things (or any things) these days, a post of book reviews might be my best bet for hopping back on the blogging train.
I have eight books sitting here on the kitchen table beside my laptop. I don’t think they’re the eight most recent I’ve read (well, a few of them are–the rest are back at the library already), but we’ll go with them.
If you know me, you won’t be surprised to learn that six are library books and two were given to me for free which means I paid for zero of them. When money is tight (and even when it isn’t), I beg, borrow, and steal (well, not steal) books rather than buy them.
But all these links will be to my Amazon Associates Account, if you’re so inclined to purchase one (I get a small percentage of what you pay).
Here we go:
I’m a sucker for books that take place in foreign lands. Particularly if those foreign lands are Asia or Africa (or South America). And particularly particularly if the author of the book is helping the poor in some way. The Peifer family goes from losing a baby to accepting a short-term mission assignment in Kenya to providing daily lunches to 20,000+ Kenyan school children along with solar-powered computer labs. Love love LOVE. The writing wasn’t brilliant (good, just not brilliant), but the story is super-compelling, and that makes up for it. And there was one part of the story that brought me to tears and rocked my world, because I felt God saying, “This. This is my plan for you too, sweet girl.” Sigh. So inspirational.
More Africa!! And oh my word, that subtitle. Radical? Journey? Ethiopia? Yes please! Levi, Jessie, and their three little kiddos pretty much spontaneously move to Ethiopia to rescue kiddos from being killed because of a tribal superstition. The story isn’t always pretty; it isn’t always happy; but I loved it. I love learning about other cultures, seeing what God is up to around the world, and peeking in on people who are making a difference in the lives of others.
The Story: Teen Edition (Zondervan)
I planned on skimming this as part of some research I was doing for a project and ended up reading the whole thing from cover to cover. Wow. If you haven’t heard of The Story, it’s basically the Bible in 31 chapters of chronological narrative. Not every part of the Bible is included, and there’s some brief commentary, but most of it is just the Bible. It’s a great, great tool for someone who wants to grasp the over-all story of God’s Word. It’s a great tool for ALL of us. And there’s an entire curriculum out there for tiny tots up through adults. Lots and lots of churches are doing it together–reading and understanding God’s Word, some of them for the very first time. Super powerful.
This Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down Without Settling (Christine Jeske and Adam Jeske)
This book hit home. It’s about a couple who has been around the world serving Jesus and doing amazing things for the kingdom. And now they live in Wisconsin. Ugh, right? Right. But no. Somehow it was encouraging and a little bit liberating and intriguing, and I’m glad I read it. And it inspired me to write more of my story–the exciting, the mundane, and all the other parts too.
One in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land (Priscilla Shirer)
More inspiration. Priscilla don’t mess around. I loved this book. “How badly do you want it? Enough to wait on God long and hard and invite whatever He requires to get you ready for what’s next?” There was a whole lot of mm-hmm’ing and head-nodding going on while I read this book. It’s about being bold and brave and stepping (leaping!) into God’s big, wild plans for your life. And the whole book centers around Exodus (my 2nd favorite book of the Bible).
The One and Only Ivan (Katherine Applegate)
This is the only fiction title on my list. I don’t read a lot of fiction. Maybe because I feel like there’s sooooo much to learn, and I can’t be wasting my time reading stuff that isn’t even true. Most of the fiction I do read is YA (young adult), which is what The One and Only Ivan is. I love, love, LOVED this book. LOVED. It is sooooooooo good. The writing is BRILLIANT. Really, truly. There are books I love for the story, there are books I love for the writing, and I love this one for both. We’re an animal-loving family (well, exotic animals anyway; we aren’t really pet people), and the main character of this book is a gorilla. Perfection. Would be a great read-aloud for you and your kiddos. (Didn’t even realize it won the Newbery Medal until I was all done reading it. Big gold sticker on the front cover. Duh.)
This is one of my finds from the New Non-Fiction Shelf at the library. It’s physically impossible for me to enter the library to pick up books-on-hold and walk past the New Book section. Can’t do it. The author is Chinese-American and was adopted as a baby. I’d read her first book, Lucky Girl, about her trip to visit her birth family, and enjoyed it. I don’t read very many parenting books, but she had me at Argentina and Tanzania. The book was super-fun to read–all about different countries and cultures and how people parent differently and their reasoning behind their methods. Intriguing. I learned a ton.
A Year of Biblical Womanhood (Rachel Held Evans)
This book deserves a post of its own, but that’s not going to happen. I’ll admit, when I first heard Rachel was doing this (following the Bible’s commands for women for a year), I thought, “Um, really? Why? Lame.” I take it all back. The book was really good. And I have a lot of respect for Rachel. And sooooo much of what I’ve blindly believed about “The Role of Women” for so many years has just been blown apart in recent years and months. It would take me forever to explain it all, so why don’t you start by reading Rachel’s book, and then one of these days, I’ll be able to put my thoughts into words about how we Christians are so darn adept at picking & choosing bits and pieces of the Bible and ignoring the context (and who the letter was written to) and also ignoring huge chunks of the rest of the Bible and making prescriptive formulas that people have to follow OR ELSE. And not bothering to reeeeeeally look into the stuff Jesus said and did and how he turned everything all upside-down and sideways, and I’LL STOP NOW. (Read the book. Really.)
And BONUS! The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name (Digital Edition) is just $1.99 right now! I’ve blogged about The Jesus Storybook Bible before (several times!), because it’s FREAKING AWESOME. You have to have a color reader (Kindle Fire, iPad, cool phone) to read it, but $1.99! Best deal EVER!