Autumn is my favourite season.
The weather has just begun to change here in Perth, and while we’re still being dished some deliciously warm days, it’s the days that are a bit chilly and have me chasing a patch of sunshine that are my favourite.
The light has moved again, and the edge of my bed has the perfect strip of sun along it in the afternoons, so that when I curl up there on the weekend I can bury my feet in its warm patch.
I’ve had my eye out on secondhand marketplaces for the perfect armchair for an empty corner of our lounge room, and I’m imagining curling up there with my grey hand knit throw, and hot cups of tea. Summer reading is good, but I’m happy to welcome back the cosiness of Autumn days.
April book roundup:
1. An Echo In The Bone by Diana Gabaldon
After last month, I swore I wouldn’t pick up the next in the Outlander series. They’re too long. I get too involved. I live and breathe seventeenth century Scotland and America. My internal voice assumes a highland lilt and frankly, my shoulder is weary of the extra half a kilo I’m carrying around in my handbag with me everywhere. The only problem is, that I was gifted #7 for my birthday last. And it is shiny and gold.
I had to start averting my eyes as I walked past the bookshelf. No. Give it six months. Wait. Read something that doesn’t remove you from real life for so long.
My husband shouldn’t have left me alone. There was no stopping me. I devoured it in just over a week.
Gabaldon is a ferocious storyteller—multiple plot lines are interwoven, frantic and suspenseful. Sometimes I hate her for what she puts her characters through, as much as I’ve hated Shonda Rhimes during a season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. Gabaldon seems just as observant of the nuances of life and love as Rhimes, with the same amount of dry wit.
Thankfully, the next one doesn’t yet sit tantalising me on the bookshelf, and I’m avoiding ‘G’ in the fiction section at my local library until I’m sure my self control is in order.
2. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
I’m a feeler, and perhaps it’s getting worse as I get older and learn to love and embrace all the parts that make me who I am—serial cryer included. Or, Manning has a way with words that seems graced and breathed straight from heaven. The first chapter alone made me weep.
Manning is an alcoholic, a Franciscan priest, and a self-confessed ragamuffin—and though the book was written almost 30 years ago, it still speaks poignantly to exactly where we are in history now. I mean, to think this sentence was written before the age of social media: “The temptation of the age is to look good without being good… The dichotomy between what we say and what we do is so pervasive in the church and in society that we actually come to believe our illusions…”.
Manning speaks to our apathy, to complacency, to religiosity. His words speak to our ego, our people-pleasing, street-corner-shouting, title-addicted, clean-and-shiny Christianity and he bluntly scolds, berates and loves us with his words into real grace.
This is a book that needs to be on every person of faith’s bookshelf.
It was not an easy read.
I read it over the month in fits and starts, highlighting and scribbling in margins, writing out paragraphs into my journal. It is challenging and made me feel free and uncomfortable all at once.
”The noonday devil of the Christian life is the temptation to lose the inner self while preserving the shell of edifying behaviour.” Um. What. Insert stunned emoji here.
I’m still recovering from this one, and I’ll be referencing it for ever.
3. Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown
This one I listened to on Audible. I listened as I walked along the ocean, and when I went for runs, and when I was in the car driving alone. It’s another one that made me cry. Not just for the content—twenty years of research into shame and courage and vulnerability is incredible—but for Brené’s ability to lace these stories together, to help us to see, to draw us in to a bigger picture of humanity, and of ourselves. Her ability to write. The way she articulates all the nuance of humanness, and has me saying, “Oh my gosh, me too, me too, me too” and wondering how she managed to construct so many of my fleeting thoughts and feelings into actual tangible explanations. She is profound.
4. The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
This is another of Reese’s Book Club picks, the latest in fact, and the third on her list that I’ve read. It’s a beautiful piece of fiction set in 1930’s Malaysia, with a protagonist who accidentally pickpockets and as a result is taken on an adventure of wild dreams, ghosts, childhood love and the refusal to be owned or boxed by any man—amidst a mystery of deaths occurring from a man-hunting tiger. It is a rambling tale full of magic realism and Chinese and Malaysian myth and folklore and descriptions of food, which reminded me of novels like Midnight’s Children and Like Water for Chocolate. Easy to read, I was so immersed in the story, and loved Ji Lin’s sassiness, and Shin’s devotedness. It was a great way to finish school holidays, finding patches of sun and whiling away long hours reading.
So, four months in of mini book reviews and I’d love to know if you’ve read any of them?
Or if you have any recommendations.
I haven’t quite decided what to read in May, and I’m on a self-imposed book-buying hiatus because there are too many unread new books on my shelf.