The August Booklist

Look, it’s been a big few months okay?
There have been some job changes over here in the H household, and I’ve felt all the transitions between seasons down deep in my bones—achey and slow.
Sometimes there’s just no brain space leftover for reading. I had two library books on my bedside for weeks, and I couldn’t pick them up. Back to the library they went.
For a little while, reading just felt hard you know?
I’ve eased myself in again, in the past couple of weeks and I’m glad I’ve reacquainted myself with this love.
Anyway. Being the low-reading month that it was, my August reads were as follows…

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.
This was our book club read for the month (I really, really must blog about book club soon. It makes me so happy), and my favourite pick of book club so far. It had me at New York City. Then it had me at 1940’s New York City. And although I’ve had a love-hate relationship across Gilbert’s works over the years, this work of fiction is stunning. Vivian Morris lands in NYC as a nineteen year old, come to live with her Aunt who owns the Lily Playhouse. Vivian is a talent with a sewing machine, and creates costumes for the show girls who work at the playhouse—and although her character as a whole is rather shallow, she’s still self-aware enough of her naiveté. And look, there is definitely some debauchery throughout the novel as Vivian discovers the world of the show girl, but it’s simultaneously light-hearted and profound.
A couple of my favourite quotes I noted down as I came across them (I’ve found it handy lately, to read with a notebook nearby for moments such as these!):

“Then my mercy swelled, and for just a moment I felt mercy for everyone who has ever gotten involved in an impossibly messy story. all those predicaments that we humans find ourselves in—predicaments that we never see coming, do not know how to handle, and then cannot fix.”

“I fell in love with him, and it made no sense for me to fall in love with him. We could not possibly have been more different. But maybe that’s where love grows best—in the deep space that exists between polarities.”

“All these years later, I felt like he was still trying to do that. Still trying to find a safe radius somewhere in the world. Someplace where he could stop burning.”

The Binding by Bridget Collins
I loved the concept of this book. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before.
Set in nondescript medieval history, there exist craftsmen called bookbinders, who not only craft beautiful books with leather and gold, in their workshops, but have a gift of binding the book owners memories into them. Those who have experienced that which they’d rather forget seek out these bookbinders, who remove the memories, creating a book with them, and locking them safely away. They then are dangerous and secret, holding the scars of people who no longer remember that they’ve been bound. Magical realism at it’s finest.
The story follows farmer-boy Emmett and his lover, and while it is immersive fantasy and incredible storytelling, I couldn’t help but feel that it was lacking something I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe I just wanted more of the history, the place in time… something. I felt that it took me on a path I wasn’t quite interested in, and there were other offshoots to the trail I would have preferred to wander down.
Still, if you go in without expectations (especially if you have expectations regarding the blurb, do not read the blurb) I think you’ll be glad you did.

That is all.


The July Booklist

I’m finding that it’s getting harder to read non-fiction. It doesn’t hold my attention very well, and makes sitting down to read feel like a bit of a chore.
I can lose myself in a fictional world and can (and will!) easily read for hours, but know there are nuggets of gold in other books that are good for my spirit and soul growth. What to do?
Audiobooks. I’ve been listening to non-fiction via audio and it’s a game changer. I can listen while I run, or do the dishes, or drive. I think I retain more this way, and then I can save my sit-down-reading-time to indulge in a beautiful work of fiction.

I thought I had read more this month, but I guess that’s the beauty of keeping track—I’ll have to up my game next month!

So these are the books I read in July:

Circe by Madeline Miller
This was our bookclub pick. Apparently it made some waves and all the important and well-connected Instagram types were raving about it. And if Brene Brown raves, you know the rest of us want to see what the fuss is about. I didn’t quite get what the fuss was about with this one, and the jury was out on this one in bookclub too. Some of us loved it, some (me) not so much. If you like epic sagas and Greek mythology, then this is your jam. I was a little bit lost in the sprawling plot lines and flowery language. My book club associates did, however, help me to see the beauty in it; the heroine who discovers herself and the intelligent thoughts and messages throughout (Magic man-rapists into actual pigs? Nymphs and goddesses… yes, just a healthy sprinkling of feminism). It’s a re-telling of Greek mythology, which is interesting and slightly gripping… but the bulk is spent on an island with a rather naive immortal woman who did not have the depth of character I needed her to have. I did enjoy the immersive aspect of the novel though, there were some beautiful poetic lines in it that I loved.

The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life by Erwin McManus
I’ll leave you with my favourite quotes:

“Life is a series of challenges, adventures, and yes, even battles. There will always be giants to subdue and dragons to slay. I have already decided to die with my sword in hand. There is more courage in us than danger ahead of us. You are strong enough for the battles ahead.”

“I do not believe anyone is born average, but I do believe that many of us choose to live a life of mediocrity. I think there are more of us than not who are in danger of disappearing into the abyss of the ordinary. The great tragedy in this, of course, is that there is nothing really ordinary about us. We might not be convinced of this, but our souls already know it’s true, which is why we find ourselves tormented when we choose lives beneath our capacities and callings.”

“Be ready when you get there. Don’t make the mistake of living your life waiting for good things to happen—make good things happen. Be faithful in the small things that do not matter to you as much and treat them with the same level of respect and importance as the big things connected to your hopes and dreams.”

The Way of Life: Experiencing the Culture of Heaven on Earth by Bill Johnson
This was a refreshing look at church culture, at the way of Jesus, and the way it all should/could be.
This was wisdom. So much wisdom.


The June Booklist

It was a cold month and I was tired.
Maybe it’s the working mum gig. It’s been an adjustment.
It probably also has something to do with the weather. It was too wet (the wettest Perth June on record, for 14 years actually) to do much, other than read.
If I’m not careful, I can use books the same way other people use Netflix. I’m a book binger.
Particularly with fiction.
In June I feel like I binged a lot. Which meant I stayed up too late to read ‘one more chapter’ and didn’t write, or run. I just read, and read some more.
I’m not going to feel sad about it. There are worse things to binge on.
And now we’re getting some sunny days I can ride my bike again… to the library… for more books… it’s a vicious cycle my friends.

Here’s my June list:

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton
Tim Winton is a literary genius. I loved the protagonist’s voice throughout this book—Jaxie’s voice is so raw, and some of the colloquialisms made me actually laugh out loud and read them again, and then out loud to my husband, who uses so much of the same teenage slang himself. Winton makes every day Aussie speech sound like poetry—poetry with a lot of profanity. With guts. Not to mention making the-middle-of-nowhere in Western Australia sound like somewhere you’d want to go. And then those hit-you-in-the-guts phrases that bring to life the struggles of humanity, of brokenness, and the reality of love. It’s uncomfortable, and brutal and heartbreaking, and hilarious. Also, it’s one of my book club reads—have I told you about my book club? A real life book club with wine and cheese and conversation and women in a room who are writers and want to get better at their craft, and talk literature and life and writing ohmyheart counting down the sleeps until our next book club night!

How’s Your Soul by Judah Smith
This one was an audiobook, and not a long one. I like Judah. He makes me laugh. His writing style is easy to read (listen to). Maybe too easy, for a topic that has the possibility of a lot of depth, but which I didn’t feel went as deep as it could have. There’s some beauty in its simplicity though—in knowing and accepting that outward indicators are not a sign of success, that the health of our soul is vitally important to the life God calls us to live. “Walking implies that our souls are experiencing steady, controlled progress. It means that we are moving forward. It means that rather than running for cover every time a threat appears, we are stable, we make good choices, and we have a positive outlook on the future. Steadily and surely, we are advancing.”

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
I was saving this one, I really was. I wasn’t going to start it—it’s the last available book in the Outlander series. The author, as far as I know, is still writing the next one. So I was saving it, the way you save the biscuity base of the cheesecake for last because you know it’s the best bit. But then I rode to the library with Eden, and I accidentally wandered the ‘g’ in fiction, and locked eyes with this book. Before I could activate my self-control, and walk away, my hand had grabbed it off the shelf as fast as lightening and there was no going back. And then I remembered why I really should read these books on my Kindle – hashtag heavy.
And oh my heart I was not ready for it to end, and now I personally want to knock on Gabaldon’s door and tell her to hurry up with the next book please.

Wolfpack by Abby Wambach
Yes, yes and YES. Fem lit that makes me want to look around at my fellow females and smile a we’re-on-the-same-team smile. I love Abby’s insights into leadership, teamwork, feeling benched, cheering each other on. She has so much wisdom—I was nodding and hissing yesssssss through my teeth, and fist pumping throughout this entire book. This book is a win for sisterhood, for culture-changers and unity.

Still Lives by Maria Hummel
An easy fiction piece with a little bit of suspense, and a little bit of detective work. Another of Reese’s Book Club picks, which I think I have to start lowering my expectations of a little. Lately, it seems it’s been predominantly chick lit, very romcom/soapie style and it’s not my favourite. BUT when bingeing on books, fiction that is easy to read, a plot that was simple to follow and provided a dreamy escape into a world of art in Los Angeles, was just the thing. Also, my fantastic little local library is so great at ordering in books I request, and this was one of them. So grateful.

Done any book-bingeing lately? Any you’d care to recommend?


The May Booklist

I finally found the perfect little armchair for our lounge room, but it’s become the favourite spot for children and/or a certain ginger cat to curl up in. So when I don’t have the heart to remove them from their cosy space, the autumn sunshine was very kind to me, in my little corner of the bedroom.

I spent last week sick with flu symptoms, and barely made it to (newly formed, very fabulous) bookclub, but really, nothing was keeping me away. But reading is hard when you’re snotty and exhausted, so Netflix won out most nights. Before that, however, I impressed myself with my intentional stopping and reading—who knew that even without Instagram I could find distractions from doing the things that are best for me?!

My little May reading wrap up and mini reviews:

1. Home Fires by Fiona Lowe
This is a newly released novel by Australian author Fiona Lowe. My lovely writer-girl friend Amanda Viviers was given a box full of bookish goodness by publisher Harper Collins including multiple copies of this novel, specifically with the request to use it for bookclub! How incredible! She gifted one each to a circle of local writers and book-lovers for us to read, with the promise of a chat with wine and cheese at the end of the month.
I must admit, I flew through this book.
I loved the Australiana, and it made me realise I don’t read enough from Aussie authors (bookclub will soon fix that!)—the fictional town of Myrtle with its Country Women’s Association, Aussie volunteer fireies, and themes around friendship were the best aspects.
And although I felt that the story moved too slowly in the beginning, and wrapped up too quickly at the end, I did love the light it shed on the aftermath of a bushfire for regional towns.
It was easy to read, and light entertaining (with darker parts of the plot line though, as a little warning from me).

2. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
THIS. The best book I’ve ever read on writing. Ever.
It’s compiled of short essays, each chapter tackling a theme or an idea or a thought.
It made me want to write, and I did actually begin to see and feel the act of writing and journaling as a practice, the same way as yoga practice or meditation practice. There’s an aspect of writing that we can use as a tool to explore the deepest places in us, to record memories and life. The book reminded me that all of life is magnificent and none of it is unworthy of our attention, and that every one of us has a story and a perspective—a way of looking at the world that is unique to us, and that we can and should write it down.
It reminded me of my deep, forever, unending, passionate love affair with writing. I am so grateful for this book, I know it’s one I’ll go back to again and again.

3. Love Does by Bob Goff
When this book was released, there was a lot of hoo-ha across my Instagram and other social media. It got me curious and I added it to my to-read list.
I finally got around to it, and listened to this one on Audible. I did really enjoy having Bob narrate his own book straight into my earbuds, and I did enjoy his writing style and the way he wove his stories throughout the book—what a life he’s lived! He’d be a great guy to spend a day with, just to hear about his adventures. However. You know when a movie isn’t as good as you expected purely because of the hype around it, and you know you’d have loved it so much more if you didn’t read any reviews or didn’t hear all your friends raving about how phenomenal it was? Yeah. I think I would have enjoyed the book so much more if I’d not had such high expectations. A good reminder to myself to lower them.

4. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
I’ve been diligently following along Reese’s Bookclub recommendations, and borrowed this one from my local library, who I’m sure actually bought the book on my request. I love being the first person ever to read a new library book (book nerd thrills!) While I’ve absolutely loved every one of Reese’s Bookclub books so far, this one is probably my least favourite. Maybe it was the rom-com, chick-lit kinda genre… it just seemed like the plot was pretty linear, and I didn’t get to know protagonist Nikola as well as I would have liked, I think because of the changes in tense. In saying that though, the friendships between the three women are pretty accurate, and did make me laugh at some of their text conversations. I also loved imagining living in East LA, walking to cafes and living in apartments, and drinking in trendy bars, and being a freelance writer for the New York Times and O magazines. It wasn’t terrible, and I read it in less than 24 hours. A good one for a lazy Saturday recovering from the flu.

So. As usual, I’d love to hear your recommendations! What have you read and loved recently?
Have you read any of the above? Did you feel the same about them? Drop me a line and we can have a mini bookclub chat!

For book club this coming month we’re going to read some Tim Winton and the latest from Madeline Miller Circe which I’m telling myself to have ZERO expectations for.

Can you believe we’ve hit June already, and winter here in Australia?
The sunshine today would say otherwise – I’m off to curl up in some of it and read for a little while.


The April Booklist

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.


The March Booklist

Can you read in the car?
When I hear from people who tell me that reading in the car makes them carsick I feel incredibly grateful that this is not something I experience.
Since I was a little girl, reading in the car was one of my favourite things to do.
Our family car was a restored turquoise blue Holden HR, with column shift and vinyl bench seats.

During long trips south I remember spending hours in the car reading.
Whether it was during summer, with the windows wound down and the wind in my hair, or in winter when dad would lean forward and de-fog the front windscreen with the back of his hand, my legs would be curled up on the seat and I’d read as I leaned against the door.

When we went down south recently, I took my Kindle, with Outlander #6.
I read cosied up in camping chairs, curled up on our air mattress in a sleeping bag, and on the big long drive, interspersed with chatting and dreaming and playing ‘eye spy’. I hadn’t allowed myself to start this one for months, because I know how much Outlander draws me into it’s world—and out of the real one. But I figured we were holidaying, so I could afford some immersive fiction. Big, huge, immersive fiction that took me two weeks to read. So this months list is a small one!

March book roundup:

1. Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey
Sarah is by far one of my most favourite authors. She’s deeply spiritual, without being weird—she’s discerning and real, and a storyteller after my own heart. This glimpse into her faith journey is freeing. She’s wrestled and questioned and allowed intellect and spirituality to collide, without squeezing out Jesus, and without pretending she has all the answers. Sarah voices my own faith wrestles, and the way I’ve explored religion, Christianity and the church. It’s deep and profound, but so simple and I think the heart of it echoes the ache we all have, for Jesus and for His Church. There’s something to be said about learning from those who’ve gone before us. It gives us permission to go there too.

2. A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
I will unapologetically, bravely and boldly stand up and say I love this series of books. I love it in the same way I loved the Twilight series, and Harry Potter before that, and The Famous Five before that. I love that they feel never-ending, that the characters evolve and grow, and so do their relationships. I loved being immersed in 1700’s North Carolina, I love the fictional retelling of the American Revolution, and I love Jamie Fraser. Unapologetic.

What are you reading?
What’s on your to-read list?
Do you ever feel like there are too many books and not enough life to read them all?!
It’s a sad thought.

Keep reading.


The February Booklist

So, the second of (hopefully!) twelve booklist instalments.
My goal is to read a book a week this year. And to blog a little review each month.
You can find the January Booklist here.
I’d love you to leave a comment if you’ve read something that you think I’d love—recommend away!

This month hasn’t been super conducive to reading, but it also could be that I found that three out of four books a little bit harder to get through.
Also, it could be that I’ve spent lots of time working on a print devotional book that’s taken time away from reading too. And I may have spent too much time watching Gilmore Girls.

I am loving reading intentionally though.
Less scrolling, more reading.

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a book. – J.K. Rowling

So here’s the February roundup:

1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Kya Clark is one of my favourite characters of all time. This book is poetic, very descriptive but immersive and beautiful. There is the perfect amount of tension in the plot, has the sweetest coming of age element, and it’s heartrending, mysterious, and beautiful. I flew though this book in twenty-four hours, and loved it.
Not disappointed by this Reese’s bookclub recommendation in the slightest (and let’s be honest, I had high expectations!). And, get to reading it fast, because I heard whispers that Reese is going to make a movie from it too!

2. The Library Book by Susan Orlean
I probably should have read this before I read Where the Crawdads Sing—it was a brilliant book, but not quite the thrilling read that I’d just finished! I do love the literary journalism genre and this book had echoes of Capote’s In Cold Blood. It brings to life the story of the Los Angeles Public Library and the fire in it that destroyed more than 400,000 books. Woven through that is a love letter to libraries in general.
It took me back to my own trips to the public library when I was a little girl, with my mum. I’m pretty sure I read through the entire children’s section three times, and I remember the day I discovered the Young Adult shelves. The library was one of my favourite places on earth, and the way Orlean describes library experiences evokes serious nostalgia.

3. Birthing the Sermon-Women Preachers on the Creative Process edited by Jana Childers
Each chapter in this book is an essay by a woman preacher, inviting readers in to her creative process, and then the chapter ends with a manuscript of one of their sermons. They’re American women from a variety of denominations and backgrounds, and many of them have decades of experience in ministry.
I found it so interesting and freeing reading about the different ways all these women prepare their Sunday messages—the way they engage with the scriptures, the way they mull over what they’ve read, the way they pray or listen out for guidance from Heaven, the way they approach the actual writing process (a few quoted Anne Lamott, so, obviously this book had my creative writer-heart!). Their inspiration, routines, disciplines and preaching methods were fascinating.
One of my favourite quotes (this book has been underlined and I’ve made marginal notes—it’ll be one I go back to time and again!). “As to the content of my sermons, I often preach sermons to raise the consciousness of those who feel they have an exclusive right to Jesus and to empower oppressed people to take their place at God’s “welcome table”.” – Yvette Flunder

4. Fasting by Jentezen Franklin
The title is self explanatory, but this book explains the hows, whys and power of fasting as a discipline of faith. I flew through it—it’s simple, easy to read, and made me realise again the importance of relinquishing food for periods of time, both for spiritual, mental and physical health!

So, that’s my February reading wrap-up.
I need more fiction (and less Netflix) in my life, gahh!


The January booklist

Maybe it’s that I’ve finished uni now and haven’t been given a list of books that I have to read and then analyse and then write an essay on. Or it’s just that, sometime last year, I remembered my love of reading; it’s been my escape, my joy, my favourite hobby since I was a little girl.

So, in a post-university effort to keep learning and growing and escaping and finding joy, I’ve committed to myself to read more. Read instead of scroll, read instead of watch, read in place of procrastinate (more accurately is probably read to procrastinate).

And, to keep me a little accountable to this intention, I thought I’d share a monthly booklist.
A wrap up.
Also, you can find me on Goodreads if you want to get ideas for your own to-read list, and see what I’m currently reading.
I love reading non-fiction, but definitely need some can’t-put-down novels to break them up in between.

So, here’s the January round-up:

1. A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed- yet hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.
By Brian D. McLaren

Some Christians in my circles might see this book as a bit controversial, and the emergent church movement a bit threatening, but honestly? This book was a breath of fresh air, and just what I needed. McLaren looks at a whole host of factions of Christianity and pulls out the good, looks at what we can learn from each other, and doesn’t whitewash past ugliness.
I read this book slowly and it’s now covered in post-it notes and underlined.
It created the most in-depth discussions between Daniel and I, over long drives and at night before falling asleep. They always started with, do you think Jesus would…?
Do you think the modern church is…?
I didn’t agree with everything in this book, but I found it so freeing to allow myself to think outside of my Western Church experience, and I find it a comfort that there are people in the world who are pushing back at religiosity.

2. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

This reminded me a lot of Eleanor Oliphant—Britt-Marie is another character who is endearing and quirky, and so is the host of other characters. She expresses her fear that no-one will notice if she dies, and some of the ways she thinks about this fear, her loneliness and ultimately her desire to be loved, were so incredibly sad and beautiful. I flew through this book in less than 24 hours.

3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This book wasn’t quite the page-turner as Britt-Marie Was Here, but easy to read nonetheless.
I felt that some of the characters weren’t quite as developed as I wanted them to be, and it was a bit slow-moving. It raises questions of what it takes to be a mother, and how the consequences of our decisions can spark unintentional future fires. The plot was enough to keep me reading, and it definitely speeds up towards the end.

4. The Vertical Self: How Biblical faith can help us discover who we are in an age of self obsession
by Mark Sayers

I wrote in an earlier post that this book is cultural commentary and self discovery gold. And to think it was written even before Instagram!
It’s a must-read for anyone with social media (so, everyone) and is a not so gentle reminder that our worth and identity does not/should not come from the culture we’re immersed in, from movies and television, from social media, from elevating performance over character. Read my post about Instagram and you’ll get an idea of what rumblings it caused in my inner world.

What did you read in January? Have you read any of these books? I would love to hear your thoughts!