It’s about time for another overview of some of the books I have been reading. I’m not going to list nearly all of the books I have read in the past few months, but I will name a few I can recommend. I’m part of a local library book club, which I love, but I don’t always love the books! And sometimes my interest is piqued in a book that I later find disappointing.
I’ll start with a couple children’s books. My 3-year-old’s favorite book is Sam Who Was Swallowed by a Shark by Phyllis Root. (Keane is not the first of our children to absolutely love this book!) It’s sweet, dreamy, and charmingly illustrated. The story appeals to the wandering child hidden in all of us. Our family quotes from the book when we are feeling sorry for ourselves: “Poor Sam, tangled up in wild seaweed. Poor Sam, swallowed by a shark.” Another line I use when I am talking about something I really want to do: “The sea is calling me…It sings to me in my dreams.” By the way, Sam was not swallowed by a shark, contrary to the dire predictions of Mr. Barleybean and Mrs. Seednibbler.
Another children’s book that gets us every time is The Piggy in the Puddle. This book written by Charlotte Pomerantz is delightful and funny; the play on words only adds to the hilarity! Both adults and children at our house laugh and laugh over the stubborn pig who refuses to get out of the puddle. The piggy dawdles and diddles, she waddles in the merry middle. The ending of the book is priceless!
My boys love The Action Bible: God’s Redemptive Story. One of the midwives I work with recommended this, and I am not sorry I bought it! The Action Bible is packed with cartoon drawings and follows the chrononogical storyline of the Bible. Early readers can catch a lot just by looking at all the pictures. My eight-year-old son literally spends hours reading this book.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is a poignant story of a girl with dyslexia who didn’t fit in, and who didn’t realize how gifted she really was. She gained a new perspective on life thanks to a kind, tenacious teacher. This is a tender story that helps us understand the desire to belong, and the intrinsic worth of each person whether or not they “fit in.”
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows was recommended by one of my book club friends, and I enjoyed the book immensely. Clever, funny, and tragic all rolled into one, the book describes a collection of people who formed a book club during WWII. I love the humanity of this book, and it’s an easy read for the days you need an escape.
My favorite book club book last year was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. If you read just one novel this year, read this one. The book is well-written, and you’ll find yourself caught up in the pilgrimage, annoyed at the delays, and wondering how the journey will end. Harold Fry is a gentle, likeable man on a 600-mile journey to visit a dying woman, believing that every day he walks keeps her alive another day. Warning: you might cry at the end of this book.
Continuing with the “unlikely” theme, I read The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield on a Sunday afternoon recently. I found the book both thoughtful and challenging. Butterfield describes her journey out of lesbianism into the Christian community. One of the things that first drew her was the warm kindness of an elderly couple who listened to her questions as they ate together.
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi kept me occupied while putting ice on my knees three times a day after my physical therapy. I hate ice, but I love reading, so this was a welcome chance to pick up a book! Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus is the testimony of a Muslim who came to Christianity after several years of researching and wrestling with the things he discovered. Nabeel’s friend David was a critical component of his journey. Even when they didn’t agree on religion, they were best friends and enjoyed being together. This book is intellectual and full of heart.
Adopted for Life by Russell Moore spiritualizes the concept of adoption, and describes participating in adoption as absolutely central to fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus. This book is both theological and practical, a very rich read. (I can’t describe how humbled and grateful I felt when one of my cousins bought me the book to show her support for our journey toward becoming foster parents. That is what it means to be the church–we work together to help take care of the fatherless!) Adopted for Life is the best book on adoption that I have read so far.
As one of the few people in my town who believe in nonresistance/nonviolence, I found Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence by Preston Sprinkle to be very helpful. Some of his ideas I felt a little skeptical about, but much of the book was fascinating and convincing. Overall it’s a good read if you’re interested in the subject of nonviolence, and the book helps to answer some questions about the violence depicted in the Old Testament.
Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg is an essential read for anyone involved in ministry of any sort. Soul Keeping talks about caring for our souls so that we are able to give, and it discusses this subject with a reflective and nourishing focus on God. Discussions about soul-care often come across smacking vaguely of selfishness, but this book is completely different in that regard. Ortberg’s initial description of the soul in the first few chapters was a bit confusing to me, but don’t let that hold you back. This book has become one of my favorite spiritual books. It’s so good!
Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith by D.L. Mayfield is refreshingly honest. I’m only about a fourth of the way through the book now, but I’m liking it enough that I decided to include it here. I definitely identify with the author’s realization that what we think ministry should look like is often very different from what people around us truly need. The work of love is hard, but deeply rewarding.
That’s a long enough list for now! What books have you been reading? I’d love to hear your suggestions!
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