My summer reading list became a bit excessive towards the end of the summer and I found myself checking out tons of books from the library, starting a few, and then ending up with overdue fines because I couldn’t find the time to finish the ones I had checked out. My normal bent is toward non-fiction, so this year I’ve been trying to branch back into fiction. However, this summer I was so tired that it would take me weeks to get through one novel. Several pages in at the end of the day and I would be sound asleep. Also, my monthly lists are becoming smaller as the year goes on, a sign that my reading life ebbs and flows depending on what’s happening in my daily life. And I’m okay with that.
There are some wonderful books that have either just been released, or are coming out later this fall, and I’m finding that I might need to break my ‘no-buying-new-books’ rule in 2016. Stories are beautiful and words are powerful, which is why I enjoy reading and sharing my favorites here with you.
In no particular order, here are the books I read in July and August.
Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame – Heather Davis Nelson. I loved this book and I plan to re-read it in the winter because there are surely things that I missed. Shame hasn’t been a word that I thought applied to me. When I was preparing to move to the Middle East during my senior year of college, I spent a lot of time reading books about honor/shame and guilt/innocence. Eastern cultures are built more on an honor and shame system, and Western culture has historically been guilt and innocence driven. So, when I started talking about Heather’s book with her, over a year ago now, I knew I would read her book (because she’s my friend), but I didn’t think I would need her message. Boy, was I wrong. Over the past year, shame has been creeping into my heart and mind in ways that I never expected. Guilt is the feeling that I’ve done something wrong. Shame is the feeling that there is something wrong with me. Feelings of shame have come out most strongly in my mothering. Daily I feel a chasm of who I would like to be as a Mom and who I am as a Mom. This book touches on a number of issues in our lives that cause shame, how we can live free from that, and that the best place to talk about our shame is within the community of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Please, read this book, and begin conversations about your shame and the shame of those you love.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Chris Cleave. I did not want this book to end, and I don’t know that I’ve ever said that about a book. This is a love story, but it’s historical fiction as well, and a beautifully crafted piece of literature. I wanted to highlight things the characters said because they captured so well thoughts and feelings that resonated with me. If you want a well-written novel (not fluffy), this one is perfect.
When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalinithi. Our pastor mentioned this book during one of his sermons in the spring, and my sister recommended it in one of her blog posts, so when I saw it on the shelf at the library, I picked it up. I was deeply moved and inspired by the story of Paul’s life. Be prepared to cry with this one.
Fresh out of Amazing: Opening Your Heart to God’s Unexpected Invitation, Stacey Thacker. This is a new one that just released in August. Stacey communicates so beautifully the struggle that we have to live life to the fullest when we feel anything but full. There’s a constant battle within each of us to serve God and honor Him with our lives and yet feel as if we have nothing to offer. Whether through challenging circumstances or just feeling discouraged, Stacey points again and again to the power of Christ within us. If you’ve ever felt fresh out of amazing, you’ll be encouraged by this one.
When We Were Sisters, Emilie Richards. Whenever I go to the library with the kids, I always take them to the kids’ section first to pick out their books and then play for a few minutes. We then make our way downstairs and right by the check out counter is a shelf of newly released books. I found this novel on that shelf and it looked intriguing. This is a beautiful story of two women who became sisters through foster care when they were young. Now, as adults, they are facing their past and learning to overcome some of the painful relationships and circumstances that left permanent scars. There are some disturbing events and unexpected twists, but I appreciated the insight I gained into the emotions and horrific situations that many children in the foster system experience.
My current reading list will go out in my newsletter later next week, so if you’re interested in what’s on my nightstand these days, sign up to receive updates by email.