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Another Bunch of Book Reviews

 This past summer has been a whirlwind of fun activities, vacations, family time, and of course down time. I normally choose to use most of my free time for reading, and instead of doing bi-weekly reviews of individual books, I find it's just been easier to do them in one lumped together post. Here was my first, in the middle of summer, and today I'm going to share the eight books I've read or am currently reading these past two months. I realize the majority of these are spirituality books. I must have been on some sort of religious kick. Like all of my hobbies, this must have gone in spurts.

*Love Does by Bob Goff was the book my women's bible study settled on for a summer read. I couldn't have been more pleased with this book over the summer. It's not a hard theological book, it's a light and breezy, yet somehow deep collection of autobiographical stories of Bob's learned lessons going through life meeting people, loving them, and spreading the love of Christ by doing. This book is so touching, I'd recommend it to just about anyone. I passed on my copy and bought another for a friend, too!

*I first saw Francis Chan's book Forgotten God on an ad in Relevant magazine. It touches on a topic I was learning about, the Holy Spirit, and wanted to know more about. I had never read an entire book just on the Holy Spirit, so I was intrigued. This book is quite easy to read, and isn't very long. If I remember correctly it's maybe 165 pages or so. I finished this book in a few days, but my expectations were too high. I thought this was going to be a very rigorous look at the Scripture involving the Spirit, and had my hopes up for a challenging book. This book was neither rigorous nor challenging, yet for the new believer and someone who is interested in this topic could get a lot out of this book. If it explains it better, I was maybe looking for a '400 level' and found a '100 level' instead. 

*Back in Lincoln I had a friend who had recently had a baby girl named Davy. I had never heard this name for a girl before, and I love hearing how people name their children. I asked her about it one day and she told me the story of a couple in a book that had an incredible marriage, were friends with C.S. Lewis, and converted from paganism to Christianity. The wife's name was Davy and my friend and her husband loved this book so much they named her child after her. Well! That was enough to pique my interest and read the book. Of course that's the very simplified version. The long version is the book A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. I could see why the couple loved this book so much and re-read it yearly. It is a stunning example of a marriage, (problems and joys) and was a wonderful book to read and be touched by. I'm very glad I kept on, as the first 50-75 pages or so were slow for me, but by the end I was blubbering like a fool.

*I don't even remember how I came across My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss, but I remember thinking about how many French foodie-memoirs I've read, with nary a German title in that group. I do love a good foodie-memoir, too! This book is about an in-between child. Luisa grew up traveling back and forth between parents in the States and also to Berlin, Germany. When she was in her twenties, she had the unexplainable urge to uproot her life in the states, job and all, and move back to Berlin, where she remembered her fond childhood before her parents divorce. From that time on, her life changed drastically as she encountered emotional and social anxieties, met the love of her life, started becoming serious with her writing craft, and eventually feeling at home. The book is full of German recipes, with a few Italian ones mixed in (her mother is Italian). I tried one of them, but made it my own. It was a German recipe for a cherry quart tart/cheesecake, but I turned it into lemon + quark. It was delicious! What better accolade can you give a foodie-memoir than to try out one of the recipes mixed in? 

*A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans hadn't been on my radar long, though I hate to say my first thought about it was, "she's just copying that other guy and doing the female version". I wonder if these two authors were working on this side by side, or which actually came first, her idea or his. I read this book fairly quickly and the chapters were long but interesting throughout. The premise of the book is that Rachel was going to take certain aspects of the bible to an extremely literal for one year, and write about it. It is part autobiographical of this time, part research of her own Christian faith and research she's done on the topics interspersed throughout the book. Some of it I loved, some I didn't. This book would garner some GREAT book club discussions, whatever your opinion.

*Life After Art by Matt Appeling was on my book list immediately when I saw it over at Chatting at the Sky. I was very interested to read a book that talked about creativity after 'life gets in the way'. I have had many struggles over the years with my own creativity. This blog is only one small piece of that pie, and it's mostly just a jotting down of things I want to reflect on, or more honestly, not forget. I stopped scrapbooking ages ago because it was too time-consuming. This is my online scrapbook of adventures, feelings, and lists. I do love a good list. This book was challenging adults to get back to creativity of some sort--whatever that looks like--now that life has sunk in. It's got to be intentional. It's not going to be very good. We're going to fail. It's part of all of us. A short little book, again no more than 150 pages or so, I felt this was worth the two days it took me to read it. I enjoyed it.

*Ann Patchett's award winner Bel Canto has been on my booklist for years. It's a novel, and if you've noticed anything from this list, it's the only piece of fiction on it! I just don't have an easy time quickly finishing fiction unless it's Harry Potter. I can finish one of those 800+ paged books in mere days. Hours, if my family would leave me alone. If you couldn't tell, I'm currently reading this book. I've stopped to take a break and inserted the last two books on this list in the past two weeks. Now I'm back at reading it, and hoping to finish before I start another nonfiction (wait, too late, see book below). It's an intriguing story of a wealthy symphony lover, a beautiful singer, a roomful of hostages, and a South American guerilla team, and what happens over the course of their internment. I'm less than 100 pages in, but I like it. I have plans to read Patchett's State of Wonder this year, too. 

*The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer is a massive tome at over 800 pages, but it's been on my book list for awhile, too. It's a book about classical education from the matriarchs of the subject, Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, the latter who wrote the very popular history narratives "Story of the World", which is what I read to the kids for their history lessons twice a week. This book is more of an informative glimpse at how classical education works (something we do only by one regard--living books) and the huge resource list within the chapters on each subject. I'd wanted to read this for awhile, and when I saw it on Home Connection's library shelf, I snatched it, knowing I could literally check it out for the entire 9 months Lukka goes to HC. It'll probably take me that long to read it, as I can only digest about 10-20 pages a day. I'll report back in a few months!

What are you reading and what type of literature stretches you outside your comfort zone? 


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