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January Titles // 2018

comfy 'nests' by the fire; perfect reading spots!

I had an excellent reading month, for two reasons: I read a lot of short books (under 300 pages), and finished up two that were nearly completed from December. Eight books in one month is a stretch for me. Although I might have one more 'excellent' reading month in February, March, and on until early June, is where things start to get busy and my reading time will fall significantly. My best reading time is right before bed, from about 8-10PM. The kids are in bed and I get a second wind. If I try reading during the middle of the day break-quiet time-I will fall asleep immediately! I re-read two books this month, too, which is unusual as I'm not normally a re-reader but one was for book club (my choice!) and the other was with a smaller book club (also sort of my choice) because I thought they were excellent and I wanted to share them. You'll see below which those were. Here's what I read:

Watch for the Light by numerous authors - This was a devotional anthology I read for Advent, and it starts on Nov. 25th and ends with Epiphany-Jan 7. I had high expectations for this because it has such amazing authors attached to it (TS Elliot, Annie Dillard, Thomas Merton, etc.) but I didn't love it as much as I would have thought. I liked the practice of going throughs something very seasonal, though, and may repeat that again next year, but as for this book, I've passed it on to someone who I thought might enjoy it more.

The Irrational Season by Madeline L'Engle - This is from the Crosswicks (#3) journal series and the books I read one per year around Christmastime because I love them and want to savor them. L'Engle is one of my favorite authors, nevermind that she's female and a Christian. I plan to read everything she ever wrote over my lifetime (hopefully!) and I am thinking the kids might be ready for the Time Quintet next year...or the year after. This specific book was more about spiritual life/formation/failure than anything. I can't overly categorize it, but if you like L'Engle, start with A Circle of Quiet. 

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach - This was a reread from last year, but a small group of mine went through it together and I think everyone enjoyed reading it (it's easy and quick) and took some points to heart. It's about the tension of truth and grace as it pertains to how the church should be loving LGTB members and communities. Very worthwhile. 

You Can't Make Me! by Cindy Tobias - I read this quick little book from the kids' school library and I gained some excellent insight into the Strong Willed Child (SWC)'s mind. The subtitle is a little bit more telling, "But I can be persuaded"....and it's really a book about communication, expectations, and ownership. Helpful and practical if you've got a SWC (or two or more!) in your family that you're finding you're butting heads with. 

Called to Create by Jordan Raynor - I pre-ordered this book to try to win a trip to England to visit the CS Lewis estate, let's just be honest. An $11 'raffle ticket' (that's also a book!) couldn't hurt right? I did find the advertising of this book to be a bit confusing as I thought I was going to be reading a nonfiction book about Christian, calling, creativity as it pertains to art, but it was about creativity as it pertains to entrepreneurism. I thought it was interesting nonetheless, but am passing it on to my father-in-law, who I thought may enjoy it. 

Barking to the Choir by Fr. Gregory Boyle - One of my favorite books awhile back was Tattoos on the Heart, Boyle's first book about Homeboy Industries in LA. If you've never heard of Homeboy, go HERE immediately and get inspired by this amazing program. Barking was a similar book, with less cohesiveness, in my opinion, but just as many touching stories about rehabilitation of LA gang members, their families, and neighborhoods. I love reading this kind of thing, but this book was sort of a Pt. 2 that felt like there was no fluidity between chapters or sections. 

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier - Remember Girl With the Pearl Earring that was an international bestseller and then became a movie? That's Chevalier. I went on to read her entire bibliography and I love her historical writing. This is her newest and it's very short. It's also a part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, a different take on the Othello story. I didn't know the story of Othello, so it didn't spoil anything for me, but I loved this book about a day in the life of a 6th grade class in Washington DC in the 70s, when a new boy-the only African American at the school- comes on his first day of class. I know it doesn't sound overly intriguing but it was so good. 

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - This is another reread for me, this particular book, my third time through. It's my turn in book club to choose + host, and I picked this because it's one of my all time favorite books, and I wanted to share it with my friends in book club. While some might think it slow or without plot, I have a hunch many of the women will love this book. It's a letter from an old man who has pastored a church in Gilead, Iowa for decades, and it's to his young son, whom he loves, and his prodigal grandson, of whom he is wary. Robinson is one of the best writers I've ever read and this book makes me cry nearly throughout because of the beautiful language and the tenderness of the father. I think almost anyone would like this book. If you dislike the books with slow plot, put this one on audio and savor the voice. 

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