what i read in january.

I feel refreshed after a month of getting back into a reading routine and gaining momentum after a two month period of finishing not. one. single. book. In summary, I read 24 books in 2016 with an average of 2 books a month! I hope to kick that number in the butt in 2017, but am pleased about the titles I accomplished and lingered over this past year. You can find all my past book reviews here. 

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  • Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything In Between) by Lauren Graham

Writers: how therapists buy summer homes. 

Lauren Graham is the main star of two of my favorite shows, Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. This memoir, unlike A Year In The Life, was no disappointment. (Although the endings of both leave the same confused and hopeless feelings. Just a warning.) Graham took us through the beginning of her career, season by season through Gilmore Girls, gave writers some fantastic tips, skirted us through the adventures of her love life, and gave a lovely tribute to Parenthood. It was light and breezy – there wasn’t a real common thread that pulled the whole book together in harmony which at times annoyed me.  I received this one as a gift on Christmas day and had it finished within a week! If you love Gilmore Girls as much as I do, definitely pick this one up. As a bonus, I already had Lauren’s voice in my head as she told her stories and that added to the simple charm of the book!

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  • Writing Down The Bones: Freeing The Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

I write because there are stories that people have forgotten to tell, because I am a woman trying to stand up in my life. I write because to form a word with your lips and tongue or think a thing and then dare to write it down so you can never take it back is the most powerful thing I know. I am trying to come alive, to find the distances in my own recesses and bring them forward and give them color and form.

This book was the best book I have read about writing to date. I have had this one on my shelf for almost a year, but once I gave this book more than a glance, I couldn’t put it down. I decided to not highlight my favorite segments, because I wouldn’t quit highlighting. I love Goldberg’s unique voice, how she faces the struggles, reality, and glory of writing. I’ll keep this one nearby for years to come and pull out an essay or two when I am feeling discouraged and at a dead-end in my projects. Natalie Goldberg is a Buddhist, so at times the book stretched out of my belief system and comfort zone, but it’s important to read a bit from people you don’t understand and overall that didn’t overshadow the heart of the book! I was expecting a boring yet helpful book on writing, and instead was met with a poetic, thrilling, helpful account!

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  • Girl Meets Change: Truths To Carry You Through Life’s Transitions by Kristen Strong

When God uses change to send us packing, He sends us with the promise of blessing too.

January held some gut-wrenching change for me, and the rest of the year will be no different, so I picked this one up on a whim when I was taking care of my responsibilities at my church library. This book was a helpful companion, and I would recommend it, especially for those who are new to the faith or need a “change of scenery” so to speak! Kristen Strong was a new author for me. Honestly, I didn’t like her style of writing at all, but the heart of the God-given truths kept me going until the last page.

Currently reading…

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp (for the second time)

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend 

Abiding in Christ by Andrew Murray

Way of the Heart by Henri J. M. Nouwen

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Friends, what are you reading right now? Do you have a monstrous reading goal marked for yourself in 2017? Tell me what you have recently hated or loved!

 

 

 

 

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what I read in July.

HOW IN THE WORLD IS JULY ALMOST OVER?

Half of my heart is grieving that these are the last few weeks of summer, while the other half is quietly anticipating the comeback of skinny jeans and Grey’s Anatomy. There is still much beauty to savor, and the beauty of autumn to anticipate.

As far as reading goes this month, I kicked off by finishing one of the best books I have ever read, and then put many books down or procrastinated opening them out of pure boredom.

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17. Scary Close: Dropping The Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller 

You can’t control somebody and have intimacy with them at the same time. They may stay because they fear you, but true love casts out fear.

No love is conditional. If love is conditional, it’s just some sort of manipulation masquearading as love.

Scary Close was a book that I had on my shelf for several months. I didn’t dive into it because I was afraid of how much it would convict me, because just look at that tagline. Although I know that was a silly reason, I believe that God led me to the pages at just the right time in my life and once I got going I finished it within just a few days. I’ll be the first to admit that I hate dating books. But, I especially loved this one because it didn’t have boundaries that only applied to friendships, dating, or marriage — it played into all of those components, although most of the stories come from Donald’s dating life and from his engagement period. The book takes you through personal mud as you contemplate insecurities, performance anxiety, manipulation, being too careful, and true love that equals immense amounts of grace. It was truly one of the best books I have ever read, and I don’t say this lightly. Donald has such a unique writing voice that I have always loved; it instructs you like a teacher, makes you laugh, and invites you in like a friend. He shared in particularly vulnerable ways in Scary Close that was essential, convicting, and breathtaking for the sake of the message of true intimacy.

Recommendation status: GET YOUR HANDS ON THIS BOOK, REGARDLESS OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP STATUS. I believe that the truths within it are vital to healthy, grace-filled relationships.

226 pages.

Books I Have Put Down and/or Rejected This Month…

  • For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. I got over 200 pages in. I plan on finishing it eventually. I swoon at Hemingway’s style, but the plot was boring me.
  • Hemingway in Love. I’ll finish this one alongside For Whom The Bell Tolls in the distant future, hopefully.
  • It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke. This book is easy-to-read and tackles an incredible topic, but I’m taking it back to the library because it was always on the backburner between all the other books I am reading.
  • Walking The Bible. I just never got far enough in it to be hooked!

I am all about giving books a solid chance, but sometimes there are other ones on the shelf that deserve more of my attention at the present moment.

Up Next On The Reading List…

Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Marsh

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper

A Testament to Freedom by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

All The Light We Cannot See

Wise Blood by Flannery O’ Connor

 

 

 

what i read in june.

This month was all about packing light and letting go of all the right things, with two very different memoirs.

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15. No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love & Wandering by Clara Bensen 

I demanded rainbows like Noah and manna like Moses. I wanted to feel eternity shooting up my spine.

This travel memoir was less about minimalism and more about a love story in a way that I didn’t expect — I originally picked it up because I thought it was going to help me clean out my closet. Instead, Bensen shares about her story through a big chunk of Europe and parts of Asia in three weeks with her “boyfriend” (although they at the time they didn’t even know if they were going to become exclusive), never changing from the same dress. She grew up in a conservative Christian home, and was homeschooled, and has now rejected the faith. For this reason, it was sad to see the blinders in her eyes to the gospel –  but if you want a lighthearted memoir, it was a fun summer read overall – with accurate looks into modern romance.

Recommendation status: It’s not the best book to find wisdom and guidance, but she is a beautiful writer and I’m glad I read it.

286 Pages.

 

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16. Packing Light: Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt 

Maybe it’s what makes a chance worth taking, even when it’s dangerous — the opportunity to live a life that extends beyond us, that saves the lives of others. 

This book was about her 50-state road trip and all the lessons that she learning about holding on and letting go along the way. It’s a sweet, honest depiction of love, heartbreak, and friendship. I appreciated her fresh perspective on the gospel. She covers a myriad of topics, but made everything fit sweetly into the purpose of the book. Once again, it was less about minimalism in itself — but it expressed the reasons behind living with less, both emotionally and materialistically.  I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of Allison Vesterfelt before — some of her reviewers were Gary Thomas, Shauna Niequist, and John Mark Comer.

Recommendation status: If you are looking for a pep talk to embrace the life you’ve always dreamed of, this is a good place to start.

252 pages.

 

Up Next On The Reading List…

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Scary Close by Donald Miller

For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life — Hannah Whitall Smith

 

one book september

I completed one chapter book last month.

I’ve opened a few novels, underlined a few words in some nonfiction, but once I inhaled this book in less than five days, I reevaluated the books that I read in a sense of obligation, or if they truly align with my passions.

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21. If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski.

“We lose people. And so a lot of folks live with a lot of pain. Much is mystery but God asks us to love, not just when it’s easy and not just when a certain Scripture fits. What does it look like to love someone who lives in a place you’ve never been? When there are no words? Or what about allowing someone to love you when you feel completely alone, like no one can relate?
Beyond that, maybe it’s better not to fake it, not to offer something cheap. For the rest of us still here, with air in our lungs and tears in our eyes, perhaps we are meant to simply meet one another in the questions.”

I read this book in a manner of days. This is rare. Jamie Tworkowski is the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms, the nonprofit seeking to spread awareness and offer help to those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. To learn more, click here and visit their website. In this book, Tworkowski compiled essays and old blog posts into one heartwarming book. His words are not only beautifully written, but hold so much meaning. The title is what first attracted me to the book (because I’ve often felt like I do feel ”too much”), before I even knew that Jamie Tworkowski wrote it or that he loves Jesus. This book has changed the way I view myself, how I act and love in my friendships, and ministry as a whole. I spent the rest of September reading all the notes and excerpts I wrote on the book, and will continue to review those notes as months and months pass. If anyone would like to buy me this book for my personal library or buy me a gift card from the TWLOHA website, I would graciously accept. (Just kidding. Maybe.)

[Children’s Book Highlight!]

  If you know me much at all, you know I have the deepest admiration for Audrey Hepburn. I’ve been looking for this children’s book of hers for months and months. I finally found it downtown in Branson, MO! The illustrator did a perfect job capturing Audrey’s looks and style, while the writer perfectly summed up all the stages of Audrey’s life. It was both an educational look into Audrey’s history with the strong theme of always just being yourself. If I have a little girl someday, this will definitely be one of her first books.

This book by William Joyce was such a fun little read. It was recommended to me by a friend and I loved his way with intricate words that aren’t often encouraged in a children’s book. If you love words, this is a perfect book to rekindle your passion or to read to a child that would encourage them in that direction!