what i read in march.

This month, I continue my average from February of four books in four weeks and add my 2017 stack to a total number of eleven books! I hope that as I reach one of the busiest seasons of my life (I see you coming, May!), I will only continue making reading good, long, sharpening books a priority. (And what better way to procrastinate homework?) March held: Two memoirs, one novel, and one biography. There were two books out of this roundup that were winners for me – they are compelling, convicting, and stories that I personally connected to immediately. The other two held little substance for me. Let’s dig in!

  • The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines 

Go and find what it is that inspires you, go and find what it is that you love, and go do that until it hurts.

For those of you who may not know (who are you? where do you live??), Chip and Joanna Gaines are the TV hosts of Fixer Upper on HGTV. They are strong believers and hard workers. This book read as an easy-going dialogue between Chip and Joanna as they gave us glimpses into their childhood, dating years, newlywed adventures, and into the details of how they have built their career and family. I traveled to Waco over Spring Break and this book brought the details of everything I experienced (like driving by where Chip and Jo met, swinging at Magnolia Market…) to a new level of appreciation. On the other hand, it also spurred me on personally to tackle my God-given desires with boldness. If you love Chip and Jo, you’ll have more reasons why when you get your hands on this book. I am cheering you on Gaines’ and praying that you continue restoring dusty, beautiful things to bring God glory!

 

  • Chasing Slow: Courage To Journey Off The Beaten Path by Erin Loechner 

Perhaps we were never meant to change the pace. We were meant to surrender it.

Chasing Slow is about living an abundant life, saying no to the rat race and certain components of the American dream, simplifying, and also giving yourself grace in the mess. This book is SO aesthetically pleasing with beautiful typography and photography. I am tucking many ideas from this book in my pocket! I started cleaning out my closet (again). I took stock of my priorities. I prayed hard prayers about loving the poor and then did something about it. For this, I am so grateful! But, overall, I found Loechner’s voice to be condescending and life-draining. I found the extras in the book (recipes, added blurbs, a few misplaced stories in my opinion) to be good, but just not fitting. I’ll be recommending and furthering the ideas and a few quotes this book carries to friends for many days to come, but probably not the book itself.

 

  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’ Connor 

The black sky was underpinned with long silver streaks that looked like scaffolding and depth on depth behind it were thousands of stars that all seemed to be moving very slowly as if they were about some vast construction work that involved the whole order of the universe and would take all time to complete. No one was paying attention to the sky.

My girl Flannery disappointed me with this one. This novel was haunting. Unlike Flannery’s short stories, I missed the redemption song she usually, however subtly, ties into the narrative. There were many paragraphs that blew me away with her imagery and understanding of humanity. O’Connor is amazing at capturing heartbreaking human emotion and transforming that into tangible empathy for the reader to take away. That’s the best I can say about Wise Blood.  (Also, book cover goals. But that’s not the point. 😉 )

 

  • Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More — Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior 

More’s life shows that the facts and our wishes can produce great stories when serving things much grander than ourselves, and that the stories we tell ourselves and others matter.

I first heard about Hannah More when I was reading Seven Women by Eric Metaxas last May, and I was shocked about how quietly her story is being told in the 21st century. Hannah was, as the the book title describes, a poet, reformer, and abolitionist living from 1745 – 1833. She was known for her wit and her never-pausing pen. A pen that aided the abolition of slavery in England weeks before she died. More’s life proved the importance of friendships and hospitality, the balance between strong convictions and tolerance, and loving God with your whole heart. She pushed the boundaries, but stood tall in the lines she believed in. I hope to be like Hannah More as a writer, as a citizen, as a friend, and as a woman of God.  Hannah’s story needs to be told and rewritten in our lives today — start by learning about how Hannah glorified God in her life with Fierce Convictions!

Next Up…

You are Free: Be Who You Already Are by Rebekah Lyons

Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (I am making progress!)

What books have you put down this month and what books can you not put down?

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what i read in may

These books that I finished this month are powerhouses.

They both also happened to be about biblical womanhood: gentle and strong, generous and loyal, humble and confident, wild and free.

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13. Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan

Wild women know that the aroma of Christ and the wind of the Holy Spirit flowing through their home make it sweeter than any candle they could find at Anthropologie. -Jess Connolly

If you need a book that doesn’t sugarcoat cramps, this insecure generation of Spandex wearers, all the other joys and insecurities of being a woman, and the truth of the Gospel – don’t look any farther. I was nervous about digging into this one, because I had heard so much hype online about how it was already working in so many hearts in the first few weeks of it being released. I don’t read many books involving women’s interests these days, but this one was worth the hype for me. It’s about loving people well and wearing red lipstick. It’s about glorifying God and not being disgusted in your own skin. It’s about living freely and being yourself in the security of your identity. In addition to this book’s debunking of the lies we believe of being not enough or too much, it was so fun to read a quote from John Piper, see lyrics from Lauren Daigle, and read a story about Corrie ten Boom — all of which are some of my favorites. I will be keeping this one nearby for awhile so that I can revisit highlights and journal through the rough patches. I hope Jess and Hayley go on to write more books, individually or together!

Recommendation status: I could have shared hundreds of quotes with you, but instead I say: Read this book. I’ll be anxious to hear what God does through it in your life.

231 Pages.

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14. Seven Women by Eric Metaxas

Perhaps the best thing about biographies is that they enable us to slip the strictures of time and provide a bracing corrective to our tendency to see everything in the dark glass of our own era, with all its blind spots, motes, beams, and distortions. We must be honest enough to recognize that each era cannot help having a pinched, parochial view of things, and of course the largest part of that parochialism is that each era thinks it is not parochial at all. Each era has the fatal hubris to believe that it has once and for all climbed to the top of the mountain and can see everything as it is, from the highest and most objective vantage point possible. But to assert that ours is the only blinker-less view of things is to blither fatuousness. We need to delve into the past to know that we have not progressed to any point of perfection and objectivity, and in examining the lives of these seven women, we are doing just that. We see that our view of many things, not least our view of how women can be great, is fatally tinged by our own cultural assumptions. The Bible says we are to humble ourselves, and in reading the stories of great men and women from the past, we inevitably do just that. But in humbling ourselves in that way we ironically gain a far greater objectivity and a far better vantage point from which to see things.

When I picked up this book, I already knew I loved biographies, Eric Metaxas, and most of the women in the book, so I knew it would quickly become a favorite. In short and sweet fashion, we visit the lives of Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa. The stories range from the beginning with  Joan of Arc in 1412 to Rosa Park’s death in 2005. Some women I already knew of well, some I didn’t know of at all. Some shocked me, and some relit a fire in me to become more like them. I look forward to studying a few of their lives more intensely in the future, and I am grateful for this easy-to-follow book that was my kickstart. It stepped on my toes in all of the necessary and holy ways.

Recommendation status: If you love history and want to grow as a woman of God, this will be a perfect fit for you.

190 Pages.

Books I’ve put down and rejected this month:

  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Her writing, I will say first and foremost, is elegant and beautiful. I was okay with reading a few cuss words here and there, but when she called God a faulty name, I knew the rest would not be worth my attention. I’m sad that she had to include that, because I was looking forward to reading more of her beautiful words.

Up Next On The Reading List . . .

Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

Surprised by Laughter by Terry Linovall, PH.D.

No Baggage by Clara Bensen