2016 reading wrap-up

As I’ve mentioned, I made my 2016 reading goals via the  Challies 2016 Reading Challenge. I didn’t quite make it, but I’m okay with that because I feel like my reading life was reinvigorated this year, even as my work life was super busy . I didn’t stick to the categories in the reading challenge, but this rule-follower is actually okay with that, too. Here’s what I read this year, followed by my five favorites of the year:

bestillA book about Christian living:  Be Still, My Soul (25 Classic and Contemporary Readings on the Problem of Pain). I started this one last year and finished it on New Year’s Day.

I recommend this collection of essays from noted theologians like J.I. Packer, Joni Eareckson Tada, Martin Luther, and John Piper. My favorite essay was from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

fierceA biography: Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More, Poet, Abolitionist, Reformer by Karen Swallows Prior

This is a fascinating read that I will be thinking about long after today. I hope to share more soon.

energyA self-improvement book: The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon

We’re going through this book at work. It’s a quick read, so I finished it in just a few days.

A classic novel: Lord of the Flies by William Golding flies

How in the world did I miss this book all these years? It was a page-turner, and I loved its depths. I’ll be thinking about it for a long time. If you haven’t read it yet, don’t wait!

domoreA book about productivity: Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies

This was another good read. I’m planning to set aside some time this coming weekend to set up the system he recommends. I appreciated how he reminds the reader why we should strive to be productive.

wowA book about theology: Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin

This is a really good resource for women who want to know God’s Word better. It is both practical and encouraging, and I’ll be referring to it again, I’m sure.

happinessA book about joy or happiness: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I didn’t love this one. Part of the problem may have been the format; I listened to the book on my commute via Audible, and I don’t think it’s a book that works that way. The author read it, and I found her voice distracting. Also, she would periodically read excerpts from emails or blog comments, and I had trouble distinguishing when she was referring to herself or reading something someone else wrote. I suspect I would have taken more away from the book if I’d actually read it. There are a few ideas that have stuck with me, however. One was an idea she repeated: being heavy is easy, but being light-hearted is hard. It takes effort.  Also, she talked about the idea of enthusiasm as a form of social courage. I’ve thought about that one a good bit, too. If you’re looking for a book on happiness, I think Happiness Is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager is a better choice.

bonhoefferA book that won a ECPA Christian Book award: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

I’ve owned this one on Kindle for a long time, and countless people have recommended it to me but for some reason I’ve only just now gotten to it. It’s very good. I really appreciate good biographies as a way to learn more history, and although I’d heard and read a bit about Bonhoeffer through the years, I’d never known the full story in the context of Nazi Germany. I wish I’d been able to read this before I visited Berlin a few years ago. Anyway, if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend it.

feed

A book with a one-word title: Feed by M.T. Anderson

Yuck. I really, really didn’t like this book, but I have this compulsion to see a book all the way through, hoping that surely it gets better. It didn’t.

gossipgospelA book with the word “gospel” in the title or subtitle: Gossip and the Gospel: Understanding the Harmful Effects of Gossip in the Church – Timothy Williams

I was disappointed in this one. There’s some good stuff here – some painful conviction and some guidance on handling gossip, slander, etc. But there are also verses out of context and some condemnation that lacks the Gospel.

santini

A memoir:  The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son by Pat Conroy

I’ve wanted to read this one for a while now, but it moved up in the queue upon the author’s recent passing. Pat Conroy was a master of the English language, and as a southerner I especially appreciate his love of the south. Even though he made peace with his father, his story is still a very sad one. “In families, there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.”

guiltA mystery or detective novel: The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

I enjoy Connelly’s stories, but this one wasn’t my favorite. It got better about 3/4 of the way in, but just wasn’t a stand out.

severeA book you own but have never read:  A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

This one has been on my shelf for years, and many folks have recommended it. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations after all of the rave reviews.

signatureofA book by a female author: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I really cannot recommend this one at all. I really enjoyed the first part, but then it took a strange, slow, ultimately boring turn. I didn’t like any of the characters, either. Very disappointing.

cellistA novel set in a country that is not your own: The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

This one is good. I visited Sarajevo a few years ago, so I could picture the scenes as I read. I’ve put more of his books on my to-read list.

bloodA book with an ugly cover: Blood Defense (Samantha Brinkmann Book 1) by Marcia Clark

This one was free on Kindle recently, so I gave it a try. It was a decent thriller, and I read the whole thing hearing Maria Clark’s voice as the narrator.

I can’t find a proper category for this one, so I’ve made up my own — A science fiction book that Anne didn’t hate:  The Martian by Andy Weir martian

Although too science-y at times, this story moved along. The main character is hilarious. Now, I can finally watch the movie.

parisbookA book about a country or city:   Paris by Edward Rutherford

I love Rutherford’s novels. He weaves stories with history and makes a place come alive in a most compelling way. This one was no exception. Now I really want to return to Paris.

A book about relationships or friendship: The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy friendshipMcGinnis

I wish I could remember where I saw this book recommended so I could give proper credit, but alas, I cannot. It was a fairly quick read with some helpful encouragement. Kindle isn’t the best format for reading books like this, however. It would be nice to have a paper copy to flip back through.

prayingA book about prayer: Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name by Bryan Chapell

It took me a ridiculously long time to finish this book, and I think I would have liked it more if I’d read it more diligently. He makes some good points, but if you’re looking for a good book on prayer, I’d recommend Paul Miller’s A Praying Life.

A book with 100 pages or fewer: Found: God’s Peace — Experience True Freedom from Anxiety in Everything by John MacArthur anxiety

This is a quick read, and honestly I found it too simplistic. If you’re truly struggling with anxiety, get thee to the Psalms (which, to be fair, MacArthur does recommend). Books like this frustrate me because they make a complicated problem sound so easy to solve.

hammerA Christian novel: The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz

I was inspired to read this one by this article, which called this “the best Christian novel you’ve never heard of.”  That is probably overstating it, but I enjoyed it and will be thinking about some of the story lines for a while. I marked several beautiful lines and passages.

A book published in 2016: Everything We Keep: A Novel by Kerry Lonsdale everythingwekeep

I got this one for free via Amazon’s Kindle First deal. It was compelling enough to draw me in, but it had some weaknesses. There were some just plain unbelievable events and some things didn’t add up. It was a good beach read, even though I didn’t read it at the beach.

mightierI’m making up another category — A book that’s part of a series that I feel compelled to see through: Mightier Than the Sword: A Novel (Clifton Chronicles Book 5) by Jeffrey Archer

I couldn’t pass this one up when the Kindle version was marked down several months ago. I usually enjoy Archer’s fiction, but this series has too many coincidences. Each book ends with a cliffhanger, however, that necessitates purchasing the next book.

A book with at least 400 pages: Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave brave

This one is just lovely — beautifully written, at once sorrowful and hopeful. Set in London in World War II, the story isn’t fast-paced, but the characters and prose are compelling.

swansA book based on a true story: The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin

This one is one of the most fun books I’ve read this year. Based on the story of how Truman Capote betrayed his “swans” — high society ladies who lunch — by writing about the stories they’d confided in him, it’s tragic but well written.

A memoir: A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas threedog

This one came with high praise — it’s Stephen King’s favorite memoir. I can’t say that I “enjoyed” it because it’s sad, but she is a good writer.

fikryA book about adoption:  The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

This book was recommended for ISTJs by Modern Mrs. Darcy, so I just had to read it. And I really enjoyed this one, y’all! Sweet, sad, hopeful, and full of book quotes and references. I jotted down lots of quotes.

A book with a great cover: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro  perfume

I really wanted to like this one, but it was just meh to me.

A book about science:

habitThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

This one was interesting and worth the read.

Fiction:

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalenwishweretrue

This one was free on Kindle, and I saw it recommended somewhere else. It was another one in the “meh” category.

Non-fiction/Business:

teamplayerThe Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues by Patrick M. Lencioni

We read this one in our office book club. Much of the book is a parable, and then the author explains the three virtues for the remainder. Good stuff to think about.

Fiction:

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams infintesea

This one was another mediocre one for me. It had potential, but didn’t land for me.

breath

A book on the current New York Times list of best sellers:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This one lived up to the hype, and I’m so glad because I’ve had a run of disappointing books going. I cried at the conclusion, and I never cry when reading. (Movies and tv are a different story.)

Fiction:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah  nightingale

This one was really good, and it restored my hope that there is some good modern fiction out there.

Fiction:

courseofloveThe Course of Love: A Novel by Alain de Botton

Modern Mrs. Darcy recommended this one, and it is a very unusual book. But I found myself copying down passages (it was a library copy, so I couldn’t mark it up). Lots to think about in this one.

Fiction:

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney  nest

And now back to mediocre fiction. People seem to either love or hate this one, but I found myself thinking “meh.”

hillbilly

A book written by an author with initials in his/her name:

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

This one lived up to the hype. He’s a great story-teller, and he draws some conclusions that shouldn’t be ignored.

Fiction:

Good as Gone: A Novel of Suspense by Amy Gentry goodasgone

And we’re still in the mediocre fiction rut. This one was a Book of the Month Club selection. It’s a decent beach read, but honestly I’ll never give it another thought.

Fiction:

stilllifeStill Life by Louise Penny

Everyone and her mother seems to be recommending this series, and this is the first I’ve read. I’m not sure that I’ll pick up another. To be fair, it took me too long to read it, so I couldn’t keep the threads of the story straight.

Fiction:

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani  yonahlossee

I really liked this one for about the first half, and after that I just forced myself to finish it. Too much ickiness for my tastes.

Non-fiction:

driveDrive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Interesting read. Lots of suggestions and exercises at the back of the book, too.

 

A book written by a Puritan:

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyangrace-abounding

A classic. I strung it out too long and lost the flow, but I still found some nuggets.

Non-fiction:

blog-incBlog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho

This one was really cheap on Kinde, and I’d hoped for some tips to reinvigorate the old blog. There was nothing new here, though. Bet you wish there were! 😉

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So that’s it. I read 44 books this year. Here’s my top five, in no particular order:

1. Paris by Edward Rutherford

2. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

3. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

4. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

5. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

I’ve got a plan for my 2017 reading. Stay tuned & Happy Reading!

**Full disclosure: When you click on any of the book links here at georgianne and then make a purchase, Amazon tosses a few pennies my way. Thanks for supporting my book habit!

“…we end up achieving the very opposite of our goals…”

courseofloveFrom The Course of Love by Alain de Botton:

But calm is precisely what is absent from love’s classroom. There is simply too much on the line. The “student” isn’t merely a passing responsibility; he or she is a lifelong commitment. Failure will ruin existence. No wonder we may be prone to lose control and deliver cack-handed, hasty speeches which bear no faith in the legitimacy or even the nobility of the act of imparting advice.

And no wonder, too, if we end up achieving the very opposite of our goals, because increasing levels of humiliation, anger, and threat have seldom hastened anyone’s development. Few of us ever grow more reasonable or more insightful about our own characters for having had our self-esteem taken down a notch, our pride wounded, and our ego subjected to a succession of pointed insults. We simply grow defensive and brittle in the face of suggestions which sound like mean-minded and senseless assaults on our nature rather than caring attempts to address troublesome aspects of our personality.

“It’s called my back is killing me.”

threedogFrom A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas:

This is my first experience with a dog in heat but the back pain arrived thirty years ago when I bent to pick a canned peach off the kitchen floor and couldn’t straighten up. My second husband seemed familiar with the problem. “My god, what is this called?” I cried as he tried to help. “It’s called my back is killing me,” he said. This version of my back is killing me comes from wearing a pair of stylish new red shoes that pinch my left foot and make me walk lopsided. I don’t know why I keep putting them on except they show off my ankles. At age sixty-three, ankles are my best feature unless you count cake.

read for your life!

I’m skeptical about most studies I see reported because so often the conclusions can be reached by using plain old garden variety common sense, without spending millions of dollars. And others have such a small sample size that any conclusion must be held loosely. While this one may be one of those, it works in my favor so I’ll share it:

The study, which is published in the September issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine, looked at the reading patterns of 3,635 people who were 50 or older. On average, book readers were found to live for almost two years longer than non-readers…

…“When readers were compared to non-readers at 80% mortality (the time it takes 20% of a group to die), non-book readers lived 85 months (7.08 years), whereas book readers lived 108 months (9.00 years) after baseline,” write the researchers. “Thus, reading books provided a 23-month survival advantage.”

Bavishi said that the more that respondents read, the longer they lived, but that “as little as 30 minutes a day was still beneficial in terms of survival”.

The paper also specifically links the reading of books, rather than periodicals, to a longer life.

That’s really the best news I’ve heard all day!

And speaking of reading, I finished a fun book last night — The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. Set in the Mad Men era of (mostly) Manhattan, it tells the story of Truman Capote and his “swans” — high society ladies who confided in him only to see him betray them by publishing their secrets. While it’s frivolous reading in some ways — the fashion, wealth, yachts, and gossipy stories — the author offers some keen insights into human nature and behavior. I really enjoyed the writing and will be reading more by Benjamin and adding some of Capote’s works to my to-be-read list.

Now I’m reading A Three Dog Life, a memoir which Stephen King says is his favorite. That, along with the $2.99 price for the Kindle version, made it a must-read.

It’s for my health, y’all!

signature

 

 

2016 Reading Challenge

As I’ve mentioned, I plan to work through Challies 2016 Reading Challenge. I’ll update my list here as I complete each categoryI’m not working through the challenge in any kind of order, and I’m modifying some of the categories.

bestillA book about Christian living:  Be Still, My Soul (25 Classic and Contemporary Readings on the Problem of Pain). I started this one last year and finished it on New Year’s Day.

I recommend this collection of essays from noted theologians like J.I. Packer, Joni Eareckson Tada, Martin Luther, and John Piper. My favorite essay was from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

fierceA biography: Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More, Poet, Abolitionist, Reformer by Karen Swallows Prior

This is a fascinating read that I will be thinking about long after today. I hope to share more soon.

energyA self-improvement book: The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon

We’re going through this book at work. It’s a quick read, so I finished it in just a few days.

A classic novel: Lord of the Flies by William Golding flies

How in the world did I miss this book all these years? It was a page-turner, and I loved its depths. I’ll be thinking about it for a long time. If you haven’t read it yet, don’t wait!

domoreA book about productivity: Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies

This was another good read. I’m planning to set aside some time this coming weekend to set up the system he recommends. I appreciated how he reminds the reader why we should strive to be productive.

wowA book about theology: Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin

This is a really good resource for women who want to know God’s Word better. It is both practical and encouraging, and I’ll be referring to it again, I’m sure.

happinessA book about joy or happiness: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I didn’t love this one. Part of the problem may have been the format; I listened to the book on my commute via Audible, and I don’t think it’s a book that works that way. The author read it, and I found her voice distracting. Also, she would periodically read excerpts from emails or blog comments, and I had trouble distinguishing when she was referring to herself or reading something someone else wrote. I suspect I would have taken more away from the book if I’d actually read it. There are a few ideas that have stuck with me, however. One was an idea she repeated: being heavy is easy, but being light-hearted is hard. It takes effort.  Also, she talked about the idea of enthusiasm as a form of social courage. I’ve thought about that one a good bit, too. If you’re looking for a book on happiness, I think Happiness Is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager is a better choice.

bonhoefferA book that won a ECPA Christian Book award: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

I’ve owned this one on Kindle for a long time, and countless people have recommended it to me but for some reason I’ve only just now gotten to it. It’s very good. I really appreciate good biographies as a way to learn more history, and although I’d heard and read a bit about Bonhoeffer through the years, I’d never known the full story in the context of Nazi Germany. I wish I’d been able to read this before I visited Berlin a few years ago. Anyway, if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend it.

feed

A book with a one-word title: Feed by M.T. Anderson

Yuck. I really, really didn’t like this book, but I have this compulsion to see a book all the way through, hoping that surely it gets better. It didn’t.

gossipgospelA book with the word “gospel” in the title or subtitle: Gossip and the Gospel: Understanding the Harmful Effects of Gossip in the Church – Timothy Williams

I was disappointed in this one. There’s some good stuff here – some painful conviction and some guidance on handling gossip, slander, etc. But there are also verses out of context and some condemnation that lacks the Gospel.

santini

A memoir:  The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son by Pat Conroy

I’ve wanted to read this one for a while now, but it moved up in the queue upon the author’s recent passing. Pat Conroy was a master of the English language, and as a southerner I especially appreciate his love of the south. Even though he made peace with his father, his story is still a very sad one. “In families, there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.”

guiltA mystery or detective novel: The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

I enjoy Connelly’s stories, but this one wasn’t my favorite. It got better about 3/4 of the way in, but just wasn’t a stand out.

severeA book you own but have never read:  A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

This one has been on my shelf for years, and many folks have recommended it. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations after all of the rave reviews.

signatureofA book by a female author: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I really cannot recommend this one at all. I really enjoyed the first part, but then it took a strange, slow, ultimately boring turn. I didn’t like any of the characters, either. Very disappointing.

cellistA novel set in a country that is not your own: The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

This one is good. I visited Sarajevo a few years ago, so I could picture the scenes as I read. I’ve put more of his books on my to-read list.

bloodA book with an ugly cover: Blood Defense (Samantha Brinkmann Book 1) by Marcia Clark

This one was free on Kindle recently, so I gave it a try. It was a decent thriller, and I read the whole thing hearing Maria Clark’s voice as the narrator.

I can’t find a proper category for this one, so I’ve made up my own — A science fiction book that Anne didn’t hate:  The Martian by Andy Weir martian

Although too science-y at times, this story moved along. The main character is hilarious. Now, I can finally watch the movie.

parisbookA book about a country or city:   Paris by Edward Rutherford

I love Rutherford’s novels. He weaves stories with history and makes a place come alive in a most compelling way. This one was no exception. Now I really want to return to Paris.

A book about relationships or friendship: The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy friendshipMcGinnis

I wish I could remember where I saw this book recommended so I could give proper credit, but alas, I cannot. It was a fairly quick read with some helpful encouragement. Kindle isn’t the best format for reading books like this, however. It would be nice to have a paper copy to flip back through.

prayingA book about prayer: Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name by Bryan Chapell

It took me a ridiculously long time to finish this book, and I think I would have liked it more if I’d read it more diligently. He makes some good points, but if you’re looking for a good book on prayer, I’d recommend Paul Miller’s A Praying Life.

A book with 100 pages or fewer: Found: God’s Peace — Experience True Freedom from Anxiety in Everything by John MacArthur anxiety

This is a quick read, and honestly I found it too simplistic. If you’re truly struggling with anxiety, get thee to the Psalms (which, to be fair, MacArthur does recommend). Books like this frustrate me because they make a complicated problem sound so easy to solve.

hammerA Christian novel: The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz

I was inspired to read this one by this article, which called this “the best Christian novel you’ve never heard of.”  That is probably overstating it, but I enjoyed it and will be thinking about some of the story lines for a while. I marked several beautiful lines and passages.

A book published in 2016: Everything We Keep: A Novel by Kerry Lonsdale everythingwekeep

I got this one for free via Amazon’s Kindle First deal. It was compelling enough to draw me in, but it had some weaknesses. There were some just plain unbelievable events and some things didn’t add up. It was a good beach read, even though I didn’t read it at the beach.

mightierI’m making up another category — A book that’s part of a series that I feel compelled to see through: Mightier Than the Sword: A Novel (Clifton Chronicles Book 5) by Jeffrey Archer

I couldn’t pass this one up when the Kindle version was marked down several months ago. I usually enjoy Archer’s fiction, but this series has too many coincidences. Each book ends with a cliffhanger, however, that necessitates purchasing the next book.

A book with at least 400 pages: Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave brave

This one is just lovely — beautifully written, at once sorrowful and hopeful. Set in London in World War II, the story isn’t fast-paced, but the characters and prose are compelling.

swansA book based on a true story: The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin

This one is one of the most fun books I’ve read this year. Based on the story of how Truman Capote betrayed his “swans” — high society ladies who lunch — by writing about the stories they’d confided in him, it’s tragic but well written.

A memoir: A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas threedog

This one came with high praise — it’s Stephen King’s favorite memoir. I can’t say that I “enjoyed” it because it’s sad, but she is a good writer.

fikryA book about adoption:  The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

This book was recommended for ISTJs by Modern Mrs. Darcy, so I just had to read it. And I really enjoyed this one, y’all! Sweet, sad, hopeful, and full of book quotes and references. I jotted down lots of quotes.

A book with a great cover: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro  perfume

I really wanted to like this one, but it was just meh to me.

A book about science:

habitThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

This one was interesting and worth the read.

Fiction:

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalenwishweretrue

This one was free on Kindle, and I saw it recommended somewhere else. It was another one in the “meh” category.

Non-fiction/Business:

teamplayerThe Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues by Patrick M. Lencioni

We read this one in our office book club. Much of the book is a parable, and then the author explains the three virtues for the remainder. Good stuff to think about.

 

Fiction:

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams infintesea

This one was another mediocre one for me. It had potential, but didn’t land for me.

 

 

breath

A book on the current New York Times list of best sellers:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This one lived up to the hype, and I’m so glad because I’ve had a run of disappointing books going. I cried at the conclusion, and I never cry when reading. (Movies and tv are a different story.)

Fiction:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah  nightingale

This one was really good, and it restored my hope that there is some good modern fiction out there.

Fiction:

 

courseofloveThe Course of Love: A Novel by Alain de Botton

Modern Mrs. Darcy recommended this one, and it is a very unusual book. But I found myself copying down passages (it was a library copy, so I couldn’t mark it up). Lots to think about in this one.

 

Fiction:

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney  nest

And now back to mediocre fiction. People seem to either love or hate this one, but I found myself thinking “meh.”

 

 

hillbilly

A book written by an author with initials in his/her name:

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

This one lived up to the hype. He’s a great story-teller, and he draws some conclusions that shouldn’t be ignored.

 

Fiction:

Good as Gone: A Novel of Suspense by Amy Gentry goodasgone

And we’re still in the mediocre fiction rut. This one was a Book of the Month Club selection. It’s a decent beach read, but honestly I’ll never give it another thought.

Fiction:

 

stilllifeStill Life by Louise Penny

Everyone and her mother seems to be recommending this series, and this is the first I’ve read. I’m not sure that I’ll pick up another. To be fair, it took me too long to read it, so I couldn’t keep the threads of the story straight.

 

Fiction:

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani  yonahlossee

I really liked this one for about the first half, and after that I just forced myself to finish it. Too much ickiness for my tastes.

 

A book someone tells you “changed my life”:

A book your pastor recommends:

A book more than 100 years old:

A book for children:

A book about a current issue:

A book written by a Puritan:

A book recommended by a family member:

A book by or about a missionary:

A novel that won the Pulitzer Prize:

A book written by an Anglican:

A book by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien:

A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title:

A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with:

A book about worldview:

A humorous book:

A book written by Jane Austen:

A book by or about Martin Luther:

A book about money or finance:

A book whose title comes from a Bible verse:

A book you have started but never finished:

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A book targeted at the other gender:

A book by a speaker at a conference you have attended:

A book written by someone of a different ethnicity:

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“To be in love was to understand how alone one had been before.”

braveFrom Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave:

He moved his face close to hers. “When I said ‘I love you’ before?”

“Yes?”

“I didn’t mean it. But now I think I do.”

“Oh yes. Oh, me too.”

Tom understood why the good actors in the movies never said it with a smile. To be in love was to understand how alone one had been before. It was to know that if one were ever alone again, there would be no exemption from the agony of it. It wasn’t the happiest feeling.

“…but I have lost sight of Jesus in all this mess.”

hammerFrom Hammer of God by Bo Giertz:

Thus it came about that the city curate of Lund preached in Ödesjö church on this Sunday fifty-five years after his death. First, he pictured the Transfiguration, which had ended with the three disciples daring again to lift up their dazzled eyes to behold no one but Jesus only. Then he went on to describe how this lifting up of the eyes or lowering of them was a picture of the soul’s condition at different stages on the way of salvation. “When a sinner first has the eyes of his understanding opened, they are directed downward upon his own unblessed and lost state. The law constrains a man to look chiefly at himself, and drives him to compare his corrupted nature with the holiness of God and his guilt with the righteousness of God.”

Why, this describes my own condition, thought Fridfeldt. He read on:

“But afterward the Holy Spirit lifts the eyes of our understanding to Jesus only. It is a blessed thing when a believing soul looks in the Word for Jesus only.”

That I have not done, thought Fridfeldt. I have looked for penitence, for amendment of life. I have taken stock of my deeds, but I have lost sight of Jesus in all this mess.

“It is a blessed thing when the faithful soul in prayer fixes his uplifted eyes of faith on Jesus only; when he does not look about him to lay hold on his own scattered thoughts, nor behind him at Satan who threatens him with the thought that his prayer is in vain, nor within him at his sloth and lack of devotion; but looks up to Jesus, who sits at the right hand of God and makes intercession for us.”

Fridfeldt saw that this applied to him. To think that he had not understood this before!

 

“The Bible is full of logic…”

anxietyFrom John MacArthur, Jr., in Found: God’s Peace — Experiencing True Freedom From Anxiety in Every Circumstance

Recall that Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matt. 6:26). Martyn Lloyd-Jones, commenting on that verse, explained:

Faith, according to our Lord’s teaching … is primarily thinking.… We must spend more time in studying our Lord’s lessons in observation and deduction. The Bible is full of logic, and we must never think of faith as something purely mystical. We do not just sit down in an armchair and expect marvelous things to happen to us. That is not Christian faith. Christian faith is essentially thinking. Look at the birds, think about them, and draw your deductions. Look at the grass, look at the lilies of the field, consider them.… Faith, if you like, can be defined like this: It is a man insisting upon thinking when everything seems determined to bludgeon and knock him down.… The trouble with the person of little faith is that, instead of controlling his own thought, his thought is being controlled by something else, and, as we put it, he goes round and round in circles. That is the essence of worry.… That is not thought; that is the absence of thought, a failure to think.

 

“Discerning his purposes does not require secret formulas…”

prayingFrom Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell:

Praying in accord with the will of God presumes that we are praying in Jesus’ name because we are seeking his purposes. Discerning his purposes does not require secret formulas or mystical visions but rather a growing acquaintance with God’s Word that is the expression of his character. Being guided by the Word in our prayers is Christ’s primary way of talking with us as we seek his will. The more we immerse ourselves in his Word, the more we are able to walk life’s path with Christ at our side, informing our thoughts. Through his Word he points to the flora and fauna of our circumstances as if to say, “I want you to understand this or that.” This perspective first underscores the significance of examining all of life in the light of Scripture. Second, this perspective reveals how careful reading of Scripture becomes a form of prayer in which Jesus walks with us to interpret our world.