Long ago and far away I read fast. I tried to savor the book I was reading, but more often than not, I’d speed through the chapters the same way I eat M&M’s: swearing to let them melt slowly on my tongue until the colorful candy coating was gone, and then smushing the chocolate between tongue and roof of mouth to extract all the possible goodness from the candy.
That usually lasted for the first M&M.
Nancy Drew is to blame; she made mysteries magical to young minds.
Until I started blogging, I read more fiction than non; I don’t know if that was cause and effect or merely coincidental. Blogging came into my life at the same time I was asking a lot of questions (primarily related to faith), and reading for the pure pleasure of it slowly dwindled. I seemed to think C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Piper, Richard Foster, Jim Cymbala, A.W. Tozer, Brian McLaren, St. Augustine, Brennan Manning, Shane Claiborne, countless others, might have answers*. Clearly, this was before the tsunami of contemporary books written by Christian women of the bloggerly ilk (many of which I’ve read, too; thankfully, not with the same amount of angst attached)**.
It was during that time that my reading pace began to decelerate. I couldn’t read without a pen in hand, and if you didn’t know better you’d think I anticipated a quiz upon completion. I’d mark up my books with scribbled fury, and read and re-read That Thing I Needed To Remember, which I rarely actually did. I’d get lost in words, tangled in thought.
Anyway, if you’re a reader, you’re likely to always have a stack of books on the ready. If you’re a reader like me, that stack never shrinks, the titles just keep changing.
Here’s a few book recommendations I’d like to share (and why), and I DO hope you’ll chime in in comments with your own titles.
Word Writers: Philippians, Denise J. Hughes.
Denise sent me an early copy of her Philippians study, and what she couldn’t have possibly known was that it is EXACTLY what I needed right now. It’s dynamite in a small package, the type study that gives you time TO THINK without telling you All of The Things, without trying to impress you; it doesn’t feel the least bit self-indulgent. It sticks to the Word, and what I most appreciate is how she’s woven four ways into its format to experience God’s Word–reading, writing, speaking, and praying over the Scriptures for that day.
I can start and finish this study in one sitting, and there’s margin to consider application beyond its pages. If any of this sounds appealing, it releases September first, and I whole-heartedly recommend purchasing a copy for yourself.
I haven’t been able to grasp how in the world Donald Trump is where he is today, and then I caught an interview in The American Conservative that helped to explain his political success (at least in part). Rod Dreher spoke with J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, and in it Vance shares a perspective I’ve never considered. Says Dreher, “You cannot understand what’s happening now without first reading J.D. Vance. His book does for poor white people what Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book did for poor black people: give them voice and presence in the public square.”
Which brings me to my next wanna-read.
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates.
I think I heard about this book first on NPR’s All Things Considered last fall, and I knew I wanted to read it. It’s been almost a year – and a lot of troubling events in our country later – and I still haven’t gotten to it. But, I’ve heard enough to know this is an important book that will help me glimpse a perspective I can’t possibly fully understand. I just received an alert from my local library to come pick it up, and I have a sneaky suspicion I’ll want to buy it, too.
The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp
Oh, Annie…you’re going to do it again, aren’t you? She begins with the simple question, “What if brokenness is the path into the abundant life?” and tells us “this one is for lovers and sufferers.”
I qualify for both.
Ann is a friend and co-writer from incourage, and I know she walks obediently albeit reluctantly in her role as “one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today.” She earnestly deflects all praise and glory to God, preferring the refuge of family and home to the glare of center stage.
The Whistler, John Grisham
Used to be, every summer my beach read was whatever John Grisham had most recently published. The first book I read of his was the second one he wrote, The Firm. I can still remember hearing radio commercials for it every day while I was getting ready for work, “…from the author of A Time to Kill…” I don’t recall the rest of the ad copy – it was 25 years ago for heaven’s sake! – but it must’ve one whale of a call to action for me to buy it.
Anyway, the beach home we rented a few weeks ago had an extensive paperback library and I picked up Grisham’s The Litigators for old time’s sake. For a few days, I read fast and without a pen in hand–it was marvelous! I remembered why I loved John Grisham in the first place: he’s an excellent writer who fleshes out engaging characters and, boyhowdy, he can tell good stories. So I’m eager to pick up his next one, due out in November.
Another one that caught my eye after reading an intriguing article, this one REALLY gripped me (it inspired a blog post for The Art of Simple). It seems to speak to some of the feelings I have relative to the age in which we live, and if you were born before 1985, you’re going to want this one.
And one I cannot wait for that’s not due out until April of next year, Deidra Riggs’ One: Unity in a Divided World. Deidra is another incourage collaborator and friend, and it has been a treat to watch her mature as a writer. One is her follow-up to Every Little Thing, and I have a sneaky suspicion this book is going to be big.
“Jesus didn’t say that the world would know we are his followers by our biting rhetoric, our political leanings, our charity work, or even by our knowledge of Scripture. He said the world would know us by our love for one another.” Yep…good stuff.
It’s available for pre-order; order now and be happily surprised when it arrives in your mailbox next spring.
Your turn: What are your recent favorite books? Are there any due out in the next few months you can’t wait to get your hands on? Please share your recommendations in comments!
**Of course, I was a faithful, dutiful Beth Moore study gal, and I dabbled with a few of Kay Arthur’s early on in my Chattanooga years. (I was even asked to join two others to be featured on the companion video tapes to Kay’s Covenant study. To this day I haven’t been able to watch myself – filming was more awkward than you can imagine, positioned at a kitchen table “just so,” which happened to be completely unnatural but somehow looked right for the camera. And we weren’t allowed to speak but Kay kept asking us questions. Fun times. )
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