Hey All – the stack of books read this past month is a beautiful one, no? Mainly because I took this picture outside and it’s almost 70 degrees. In fact, I just came in from reading for a while outside for my “lunch break.” Totally wore my new Cubs shirt, drank some iced tea and finished up a book – this is what we live through winter for!!
I would also like to take just a moment to point out my beginning paragraph from last month’s book reviews. And I quote: “…and entering March Madness pools where I pick out the teams based on how fun their names are. Just fyi, that is not a scientific way to win a pool. I usually pick Villanoooova or Gonzaaaaaga to win – and they never do. But, fun names, guys, fun names.” The one year I don’t enter a bracket. Villanova wins it all. I mean… really.
So on to the Book Reviews:
-Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul by Jennie Allen. So… this book. Jennie Allen is like the poster woman for my seminary. Her video and her face are on the front page of their site and I am super aware of how much she is doing to change the world – very inspiring and praise God for her outreach! But I waited until I was done with school to read her book because I wanted to make sure I was in a good frame of mind for it (My issue, not hers).
Her whole premise is that we should pray to God and say we will do “Anything.” Anything He wants. This has led her to have a great impact for the Lord and adopt a child and she has started an amazing ministry. All well and good. What gets difficult is when you realize your anything is maybe not as “exciting” as her story. Maybe your (or my) anything is having people over or taking time for your kids, talking about things close to their hearts, or staying consistent in serving others, or staying at a job that may not be fulfilling, but allows you to reach out to others. I think we are setting ourselves up for some trouble if we define Christianity as a huge, constant adventure – when really it can be a lot of setting up folding chairs for the Sunday School class or staying consistent in difficult ministry. (To be fair, she does speak to this…but it can get a little lost amidst the other details of what God called her to do.) Definitely recommend this book, but if it makes you question things or feel a bit restless, come talk to me. I think there’s more to it. Rating: 9
-Gilead by Marilynne Robinson is pictured because I am leading an online book group for that on Facebook and am rereading it this month. Search for “Just Try: Reading” to find us on Facebook or click HERE. Like the page and join us! I love this book – written from the perspective of an older pastor who is dying and writing letters to his little boy. Beautiful writing. I’ve recommended this repeatedly and it’s on my Favorites list.
-Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg. I bought this one right away because I loved Duhigg’s book on creating habits and because I LOVE this kind of book – leadership, management and getting it done – a favorite of mine. Why, I’m not sure…cuz I still haven’t done the dishes today and I’m not really a leader… In Smarter, Duhigg tells stories about people and organizations that get things done better. Setting goals, knowing how to motivate yourself and how to make a decision are all a part of being more productive. Rating: (Read the Habits one first, then this one) 7
– Living God’s Word: Discovering Our Place in the Great Story of Scripture by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays. This book was written as a textbook for a class they teach, and my professor used it for a class this semester. The reason I liked it is that the complete story of the Bible is given with facts, stories, details – but also manages to say “big picture”/overview. Really good resource for people who are familiar with the Bible or to use for those who may not be familiar. Rating: 8.
-11/22/63 by Stephen King. I mentioned I had started this book last month – at 800+ pages, it’s not an easy book to hold – I dropped it multiple times – so maybe don’t take it on that beach trip to Bali. But as a summer read, it’s a good one. Jake is an English teacher who is led to a portal to take him back to the late ’50s. The man who leads him there wants him to stop the assassination of JFK. Interesting plot, interesting way of resolving the plot and great reintroduction for me to Stephen King. Rating: 7 (It is also a series on Hulu, I believe, and I’ve heard it’s good and faithful to the book.)