It's summer which means I'll be reading lots and lots of books. Or, at least, more than I usually do. And I can't WAIT. In addition to visiting the library, I've already pre-ordered several books releasing this summer that I'm super excited about: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner, All Day and a Night by Alastair Burke, Yours For Eternity by Damien Echols and Pain Don't Hurt by Mark Miller. I also just purchased Emily Giffin's new novel, The One & Only which I'll be starting next week! Squeeeeeee!
Ohhh, I love books! Here are a few of the books I've read in the last couple of months....
This spare writing style of A.S.A. Harrison's last book (she died shortly before it became a huge bestseller) reminded me of how Ernest Hemingway might write if he was into psychological thrillers. Although I despised every single character in the story (except for maybe the dog), I couldn't stop reading. The twist ending is wonderfully rendered and took me by surprise--which I really enjoyed!
Oh, I do love a good psychological thriller. This one does JUST the trick. Controlling, abusive boyfriend who goes to jail. OCD. Recovery. A new love interest. And then the attacker is freed....what will HAPPEN? This thriller isn't as heavy or morbid as "Gone Girl," but the plot moves along quickly between two time frames--before and after the attack--and kept my interest. A good, poolside read.
This dense, complex, decades-spanning novel, The Goldfinch, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. And for good reason. At 700+ pages long, it takes awhile to get through--but it's SO WORTH IT. The characters are unforgettable. The description of scenes and places is extraordinary. It's one of those rare books that I WILL read twice because it's THAT good.
Americanah is one of those books that teaches while it entertains. My eyes were opened to the experience of a NAB (non-American-black) and her rich, insightful, humorous and painful reflections on American society. With a sharp eye, the protagonist skewers the blatant hypocrisies and systemic racism found throughout American culture. I loved every page of this book--it was uncomfortable at times, too, because it made me look at the ways I've unwittingly perpetuated harmful stereotypes.
As someone who grew up in a cult, I have struggled to conduct my interpersonal relationships in a healthy way. Pia Mellody's book, Facing Love Addiction, helped me see the unhealthy patterns of behavior I've carried through out my life while also providing tangible, practical advice for creating NEW behavior and repairing relationships. I so often flip-flop between clingy, needy behavior or overly intense, co-addictive behavior that it's hard for me to live from a place of acceptance and self-love. Most of my relationship issues stem from self-loathing and this book has given me hope that I really CAN change the way I love.
Love Idol is like the Christian version of Facing Love Addiction. Jennifer Dukes Lee provides such positive affirmation about how God sees us and how we are PRE-APPROVED before we even TRY to earn His love. Using narrative story-telling coupled with fantastic insight, Jennifer shows how we can let go of our need for approval. It is SO HARD to do that! Especially when receiving approval was a matter of survival (at least for me). But Jennifer's words help me believe it's possible.
Jim Gaffigan's hilarious take on family life (especially family life with LOTS of kids) had me laughing so hard, tears rolled down my cheeks. Topics range from being "bedridden with children" to a hilarious re-imagining of God's conversation with Abraham about..cutting off part of his penis. Best humor book I've read since Tina Fey's Bossypants.
When her new husband is killed in action, Artis must grapple with grief new and old in Unremarried Widow. I bought this book because I'm always interested in how other women manage grief and loss and how they rebuild their lives. But something about the way Artis told her story left me empty--I needed more from her. There was a kind of distance, a disconnection from the emotion of her story. Still, it was a painful and necessary look at the impact war has on those left behind.
Choose Joy is not the kind of book I usually read but I had the privilege of meeting Kay Warren (yes, Rick Warren's wife) in person this year. She'd read MY book and invited me to coffee. I was terrified. Pastors wives and all that stuff. But Kay was so very kind and REAL and honest. We talked for hours. She gave me her book to read and I've been enjoying it so much. Kay's words are practical and accessible. Kay talks about the "parallel" tracks of joy and sorrow that run through our lives. So often I feel like I'm a victim to the sorrows of life. Kay's book reminds me that I have a choice. I really CAN feel better each day. I copied her definition of joy into my journal: "Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things." I need that kind of joy in my life. I'm so grateful Kay has come into my life. It's healing me....
Written by a Coptic (Egyptian) Orthodox monk, The Communion of Love, expresses profound spiritual truths about how to read the Bible, the nature of repentance and what it means to do God's will. It is deep without being abstract, practical while also honoring mystery. The forward is written by Henri Nouwen, another one of my favorite spiritual writers. This book has gently corrected some of my deep-seated perspectives; mainly, about how to approach the Bible and how to read it. My priest gave me this book and it has quickly become a book I cherish and will read over and over again.
Soooo.... what are YOU reading this summer??