Click on this link if you missed the companion post to this one, The Books of My Summer (So Far). Fall is here! I've downed two pumpkin lattes so far and the pumpkins in our garden are ripe for the picking. For my last summer hurrah (!), I want to tell you about the books I've read the past few months.
I was on the book launch team for this one. It was fun because we got an early look at the Happiness Style Quiz and learned about our differences through an online group. You take this quiz pretty early on in the book and then spend the rest of the book learning about the various happiness styles. Much like "The Five Love Languages" or other personality assessments, this one helps you understand what makes you happy and how that might differ from others in your life. I'm a thinker, which came as no surprise. However, I hadn't given much thought to how that can work against me in certain situations. It's all in the book. Truly a great resource. The main takeaway for me was the fact that I need to stop thinking God isn't concerned about my happiness. He wants me to live an abundant life in every way, and happiness is a huge part of that!
When The Roll Is Called A Pyonder (Diana R. Zimmerman)
I have some lifelong friends who have started up eLectio Publishing and they check in from time to time. They sent me this book to review recently and I really enjoyed it. The author tells story after story about growing up in a Mennonite community. If you've ever given any thought to what our children think of our theological teachings, this book offers excellent insight. I had to keep reminding myself it was written by an adult about her childhood. She writes in first person as a child and it comes across as incredibly authentic. A light, entertaining read.
I love Spruce Lake. I wish we could live there. It's three hours away, which is really far, so we pack up a lot of clothes and stay for a whole week. We also pack bags of things to do in the car because we have to sit there for THREE HOURS. We bring books and coloring books and crayons and snacks and dollies and everything because it's so far away. We aren't allowed to ask, "Are we there soon?" We are NOT there soon.
Still Life: A Memoir of Living Fully with Depression (Gillian Marchenko)
This book will break your heart. I thought of so many loved ones who live with the everyday challenges brought on by mental illnesses. Gillian knew she'd suffered through bouts of postpartum depression, but it only seemed to be getting worse and the episodes were staying around longer and longer. She's painfully transparent in her telling. She shares about her guilt over not being able to mother as she would like. She talks about her relationship with her pastor/husband, and how he tries to help her but struggles to understand. She explains what she's working through in her counseling sessions. All while maintaining a writing and speaking career. I understand much more about what individuals struggling with depression go through because of the author's honesty in this book.
Children's Literature - Poetry
Underneath My Bed: List Poems (Poetry Adventure) (Brian P. Cleary - Author; Richard Watson - Illustrator)
I had a co-reviewer for this one. My eight-year old daughter and I read these poems together. Silly, full of imagination and the gross ones were her favorites! The illustrations were just as fun as the verses. This book would be excellent in the classroom for a unit on poetry. Here's a sample poem.
Eleanor: A Novel (Jason Gurley)
Oh, fiction, how I love thee! I saved this book for our camping vacation in August. I wanted a book that I could get lost in and this one did the job perfectly! First, the author has an amazing imagination. Forget what you think you know about death and the afterlife. Forget what theology has taught us. Just let your mind go on vacation and read a really good story. Eleanor and Esmerelda are twins. Very early on in the book, Esmerelda dies in a tragic car accident. It changes everything for their little family of four, as the book goes on to tell us. Readers will think they've heard the last of Esmerelda, but boy are they wrong! So, so good.
Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption by Emily P. Freeman, Sarah Bessey, Trillia Newbell and more (compiled by Cara Sexton)
I heard about this book from many of my online blogging friends, because they have pieces in this collection. These writers are honest with their audiences on a regular basis online and through books. We trust them. So, when you can get your hands on a book like this where they tell the deepest and darkest truths they've worked out in their own lives, you treasure it. Just a few quotes because the book offers story after story of hard but excellent living.
He had not sent me to that school as punishment, but rather for my own refinement. In the hollows of that prayer room at the end of my hall, I'd learned to seek God with a desperate hunger that perhaps I wouldn't have known anywhere else. ("Captivity" by Kris Camealy)
We believe that during liturgy, heaven and earth come together to worship God. All the saints and angels and people who have died raise their voices with us in praise, Thanksgiving and intercession. ("Wrestling With God In The Art House Theater" by Karissa Knox Sorrell)
Land of Silence (Tessa Afshar)
I've told you about Michelle Moran, one of my favorite authors of general historical fiction. Well, meet Tessa Afshar, one of my favorite biblical historical fiction writers. A couple things I really like about biblical historical fiction: 1) It arouses my curiosity about what elements of the story are fiction and which are factual from biblical accounts. This forces me to spend a load of time in my Bible deciphering which is which. All that means I tend to remember the details better because of my time well spent. 2) These books take a familiar-to-me story and bring it to life. The customs and context are explained in great detail. This latest book from Tessa is about the woman in Jesus' day who risked everything to touch the hem of His garment. We know very little about her, but Tessa brings readers a fictional account that shows us why this daughter of our Savior would reach such a point of desperation. What a story!
I received a copy of Still Life: A Memoir of Living With Depression, Underneath My Bed: List Poems, Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption by Emily P. Freeman, Sarah Bessey, Trillia Newbell and More, and Land of Silence from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. I received a copy of The Happiness Dare: Pursuing Your Heart's Deepest, Holiest And Most Vulnerable Desire in exchange for helping to promote this book through a launch team. I received a copy of When The Roll Is Called A Pyonder from eLectio Publishing for the purpose of generating a review. I received a copy of Eleanor: A Novel from Blogging for Books for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are from the books. The opinions expressed here are my own.