I read, a lot.
I read when I’m happy and I read when I’m sad. I read when I’m bored and I read when I don’t want to watch football on television. I read because I happen to actually like the act of reading, and I read because a part of my soul feels left behind without it.
Today I happened to stumble upon the book store I think is going to be my book store, my home away from home, the place where I’ll someday be called by name – the place where my future book will someday reside on its shelves.
If you’re a book person, a certain contentment comes when you find yourself reading. So, this holiday season, I’ve got fourteen book ideas for you to read and to give, fourteen books you may or may not want to call your own.
They’ve all come out this year.
I’ve read all of them for review purposes: a paid book review, a free book in exchange for honest words there, a friend who’s given me an advanced copy. So, in three sentences or less, take a look at what I’ve read over the past six months and see if reading it also strikes your fancy.
Making Marriage Beautiful (Dorothy Greco, Christian Living) – Greco poured heart and soul into a gorgeous book on marriage written for men and women. Note: this is the first Christian book on marriage written by a woman. Read it.
The Wangs vs the World (Jade Chang, Fiction) – If you like road trips, complete family dysfunction and offhand humor, this book is for you. Look for an upcoming review at Englewood Review and on the Shalom in the City book club podcast next week!
It’s Not Fair (Melanie Dale, Christian Living) – Let’s be honest: Christian women writers aren’t known for their humor. WHICH IS SO LAME. But Melanie is helping to turn the tide on this misnomer, one book at a time.
Play With Fire (Bianca Juarez Olthoff, Christian Living) – There was a time in my life when Olthoff’s book would have been the exact cup of tea I was craving. But theologically and stylistically I’m just not at the same place I was fifteen years ago – and that’s okay.
Orphan Mother (Robert Hicks, Fiction) – Now you know it’s going to be interesting when a white man writes a book featuring a black female protagonist, post slavery, pre-Jim Crow South. But the parallels to issues of race in America today is uncanny and beautiful.
Swing Time (Zadie Smith, Fiction) – Who doesn’t love a book about female friendships? Who doesn’t love an author who isn’t afraid to explore the constructs of race in Great Britain and beyond? Check out a full review at Englewood Review (and score your free PDF download for Advent).
Courage to Soar (Simone Biles & Michelle Burford, Autobiography) – Never in a million years did I think I’d be asked to write a review on a young adult nonfiction book for The Gospel Coalition, but never say never, I suppose. So, if feel good-YA-gymnastics superstars are your thing, give it a gander.
Prophetic Lament (Soong-Chan Rah, Christian Living) – We need to give more space for lament (a fact I find staring me in the face during the current season of transition). So, what does it mean for the church to give its people permission to mourn and to grieve? Also, this is the January Red Couch book club pick, so look for my discussion post there!
Out in the Rural (Thomas J. Ward, Non-Fiction) – Read for review for Books & Culture, the book is a fascinating account of the first public health center in the U.S., established in the rural Mississippi Delta region. If southern history + all things medicine are your thing, I totally recommend it.
Embrace (Leroy Barber, Christian Living) – This short read is worth it for the last three chapters alone. Barber is a voice in the fight for racial justice and reconciliation, and he more than packs a punch in the last third of the book – so much so that I’ve highlighted it in several sermons as of late!
Don’t Hide Your Light Under a Laundry Basket (Jenny Rae Armstrong, Christian Living) – There are so many moms I know who seem to lose sight of themselves and their faith after having children; Jenny’s insights and super short chapters provide perfectly tangible ways to shine your light. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I’ve given it to a couple of friends already!
Pancakes in Paris (Craig Carlson, Memoir) – I’m always game for reading memoirs, especially when and if it teaches me something about the style of writing. That being said, Carlson is a successful businessman, not a writer. So, I will be visiting (one of) his diners in Paris someday, but not reading another one of his books.
Teacher (Michael Copperman, Memoir) – Apparently I’m completely bias toward books about education, given my history as an educator – and this was perhaps my least favorite book I’ve ever read for review. Want to hear more? Head to Books & Culture.
Liturgy of the Ordinary (Tish Harrison Warren, Spiritual Memoir) – Let’s end on a positive note, shall we? My inner Anglican shouts with joy over Warren’s new book; the woman is witty and intelligent, deeply spiritual and able to give new life to finding beauty in the most unlikely of places. Interview to come at Englewood Review!
So, there you go.
Fourteen books read for review. Fourteen books you might give as a gift or pick up for yourself. Fourteen books you just might add to your reading list and fourteen books you might find yourself running far, far away from.
Either way, happy reading!
So, which books listed here have you read and loved? Which books will you be adding to your reading list in the holiday season and beyond?
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