In case it's not abundantly clear around here, I read a lot of books. I have an entire Instagram account dedicated to the things I'm reading and to finding new book recommendations to fill up my bookshelves, more reasons to buy more bookshelves.
But while I've been making lots of time to read, I haven't been as consistent in making time to sit down and write. I need to change that. It's a work in progress.
That said, I have read some phenomenal books in the last couple of months, and have had the opportunity to receive some review copies from publishers and authors and I need to share those thoughts with you. I'm not going to share my reviews of all of them, all at once, because nobody wants to sit down and read thirty book reviews in one post. Not even me. But here are a few of the reading highlights of the last three months:
I'd Rather be Reading by Anne Bogel (5/5 stars)
I read this book one day on my lunch break, and I'm fairly certain I just grinned like an idiot the whole time because it was so relatable. As a lifelong reader, this was the "you're not the only one" we all want to hear. If you are a person who enjoys reading, you'll enjoy this book. It's a quick and delightful book to make you laugh warmly at this literary life.
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom (5/5 stars)
I adored this entire story. It was brilliantly narrated by the personification of Music, following the life of a talented artist and weaving in real-life musicians and events. This book got me feeling all the feelings as a reader and as a musician. From the line about all of us being musical because God gave us beating hearts, I was hooked. Read this book. Just do it. It's beautiful.
God Over Good by Luke Norsworthy (5/5 stars)
Can I give a book more than five stars? I got this one from Baker Books in exchange for an honest review, but knew nothing about it beforehand. It's not often that I hit the end of a book and immediately want to start at the beginning again, but I did with this one. If you need some solid reminders of who God is and is not, this is your book. If you are struggling with seeing God in the everyday (and even if you're not, honestly), you'll enjoy this one. I was hooked from the moment that Luke Norsworthy started talking about how our theology tends to be autobiographical, and couldn't put it down. Norsworthy is real and raw in his discussion, and the book is all the better for it. It's a good theology read for people who don't like to read heavy theology, and deserves far more hype than it has.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (5/5 stars)
This book has so many layers of storytelling about family, the news media and judicial system, and the hard choices people have to make. I'm glad that the hold I put on this one finally came in so I could read it, even many months after becoming popular. This story has great pacing, great characters with depth and flaws, and leaves the reader with lots to think about. If you like fiction and are looking for a high quality read, try this one, with a literal fire to represent the figurative burning up of innocence and facades.
The Vines We Planted by Joanell Serra (3/5 stars)
The author reached out to me and was generous enough to offer me a free copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review. I liked the story alright, but there were so many characters to try and keep straight that it was a little confusing in places, and I didn't care too much about some of the more prominent storylines (and thought some of the subplots were actually better). The narrator sounded a bit like Siri, and that threw me off at times, but I listened to the book at 1.4x speed and that helped a bit. Fair warning though, there are a few *awkward* moments when listening to this one. Overall, liked it but didn't love it.
Grace for the Valley by Heath Adamson (3.5/5 stars)
This one came to me from Baker Books in exchange for a review, and I started reading it before the move though I just finished it recently. It was a great book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who's struggling to see God in the midst of hard things. It was not the most relevant read for this season of life for me, which is probably why I didn't connect as well with some parts of it. But objectively, it was full of good reminders that God is present no matter what we're going through, and that our perspective on God changes our experience of the 'valley of the shadow of death.' Definitely worth a read!
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (5/5 stars)
This book was another one with a ton of hype, and I completely understand why. It's a serious stark look at life in a concentration camp, as based on the experiences of the real Lale. Obviously, this is not a light read. But I really enjoyed if and would highly recommend it if you are interested in World War Two literature. Just make sure you go in with your eyes open and a box of kleenex handy.
Faith for this Moment by Rick McKinley (4/5 stars)
I also received this one from Baker Books for review. I really enjoyed McKinley's analysis of the concept of exile, and what it means to live as, essentially, exiles in a secular world. He navigates the 'in the world but not of it' Christian trope well and without becoming overly cliché in his discussion of it. It was a quick read, but one that challenges the reader to reconsider ideas like the sabbath that are often overlooked in our twenty-first century context. Books like this can be so important when we realize that government-issued Christianity is neither advisable or realistic, and that the North American church has to find ways to navigate the present and future challenges that arise when we follow Jesus. I'd recommend picking this one up!
So there you have it – some of the best books I've read lately. And that officially catches me up on reviews so that (hopefully) no publishers cut me out of their review programs. (I promise I do love receiving review copies of books!) Moving at the end of December seriously messed up my schedule. I've read a lot more than I've posted here, and if you're interested in finding the rest of my regular reading thoughts, you can see them over on Instagram @literary.af.
I'm not making any grand proclamations about how much I'll be posting again from now on since that almost never happens, but I will be doing my level best to clear out my drafts folder that has accumulated a whole bunch of half-written posts in the near future.
For now, happy Saturday and happy reading!