It’s always fun to start a new challenge, and this year’s #Read2017 challenge is no exception. I learned some things last year–like the need to stay more balanced with fiction and nonfiction–and discovered just how much I enjoy biographies and certain authors (here’s looking at you, Tolkien and Wodehouse), and am anticipating a good year of learning and exploring more genres.
As usual, I started off the year with a bang, reading 9 books in 2 months (not counting the re-read I did of my favorite Dee Henderson series), most of which fit under specific categories for this year’s challenge. One book was chosen as my local library’s book club selection, two were sent as review copies, and one I received for Christmas. The others simply caught my eye at the library or on Goodreads.
Here’s what I read in January and February (contains affiliate links):
Hearts of Fire, by ‘The Voice of the Martyrs’
Category: Biography of a notable Christian(s)
This book, put out by The Voice of the Martyrs, contains mini-biographies of eight Christian women across the globe, from different countries and even different time periods, each of whom faced severe persecution for her faith in Christ. I was both encouraged and convicted by their stories of faithfulness and courage in the midst of intense hardship, proclaiming the gospel at the risk of losing their families and their lives, even in prison; and it offered good insight into how to faithfully pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. Highly recommended!
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, by Allison Bartlett
Category: Biography of anyone
This book contained the fascinating story of a man addicted to stealing rare books, the rare book dealers who tried to catch him, and a journalist who yearned to understand what might lead a man to a life of white collar crime. It fits loosely in the biography category; it’s told from the viewpoint of the journalist, who meets with Gilkey (the book thief) for regular interviews and discussions about his past. I found myself caught up in the author’s search to understand why someone would steal something that they could never display, and was surprised by the ending of the book (though it’s not the end of the story). A fun side note: Ken Sanders’ rare book shop happens to be only a few hours from me!
My husband is a World War II history buff, so when I saw this firsthand account of the bombing of the USS Arizona on our “New Releases” shelf at the library, I picked it up thinking he might be interested in reading it. Then I decided to start reading it, and got completely caught up in the narrative. It was sobering to catch a glimpse of what our servicemen faced on that infamous day in 1944. Even if you’re not a history buff, it will grab hold of your attention. It’s heartbreaking . . . there are no words to describe the horror of that day at Pearl Harbor, not the courage and bravery of the men and women who fought to survive. Be aware that it is also a bit graphic (albeit necessarily so, considering the topic), as it describes men being blown to bits and body parts flying out across the water. Definitely a 5-star book!
Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age, by Bob Cutillo
Category: Book about physical health
Medicine is a gift of God for the benefit of humanity. But perhaps we’ve approached it from the wrong direction. Perhaps what we want is not so much good healthcare, but control over our bodies. Cutillo seeks to help us cultivate a biblical understanding of the relationship between faith and health in the modern age, reorienting us to a wiser pursuit of health for the good of all. The book is a bit technical at times (it is written by a doctor, after all!), but it contains perspective that’s firmly grounded in God’s truth and thought-provoking questions we would be wise to consider. Read my full review here.
I didn’t discover P.G. Wodehouse until last year, when I was looking for a “book published 100 years ago,” but I immediately fell in love with his style once I started reading Uneasy Money. So when I chose to include a “book of short stories” in this year’s challenge, I had a feeling it would end up being another Wodehouse book. His stories are like little mysteries in course of everyday life, with surprise endings reminiscent of O. Henry‘s works. This particular book would be a great one to start with, if you’re new to Wodehouse. It doesn’t include any stories with his most famous character, Jeeves; but the style and tone are classic Wodehouse, and there tends to be deeper truth behind even the most lighthearted stories, which lends itself easily to real-world application. Bonus: it’s free for Kindle!
Once On A Time, by A. A. Milne
Category: Book published 100 years ago
It’s a good thing I have the “published 100 years ago” category, because I’m not really sure what else this would fit under. In the introduction to the book, Milne (yes, the same man who wrote Winnie the Pooh) calls it “an odd book” and expresses uncertainty concerning its genre. Of course, its title makes it sound like a fairy tale, and that’s perhaps the best description. It’s hard to explain what it’s about–love and war, magic and swordplay, kings and princesses, whiskers and sheepherding are all major themes in the book. So maybe I’ll just say it was a fast but entertaining read, and if you’re looking for something different and lighthearted, then you should give this a try. Bonus: it’s also free for Kindle!
Church History 101, by Sinclair Ferguson, Joel Beeke, Michael Haykin
Category: Book about history
This little book is a perfect introduction to the last 20 centuries of church history. Each chapter highlights a different century, mentioning 2-3 major characters and any overarching issues of that time period (foreign missions, the Reformation, etc.). Of course, with only 100 pages, it leaves out many important figures and events; but it’s a great little overview for someone who’s not super familiar with who did what in which century. It was also interesting to read the authors’ additional comments on how the major events or people shaped the spread of Christianity, whether they displayed true Christlike character, and how certain patterns are coming back into play today. History is important for all of us, especially the history of God’s working across the globe, and I would highly recommend picking this up if you’re not familiar with the history of Christianity.
What have you been reading lately?
PS. Find me on Goodreads to share your favorite titles and discover what else I’m exploring for #Read2017.