Friends, the past few weeks have been crazy, to say the least!
There is a lot going on, and it has been difficult to know what to post. Then suddenly I realized I had not yet shared my May book stack with you!
So here it is.
Monks and Mystics, Volume 2: Chronicles of the Medieval Church
I bought this series by Mindy and Brandon Withrow many years ago as part of our Church History curriculum when were homeschooling. This is the second book in the series, and it relates the stories of medieval Christians such as Boniface, St. Francis, Thomas Aquinas, and John Wyclif, as well as outlining events like the Crusades, the forming of Universities, and the Councils of the Medieval Church. Since it is written with the intent of making history come alive for older students, I find it is very readable and way less boring than most church history accounts! There were several stories I was not familiar with that were quite encouraging. This is a great book (and series) for anyone wanting to learn about the path of Christianity through the ages or for middle/high schoolers studying Church history.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman)
This was such a fun book! It reminded me quite a bit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. It took me a bit to get into it, but I’m so glad I stuck with it! The character development was terrific, and it was thick with British humor. It covered the subject matter brilliantly, and while I had a pretty good idea where the plot was going to end up, it took a few twist and turns getting there. Overall, it was a beautiful tale of not judging a book by its cover, while addressing delicate issues such as depression, loneliness, and friendship in a unique and charming way. (Trigger warning: If you have suffered abuse, this book may not be for you.)
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Suzanne Collins)
My oldest daughter, Sarah, made a special trip to the store just to surprise me with it because we are both big fans of The Hunger Games series. (Thanks, Boo!) In this prequel to the original book, Collins takes us back to when President Snow is a teenager, living in the Capitol, struggling to survive after losing both parents in the war. He is chosen to be a mentor in the 10th annual Hunger Games and is assigned- you guessed it- the girl from District 12. Y’all, I loved this book! I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll stop there, but Collins does a great job of weaving in so many elements from the original series, which made it an extremely fun read. The climax at the end felt just a little bit rushed (kind of like the end of Mockingjay, in my opinion), but overall, I definitely recommend it to Hunger Games fans!
The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman
This book has been on my list since I joined Hope*Writers a few months ago. The title stems from a poem often quoted by my favorite author, Elisabeth Elliot: “Do the next thing.” Freeman takes it a step further by reminding us that there might be many good choices in front of us, so we need to find the next right thing. While this is a book about making life decisions, I love that it is not a “5 step formula to choosing the right thing” type of book. Instead, each chapter shares a different approach for discerning your next right step. So while they may not all apply to every individual, something will surely apply to everyone! Some of my favorite chapters were Name the Narrative, Look for Arrows, Know what You Want More, Quit something, and Stop Collecting Gurus.
Since the chapters are short, I decided to use it along with my devotional time in the morning, which worked really well. Each chapter ends with a prayer and a “practice” section, which helps the reader apply what they are reading. There are so many good things I got out of this book, but if I had to pick one quote for how God spoke to me, it would be this one from p. 53:
“God often gives a faint vision of things before they ever come to be. It’s not a full form, more of a shadow, not focused or clear… Instead of those black-and-white answers we tend to love so much, what if we began to look for arrows instead?”Emily P. Freeman, The Next Right Thing
Arrows instead of answers. Yes!! This is a great book to read if you find yourself in a place of transition and need a little help discerning your next right step.
And finally, Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens)
I loved this book, too! It was a good month for fiction reading. J This is the story of Kya, a young girl who is abandoned by her mother and older siblings and eventually by her abusive, alcoholic father, left to fend for herself in the North Carolina marsh. It is a coming of age tale; a beautiful story of abandonment, love, trust, betrayal, and friendship. Oh yeah, and then there’s a murder mystery, just for kicks! Seriously, the world building, character development, and storyline of this book are all top-notch, and the writing itself drew me in from the beginning. My favorite scene is when Kya’s friend, Tate, is teaching her how to read:
“Slowly, she unraveled each word of the sentence: ‘There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.’”
(He goes on to encourage her that now that she can read, she’ll never not be able to read again, to which she answers:)
‘It ain’t just that.’ She spoke almost in a whisper. ‘I wasn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.’”Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing, p. 135 (Large print edition)
Maybe it’s the writer in me, but that is such simple and beautiful truth.
I definitely recommend this book. It would make a great read for the beach or pool!
Well, friends, those are the books I read in May! Not a bad one among them. Summer is here, and we all have a little extra daylight, which hopefully will include a little extra time to read, too!
What’s on your nightstand or in your beach bag? I’m always looking for suggestions. Feel free to share in the comments!