I realized halfway through September that I never posted my August reads, so here are the two months combined. They were probably my two busiest months as far as reading goes, so I have a long list to post this time!
1. A book about theology: On the Incarnation, by Athanasius. This is another one from Abigail’s school reading list. The intro in this one takes up almost half the book and was more difficult for me to get through than the actual text itself. It was slightly difficult reading, but it helped me think about the incarnation in new and deeper ways (why did Jesus have to have a body?). Anyone who is curious about why Jesus needed to come to earth and live as a man should not be scared of reading this little book by one of the early church fathers.
2. A book with the word “gospel” in the title or subtitle: The Explicit Gospel, by Matt Chandler. This was an easy read, and very challenging. Chandler describes two points of view of the gospel: the gospel on the ground and the gospel in the air, and describes the dangers of focusing on one to the neglect of the other.
3. A book more than 100 years old: The Dragon and the Raven, by G. A. Henry. Visiting Abigail’s school list yet again, this is an action packed story of the time of King Alfred of Wessex and the Northern invaders. Taken in part from original source documents and part from Henty’s imagination, this is an excellent, realistic, historical novel that is suitable for middle schoolers or advanced elementary students.
4. A book published in 2016: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by JK Rowling. Two of my girls split the cost, bought the book, and I graciously let them read it first. Then I read it all in one afternoon. My verdict: eh. Nowhere near the standard of the original series, and I didn’t even think the plot was all that great, but still kind of fun to revisit familiar characters.
5. A book about church history: The Church History, by Eusebius. Yes, again from Abigail’s reading list. I thought this one was much more fascinating than she did. Reading what history tells us about the twelve apostles and the churches and towns mentioned in the New Testament, and then about the first 300 years after the birth of Christ was so interesting. It wasn’t difficult reading, just really long. Story after story of the early martyrs made me both cringe and rejoice. Such persecutions, and such faith. Incredible.
6. A play by William Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Yes, I made it all the way through high school and college without reading this, and finally read it off of my 8th grader’s reading list. It was a fun read, and made me want to go back and watch Dead Poet’s Society again.
7. A book by a female author: Practicing Hospitality, by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock. Honestly, I was a little disappointed with this one. Hospitality and the need to invest in relationships has been heavy on my heart, which is why I chose this one that has been sitting on my shelf for years, unread. But I finished it feeling burdened and knowing I can never measure up to those standards. After spending the whole book giving me recipes and cleaning schedules and tips to organize a hospitality notebook, the last chapter finally told me that my guests are looking more for my love and friendship than a clean house. Unfortunately, that one message tacked on at the end was not enough to redeem the burden I felt from the rest of the book.
8. A Christian novel: Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, by Randy Alcorn. I’ve read it before, and I will read it again. It’s a modernized version of The Screwtape Letters and forces the reader to confront the spiritual warfare that surrounds us every moment. I recommend it to anyone, middle school and up.
9. A book by or about a martyr: John and Betty Stam, by Vance Christie. When you read a book about a martyr, you obviously know how it is going to end. But you read it, feel a fellowship with the subjects, and find yourself rooting for the ending to change before you get there. The faith of the Stams is inspiring, and we will never know the impact they have had, even though their years of service were relatively few. Read biographies of heroes of the faith. Their stories will breathe fresh air into your own faith like nothing else can do.
After reading the Cursed Child, and after hearing my friend Sophie talk about reading them for the first time, of course I had to go through them all again. Because they are such familiar friends to me now, I can read through the whole series quickly and it only took me the first half of the month. You can tell that they are well-read at our house (although most of the wear and tear has come from them being left out where they get knocked around and stepped on). I still stand by my opinion that this series is one of the top two or three stories I have ever read. And I have read thousands. I had to think awhile, but I finally managed to fit them into categories. So, quickly listing:
1. A book for children: Sorcerer’s Stone
2. A book with at least 400 pages: Order of the Phoenix
3. A book with a great cover: Half Blood Prince (This was the furthest stretch, I actually don’t like the covers. But I like the green color.)
4. A book with magic: Chamber of Secrets
5. A book about a country or city: Deathly Hallows
6. A book with an ugly cover: Goblet of Fire
7. A book written in the 20th century: Prisoner of Azkaban
1. A book about a current issue: Openness Unhindered, by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. Ok, truth be told I actually finished this one on October 1, and Clay said I couldn’t count it here. But I read most of it in September, and if I wait until the end of October to include it I might not remember what it was about! This book is written very intellectually, which isn’t surprising given the author’s background. And to be honest, I struggled in parts to simply figure out what she was trying to say. Overall, though, it was extremely challenging, and a very helpful dissection of terms that we too often take for granted in Christian theology and life. Admit, confess, repent, sexual orientation, sexual identity, hospitality–all of these terms are defined correctly in this book and probably in ways that are different from what you’ve always thought. I categorized it as a current issue because of the current confusion about sexual identity and what that means and how it plays out in life, and how the church should handle someone who struggles with same sex attraction. Anyone who wants to love their neighbor should read this book, and her earlier book, also pictured here.
2. A book recommended by a family member: Insanity of God, by Nik Ripken. I know many of you saw the movie, now read the book. I did not see the movie, but Clay had already recommended this book to me months ago and I never read it. I pulled it out now since so many people were talking about it. I could barely put it down to parent my children. Reading all of these biographies this year has stirred my soul to live for Christ more deeply than ever before, and this one tops the list of books that have challenged my walk. To read what God is doing right now in far flung places among people who are persecuted for even claiming His name was mind-boggling. The God of the New Testament is still alive and well. I will come back to this one again.
3. A book with a one-word title: Brokenness, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (now Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth). I reread this one in preparation for True Woman ’16, where I knew she would be giving the message the book is based on. I prayed that God would use it to bring brokenness in my own heart and He did. There can be no revival without brokenness. We are praying for revival. Are we willing to be broken so it can start in us?
4. A book by or about a pastor’s wife: Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. I had wanted to read this one ever since I heard her on Revive Our Hearts, and Clay bought it for me at the conference. Again, her writing is sometimes hard for me to follow, but it is such a good book. Her voice is needed in these times of confusion, and especially among evangelicals who sin against people who have practiced homosexuality by acting as if their sin is unredeemable. This needs to be read by as many as possible.
So, 20 books in two months, bringing my total for the year to 48. I’ll fall somewhere between the Committed Reader (52 books) and the Obsessed Reader (104 books). What a fun journey this has been! Three more months; I have a couple stacked up ready to go but am excited to see what books the rest of the year will bring my way!