Books I Read 1/19

Every year I've tried different methods of tracking what I read but I always get lost somewhere in July and the rest is history. I loosely keep track of the thirty or so books I read each year, but I want a better system, so now I'll be doing a quick monthly blog post about the books I've read and my brief impressions. Each month I'll write about the books I've completed that month, which may mean I began them the following month. I also include audiobooks here, even though I still prefer turning real paper pages. Audiobooks are brilliant for people who spend any length of time in transit, commuting to work, running errands, etc. I buy most of my audiobooks from the Daily Deals e-mail which I receive daily from Audible. I'm not actually an Audible member, but you don't have to be to receive their daily e-mails. I'd say once per month they have an excellent classic (such as Jane Austen's Northhanger Abbey narrated by Emma Thompson) for under $5. I also use Christian Audio which also has incredible sales (most books I own from there were $7 or less) as well as a free audiobook every month. You can be a member at Christian Audio, but it's not the route I've taken since their sales are so good. 

For those who want to make reading a more substantial part of lives, check out this article I wrote last year, Reading for Pleasure + How to Get There. I didn't grow up as an avid bookworm and aside from mandatory texts for my degree and the odd book to grow in my faith, I didn't read, and certainly never just for fun. Everything changed after having Chloe when I found myself with three children under the age of three in desperate need of self care. With so many small children, I was rather house bound, which brought me to the fork in the road between endless television, or cultivating a love for reading. Happily, in the winter of 2014, I picked up a novel, and the first great work of fiction I'd probably ever read (for those wondering, it was All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer). I was hooked. 

Here's what I finished reading in January, 2019

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I started reading Jane Eyre in December 2018 with my Book Club and finished it just in time for our meeting on the first week of January. It wasn't my favourite Bronte book but it was still beautiful to read (and listen to - I actually did both simultaneously). I found Jane hard to like as a protagonist, though I admired her boldness, courage to stick with her convictions, and generosity of spirit even after being so hard done by in her early life. The book pushes the reader to consider how our morals interface with our desires, as in Lord Rochester’s desire to marry Jane, to consider if we might face death as bravely as Helen Burns, and if we could forgive a cousin like John, and for that it’s an excellent book club read (such good discussions!) as well as a thought provoking personal study. I watched the 2011 film before reading the book and have promised myself I’ll never make that mistake again – always always read the book first!

Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry

I have admired Jackie Hill Perry for a few years and saw her speak in person last summer. I first chose to buy this audiobook on Christian Audio simply because of my respect for the author as a poet and writer, not because of the subject, though she shares her personal story, laced with Biblical truth with incredible depth and beauty. She is best known as a spoken word poet, which made the audiobook an obvious choice as its read by Jackie HillPerry herself. She doesn’t just read, she performs. It’s not just a book, it’s historical biography, profound apologetics, and a theology text book all in one. Highly recommend.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I started this book between Christmas and New Years and fell hard, fast, for those charming March sisters. I absolutely loved their antics, which reminded me of Anne of Green Gables, but multiplied by four – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. These characters are so sweet it hurts, but they aren’t one dimensional. They still have great sorrows, taste death, experience jealousy, and require forgiveness. I loved that the book took place over many years and we got to see the girls grow into women, eventually leaving Marmee’s nest for a world of their own. Lily had since read the Jr. Classics version of Little Women and Oli is on the second half of the official version and we all agree – it’s a delight. I rewarded myself with the 1994 film adaptation which was on Netflix over Christmas once I’d finished the book and have to say I was hugely disappointed. Laurie was all wrong, Marmee wasn’t nurturing and warm enough, and many of the best bits were left out. There’s a new movie coming out this year though, so I’m interested to see how it goes!

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, wife of Charles H. Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes Jr.

I listened to this Audiobook for part of December and into January, including part of my leg of driving to Ontario. It was beautifully written and lengthy, but every detail seemed worthy. I love biographies and especially those of people I can somehow relate to. Though Susannah Spurgeon was married to a renowned man and did more good than I'll ever do, she was also a simple pastor's wife and passionate church planter, so I drew particular inspiration from that. I love how as a new believer, her pastor, Charles Spurgeon who would many years later become her husband, gave her The Pilgrim's Progress to help her in her fledgling faith journey. That's one of the reasons that I'll be reading that work next month (ps - it's the FREE book of the month with Christian Audio for those who want to read - or listen - along with me)

The Life-giving Home by Sally Clarkson

I just finished this book under the wire and really enjoyed it. Over all, the book gives a lofty vision for what home can be – a refuge from the world, a place for belonging and becoming. I’m inspired by Sally Clarkson to make my home such a place for our children but also guests, friends, and neighbours. Having read The Gospel Comes With A House Key by Rosaria Butterfield last summer, hospitality has been on my mind in recent months, so this book was a natural choice. I’ve loved Sally Clarkson’s parenting books over the years, but appreciate how she turns the focus on the home. It’s co-authored by her eldest daughter Sarah, and I found myself especially liking Sarah’s chapters as an adult who lived through a home experience like what’s written about in the book. Some parts of the books interested me less because they were heavy on examples from their home, which in many ways won’t fit with the Morrice family or our rhythms. Clarkson is quick to note that not every example will work for every reader, and that their interests and favourites aren’t prescriptive for the audience, so it didn’t irk me, I just wasn’t underlining those parts very often.  I still recommend it and learned a lot!

5 books down for 2019! And a stack awaits me for February. I'll report back soon :)

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