Review: A Grief Observed

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A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
76 pages. HarperOne. $11.17 on Amazon.

This short book is a collection of writings from Lewis’ journals that he kept after his wife died. If you’re looking for a book on the theology of grief, or a comforting book about loss, this is not that book. Lewis’ writing is raw, painful, and at times offensive (like when he, in a fit of new grief late at night, writes of God as spiteful, the Cosmic Sadist). However, if you have also traveled the path of deep suffering, his words will seem very familiar. He gives voice to thoughts that many of us have had but few of us have spoken – is God good? Really? Then why is there so much pain and so few answers? Why, in our desperate need, do we find “a door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside”? Lewis asks tough questions, shakes his fist at the heavens, finds his faith to be lacking, wishes his wife would come back – all experiences that will be recognizable to those who have grieved deeply. There is some bad theology in this book, but it’s worth reading anyway.

★★★★

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Review: If You Only Knew

34228639**I received this book for free from the publisher through Netgalley. My review and opinions are my own.**

If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free
by Jamie Ivey
B & H Books. 240 pages. $13.76 on Amazon.

Many of us have, at some point, thought “if this person knew who I really was, they wouldn’t speak to me again.” This book is for us.

Jamie Ivey writes about her past openly and honestly, and follows every part of her story with how the the gospel frees us to be honest, vulnerable people. It’s a gospel-soaked book and a joy to read. I don’t tend to like books that rely heavily on the author’s life to talk about Jesus, but the way this book is written makes it different from other story-heavy books.

The only reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 is that I wish it had been written to a broader audience. Yes, Ivey is a woman – but that doesn’t mean her book has to be written directly to women. Men can also identify with feeling this way, and while a woman’s specific sins and struggles may not directly relate, men should be able to work out situations in their lives where they have struggled with something similar (just like women who have struggled with completely different things will have to do).

★★★★

Review: Kiss the Wave

51CTr+KcmBL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_**I received this book for free from the publisher through Netgalley. My review and opinions are my own.**

 Kiss the Wave by Dave Furman
160 pages. Crossway. $14.99 on Amazon.

“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” -C. H. Spurgeon

Kiss the Wave is a book about suffering. Every Christian will eventually face some form of suffering – illness, loss, difficult circumstances, etc – which is why there are so many books about suffering on the market. So the question always is, should someone read this book on suffering? I would say yes.

Furman writes this book as someone who has faced intense suffering. He suffers from a nerve problem that leaves him in pain and unable to use his arms much. He writes openly and honestly about both the sins and miseries he has experienced as a result of his pain, which is helpful. 

The book is packed with the gospel. He writes about Jesus and the hope found in him on every page. His argument is two sided – that suffering guides us into deeper relationship with and dependence on God, and that only Jesus can give us the comfort we need in suffering. The book is also full of Scripture, guiding the reader back to the Bible in every chapter.

Kiss the Wave is also very short, only 160 pages. I finished it over two days and about 2 hours of reading. While this means that it doesn’t say everything that can be said on the topic, short books can be very helpful for people in pain who may not have much of an attention span.

Kiss the Wave is a wonderful book – pastorally sensitive, gentle, always pointing to the gospel and the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ. Highly recommended.

★★★★★

2018 – The Year of the Kindle

Over the years, I’ve developed a terrible habit – I buy Kindle books but never read them. In my defense, how can you pass on buying a book for $3.99 or less when the paperback costs three or more times than much? Kindle Unlimited has not helped, either. So this year, I’m going to read through my Kindle. My list of unread Kindle books is long (and, let’s be honest, will probably be added to this year), so I’m not going to say I’ll read all of them, just as many as I can.

Here’s a list of the unread books on my Kindle:

  1. Glorious Ruin
  2. Jude: A Novel
  3. John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, Doxology
  4. Younger Restlesser Reformeder: A Good-Natured Roast
  5. Banshee
  6. The Girl Who Could See
  7. Stuff Christians Like
  8. Don’t Make Me Count to Three!
  9. The Christian in Complete Armour
  10. The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness
  11. Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism
  12. The Everlasting Man: Complete and Unabridged
  13. Words Spoken True: A Novel
  14. The Silent Banshee
  15. What Happens When I Die?
  16. Silverlock
  17. Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well
  18. Back on Murder
  19. Offworld
  20. Orthodoxy
  21. Containment
  22. Varieties of Religious Experience
  23. The Sovereignty of God
  24. On The Incarnation
  25. The Breakers Series: Books 1-3
  26. Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
  27. Unwritten: A Novel
  28. Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church
  29. Songs in the Key of Solomon: In the Word and In the Mood
  30. Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest
  31. The Pilgrim’s Progress
  32. The Pursuit of God
  33. Lord, Teach Us To Pray
  34. The Practice of the Presence of God
  35. The Confessions of St. Augustine
  36. Heretics
  37. Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards
  38. What’s Wrong with the World
  39. Jesus, the One and Only
  40. The Truest Thing about You: Identity, Desire, and Why It All Matters
  41. Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible
  42. The Doctrine of Justification
  43. Freedom of the Will
  44. How People Change
  45. How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home
  46. Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ
  47. The Scriptures Testify about Me: Jesus and the Gospel in the Old Testament
  48. Alone With God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer
  49. Anxious for Nothing: God’s Cure for the Cares of Your Soul
  50. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her
  51. The Final Days of Jesus
  52. Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels
  53. The Work of Christ: What the Events of Jesus’ Life Mean for You
  54. Christian Classics: Six books by Charles Spurgeon in a single collection
  55. Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability, and Meaning
  56. Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud : Relapse and the Symptoms of Sobriety
  57. The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way
  58. Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary
  59. Jesus the Evangelist: Learning to Share the Gospel from the Book of John
  60. Magnifying God in Christ: A Summary of New Testament Theology
  61. Lectures on Calvinism
  62. Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in The Christian Life
  63. Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament
  64. Code Breakers: Alpha
  65. Maternal Harbor
  66. Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Daily Family Devotions for Advent
  67. Potter’s Freedom
  68. Good News for Weary Women
  69. Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds
  70. Truth in a Culture of Doubt: Engaging Skeptical Challenges to the Bible
  71. Gospel Formed
  72. Twelve What Abouts: Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election
  73. Christ and Culture Revisited
  74. Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith
  75. The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything
  76. Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus
  77. The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism
  78. Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace
  79. A Grief Observed
  80. The Life List: A Novel
  81. Infinite Jest
  82. Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids
  83. A God of Many Understandings
  84. Jesus and the Gospels
  85. Mary–Another Redeemer?
  86. The Girl With All the Gifts
  87. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
  88. The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue
  89. Redeeming Mathematics: A God-Centered Approach
  90. Dying to Read
  91. Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship
  92. By His Wounds You are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman’s Identity
  93. Understanding the Times: New Testament Studies in the 21st Century
  94. Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything
  95. God’s Glory Alone—The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life
  96. The Band that Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down With the Titanic
  97. God-Breathed: The Undeniable Power and Reliability of Scripture
  98. Searching for Adam: Genesis & the Truth About Man’s Origin
  99. The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God
  100. Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt Is Not the Enemy of Faith
  101. Drawn by the Father
  102. Running on Empty: The Gospel for Women in Ministry
  103. The Gospel Commission: Recovering God’s Strategy for Making Disciples
  104. Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God
  105. The Person of Jesus: Radio Addresses on the Deity of the Savior
  106. The Cross of Christ
  107. Heroes and Monsters: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be Human
  108. The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected
  109. Saving the Saved
  110. Case for Christ/Case for Faith Compilation
  111. Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken Word
  112. Their Rock Is Not Like Our Rock: A Theology of Religions
  113. Humility: The Beauty of Holiness
  114. Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life
  115. The Lord of the Ring: In Search of Count von Zinzendorf
  116. True Community
  117. Surprised by Oxford
  118. Gulag: A History
  119. The Insanity of Obedience: Walking with Jesus in Tough Places
  120. The San Francisco Earthquake: A Minute-by-Minute Account of the 1906 Disaster
  121. Taking Hold of God: Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer
  122. How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens
  123. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
  124. Breaking Free: Discover the Victory of Total Surrender
  125. Beginning at Moses: A Guide to Finding Christ in the Old Testament
  126. The Professor and the Madman
  127. God So Loved, He Gave: Entering the Movement of Divine Generosity
  128. Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership
  129. The Girl Empress
  130. The Lost History of Christianity
  131. Preaching Christ in All of Scripture
  132. Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent
  133. Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better
  134. The Gender Secret
  135. Broken Trust: A Practical Guide to Identify and Recover from Toxic Faith, Toxic Church, and Spiritual Abuse
  136. How to Battle Depression and Suicidal Thoughts
  137. Kiss the Wave
  138. Jesus the Lord According to Paul the Apostle
  139. Alone
  140. In Every Moment We Are Still Alive
  141. The Gospel According to Star Wars
  142. Introducing Practical Theology
  143. If You Only Knew
  144. Christian Women in the Patristic World
  145. Steal Away Home
  146. In Search of Ancient Roots
  147. God-Soaked Life
  148. Revelation (Reformed Expository Commentary)
  149. The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing
  150. The Christ of Wisdom
  151. The Legacy of Luther
  152. A Theology of Biblical Counseling
  153. A Theology of Mark’s Gospel
  154. God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment
  155. The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism
  156. Let Go and Let God?
  157. If We Make It Home
  158. River Rising
  159. Sin in the Second City
  160. The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women
  161. The Air We Breathe
  162. When You Disappeared
  163. From Weakness to Strength: 8 Vulnerabilities That Can Bring Out the Best in Your Leadership
  164. January Black
  165. Why Everything Matters: The Gospel in Ecclesiastes
  166. Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole
  167. To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain
  168. The Gospel-Driven Life
  169. Morning and Evening
  170. 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart
  171. An Infinite Journey: Growing toward Christlikeness
  172. Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God’s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life
  173. Apricots and Wolfsbane
  174. An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture 
  175. The Other Side of Infamy: My Journey through Pearl Harbor and the World of War

2018 Christian Reading Challenge

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The Challies’ Christian Reading Challenge is back for 2018! I participated in this challenge this year for the first time (only a couple more books to go!) and it is so much fun that I’m already looking forward to the 2018 challenge!

Like last year, I will not be going through the lists one at a time but will take the whole list (104 books) for my challenge. I am once again giving my official number of 52 books, although I’d like to finish the whole list. I will update this post with titles and links to the books I’ve read. Because so many of the categories dovetail nicely with my personal Kindle challenge, I’m going to mark Kindle books with a (K).

The Light Reader

_ 1. a biography
_ 2. a book about Christian living
_ 3. a book published in 2018
_ 4. a book by an author who is no longer alive
_ 5. a novel
_ 6. a book for teens or young adults
_ 7. a book more than 100 years old
_ 8. a book targeted at the opposite gender
_ 9. a book your best friend recommends
_ 10. a book with at least 400 pages
_ 11. a book of your choice
_ 12. a book about theology
_ 13. a book about current events

The Avid Reader

_ 14. a book about Christian living
_ 15. a book of 100 pages or less
_ 16. a book about the early church
_ 17. a book with a picture of the author on the cover
_ 18. a book on the current New York Times list of bestsellers
_ 19. a book written by a Puritan
_ 20. a book by or about a pastor
_ 21. a book of your choice
_ 22. a commentary on a book of the Bible
_ 23. a book about theology
_ 24. a book that won a prize
_ 25. a book you have borrowed
_ 26. a book about Christian history

The Committed Reader

_ 27. a novel by an author you have never read before
_ 28. a book based on a true story
_ 29. a book by a female author
_ 30. a play
_ 31. a humorous book
_ 32. a self-improvement book
_ 33. a book about prayer
_ 34. a graphic novel
_ 35. a book about Christian living
_ 36. a book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with
_ 37. a book by or about a politician
_ 38. a classic novel
_ 39. a book with a two-word title
_ 40. a book by a male author
_ 41. a book you’re pretty sure you won’t like
_ 42. a book of your choice
_ 43. a book about theology
_ 44. a memoir or autobiography
_ 45. a book about Christian living
_ 46. a book published by Christian Focus
_ 47. a book of poetry
_ 48. a book targeted at your gender
_ 49. a book of your choice
_ 50. a book about Christian living
_ 51. a book by R.C. Sproul
_ 52. a book of your choice

The Obsessed Reader

_ 53. a book you read in the past 3 years
_ 54. a book of your choice
_ 55. a book by your favorite author
_ 56. a book about science
_ 57. a book written in the 19th century
_ 58. a book about Christian living
_ 59. a book by or about a martyr
_ 60. a book about history
_ 61. a book by or about a world leader
_ 62. a book on the ECPA bestseller list
_ 63. a book published by P&R Publications
_ 64. a book about a book of the Bible
_ 65. a book about war
_ 66. a book about heaven
_ 67. a book from a library
_ 68. a book about relationships
_ 69. a novel for young adults
_ 70. a book of your choice
_ 71. a book about Christian living
_ 72. a book about history
_ 73. a book used as a seminary textbook
_ 74. a book of your choice
_ 75. a book about church history
_ 76. a book by a Southern Baptist
_ 77. a book by an author who is still alive
_ 78. a book for children or teens
_ 79. a book about the church
_ 80. a book about business
_ 81. a novel longer than 300 pages
_ 82. a book about leadership
_ 83. a book you have read before
_ 84. a book by Jerry Bridges
_ 85. a book with a great cover
_ 86. a book by a Puritan 
_ 87. a book about animals
_ 88. a book about theology
_ 89. a book of comics
_ 90. a book by Albert Mohler
_ 91. a book about the Bible
_ 92. a book about theology
_ 93. a biography of a Christian
_ 94. a Christian novel
_ 95. a photo essay book
_ 96. a book about Holiness or sanctification
_ 97. a book about the Bible
_ 98. a book of your choice
_ 99. a book about money or finance
_ 100. a book you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t
_ 101. a book recommended by a friend
_ 102. a book about church history
_ 103. a book by a speaker from Together For The Gospel 
_ 104. a book your pastor recommends

2018 Reformation Reading Challenge

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Well, I’m going to declare my 2017 Reformation Reading Challenge a bust. I managed to get 11 of 17 books read, but I’m not going to get another 6 books done for it this year. Luckily, Becky at Operation Actually Read Bible decided to do another Reformation challenge for 2018. The challenge is to read books by or about reformers, or about the Reformation. Books about the Reformation include what Becky is referring to as “legacy” books – any book by a Reformed author, because they are in the legacy of the reformers. I’m challenging myself to read 20 books for this challenge. Since it runs from November 2017 to December 2018, I already have 3 books read!

Faith Alone – Reformation theology, finished 11 November.
Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World -Children’s book, biography, finished 14 November.
Why the Reformation Still Matters – Reformation theology, finished 20 November.
John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor – Biography, finished 26 December.
John Knox and the Reformation – Biography/theology, finished 5 January.

What I read in November

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Unbearable Lightness – Memoir. Portia de Rossi’s memoir of her battle with anorexia. Honest and sometimes heart-wrenching. As with many memoirs it’s difficult to say that I enjoyed it, since this book is about a woman who nearly dies from an eating disorder, but it was very good.

The Assault – Christian fiction. Book 2 of the Harbingers series. This is an interesting series, written by 4 Christian writers. I have enjoyed the series so far, with this book being just as good as the first.

The Gender Game – YA. Read this book because I saw it sold as “if you liked The Hunger Games, you’ll love this!” I did love The Hunger Games series. The Gender Game is nowhere near as well-written. The world and characters are flat and poorly described. However, it’s an interesting enough story that I’ll probably read the second book.

Probing – Christian fiction. Reviewed here.

Faith Alone – Reformation theology. Schreiner advocates the “faith alone for initial justification, but works are necessary for final justification” view, which is not what the Reformers believed and taught, nor is it sound theology. I recommend people steer clear of this one.

The Imperfect Disciple – Discipleship. Wilson’s book is written for those who have read other books on discipleship and come away feeling like a failure – me all over. Reading Imperfect Disciple was emotional for me, but I loved it so much that I wish I could give a copy to every Christian I know. One of the best books I’ve read this year. 

Being There – Christian living. Written for those caring for people who hurt (physically, mentally, emotionally), Being There is somewhat unique. I suffer from multiple chronic conditions, and I highly recommend Christians (especially those in church ministry) read this book to be able to better serve those around them who suffer.

Why the Reformation Still Matters – Church history, theology. A look at Reformation theology, current Roman Catholic theology, and some of the shifts in Protestant theology. Very helpful.

Wounds – Christian fiction. A serial killer is on the loose, and a detective is racing to catch him before he kills again. Quite a bit more violent than I thought it would be, but an interesting story. Don’t know if I’d recommend it.

A Ship Possessed – Christian fiction. A submarine that disappeared in 1943 turns up on the coast of San Diego 50 years later, and while the crew is gone, it’s not empty. Gripping story, I finished it in 2 days.

2018 TBR Pile Challenge

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It’s that time of year – time to start looking for next year’s challenges! I came across The 2018 TBR Pile Challenge from Adam at Roof Beam Reader. With 720 books on my TBR as of the writing of this post, this challenge is right up my alley.

Here’s the details: Pick 12 books (plus 2 alternates) from your to-be-read (TBR) list to read in 2018. The books must have been on your list longer than 1 year, so they can’t have been published in 2017. As each book is read, write a review of the book and link it to your original post. 

Here’s my list:

  1. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs (on my TBR since 2012)
  2. A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis (on my TBR since 2012) finished 16 Jan 18
  3. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (on my TBR since 2012)
  4. Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson (on my TBR since 2012)
  5. Creed or Chaos? by Dorothy Sayers (on my TBR since 2012)
  6. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester (on my TBR since 2013)
  7. Dumbing Us Down by John Gatto (on my TBR since 2013)
  8. The Deep Things of God by Fred Sanders (on my TBR since 2013)
  9. River Rising by Athol Dickson (on my TBR since 2013)
  10. Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller (on my TBR since 2013)
  11. The Final Days of Jesus by Andreas Kostenberger (on my TBR since 2014)
  12. Running Scared by Ed Welch (on my TBR since 2014)

Alternates:

  1. Jesus the Evangelist by Richard Phillips (on my TBR since 2014)
  2. Offworld by Robin Parrish (on my TBR since 2014)

Review: Probing

cover118445-medium**I received this book for free from the publisher through Netgalley. My review and opinions are my own.**

Probing by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky
384 pages. Bethany House. $10.71 on Amazon.

This is the third book in the Harbingers series, which is in itself an interesting thing. Four well-known Christian authors came together to write these books, and in the intro the writing is referred to as a kind of game with two rules – Each of us would write as if we were one of the characters in the series. Instead of the four of us writing one novella together, we would write it like a TV series. There would be an overarching storyline into which we’d plug our individual novellas, with each story written from our character’s point of view (from the introduction to the book).

In Myers’ “Leviathan” the team heads to the taping of a new reality show, which is a bit more real than normal shows. This was an interesting story, but it felt unfinished to me. I would love to see the idea here fleshed out in a full-length novel.

Peretti’s “The Mind Pirates” finds the team back on vacation at the beach – and still unable to relax. They run into a real life pirate ship with some interesting technology. While I normally love Peretti’s writing (The Visitation is one of my all-time favorite books), “The Mind Pirates” struck me as a bit silly. With more humor written into the story, it would have been fantastic – written as a serious novella, it’s just strange.

Hunt’s “Hybrids” puts the team back at Andi’s grandparent’s house on the beach, this time encountering two creepy black-eyed children. I really liked this story. There was just enough of the creepy, spine-tingling factor to make it enjoyable, and Hunt does a good job setting up a really interesting continuing storyline.

Gansky’s “The Village” was hands-down my favorite. The team visits a secretive little town in South Carolina, a town that seems bent on getting rid of them, and they uncover the strangest mystery so far. This is the third time Gansky’s story has been my favorite. I hadn’t heard of Alton Gansky before I read the first book in the series, but I’ve added some of his books to my to-be-read list because I enjoy his writing so much.

Overall, Probing is a nice addition to the Harbingers series. This is the first time I felt like some of the writers were writing with a “let’s see you get out of this one!” chuckle, but that’s fun and could lead to some really cool stuff in book 4.

★★★★

What I read in October

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Ballad of the Whiskey Robber – True crime. Attila Ambrus was a goalie for a professional hockey team in Hungary. Needing a larger income, he became a prolific bank robber. This is a weird story, but seriously interesting. It starts slow, but picks up speed as it goes.

Gender Roles and the People of God – Theology. Divided into three parts, this book looks at women in the Bible who stood out against the patriarchal system they lived in, what the Bible actually teaches about women, and what the church has historically taught about women in different eras. Outstanding and fascinating, absolutely one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Free of Me – Christian living. Reviewed here.

Blessed are the Misfits – Christian living. Review to come.

How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge – Christian nonfiction. Good book on leadership for people who aren’t in the position of authority in a organization. While it focuses on leading in your job, the lessons are easy to port over to a church or volunteer situation.

Artemis – Science fiction. Reviewed here.

Under the Banner of Heaven – True crime. This is a weird book – part true crime, part history of the Mormon church. Kind of dry in parts, but interesting and a good read.

Do More Better – Christian living. A book on productivity. Not as helpful as I was hoping. Focus is on how to use three computer programs, not on being more productive in general.

Ruined – Memoir. A story of rape and healing. This is a difficult book and should be read with caution by anyone who is a rape survivor themselves.

A Heart Set Free – Theology. Disappointing. The subtitle is “A Journey Through the Psalms of Lament,” yet very little of the book dealt with the psalms of lament at all, and then only in a superficial way.

What Alice Forgot – Fiction. Married, pregnant, 29 year old Alice takes a fall and ends up in the hospital…where she is told that she is 39, a mother of three, and getting divorced. She has lost a decade of her life. This was a page-turner, and while I’m not sure I can say I loved it, the author can write a compelling story.

And the Place Was Shaken – Prayer. How to lead a prayer meeting. The first half (on why we pray together, how to be the person to lead prayer, how to create a good group, etc) was wonderful and I recommend it to all prayer leaders. The second half is more geared to those leading a large church prayer meeting, so it was less helpful to me.

The Invitation – Christian thriller. Four authors came together, each took one main character and wrote a short story from their POV, and then the four short stories are bound together as one book. Interesting concept, good stories, I really enjoyed this one.

The Pastor’s Justification – Theology, ministry. I am not a pastor – I read this for a reading challenge. That said, this book was one of the best I’ve read this year. Seriously good. Most of it is applicable to all Christians, and reading a book written to pastors gave me lots of ideas on how to pray for my pastor.

Preaching – Theology. Another reading challenge book. Because I am not a pastor and do not preach, much of this book was not applicable to me. However, the chapter on preaching Christ from all of Scripture should be required reading for all Christians.