What I’ve Been Reading Lately: September, October

What a great couple of reading months it has been. I hope my recommendations serve you well and bring you some happy, happy book moments.

SEPTEMBER:
Of Mess and Moxie, by Jen Hatmaker
I’ve got a huge girl-crush on Jen Hatmaker, a woman who speaks her mind with a healthy dose of honesty that’s wrapped in so much love it’s disarming. She is also a Christian leader who believes in — and fights for– inclusion. This book, which has this subtitle: Wrangling Delight Out of this Wild and Crazy Life, made me laugh, made me cry, made me think hard about my days and how I navigate them. I enjoyed via audiobook (which is delightful and powerful read by Jen), then I bought the hardback because it is THAT GOOD. I want it around, physically, and not just on my Kindle. Love, love, love.

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
This is the book that popped up everywhere I looked as autumn approached, one of the most anticipated of the fall crop. I was familiar with Ng having read her debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, earlier this year. (I wrote about it here.) Little Fires is beloved by critics and authors alike which you will see on its Amazon page, which notes of the story: a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. If you enjoy contemporary family dramas (which happens to not be my favorite genre I don’t know why I keep choosing it), I think you will like.

Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate
What a surprise this book was to me! It’s another that kept insisting itself and when I discovered I was #25 on the library’s waiting list I immediately ordered my own copy on Kindle. It is right up my alley: Based on the true-life scandals surrounding the notorious Tennessee Children’s Home Society in the 1930s, Wingate weaves a thought-provoking and complex tale about two families, two generations apart. (My local friends will be interested to know much of the story takes place in Aiken, South Carolina.) I must say the cover of this book is not a great indicator of the rich story within, so don’t let that fool you. A really good story very well told.

Braving the Wilderness, by Brene Brown
I think this is the most profound, powerful, important book I’ve read in the last 10 years, or maybe ever. EVERY PERSON ON THE PLANET SHOULD READ THIS BOOK. Brene makes a compelling and immensely readable case for “true” belonging and the courage to stand alone. From Penquin Random House: Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.” I listened to this via audiobook which I loved because Brene reads it, and her personal storytelling is just so powerful. By Chapter 2 I had already run straight to the bookstore to buy a copy. I HAD THINGS TO UNDERLINE AND REMEMBER.

Get this book. Seriously.

THE MAGNOLIA STORY, by Joanna and Chip Gaines
Like a hundred billion other people on the planet, I love Chip and Joanna Gaines of the HGTV show Fixer Upper. Like the hundred billion I have that feeling they are family, or at least really good friends. Still I wasn’t standing around waiting to read this book. They felt a little overexposed to me, and this seemed like just another layer of all that promotion. But then there it was available immediately via audiobook from the library, and Tim and I were going on a road trip, and it seemed like an okay choice…and so we queued it right on up. We really enjoyed it! Chip and Jo Jo do the reading and while I liked their familiar voices they are NOT great audiobook narrators. But we found their story really interesting, particularly from a business standpoint, and found ourselves caught up as the miles flew past. Worth a read, I’d say, if you’re a fan or if you’re looking for some entrepreneurial encouragement.

NEWS OF THE WORLD, by Paulette Giles
I love a tale about unlikely characters thrown together in unusual circumstances and this is a great one. Amazon says: In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction hat explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust. Beautifully written–one of my favorite books of the year. I read this in actual book form and suggest that format because it is small and beautiful–a delight to hold and look at.

PRESENT OVER PERFECT, by Shauna Niequest
Amazon says: Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

I’d had my eye on this little book for quite some time then found it on sale on Kindle. I snatched it up and curled up with it in bed one night. I read it in one sitting and think it is a good recommendation for anyone who feels life has gotten away from them, anyone who wants to learn to be present in the midst of messy life. Particularly a good go-to for young women trying to balance it all–which, thank heavens–is no longer me. I did love Oprah’s interview with Shauna on her SuperSoul Conversations podcast. Good stuff.

 

If you have thoughts or other book recommendations, please share in the comments. I’d love to know how you feel about my selections or any suggestions you have!

XXOO

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