Thursday, October 29, 2015

Books of Vacay

I heard Shauna Niequist speak once (love her!) and she mentioned that her pet peeve is people who shorten words for no reason. She said something to the effect of, "If you have time to go on a vacation, then you probably have time to say the word vacation." That's basically brilliant comedy right there, but also? Vacay. Vacay. I say it all the time. And I always think of her now. Hate me, Shauna!

Anyway, I read up a MEAN STREAK while we were in TN last week. Since it was a road-trip, I didn't have to stress about which books to take...I took them all! Winning.

I also took this photo with my phone late one night, in low-light mountainous conditions. It's grainy, but you can't make me care.

Since my love for books matches my love for you, I'm going to include links to each, along with some favorite quotes.

Let's begin.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger - I read this gorgeous novel for a book club I'm a part of. It's fantastic! The writing is perfection, the characters are robust, and the plot (part mystery) keeps the train zipping down the tracks.

"And whether you believe in miracles or not, I can guarantee that you will experience one. It may not be the miracle you've prayed for. God probably won't undo what's been done. The miracle is this: that you will rise in the morning and be able to see again the startling beauty of the new day." 

If that doesn't hook you, I don't know what will. (And if you read my last post, you understand why this passage speaks to me so hard right now.)

Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God by Lauren Winner - I'm only half-way through this one - it's meaty! But I'm truly loving it. The thought of seeing God very tangibly in ordinary things is so appealing to me, and the author makes the point that not only is it comforting, it's necessary. Throughout scripture God reveals and describes in ways other than Father or Creator. This books lends a very fresh perspective on who He is and how He loves us.

"The poet Maxine Kumin wrote an essay about making blackberry jam....she writes, 'making rich with gratifications. I get a lot of thinking done. I puff up with feelings of providence. Pretty soon, I am flooded with memories.'...I wonder if, while baking our manna and spreading our banquets and putting up preserves, God remembers. I wonder what memories flood the jam-making God. I wonder what beloved person, dead and gone, God talks to while sugaring the blackberries."

"Jesus's original audience would have known that when they heard a teacher talk about vines, they were hearing about themselves...It is as if Jesus studied the Hebrew scriptures and found the most precarious depiction of humanity He could, and said, 'That is who I am: I am allying with humanity when it is most endangered.' When I am producing bad fruit and farthest from God's pleasure, Jesus is already in that place. It is not alien to Him, and I am not alone."

"This is why Jesus is hymned not as grape juice but as wine: because He is dangerous and excessive. He is more than you need, and He is more than pleasure, and if you attend to Him, you will find so much there that you will be derailed completely. And you will think your heart might break. And then, per Louis de Blois, He will withdraw and you will be miserable and sick until He returns."

Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily P. Freeman -
Emily Freeman is one of my top five favorite writers ever, so there was never a chance I wasn't going to love this one. I'm only four chapters in, but it's so good that I keep stopping to read things out loud to Cory.

"Creation invites a vastly different image to this word small. Driving toward the mountains, standing on the beach, sitting beneath the sky on a moonless night - I feel small, but I like it this way. It's comforting, like I'm not in control and I wouldn't want to be.

In these places, I'm small enough to breathe in deeply, small enough to see what's happening, and small enough to let go, to be loved, to remember the with-ness of Christ. This kind of small carries wonder, gratitude, and peace. This kind of small leads to worship."
"Learning to live well in ordinary time isn't a call to elevate moments; it's a call to draw close to Christ."

The Road to Becoming: Rediscovering Your Life in the Not-How-I-Planned-It Moments by Jenny Simmons - I met Jenny, former lead singer of Addison Road, a couple years ago in the buffet line at Hope Spoken, when I dropped my plate on her little daughter's head. (No injuries were sustained.) I felt an instant connection with her, and that's before I even knew she was writing a book. Once I heard, I had no doubt that I'd love it.

It is so, so good. Her writing is fresh and homegirl has a knack for telling a story. She's the normal, funny friend you wish lived next door. I'm only a few chapters in, but so far, her book is sprinkled with pop culture references (this wins in my world, every time) and she writes things in italics sometimes, like "Carpe freaking diem." 

"I was the kind of girl who wanted faith for other people. Me? I wanted answers, happily-ever-afters, and enough control over my life that I did not have to cling to Jesus for my very breath, my very bread. I only wanted religion." (<< I just got goose-bumps typing that out, because Hi, Shannan Martin.) 
"I will choose to be a dreamer in the face of reality because that is the only way I have found to be fully human." 

Parable Treasury by Liz Curtis Higgs -When we returned home from TN, this children's book was waiting for us. I left it on the coffee table and Ruby, my earliest riser, came down an hour early and read the whole thing. Last night, I read one of the stories to Silas before bed, and it is precious. Such a beautiful way to teach parables to Littles...and with awesome (culturally diverse!) illustrations.

I'd like to offer an Honorable Mention to: the current issue of Cooking Light magazine! It has outdone itself. So many weird, pickled things. It's like they instinctively know how to win friends and influence people.

You're turn. What are you reading?

I'm all ears.


*Amazon affiliate links used, because the book beast must be fed...


  1. SOOOOOOOO many books, so little time!!!! This is my refrain over and over again! I have been reading a bunch lately...

    1. Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks -- so very interesting and crazy that it's true.
    2. Water from my Heart by Charles Martin -- He is my all time favorite fiction writer!!!!!!!
    3. Deep Down Dark -- about the Chilean Miners -- a fascinating and also "sad" but about humanity at its best and not.....

    1. Will look into numbers 1 and 2!
      Every time I even hear or read about #3 I get claustrophobic.... ((shudder))

  2. I don't read many novels these days, but have loved Me Before You & After You by Jojo Moyes. On my list: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and based on Jen Hatmaker's recommendation, Quiet by Susan Cain :)

  3. "I was the kind of girl who wanted faith for other people. Me? I wanted answers, happily-ever-afters, and enough control over my life that I did not have to cling to Jesus for my very breath, my very bread. I only wanted religion." (<< I just got goose-bumps typing that out, because Hi, Shannan Martin.)
    "I will choose to be a dreamer in the face of reality because that is the only way I have found to be fully human."

    OH MY!! Will be ordering as soon as I get paid- this is ME! People accuse me all. the. time. of being a "dreamer in the face of reality"…and answers- I want answers and clear direction, please, just today (ok and maybe all the tomorrows too)

  4. I want to like all this non-fiction. But I am a fiction lover. I will read a dozen works of fiction before slogging through one non-fiction.

    So, what am I reading? Little Dorrit. Something about fall descending makes me crave Dickens. I alternate listening on Librivox while crafting, cleaning, and creating and reading the book. It's the only way with big volumes like this that are a little slower for me to read. Also reading Longing for Paris. I have 84 Charing Cross Road and Simply Tuesday on the nightstand. I'm also on several waiting lists for library books from series I am reading. I'm in the Poldark series sparked of course by the great new PBS rendition that aired this summer. I've also been reading the Three Pines books by Louise Penny. Desperately awaiting the latest from Katherine Reay, The Bronte Plot. I think there's another but I can't remember what it is! Just finished From the Mixed up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler with the kids. LOVED it. So wish I had read it as a child!

    1. Calvin read the Mixed Up Files this year and loved it. I might need to get my own mitts on it!

  5. Bonheoffer (about him not by him). Very good. I adored 84 Charing Cross Rd!

  6. Simply Tuesday is simply AMAZING! She is one of my most favorite authors as well. She is like a modern day CS Lewis.
    I just finished reading A Gift from the Sea by Anne Lindebergh.

    1. I texted your words here to Emily. Because I can't really imagine a much sweeter compliment. :)
      (And I totally agree!)

  7. I also recently started Henrietta Lacks--did not finish it because I then started the Book Thief...which I also haven't finished because I got distracted by the Glass Castle (Jeanette wall) and A House in the Sky (can't remember, maybe by an Amanda Lindhout?). Really recommend the latter two. I also read Stir by Jessica Fechtor. And I'm not saying I know you in real life or anything, but judging by the blog part of you I'd say it is right up your alley. You know, memoir story intersected with food. It's really beautiful. Oh, and you need to look up Mel's kitchen cafe cranberry salsa. I mentioned it before but you really have to try it. Since cranberries are in a store near you. This the season!!

  8. I've finally found time to read after a long many months of being busy. Needless to say, I'm doing some massive catch up.

    The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth – Shila Walsh - LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. Felt convicted on many chapters, which is what I needed at the time of reading.

    She Is Mine: A War Orphan’s Incredible Journey of Survival – Stephanie Fast - Made me cry. :( Such a great story though

    Simply Tuesday – Emily P. Freeman - My Favorite this month!

    Undone: A Story of Making Peach with an Unexpected Life – Michele Cushatt

    Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected – Kayla Aimee

    My Practices of Mothering: The Things I Actually Do to Enjoy Motherhood – Sarah Bessey

    The Good Wife’s Guide: Embracing Your Role as a Help Meet – Darlene Schacht, Candace Cameron Bure - Loved this one as well

    Fulfilled : Learning to Live the Life God Promised – Danise Jurado

  9. My eyes were immediately drawn to the Cooking Light. It's so, so good this month!! My pages are all dog-eared with recipes to try this month. Also, I'm with Shauna on this one - it always makes me a little twitchy when people shorten words, especially "preggers." Cannot handle it. :)

  10. I just started At The Water's Edge by Sara Gruen - so far so good. I was craving a good novel. I LOVED Wearing God. I'm in the middle of Simply Tuesday (I have a serious love for A Million Little Ways) and Love The Home You Have (which is an odd choice for me on a couple levels - we might move within months, and I don't decorate because it gives me anxiety). I'm also reading Speak Love by Annie F. Downs, which is "young" for me at this stage of my life, but it's such a great book, and still true - I keep wondering who has daughters 6th-12th grades who I can recommend it to! I also have that edition of Cooking Light, plus Bon Apetit and Better Homes and Gardens (my son did a magazine fundraiser and I ordered way to many subscriptions!!). . . .

  11. Currently reading The Beauty of Broken by Elisa Morgan. On the cover is says "There's no such thing as a perfect family. My story, and likely yours too" It's even better than I anticipated. So much of it has spoken directly to my soul.