Maybe it’s that I’ve finished uni now and haven’t been given a list of books that I have to read and then analyse and then write an essay on. Or it’s just that, sometime last year, I remembered my love of reading; it’s been my escape, my joy, my favourite hobby since I was a little girl.
So, in a post-university effort to keep learning and growing and escaping and finding joy, I’ve committed to myself to read more. Read instead of scroll, read instead of watch, read in place of procrastinate (more accurately is probably read to procrastinate).
And, to keep me a little accountable to this intention, I thought I’d share a monthly booklist.
A wrap up.
Also, you can find me on Goodreads if you want to get ideas for your own to-read list, and see what I’m currently reading.
I love reading non-fiction, but definitely need some can’t-put-down novels to break them up in between.
So, here’s the January round-up:
1. A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed- yet hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.
By Brian D. McLaren
Some Christians in my circles might see this book as a bit controversial, and the emergent church movement a bit threatening, but honestly? This book was a breath of fresh air, and just what I needed. McLaren looks at a whole host of factions of Christianity and pulls out the good, looks at what we can learn from each other, and doesn’t whitewash past ugliness.
I read this book slowly and it’s now covered in post-it notes and underlined.
It created the most in-depth discussions between Daniel and I, over long drives and at night before falling asleep. They always started with, do you think Jesus would…?
Do you think the modern church is…?
I didn’t agree with everything in this book, but I found it so freeing to allow myself to think outside of my Western Church experience, and I find it a comfort that there are people in the world who are pushing back at religiosity.
2. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
This reminded me a lot of Eleanor Oliphant—Britt-Marie is another character who is endearing and quirky, and so is the host of other characters. She expresses her fear that no-one will notice if she dies, and some of the ways she thinks about this fear, her loneliness and ultimately her desire to be loved, were so incredibly sad and beautiful. I flew through this book in less than 24 hours.
3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This book wasn’t quite the page-turner as Britt-Marie Was Here, but easy to read nonetheless.
I felt that some of the characters weren’t quite as developed as I wanted them to be, and it was a bit slow-moving. It raises questions of what it takes to be a mother, and how the consequences of our decisions can spark unintentional future fires. The plot was enough to keep me reading, and it definitely speeds up towards the end.
4. The Vertical Self: How Biblical faith can help us discover who we are in an age of self obsession
by Mark Sayers
I wrote in an earlier post that this book is cultural commentary and self discovery gold. And to think it was written even before Instagram!
It’s a must-read for anyone with social media (so, everyone) and is a not so gentle reminder that our worth and identity does not/should not come from the culture we’re immersed in, from movies and television, from social media, from elevating performance over character. Read my post about Instagram and you’ll get an idea of what rumblings it caused in my inner world.
What did you read in January? Have you read any of these books? I would love to hear your thoughts!