Books of 2018

Here’s the final list from 2018. I’m fairly sad that I managed less than last year but I did start a new job this year which took away some of my free time and brain energy. Onwards into the new year. I would like to manage at least 50 this year. We shall see. The ones in bold are my must read recommends.

Liturgy of the Ordinary- Tish Harrison Warren
Turtles all the way Down- John Green
A Song for Issy Bradley- Carys Bray
Braving the Wilderness- Brene Brown
I thought there would be cake- Katherine Welby-Roberts
How to be Champion- Sarah Millican
My Animals and other Family- Clare Balding
The Road Back to You- Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile
Cartes Postales- Victoria Hislop
The Music Shop- Rachel Joyce
Calling Major Tom- David M Barnett
Bit Rot – Douglas Coupland
Bonkers- Jennifer Saunders
Unapologetic- Francis Spufford.
Swallows and Amazons- Arthur Ransome
Silence- Erling Kagge
The heart goes last- Margaret Attwood..
Heroes of the Frontier- Dave Eggers.
The love song of Miss Queenie Henssey.- Rachel Joyce
Artemis- Andy Weir.
How to Stop Time- Matt Haig.
Notes on a Nervous Planet- Matt Haig.
My Name is Leon- Kit de Waal.
The End We Start From- Megan Hunter.
Everything I Never Told You- Celeste Ng
The Lido- Libby Page.
Lucy Mangan – Bookworm
Educated- Tara Westover.
Dear Mrs Bird- AJ Pearce
Nobody Told Me- Hollie McNish.
Quiet- Susan Cain.
The Moth Snowstorm – Michael McCarthy
Rosie Loves Jack- Mel Darbon
Whistle in the Dark- Emma Healey
In the Days of Rain- Rebecca Stott
How to Train your Dragon- Cressida Cowell
The Magician’s Nephew- CS Lewis
Cutting for Stone- Abraham Verghese
The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway- Rhys Thomas
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe- CS Lewis
Conversations with Friends- Sally Rooney

Here’s my Christmas stash. Loving the thought of digging into these.

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What I read, October-December 2018

The list of the year is coming soon. But for now, here’s the list of books I read over the last few months, not as many as I hoped or as varied as I wished for but a few good ones nonetheless.

Rosie Loves Jack- Mel Darbon

A fairly heartbreaking tale of a teenager with Downs and her boyfriend who has some of his own anger issues he’s working through. She fights crazy odds and some ultra disturbing times in London to get to Brighton to be with him. It’s a good read in altering perceptions and stepping into someone else’s world. Worth it for that.

Whistle in the Dark- Emma Healey

I read this in a day, it was that compelling and interesting. But strangely disappointing all at the same time. Dealing with the fairly hard issues of a teenage daughter who doesn’t want to live and how family life plays out against the backdrop of her going missing for a few days and then coming home but unable to talk about what happened. Beautifully written but maybe I was too anxious to get to the end.

In the Days of Rain- Rebecca Stott

Fascinating and disturbing insight into the life of the Strict Brethrens over the last century of their existence. Worth a read.

How to Train your Dragon- Cressida Cowell 

Son1 is devouring these with the beloved Daddy at the moment. I got drawn into the first book which is a great read and, from the sound of it, the 7 others that they have read in the last couple of months are equally capturing his imagination. He has to read the first page of each chapter out loud and Daddy reads the rest. As a result of these books he’s certainly become a more confident reader and understands the excellent nature of all the best stories having bits where you wonder how it could ever be ok again and then it all works out in the end.

The Magician’s Nephew- CS Lewis

I wanted to get into Narnia again this Christmas. As always I was in floods of tears at the way Aslan and Diggory talk about his Mum’s illness.

Cutting for Stone- Abraham Verghese

A fascinating book covering a man’s life from birth to later years growing up in Ethiopia, growing into a surgeon and dealing with his upbringing whilst encountering his absent father. It’s hard to sum up as it’s a story that covers in intimate detail his early years, the relationships around him and how they change and grow as time moves on. Well worth a read, such beauty in the pages and I was in tears many times throughout the story.

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway- Rhys Thomas

A novel exploring the affect of great tragedy on Sam Holloway and what happens when he encounters a woman who turns his neatly ordered coping world upside down. OK in an odd sort of way…

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe- CS Lewis

I had been waiting for ages to introduce Narnia to the boys, son1 is super sensitive to anything scary and I wondered how he’d cope with the White Witch and the tension of what happens to Aslan. In a funny way I think the how to train your dragon series has helped him. Hiccup Haddock the Third has escaped death so many times that I think son1 is used to realising things generally work out in the end… We devoured this in the Christmas week and it was lovely watching them playing Narnia with some of their cousins, a shared story is always a good basis for friendship.

Conversations with Friends- Sally Rooney

I thought I was meant to like this, but I just found it a bit hollow and depressing. Some hard to like characters do some stuff and it’s all a bit meaningless. Maybe I’m missing something. But it just left me feeling a bit cold. I’d read a book by her again though because it was well written.

And there you are. The book shelves are bulging with Christmas presents and purchases at the moment and I’m looking forward to reading more over the coming year.

 

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We walk on.

And so, here we are, the open path of a new year, a winding road in front of us, a whole load of mountains already climbed behind us.

A new year.

Sometimes I think the new year should come complete with fresh vision, fresh energy, fresh endurance ability. Newness should feel more new. And yet we walk on the same paths, the same daily realities face us, which are no respecters of what time is doing, or what particular season we are in.

We walk on.

Markers in the sand are good though and so we stop and gaze and look at the view around us. We’ve come so far, there is so much further to go. We pause and are thankful for the arms which have carried us this far and we hold our arms up for carry cuddles again because we are tired and weary and stopping has made us aware of that aching in our bones.

We walk on.

I keep thinking about the word flourish, a word that seems to fit with all I dare to hope for in this new year ahead of us. I long for flourishing in the working for our lovely church I find myself doing. I also long for me and the boys to flourish as we hang out together. I long for husbandface’s period of well to last and be a foundation from which to grow on. I want to see God’s touch throughout the year, bringing fruit when I can see nothing but empty branches and bringing life whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in.

We walk on.

Last night we had ‘admin’ night, a chance to talk through new rhythms for our family beyond survival. Tired from new year celebrations it felt hard to push through, but a good discipline. Beyond survival might be a place for us this year. I’m hoping that looks like flourishing in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. That we grow in love for each other and the world around us.

We walk on.

As we start the new year I can’t escape the reality of our Maker, who has plans and schemes for us. Whose work I want to get involved in rather than figuring this thing out on my own. Whose work in others lives I want to notice and become aware of rather than trying to force. I am aware my job is weird. No other job is it so crucial to its existence to know that there is a God who lives and moves amongst us. I cannot do this job, or frankly life, without awareness of the One who dwells with us. It is the work of God that I get involved with rather than figuring things out on my own.

We walk on.

And so in my weakness and fear I offer up my life again this year to be directed by the One who knows us and loves us so well. I want to be of use in the good ways prepared in advance for me to walk in and I want to remember that it is through my weak foolish offering that God works. I am not alone.

And so we walk on.

Into routines, walks to school, meal planning, hanging out with friends, attempting to pour out grace on each other, sleeping, guiding small people through the world and more. We walk on into another year of life.

Hope to see you in it.

 

 

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Advent 24

Last blog of wonder.

Christmas Eve.

Baking

Running

Gingerbread people

Team talk on the sofa through the eldest nerves and worries about Christmas Day.

Watching a good stomp on the downs help clear his head.

Hanging out with friends who are family for a walk on the downs, amazing lunch and then off to see Mary Poppins at the cinema.

Son2s gaze of wonder at the big screen dancing joy.

Son1 working through the emotional bits to enjoy the ending.

More chapters read of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The boys working out how the Lion will defeat the witch.

Wine, present wrapping and the Christmas episode of The Good Life to end the day.

I’m off social media for a week now. Glad of the chance to still my mind and remember again that Christmas is only a day. The wonder remains as we head into a new year. The reality of Emmanuel sustains us as we walk on in this life lived through a veil of tears so much of the time yet also full of deep profound joy that we know the end of the story.

See you for some wrapping up the year posts in a weeks time.

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Advent 23

I’m not ever going to stop banging on about this whole light in the darkness thing. Not even after Christmas when we put the nativity characters away for another year. The light is still needed. We can’t ever put that one back in the loft.

Right now.

It’s winter.

The darkness is dark.

I sit on my bed in the early morning wondering why it still looks like night outside. I stare deep into the darkness and offer God my friends who are walking through such pain and dark. I offer the broken lives, the worry, the fear. I offer our grief, our sorrow, our anxiety about the future. I bring these to the Light which determinedly shines despite the darkness all around.

I wait for the vague light of a gloomy morning to signify day has begun. I wait and I long for the blaze of the final morning. The one when the sad things become untrue, the one when Jesus comes back, the term is over and the holidays begin. The one where the darkness is finally banished forever and our tears get wiped away.

Until then we hold onto the Light in darkness. We are held by the Light in darkness and we offer up our friends and family to the Light in the darkness.

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Advent 22

Almost there.

God with man is now residing”

Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies”

(Nothing more to be said. The one who made the stars walks amongst us. And that changes everything.)

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Advent 21

The shortest day.

The darkness is deep.

The light short and fleeting.

But…

The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it orabsorb it [and is unreceptive to it].

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Hoping and praying for some of that peace for us and so many others whose load is too heavy this year.

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