What I’ve read, the July and August Edition.

I’m hoping this list will kick start me into reading properly again after a week of not reading much but a deeply irritating trashy novel on my kindle that my internal completer finisher won’t let me leave to one side. (Must deal with that at some point).

For now, here we go:

Jesus, Safe, Tender, Extreme- Adrian Plass.

Adrian Plass is one of those authors that generally has me in tears by page 3 of his books. I seem to recall this was no exception. I’ve read this one before and it was lovely to meander back through it over a couple of weeks. It’s a tender gentle read, a book of hope, a book that called me back to remembering that God is real, likes me and is at work in my life. It’s a book is free from cynicism about God, which for some reason I always find surprising and then deeply refreshing. Adrian manages to steer a beautiful path of hope and expectancy in the midst of acknowledging that we find God baffling at best lots of the time. It is a book that is real about the pain of life, the struggles and the doubts. It is also a book that whispered the reality of God’s love into my ear and left me wanting more of God in my life. I highly recommend.

SevenEves- Neal Stephenson

I don’t highly recommend this one. Unless you like long technical explanations of how things in space work. Husbandface said I should read it and like the loving wife I am I sat down to see why. Hmm. I can see why he recommended it. It was an awesome concept. The moon has broken into 7 pieces, the world is about to end in 2 years time due to the pieces breaking up and falling to earth. Earth has to respond. It does, people are sent to space, some go under water and some go deep underground. We know 7 women and some fertile eggs survive in space. We don’t know about the rest. 5,000 years later we join up with the species to see who survived. Bits of this were great but so much was boring explanation of stuff in technical detail that I really didn’t care about. I flick read it because of my completer finisher thing and breathed a hearty sigh of relief when I was done. Sorry Neal.

A Kind Man- Susan Hill.

This was a gentle sad read. Short, beautifully written and fairly heartbreaking. That’s not a bad thing in my world. (I can’t remember much of the plot other than it was set in an industrial town post war? Maybe. Anyway, if you like gentle, sad, character driven books you’ll probably enjoy it)

Holding- Graham Norton

Small Irish Village, a body discovered, loads of different characters that are pretty interesting. Who does the body belong to and what secrets will be uncovered along the way type stuff. I liked it once I got Graham Norton’s voice out of my head reading it to me. (I love Graham but really). Worth it if you want a fairly light read amongst likeable characters.

15 Minutes to Wake the Dead- David Bracewell.

A collection of sermons from the vicar of the church I grew up in (St Saviours in Guildford). None of these were from the time I was there but they held similar patterns and themes. I was reminded of the reality of God all over again through them and that my faith goes deep back to the roots of who I am. I kept remembering moments with God at St Saviours when I was reading this. David was a passionate preacher, someone who was relational as he talked, not afraid to tackle big books of the Bible (I still remember him preaching through Revelation when I was in youth group and the big vision of God he gave us through it) but who also was deeply concerned that we would get it and know that God was at work in the day to day our lives. I loved being reminded of that and of some of the St Saviours people who still cropped up in his sermons. I think I owe much of my leading services style to him, he would always say at the beginning of each service that however we had come, whatever we were going through, whatever the day had held, God was here and was involved in our lives. I love that reminder. I love that acknowledgement of the crap of life and the one who is with us in the crap.

The House at the End of Hope Street- Menna Vaan Praag

I loved this novel. Set in Cambridge and following a student who has had her thesis stolen by her professor, she finds herself at a mysterious house at the end of Hope Street, a house that has given countless of influential women hope and a restart in life over the last 100 years or so. It’s a lovely read. The kind of book you find yourself going early to bed to get maximum reading time in.

I let you go- Clare McIntosh.

I know, I keep swearing off novels like this but I keep getting sucked in because they are so easy to read when exhausted. It wasn’t a great start with a 5 year old dying in a hit and run (I seem to remember holding much more tightly to son1’s hand for a couple of days after reading it…) but it was a fairly gripping read. I was genuinely surprised several times during the book and very annoyed by the ending but there you go…

Home- Jo Swinney.

A beautiful collection of essays on what home means. If you are or know any third culture kids I imagine they would absolutely love this book, it being written so well by one. It’s great for anyone though. I loved the mix of personal stories (especially as I think we are similar ages so the teenage ones felt pretty close to home, even if we did grow up in entirely different contexts) and reflections from David’s life on some of what home means in the Bible. It’s a very readable book, made me cry several times, gave me a much better metaphor for how husbandface makes me feel- like I’m home rather than just comparing the feeling I have always had around him to being like a comfortable pair of worn in shoes. Finding home in him feels like a much better way to explain it. I had to save it for the end of our motorhome adventure so I could start to want to return to our home here in Brighton. It really helped shape that returning feeling and made me grateful for our spot here on this earth.

Faithful Families- Traci Smith.

This is a brilliant book full of ideas of how to nurture faith and spirituality in family life. It helped us think through how we can encourage faith in the everyday, how we can help our boys and us be aware of the divine throughout the days, months and years. It’s made us think about how we can use the things we do each day as opportunities to be aware of God. There are so many ideas here for all different ages, times, seasons and senses. One we will be using over and over again.

My Family and Other Disasters- Lucy Managan

A collection of her newspaper column articles. I love her. A good gentle amusing read to dip in and out of.

Underground Airlines- Ben Winter.

The concept is: Slavery hasn’t been abolished in 4 of the US states, Lincoln was assassinated before he came President and the ripples of slavery not being abolished fully continue to the present day. It’s a fairly horrific and fascinating idea. The novel itself turns into a thriller set in this context, we follow a former slave and what his life looks like as he is involved with the underground movement to free slaves. I can’t tell you much more than that but it’s a book that is hard to put down and very hard hitting.

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