What I’ve read. The January edition.

There are upsides to being ill for the last three or so weeks. I’ve read. Lots.

Here’s the list:

Milkman – Anna Burns

This is well worth the time and energy it will take to read it. It’s dense, fast and slow all at the same time. It’s the story of a young woman in the midst of a community split into tribes, a claustrophobic place where every movement you make is talked about and twisted according to who is speaking. It’s set in a nameless place but as the writer is Northern Irish it’s a fair assumption that she’s writing about Belfast in the troubles. There were many things I recognised from husbandface’s stories of growing up there and the sad continuing realities of communities divided, which carry on in part today.

The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing – J.T.Pennington

Ok, so I only read about 2 thirds of this in preparation for a sermon on the Beatitudes but it was a good read. Mostly I enjoyed my brain being awake enough to read and understand it. Flourishing is my word of the year and I loved the perspective given that the Sermon on the Mount is less a series of do’s and don’t’s and more the way to live a flourishing life as part of the Kingdom of God.

84K- Claire North

A good dystopian read. Slightly scary as the dystopian realities in the book come from the horrendous things humans can do to each other rather than a natural disaster. It’s a really disturbing read, but I kind of like to disturbed every now and again.

How to be Famous – Catlin Moran

I love anything this brilliant lady writes. This follows the life of a young music journalist in the 90s dealing with men, working out how to live and what matters in life. Loads of fun to read especially if you love music.

Rewild Yourself – Simon Barnes

A simple list of things that help in getting outside and becoming more aware of the natural world all around us. A fairly swift easy read which is inspiring me to buy decent waterproofs so I can get out more in an enjoyable way. It has also stirred a desire to actually find out more about birds and butterflies. Worth dipping into to get some good practical tips to reawaken love of our beautiful world.

Mystics and Misfits- Christiana Peterson

A part memoir, part reflection on some mystics and their lives. I really enjoyed reading about the authors life trying to make intentional community work and the inspiration she gained from some saints along the way. It also made me want to find out more about people of deep faith from across the centuries.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing – Hank Green.

If you’ve never checked out vlogbrothers on YouTube then you should. Brothers Hank and John Green have been making videos for each other every week for about 10 years now. They have influenced a community of people to decrease world suck and remember to be awesome. They are intelligent, well thought through people who have an incredibly positive outlook and influence on the world. We love them. Hank wrote a book this year and it’s a great read, clearly inspired by his shooting to a certain level of fame. It tells the story of April who is the first to film a video of a statue, copies of which have randomly appeared in every city on earth. She turns into a modern day celebrity and deals with that in various unhelpful and helpful ways. It’s a brilliant reflection on social media, the desire to be famous and the affects that can have on our soul.

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told- Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally

A fairly sweet memoir of their relationship. I found it a bit weird having read a few books on fame recently. The life of famous people is very odd and if I had more energy I’d probably have more interesting reflections on it. Anyway. A fairly fun read and also brilliant to read a story of people who love each other and are in a lifelong committed relationship. Good to have some insights into what that looks like for them and how they maintain that commitment.

Hello World- Hannah Fry.

Husbandface was delighted that I read a book about algorithms and the affect they have on our lives. It’s actually a brilliant read, well written, easy to understand and slightly disturbing to see the amount of faith we place in algorithms. She covers a wide range of places we use them from data, medicine, justice, transport and the arts. Her basic conclusion was that they make great servants but rubbish masters so let’s be careful and wise in how we use them. I loved this quote:

“But for me, true art can’t be created by accident. There are boundaries to the reach of algorithms. Limits to what can be quantified. Among all of the staggeringly impressive, mind-boggling things the data and statistics can tell me, how it feels to be human isn’t one of them.”

Dogs of War – Adrian Tchaikovsky

Another dystopian future book. A world in the near future where Bioforms are used in warfare. These Bioforms are mixes of animals, human and robot. We follow Rex, a dog Bioform as he grows in understanding of who he is, as the Bioforms get more rights within society and his conflict in wanting just to be a ‘good dog’ for his warmongering master whilst realising his master wants him to do bad things. It’s so well written and Rex is a brilliant character that even if you shy away from sci fi it’s still worth a read. Also- for the small demographic of people out there who have read the book and have small children, it totally explains the Paw Patrol.

Very Married – Katherine Willis Pershey

A lovely book reflecting on the value of marriage. It’s a series of essays on different aspects of marriage, personal experience, stories and a sense of the overarching goodness that God is involved in marriage. It’s full of grace, inclusion and an awareness of the privilege the author holds. A fascinating book on many levels it’s probably the first book I’ve read on marriage in a long time and from a fairly different theological tradition from the ones I read years ago. She manages to tread an interesting middle ground between tribes that I found very refreshing. I loved her chapter on grace, of the reality of the pain we can cause each other but that God’s grace and love always hold us through our marriage journeys, she’s realistic about divorce and manages to hold the tension between acknowledging the seriousness of the ways we mess each other up and the constant consistent love of God poured out whatever we have done.  She also has a brilliant chapter on the realism of temptation to infidelity, how she chose to resist temptation through honest chats with her husband and recognising what was going on, She then touched on the call to not judge others but to, in community, facilitate honest challenging chats about these issues with each other.  Well worth a read and really refreshing.

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