Book’s I’ve read July-August 2020

Ok. Here we go. Another round up of books from me. I’ve made it about half way through my birthday stash and read a few quick reads on my kindle in the last couple of months. In no particular order here are the books I’ve read over July and August. 

We need to talk about Race- Ben Lindsay 

A must read for anyone in church leadership/with any kind of involvement in church. Written reflecting on the UK church scene this is a brilliant exploration of race in the church.  Ben looks at  the need to reflect deeply on how we treat each other and how we can act to challenge the structures of racism all around us. It also has really helpful application questions at the end of each chapter for white church leaders, white people and people of colour. A book which challenged my hidden assumptions and one I need to read again a few times over to fully absorb and act on the lessons learnt. 

100 essays I don’t have time to write- Sarah Ruhl

Written by a playwright this contains a fascinating collection of her thoughts on the theatre. I loved it because she’s a mother of small ones and that context shapes her writing and reflections. It’s the kind of book I want to write at some point (or possibly is written already across this blog…) 

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavour- Hank Green 

The follow up to ‘An Absolutely Remarkable Thing’ didn’t disappoint. I loved his insightful commentary on our times, the reflections on fame and social media. I loved the story and pace of this novel and the philosophical ponderings along the way. His writing feels as close to Douglas Coupland as we have got recently as he weaves a warning parable urging us to live better because soon we may not have the chance to. 

Little Disasters- Sarah Vaughan

Little Friends- Jane Shemilt 

In my head these are fairly similar family thriller by numbers/gas lighting men/awkward family relationships kind of books. Little Disasters centres around an antenatal group and grappling with whether a baby has been abused or not. Little Friends is a fairly predictable three families intermingle with grim results. Good for insomniac moments in the middle of the night. 

The Book of Queer Prophets – Ed by Ruth Hunt 

A beautiful collection of essays/stories from LGBTQI people and their faith journeys. Most made me cry at the pain caused and the hope held out as so many of these stories talked of deep profound connection with the divine. Well worth your time listening to these lovely people.

Half a World Away/The Hope Family Calendar- Mike Gayle

I quite liked both of these, novels about family life interweaving tragedy with hope. Possibly all was a little too neat and tidy in the journeys the characters made but they were pretty engaging easy reads. 

Three Hours- Rosamund Lupton

A super tense book about a school shooter in Somerset. Interesting weaving of commentary on refugees into a non traditional school environment within a fairly traditional small town community. 

The Power of Ritual- Casper Ter Kile 

I am still not sure what to make of this book. In it Casper argues for the importance of Sabbath, nature, sacred reading, eating together in community and finding transcendence in life. All things I am passionate about. My confusion lay in the absence of God throughout the book. I get what he is doing, taking the ancient rituals and routines of religion and saying they have deep value in our lives whether we are people of faith or not. I wonder if you carried out these rituals whether you might find faith. Through it all though I missed hearing more of the God I find in all these rituals. I missed the source and the maker. I missed the heartbeat which brings those rituals alive for me. I would be very interested to talk to others who have read this. It’s a brilliant book but, for me, it made me ache for more. 

Come Again- Robert Webb 

I really enjoyed his memoir, ‘How not to be a Boy’ and similarly enjoyed this, his first novel. An enjoyable meander through the changes we go through as we grow up, the impact being with another person has on our lives, being at uni in the 90s and a dose of time travel thrown into the mix. 

Losing Eden – Lucy Jones 

A wonderful book on the benefits being immersed the natural world can have on our mental health, the need for us all to get outside more and the urgency to change our ways and care more for the environment we live in. Really beautifully written and extremely good for the soul. 

Firefly Lane- Kirsten Hannah 

A page turner of a novel about how a friendship evolves and changes throughout the years. Not as good as The Great Alone which I loved last year but well written and engaging. 

The Electricity of Every Living Thing- Katherine May

I really enjoyed this memoir charting Katherine’s discovery of her autism as she walked various parts of the South West Coast Path and parts of the Kent countryside near where she lived. She writes beautifully and I really liked that this wasn’t a book fixated on completing a footpath but that her journey allowed for not finishing. I felt like her inner journey whilst undergoing these walks was far more important than whether she walked every inch of the coast path. 

Return to Roar- Jenny McLachlan

At least one of the boys books had to make it onto this list. I’ve lost count of the amount of books I’ve read to son2 over the last few weeks and months. Most mornings start with long protracted negotiations about how many chapters I am going to read before I go for my morning walk. I didn’t need to be convinced to read this one though. We loved ‘The Land of Roar’ earlier on in lockdown. It was a lovely treat to get this one from our local children’s book shop and go back to Roar with Arthur and Rose and have some more adventures with them. A very satisfying sequel and we are looking forward to the final instalment (and I am looking forward to son2 finally learning to read…) 

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