Books I’ve read Feb-May 2021…

It’s been a while, but then again time feels slippery and swirly whirly at the moment so I think that’s ok. Here are the books I’ve read over these last few months. 

Queenie- Candice Carty-Williams 

Loads of people said how much they had loved this and as I read it I wondered why, it wasn’t an easy read to begin with, being an observer to someone whose life is going through so much turmoil and trauma wasn’t all that fun. As I read on though I realised why everyone does love it… Thankfully there is some real honest wonderful redemption that goes on in the midst of it all. At times I though I was reading a modern day Bridget Jones and at times a therapy narrative. It was great, fun, fast and thoughtful. 

Beartown – Fredrick Backman

I really loved this novel as well. It’s a super intense tale of a small town ice hockey team. Following the lives of the players and their families as they circle around one dramatic event. Really tense, well written and thoughtful. 

Night Music- JoJo Moyes

A fairly average tale of a house inherited by a widow and her children and the odd relationship between her and a man who wanted it to be his. I didn’t really like any of the characters and especially was bored of reading about super aggressive gaslighting men.

Faith after Doubt- Brian McClaren. 

I found this a really helpful read in framing some of the stages or points of faith on the journey we make through this world. Our church holds a lot of people who are at some stage of deconstruction of faith. Who are on some kind of journey to finding God again through the pain of being burnt out in other churches or just finding their questions weren’t welcome or their certainties had changed. This is a really helpful book for anyone going through that or walking alongside others in those states. It gave me hope that there is life, joy and faith after deconstruction. He’s also really helpful in saying that these aren’t hierarchies and getting away from any sense of superiority people in stages beyond stage 1 and 2 might feel. I particularly loved the sense that we might need to be in different stages at different points of our lives and the clear call to faith working itself out in love that stage 4 dwells in. 

How the Bible Actually Works- Pete Enns. 

I love Pete Enns because he writes with humour and manages to explain complex stuff in really helpful ways. This is a book which helped me on the journey back to enjoying reading the Bible again. If you have ever found yourself with a ton of questions about the Bible and the old answers just don’t work anymore then grab anything Pete Enns has written and I think you’ll probably find some refreshing hope. 

The Trick To Time- Kit de Waal. 

A beautiful book about long lost love, baby loss and the honouring of story. A fairly slow wonderful read but if you’ve experienced baby loss and miscarriage I’d think about whether to read it. I think it honours beautifully babies who have been still born or miscarried but it might just be too raw to read depending on your story.

The Switch – Beth O’Leary

This is a lovely hopeful story. It follows the lives of a Grandmother and Granddaughter who trade lives, from a sleepy village in Yorkshire to London. It’s a warm hug of a book and I think that’s not a bad thing in this weird world of ours. One for a long afternoon with many cups of tea.

Mum and Dad- Joanna Trollope. 

Just don’t bother. Fairly annoying read which really had no redeeming characters in it at all. 

All the Lonely People- Mike Gayle. 

Like Beth O’Leary’s book this was another beautifully hopeful redemptive story about friendship and love. Wonderful to lose yourself in. 

The Colour of Water- James McBride. 

A memoir of James’ mother with his story interwoven around it. A fairly incredible story of a white mother raising 12 black children in America in the 50s. She comes across as an incredible tour de force and it’s a fascinating insight into their lives. Really interesting and powerful read. 

The Woman Who Stole My Life- Marian Keyes

The jury is still out on whether I loved this book but it was a great read. Following the life of someone who experienced Locked-in-Syndrome, wrote a self help book by accident out of that experience, lives in New York for a bit and experiences a whole load of family drama along the way. Pretty clever and funny as well.

The Book of Forgiving- Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu

I pretty much think everyone should read this book as it’s a insanely helpful journey to enabling forgiveness to take place. It takes us through the four stages of forgiveness with really helpful exercises and reflections. This book never minimises the trauma or the process of forgiveness but points to a deeper reality where we all have worth and dignity. It points to a world where forgiveness is possible and brings freedom to the victim rather than the pain of being stuck in a cycle of revenge. In a world where forgiveness isn’t talked about much this really helps to start the conversation and helped me move on from some past stuff that was still lurking. It manages to talk about forgiveness in a way that made it seem possible. Challenging and healing reading. 

The Frequency of Us- Keith Stuart

A really compelling story of man who thinks he’s lost his mind or memories after a bomb hit his back garden in the war. Slowly we follow his carer as she tries to piece together what is real and what isn’t from his back story. Really engaging. 

Lullaby Beach- Stella Duffy

Really interesting novel about several generations of women and the secrets they held coming out into the light. Utterly absorbing.

The Children of Castle Rock- Natasha Farrant

I got this out of the library for son1 but ended up sitting with it one afternoon. It’s a lovely tale of a girl getting sent to an out of the way boarding school in Scotland and the adventure she and her new friends have. It has such a modern Enid Blyton feel to it, a classic adventure tale set in sweeping wild landscapes with a dose of wonderful friendship thrown in. She writes of the landscape so vividly and wonderfully that I wanted to move to Scotland straight away.  Son1 is currently loving it as well. 

 Jungledrop- Abi Elphinstone

The next in the Unmapped Chronicles series which we adore, I’ve read this one twice to son2 in the last couple of months. It’s a wonderful tale of transformation, redemption and has some of my favourite ever lines about forgiveness and grace, all wrapped up in an epic quest. These books are full of hope, what it means to have good character and personal transformation (and without being ‘worthy’ or obvious about it). In a children’s market saturated by books of varied quality written by celebrity authors it’s brilliant to find the gems like this which speak real wisdom into our kids lives. I highly recommend.

Gift from the Sea- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I sense this is a book I shall read and read again, I’ve already bought it for two of my friends. It contains her thoughts from a couple of weeks of retreating by the sea from her family, 5 kids and other commitments and although written in the 1950s it feels insanely contemporary. It’s all about the call to the contemplative life and how we find that as women in the midst of the many things we juggle and the distractions around us. It contains beautiful reflections on how to stay centred at our core, making space and time to be still and to find ourselves in the whirlwind of life. I’d say it was essential reading for any mother. I found it deeply refreshing for my soul and grateful for the profound wisdom on how to live a centred life.

She says things like this: “With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women. I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children. It has to do primarily with distractions. The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls–woman’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.”

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