I’m not sure what happened this month, because I read about twice as many books as I typically read in that amount of time. I think it was a combination of reading a few shorter ones, and the fact that a few this month were ones that I couldn’t put down.
I think I have some good suggestions for you in both fiction and nonfiction categories if you are on the lookout.
The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller – Top Nonfiction Recommendation – 5/5
Has Timothy Keller ever written a bad book? If so, I haven’t read it. This is a short read focused on the parable of the prodigal son as found in the gospel of Luke. Keller renames this parable The Two Lost Sons, showing how the elder brother in this parable is just as key as the younger brother. Through an analysis of these two brothers, Keller shows two ways Christians distance themselves from God – through self-discovery like the younger brother and a focus on morality like the older brother – and the way back through a return to the basic truths of the gospel. This is a must read.
Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts by Sara Frankl – Also Highly Recommended – 4.5/5
Many years ago I discovered Sara Frankl’s blog, Choose Joy, where she wrote about life with severe chronic pain and illness. I recently bought her book, which is a compilation of many of her blog posts that was put together by one of her close friends after Sara passed away due to her illness. It took me a few chapters to get into the flow of the book, which can feel a bit choppy at times due to how her blog posts are pieced together. But, I was soon able to look completely past this, as the truths Sara brings to light in her book are so on point. Whether you struggle with chronic illness or not, you will benefit from he way Sara saw what truly matters in this life in the midst of her constant and severe suffering. Highly recommended!
When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – Recommended – 3.5/5
This is a short memoir written by a neurosurgeon who received a cancer diagnosis just as he was about to reach the pinnacle of his career. As he transitions from doctor to patient, he wrestles with questions about life and death, meaning and purpose, work and family. This memoir is worth a read.
Culture: Living as Citizens of Heaven on Earth by A. W. Tozer – 2.5/5
As a fan of A. W. Tozer’s writing, I was excited to give this book a try. He has written some of my favorite Christian books – most notably The Pursuit of God – and so I began this book with high expectations.
The concept in the subtitle – Living as Citizens of Heaven on Earth – intrigued me, and I was interested to see what Tozer had to say about this topic. What I didn’t realize due to not looking closely enough at the fine print is that this book is a compilation of Tozer’s writing on this topic from his various other books. And I, unfortunately, ended up disappointed with the result.
While many of Tozer’s ideas are helpful, the editing and compilation of the book was a bit confusing. Many of the chapters felt only semi-related, and there was no rhyme or reason to how the segments of Tozer’s writing were pieced together. I really wanted to like this book, but none of the points in the book caused me to stop and ponder something new or really stuck with me after I had finished reading. I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett – Top Nonfiction Recommendation – 5/5
I don’t give 5/5 ratings lightly. This is one of just a few books I have read this year that I have given a perfect rating, and it may be my favorite book I have read in quite some time. The Help is a fascinating look at three women in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 who “join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town.” A must read!
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Recommended with Caution – 3/5
The Handmaid’s Tale was described to me as a dystopian novel within the same vein as 1984 and Brave New World. I am a big fan of dystopian novels, and was excited to give it a try. Right from the beginning, this book was fascinating and immediately drew me in. It was an interesting thought experiment in what if the world went this way… I do recommend this book, but with a big BUT. The book was fascinating and I loved the writing style, but it is also filled with disturbing scenes depicting the abuse and oppression of women.
The Selection, The Elite by Kiera Cass
I almost left these out, because how embarrassing is it that I spent hours of my time reading two books that are basically the young adult version of The Bachelor in written form? I can compare these books to the kind of junk food that tastes so good in the moment, but leaves you feeling like you can’t believe you just ate that fifteen minutes later. Or perhaps I can compare it to that guilty TV show you watch but don’t tell anyone about because it is just so cheesy and ridiculous. All I can say about these two books is that I read them, I didn’t hate them, and I don’t not recommend them. And I’ll just leave it at that 🙂
What good books have you read this month? I would love to hear your recommendations!
Check out the first booklet in the Chronic Pain and the Christian Life series, But God Wouldn’t I Be More Useful to You If I Were Healthy, on Amazon.com.