Sunday, November 13, 2011

What I've Been Reading...

I'm already starting to forget some of these books, so it's high time I did a "What I've Been Reading" post.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks is based on the true story of a tiny village in England in 1666.  When the plague visits their quiet town, they make a pact to stay together in their village rather than infect the surrounding area.  A neighboring town brings them food/goods at a designated spot in exchange for their vow to not spread the disease.  The book is slow at times, but still worth the read.  As well as describing this distinct place and time in history, there are elements of faith, love, morality, witchcraft, sacrifice, and healing.
I just finished Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which I believe is Jamie Ford's first novel.  I don't know what it is with me and books about WWII and/or Asian culture, but this one has both.  I had a hard time getting into the story, but about 3/4 of the way though, I really wanted to finish it.  The story is based on Henry's life, a Chinese boy raised in the US in the 1940's.  He meets a Japanese girl at school who becomes his best friend and later love interest, which is not an option for his traditional Chinese family as Japan is "the enemy." The story oscillates between Henry's life in the 1940's and his life 40 years later.  If you cut out 1/3 of the book, the story would be great.  The title suits the story well as the love story weaved throughout is truly bittersweet.

   I haven't read a Tim Keller book yet that I wouldn't recommend, and Counterfeit Gods is no exception.  I read it for book club, and appreciated it so much more after the discussion.  Before the meeting, it wasn't my favorite Keller book (still isn't), but I gleaned so much from the discussion, and I think I would glean even more from the book if I read it slower and more intentionally.  As the cover explains, it is about "The empty promises of money, sex, and power, and the only hope that matters."
Okay, so I'm not QUITE done with Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, but I'm close.  This book made my list of "books I didn't finish" at one point, but this translation is SO much more reader friendly.  The ladies from our church in Maryland have been studying it under the direction of Barbara Coleman.  As I always advise new ladies attending our church, "If Barbara Coleman is leading a study, go if at all humanly possible."  I am taking my own advice and traveling from PA to MD for a few of the meetings this month.  I arranged it so I could work during the day (in MD) and then have dinner with friends from church before going to the study and driving home.  Long day, but SO worth it.  Read this book.  Read it with a group so you will have accountability and learn together from this amazing allegory.
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins is unlike anything else I'm reviewing here.  I DEVOURED this series.  Honestly, it sounded corny  and science fiction-y to me, but a friend recommended it, so I thought I would try the first one, and I was hooked!  I finished The Hunger Games before vacation and read the second one, Catching Fire on the plane (it's a PERFECT travel read).  I finished the third, Mockingjay, about two days after I got home.  Really well written, emotional, action packed.  Add this to your list.
I want to love One Thousand Gifts.  So many of you reviewed it and recommended it.  I won it on Sara's blog (which you should check out if you haven't.  She's awesome).  I was drawn in by Ann Voskamp's unique writing style, but after a chapter or two, I found it flowery and annoying.  I thought her message was fabulous, perhaps even life changing.  The importance of thankfulness is something we all take for granted, and Ann teaches us how to find joy in the mundane through nurturing an attitude of thankfulness.  Not just trying to be more thankful, but actively, intentionally, practicing and looking for the gifts God lavishly gives to each of his children.  He loves us more than we could ask or imagine.  I had a hard time getting through it, but I am glad I read it.

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