Tomorrow we go back to school, so I have been reading like a maniac for the past few days. Let’s do this!
Finding God in a Bag of Groceries by Laura Lapins Willis (via NetGalley)
This is a book about the ways that God meets us through serving others, specifically about the things that Willis has seen as she worked with poor people in her rural community. It has a lot to say about food and calling and church work and cycles of poverty. I enjoyed it, and I think it would work best as a discussion book. Recommended for: people who liked Take This Bread by Sara Miles.
That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay (via NetGalley)
This was a perfectly pleasant story about a man and a woman and their correspondence about life and food and how it gives both of them the strength to make the changes they need to make in their lives. I saw a lot of comparisons to The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, but there was nowhere near that same depth. It was cute but forgettable. Recommended for: people who like books with pretty covers.
Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon (via NetGalley)
This is another kid with cancer book, but this one has the added “benefit” of being set in hospice. I thought that it was almost mythological in some places – the main character descends from the hospital on Halloween, and his battle with the dad of the girl he likes (also in hospice) is basically a battle with the devil himself. The actions of the characters seemed realistic, and I especially liked the portrayal of the nurses. But overall it felt a bit empty. Recommended for: if you thought The Fault in Our Stars didn’t have enough sex or cynicism, this is the book for you!
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman (via the public library)
This is a book about a lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a baby washed up on shore and decide to keep her. In their remote location, their logic makes sense, but once they return to the mainland, they are faced with the mother who was left behind. Everybody has to make terrible decisions and I cried the ugly cry because I hated all the decisions that everyone made. Recommended for: people who hate themselves and want to be sad.
Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett (via the used bookstore)
This is a memoir of friendship between two writers – Patchett and Lucy Grealy. I enjoyed it, but I thought that Patchett came across as passive. Recommended for: people who like reading about writers.
What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell (via a friend)
This book is about God, I guess? The ways we talk about God and how vocabulary is insufficient? Recommended for:
and the way
Packing Light by Allison Vesterfelt (via NetGalley)
This is a road trip book, the story of how Vesterfelt took a leap and went on tour with a friend as her roadie in all 50 states. I enjoyed the stories of exploring America, but I thought the metaphor of “packing light” got stretched a little thin. I also thought that too much of the story was about her writing the book. Recommended for: people who are thinking about what they carry with them, both physically and emotionally.
Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry edited by Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson (via NetGalley)
I enjoyed thumbing through this book and discovering new poets, especially new modern poets. I will probably be sharing some of these over the next few months. Recommended for: I mean, if you like the idea of an anthology of devotional poetry, then you know who you are.
Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities by Craig Steven Wilder (via NetGalley)
I learned a lot from this book, although it was slow going at some points. It is hard for us as a country to talk about the institution of slavery, so it is hard to say if it was the style or the difficult content that meant that it took me a while to read. Recommended for: people who like history, people who think slavery “wasn’t that bad” (spoiler: it was waaaaaay worse).
NetGalley provided me with copies of several of these books but my thoughts are my own.