what I have been reading (non-fiction edition).

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The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America’s Most Famous Residence by Robert Klara (via NetGalley)

When Truman was president, the White House basically fell down around him and was gutted and rebuilt (including a bomb shelter) while his family lived in the Blair house. I enjoyed reading about the renovation although the dysfunctional aspects of government were discouraging and they ran out of money before the White House was actually completed. Truman is not a president I know as much about, and his determination/stubbornness made me want to learn more about him. Recommended for: people who want to live in the White House one day, history buffs, people like Ron Swanson who enjoy when government is inefficient.

A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda by Josh Ruxin (via NetGalley)

Josh Ruxin and his wife Alissa moved to Rwanda because they wanted to make a difference in a country that is continuing to rebuild and redefine itself after the genocide in 1994. Alissa started a restaurant called Heaven and Josh worked to provide health care services and promote economic growth. Despite their history of philanthropy and fundraising, there was something about his tone that felt imperialistic to me, such as when he unironically referred to Rwanda as the “heart of darkness.” Yikes. Recommended for: people who are interested in exploring the topic of how to help without hurting.

A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily Freeman (via NetGalley)

Emily did her research on different people’s ideas about living a life with God, but I wish there was a word like vocation or calling that wasn’t weighed down with ideas of ministry, because I think that’s what she means when she talks about “living your art”. Her own examples were mostly about the writing in her life rather than expanding to other areas of her own life such as parenting, and I am not sure how her ideas apply to someone who works outside the home or in a vocation that’s not specifically related to visual art, music, or writing. Emily is clearly writing for people who believe in a certain kind of authority from God and have been taught to question their own desires and feelings. She passionately encourages them to explore those things, a logical next step for those Good Girls she talked about in her previous book. There is still, though, an underlying idea of a right and a wrong way to live that permeates this book, one that I have trouble relating to. I hope this is the push that her readers need to step out and create as image-bearers, but I wanted to pull them along past all of this worrying about authority and good and bad and whether God is being glorified because there is so much life and freedom on the other side. Recommended for: unfulfilled artists.

Fields of Grace: Faith, Friendship, and the Day I Nearly Lost Everything by Hannah Luce (via NetGalley)

Hannah Luce is the daughter of Ron Luce, the founder of Teen Mania. This is the story of her life as the daughter of a very public ministry figure as well as the plane crash she survived last year which took the life of four of her friends. Hannah’s story was familiar to me–one of the chapters was titled “Growing Up Evangelical” and I remember attending a Teen Mania event once–but it was written so soon after the plane crash that there wasn’t really a lot of time to reflect on how it changed her beyond the immediate loss of her friends and the extensive burns she suffered. She spent quite a bit of the book expressing ambivalence (at best) about her father’s ministry without discussing what her relationship with her parents is now, which felt like a gaping hole. An interesting and compelling story marred by a rushed ending without a lot of resolution. Recommended for: former teen maniacs.

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón (via the public library)

One of my goals this year has been to read more graphic novels, so I have taken to perusing that section at the public library. I saw this and since the anniversary of 9/11 was last week, I thought I would give it a try. It was less dense than the actual report, but it was still pretty densely packed with information. As a casual reader of graphic novels, I did not think that the text flowed in the most intuitive way. However, I did come away from it with a better understanding of a complicated and difficult topic. Recommended for: adults who don’t want to read the actual report and teenagers who are too young to remember the actual event.

Maus I by Art Spiegelman (via the public library)

I read this a few years ago, but since it was on the shelf at the public library I went ahead and picked it up. Recommended for: everybody because it is a classic graphic novel and everyone should read it.

NetGalley provided me with copies of some of these books. As always, my opinions are my own.

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