what I have been reading (how is it september already edition).


This Town by Mark Leibovich (via the public library)

This is a book about Washington and how it feeds on itself. I love a good gossipy political book (see: Game Change) but this one fell flat. There were too many characters who might be important in Washington but weren’t familiar to me. But the good news is that I joked while reading it that what I really wanted was Game Change volume 2, and it turns out there is going to be one! I also want to win the lottery (just in case I am speaking things into existence). Recommended for: Washington insiders (she said in a scornful tone as she contemplated going rogue).

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (via the public library)

Marina, an employee at a pharmaceutical company, has to travel to the Amazon to find her former mentor and figure out whether her research is actually going to lead to any breakthrough fertility drugs. I love Ann Patchett but her characters often have a certain level of detachment and coldness which was over the top in Marina and her mentor. That detachment made the ending of this book vaguely disappointing, although of course the writing was as beautiful as always. Recommended for: fans of Ann Patchett, sciencey people.

Outcasts United by Warren St. John (via the public library)

A few years ago, I read A Home on the Field, which is set in my hometown. Outcasts United is a similar book, about a soccer team that helps unite a community after it faces extreme amounts of demographic change. This team, the Fugees, is made up of refugees who have been placed in Clarkston, Georgia. Recommended for: fans of A Home on the Field (in fact it is mentioned in the notes at the end), people who like sports stories, people who are interested in work with immigrants and refugees.

Ingenious by Jason Fagone (via NetGalley)

My dad made sure I could change my own oil and change a tire, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to follow a book about building cars from scratch. Thankfully, it was so interesting I didn’t even have to worry about that. Ingenious follows teams who are competing in the X Prize, trying to create cars that will meet certain efficiency standards (100 miles on the energy equivalent of a gallon of gas). All the teams involved were interesting and I definitely found myself rooting for a couple of them. I suppose I could have gone online and found out the results, but I let myself experience it through the book and I was not disappointed. There were a few times that I wished there was a chart to keep the characters straight. This is one of the problems I have with reading on an ereader – I tend to be the kind of person who flips back and forth and I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Recommended for: people who like science and competition and stories.

Practicing Resurrection by Nora Gallagher (via the public library)

I love Nora Gallagher. This is a book about grief and discernment. The first half felt familiar, like I had perhaps read it before, but the second half felt wholly new to me. A beautiful story about how life continues after loss, about participating in the work of God and the church, and the renewal of a marriage. Recommended for: people who like to think about vocation (whether that’s explicitly in church work or not).

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (via NetGalley)

I . . . did not care for this book. It seemed artificial to me, the multiracial narrator who is presumably on the spectrum whose adopted parents die in a car crash. But Mike also read it and he loved it (and he thought I would also love it, which just proves that I like to keep things interesting even after all these years). So instead of my complaints, here are his positive thoughts: I thought Willow was charming and I cared about her story, which was also charming. Recommended for: people who liked Wonder or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, people who like charming stories, people who are interested in things that have Newbery buzz.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (via the public library)

Why did I read this? Because I hate myself? I knew something sad was going to happen in it, but I wasn’t prepared for it to be so awful, like the girls are just stuck in who they were (and who they loved) in high school. A disappointment for me. Recommended for: people who are in the bag for these particular characters and don’t mind being kicked around by Ann Brashares.

The Prodigal by Brennan Manning (via NetGalley)

On one hand, this is a fairly straightforward Christian novel about redemption. On the other hand, it’s by Brennan Manning, so you know it’s going to have a strong message about radical grace. The main character, Jack, seems like a combination of several famous pastors (but mostly Mark Driscoll plus a little Joel Osteen), and I liked a lot of the minor characters, especially the priest. It was predictable in a lot of ways, which made it an easy read. Recommended for: ragamuffins.

NetGalley provided me with review copies of several of these books, but my opinions are my own.

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