#COLLABOREADS: A Friend's Favorite

Man oh MAN this month was tricky! Not because I couldn't think of a book to choose, but because I got more than 65 recommendations of books to choose! I asked my friends on Facebook to tell me about their favorite book, seeing how this month's theme is "A Friend's Favorite" and all...and was overwhelmed by their responses.

I made a post with every recommendation, so if you're looking for good books to read, check that out!

If you're new to #COLLABOREADS, welcome! This is the SEVENTH month of Amber and I's fun little online book club! We pick a theme every month (so everyone's reading different books) and then all link up and share our thoughts (with a handy-dandy R.E.A.D.S. acronym usually) and link up and become BFFs. You can read more about this whole thing here.

The friend's favorite I chose for this month? Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber. (Thanks to my sweet Richmond friend Shannon and my sweet online friend Elena!)

Carolyn’s journey unfurls as a twofold romance: even as she is being courted by the Divine Lover, she is also courted by “TDH” (Tall, Dark, & Handsome). Conversations with this particular lover of God (and with other friends, both believers and non-believers) serve as the catalyst for her search. The questions had always been there; TDH challenges her to finally seek hard after the answers. All this set against the glory that is Oxford makes the book read more like a novel—as it should, since our lives are simply stories that play out in the context of God’s Story.
— one reviewer on Amazon


What part of the book could you NOT get enough of? Oh, this book. I adored it. Every word. I couldn't put it down. So, the answer to that question is ALL OF IT. It's a memoir but it reads like fast-paced, incredibly honest and heartfelt fiction. It's the best of all the worlds. It's about coming to faith through time spent at Oxford (so there's your faith and your education and your Europe topics all covered) and there are friendships and budding relationships (maybe even a little romance too) and family stories and wrestling with the bigger things in life...it's just a fantastically well-told story in every way.


How did you relate to/care for the characters? I feel like Carolyn is my best friend now. I love her honesty, her stubbornness, the way she sought faith while still doubting and asking the hard questions and working her way through it, the way she learned to find her own self apart from home and family and the culture of the school around her...she's just somebody I want to get to know, but also feel like I already do.

What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns? I really loved the way she told her story following the calendar year of Oxford. It felt so natural, with flashbacks and inner thoughts and conversations and action all weaving together so effortlessly that it never felt like a boring memoir or a dull story at all. It was incredibly well written, moving at the perfect tempo, to the point where I could get totally lost in it all without focusing on quirks or things I would change...because I wouldn't have changed a thing about this one.


What other books are like this one? There are similarities to C.S. Lewis, with the narrative of an atheist coming to faith at Oxford, but the writing style is unique and stunning in its own right.


What did you think of it? I think it's perfect-- the picture of Oxford takes you to right to the context of the story with its rich historical background, and the typography is simple in the best way. I love this cover and the feel of this book-- a thick paperback with pages that stay open so you can read while eating or sipping coffee or cuddling a puppy. (I did all of those things, so I speak from experience.)


How many out of five do you give this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend? This book gets all 5 stars, plus bonus stars, if that's a thing. ALL THE STARS. Read this one ASAP, you'll love love love it.


Share your post here, and go leave love in the comments for everyone else! The best part of this whole deal is finding new blogs, new books, and new friends!

Also, make sure you read Amber's post here!


For January, our theme is: A Book for a Better You!

Any book that helps you learn something new or grow as a human or exercise your creative muscles or open your heart more or anything like that... read it and review it and link up with us on January 25!