We are a quarter of the way through the year...it is flying by. My goodness. February was a slow month for me in terms of reading (but hey, it's a short month too, so I'll use that as my excuse!) but March has been a full one. My 50 books in 2015 goal is looking more and more likely to be accomplished! Woooooo.
Here's what I read this month!
Scary Close by Donald Miller. // "What if part of God's message to the work was you? The true and real you?"
If you remember, I finally read Blue Like Jazz last year, and I was seriously unimpressed. I didn't understand the hype at all, and wasn't a fan of Miller's writing style. This book just came out, and I've been seeing it EVERYWHERE. I picked it up at a bookstore recently, read the inside flap, and felt like I just needed to give it a try. I'm so glad I did. I loved it. Miller at his best, if you ask me. Honest, transparent, convicting. Three pages of notes in my journal came after I finished this one-- so much it brought up in my heart and challenged me to work on. Good stuff right here.
The Great Discontent. // "If you're looking for magic, you won't find it. But it you're compelled to create, then seek satisfaction in showing up, practicing your craft, and doing the work. Work in obscurity, work when no one is looking. And don't stop. That is how you make it."
This isn't really a book, and it isn't really a magazine...it's really a bookazine if I had to categorize it. And it's excellent. It's chock-full of long-form interviews with creatives, each one more inspiring and fun to read than the last. I could share fifty incredible quotes with you, but instead, I'll just tell you to GO GO GO get your hands on The Great Discontent NOW.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. // "Look closer and you'll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true. We have never been what we seemed."
This was a total impulse grab on my latest Barnes and Noble trip, but I'm so glad I picked it up. I admit that The Great Gatsby is about the extent of what I know about F. Scott Fitzgerald, so I knew even less about his wife Zelda, but this fictional take on her life and marriage and work was a great read. I felt like a dear friend of Zelda from the beginning, and loved how Fowler brought her to life in a way that was both believable and engaging. (Also-- I wish I could bounce from Paris to the States to Italy and around again every year like they did! How lovely does that sound?!)
If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers by Hannah Brencher. // "I could feel God. It was like He was setting fine fingerprints all over the moment. I could feel Him in it, as if He were saying to me, 'Girl, I'm gonna blow the hinges off anything you think a love letter is, was, or could be. If you would just release the grip, I could turn your whole life into a love letter.'"
The Rosie Project: A Novel by Graeme Simsion. // "I may have found a solution to the Wife Problem. As with so many scientific breakthroughs, the answer was obvious in retrospect. But had it not been for a series of unscheduled events, it is unlikely I would have discovered it."
I admit, I'm a sucker for books with "New York Times Bestseller" slapped on the cover, or with any other sort of award or accolade attached. It draws me in. I figure, if people loved this book enough to make it a bestseller, or if committees loved it enough to give it an award, it's probably fantastic and worth reading. All of the quotes listed on the inside cover of this book claimed it was hilarious and made the critics laugh and was "an utterly winning screwball comedy." Here's the thing-- I didn't think anything about it was funny. At all. Maybe I have a messed up (or nonexistent) sense of humor? It was amusing at parts, I suppose, but more because of the quirkiness of the main character than anything else. It was a light read, but not one I would have much of a recommendation for, in all honesty.
Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron. // "In the blink of an eye, I moved from multi-verse to universe. The out-of-tune instruments that had played so cacophonously in my soul for so many years spontaneously came together and played one unmistakable chord with thundering clarity."
I first heard about this book through my friend Cara Joyner who wrote about it in a blog post here. I don't know much about Francis of Assisi, but I know a lot about how faith looks in America, so it was interesting to follow the character through his pilgrimage from burn-out as a megachurch's pastor to Italy as he follows the footsteps of Francis. It's an engaging journey that has me interested in learning more about Francis. This was a solid work of Christian fiction-- something I think is pretty rare. Worth a read.
By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept: A Novel of Forgiveness by Paulo Coelho. // "Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments--but all of this is transitory; it leaves no permanent mark. And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken."
I loved The Alchemist by Coelho, and wanted to read more by him-- this one is similar in that it's short, reads easily, has religious themes and a moral undertone to it. I didn't love it as much, though. The main religious theme was about the feminine side of God (as the Catholics call the Virgin Mary, etc) and I wasn't entirely resonating with the way it all was presented. I read this in about an hour though, so if you're looking for a quick, poetic read, you would enjoy reading Coelho.
The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship by A.W. Tozer. // "If everybody could suddenly have a baptism of pure cheerful belief that God wants and desires us to worship, admire and praise Him, it could transform us overnight into the most radiantly happy people in the world. We would finally discover our purpose: that God delights in us, and longs for our fellowship."
I had started this book months ago, and when I saw it on my bookshelf with the bookmark in the middle, I decided to finish it up. I enjoyed it-- I love learning more about what true worship looks like, and Tozer brings rich wisdom and insights to the table. I would highly recommend reading just the last chapter even if nothing else-- it's called "Maintaining a Vibrant Worship Lifestyle" and has wonderful practical applications and advice. At just shy of 200 pages, this is an easy to read and thought-provoking book.