Book by Book: My July 2018 Reads

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Summer reading is always such a funny thing. Part of me wants to read light and fun books (which I did!) but also I was craving getting really lost in a story (hello, 1000+ epic novel!) and feeling inspired (not surprising I read a book with that title!) -- this month did not disappoint when it came to diverse and fun reads. (One not pictured, which yes, drives me crazy as an Enneagram One.)

HERE'S WHAT I READ IN JULY:


Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand

MY RATING: 3/5

MY REVIEW: ook myself on a solo getaway for the 4th and this title seemed like a great one to grab off my shelf— and it was! I’ve never read anything from this author but really enjoyed this one. It’s like how I used to feel about Jodi Picoukt— I assumed their books were both light and shallow, but they turned out to be anything but!

MY RECOMMENDATION: A great beach/river/lake/summer read!


My Name is Hope: Anxiety, Depression, and Life after Melancholy by John Mark Comer

MY RATING: 4/5

MY REVIEW: Read this one at the perfect time (aka thick in a season of depression, just starting anti-depressants) and highly recommend it for anyone feeling heavy and in a dark place. It’s encouraging, honest, and gave me a lot of hope. At times, it felt trite, but overall, I was grateful for the real and faith-based look at our feelings, our sin, our shame, our hope, and our healing. @johnmarkcomer is one of my favorites and I can confidently say all of his books are wonderful and worth a read. I’m not ashamed to say I’m currently needing counseling, prayer, community, a whole host of ongoing spiritual disciplines AND medication to battle my depression right now, even though this book does take more of the approach that medication isn’t the answer. For many, that’s true, and for many, that isn’t. Took a lot from this one regardless!


Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

MY RATING: 5/5

MY REVIEW: I loooooove Annie Dillard and have ever since reading An American Childhood in high school— this book was the PERFECT summer riverside read. Stunningly beautiful, so reminiscent of Walden, centered on place and poetic and effervescent and just lovely in every way.


Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans

MY RATING: 3/5

MY REVIEW: I was glad to finally get to this new one from RHE— it wasn’t what I expected to read from her, but was really rich and challenging. I think it wasn’t the best season for me to read this one in, as I’m not currently really wrestling with doubts about Scripture, but I’m so glad it exists for those who are (and for me to return to when I am). The way she tells the big story of the Bible and highlights so many themes and threads throughout Scripture was stunning and encouraging, and reminded me how magical and mysterious and mighty the Word of God is. Always grateful for the way Evans challenges my worldview and prompts me to deepen my faith!

THANKS TO: BookLook Bloggers


After by Jane Hirshfield

MY RATING: 2/5

MY REVIEW: It was one of my goals this month to read a new book of poetry last night, and I’ve had this one on my shelf since she came to a local event (that I didn’t even attend...) — it was a lovely way to spend a mellow evening, although not my most favorite book or style of poetry. Her poems in grief specifically moved me, and I’ll return to them again for the way they so simply and beautifully wrapped words around such a complex feeling.


In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It by Lauren Graham

MY RATING: 1/5

MY REVIEW: This book was a teeny, tiny 45 pages and based on a commencement speech Graham gave, and I honestly didn’t love it. It didn’t have any real substance or humor or anything terribly inspiring...

MY RECOMMENDATION: I’d pass on this little one and maybe just watch the speech online if you love her!


World Without End by Ken Follett

MY RATING: 5/5

MY REVIEW: 1,014 pages: DONE. Loved this one as much, if not more, than the first in the Kingsbridge series— it’s so incredibly well-written with such compelling and complex characters and storyline, nonstop drama and intrigue and action, rich history and detailed storylines... these massive novels are worth spending hours and hours with. Perfect way to spend this rainy weekend!


This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems by Wendell Berry

MY RATING: 5/5

MY REVIEW: I adore Wendell Berry. His poetry is grounded and honest and simple and rich. His faith seeps through his symbolism and his love for the Creator and creation are evident in every word, and I enjoyed this collection of old and new-to-me poems immensely.

MY RECOMMENDATION: If you've never read any of Berry's poetry, grab this one -- it's comprehensive and beautiful.


Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health by Dr. Caroline Leaf

MY RATING: 2/5

MY REVIEW: I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one. My counselor recommended that I read it, and i had never heard of it or the author before. At first, it felt too woo-woo for me, but I came to appreciate the blending of Scripture and science more as I kept reading. Parts of this one felt dismissive and cliche to me, but other parts got under my skin and made me really think deeply about how my brain works and how the Lord can renew and transform our minds. I found it interesting but I read it skeptically, and I’m overall not a huge fan of her writing style and presentation. I did hear many people say her talks were great, so I’m thinking I’ll give that a shot and see if i resonate more with her verbal presentation. Lots to think about and process with this one, and I did restart my daily meditation and gratitude journaling practices as a result of reading... so maybe it helped me after all!


Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

MY RATING: 4/5

MY REVIEW: This was a fun one! My favorite kind of fiction— more than just “chick lit,” with great characters, interesting storylines, believable drama and conflict, just predictable enough with moments of surprise still. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to see how the upcoming movie compares!

MY RECOMMENDATION: I thiiiiiiiink this might be a rare case in which the content makes a better movie than it does a book... we'll see!


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Add your links here if you blogged about books this month-- and be sure to browse around the other links and find new bookish friends! Be sure to check out Kristin's post too-- I always get the best book recs from her. For bonus points, challenge yourself with one of the reading prompts below!

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