At any given point, I have five or six books piled on my nightstand. If you take into account the overflowing bookshelf, the three stacks of books under the bed, the overloaded Kindle app and the email from the library that just came in saying my requested books are now available, well, you might say that I have a bit of a problem. Over the past two months, I’ve read thirteen books. (And I have no intention of slowing down any time soon.) I love words, I’m a bookworm, and I believe in the power of story. It’s no wonder that I enjoy putting together the Can’t-Miss upcoming book releases blog posts (and I love that y’all enjoy those). (The May-August list is coming your way in April. Here is the one for January-April, in case you missed it.) Every once in a while, if I truly love a book, I’ll mention it here on the blog or in my monthly-ish newsletter. Today I thought I’d bring back something I began way back when: stories on the shelf. Below you’ll find a short list of the books currently on the shelf, as well as a few I just finished and what I’ll begin next. (I am obviously not one of those people who can only read one book at a time. Bless it.) (Also: I will only share books that I truly enjoyed because honesty is the best policy.) If you’d like to learn more about any of the books, simply click the title or the image and it’ll take you straight to Amazon.
Currently on the shelf:Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are :: Deidra Riggs This book has been on my To-Read list for years and somehow I’ve never gotten around to opening it. Let me tell you, I’ve been missing out. I’m half-way through right now, and I appreciate Deidra’s story-telling as well as her encouragement not to fix the world, but to join God in the work He is already doing all around us. Here are two sentences that have stood out to me so far: God sees something in us that doesn’t reflect in a mirror. Fear doesn’t disqualify you from the thing God is calling you to.
++++The Screwtape Letters :: C.S. Lewis There are several classics that I’ve somehow simply never read, this being one of them. I finally got my hands on a copy and am slowly reading through each of the letters, written by Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. As a mentor-figure, Screwtape writes to instruct Wormwood in how to best tempt his “patient” away from God. The Amazon description will tell you this book is wildly comical, deadly serious, and strikingly original… I agree on all accounts. Several times, I’ve found myself scoffing, then shaking my head, and finally re-reading a particular letter. The language used for describing humans, the way God is viewed, and the line of thinking behind each temptation is fascinating. This will be a re-read, for sure.
Recently on the shelf:Blessed Are the Misfits: Great News for Believers who are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something :: Brant Hansen It’s hard to sum up or describe this book, but to put it bluntly: you should read it. In a humble, humorous, and hopeful way, Brant Hansen tackles difficult topics with thoughtful insight. If you listen to Brant on the radio, you’ll pick up on his tone of voice immediately and will likely feel like you’re reading a book written by a friend. But even if you’ve never heard of Brant before, I think you’ll feel the exact same way — it just might take a minute to understand his writing style. Stick with it… he has important things to say and he says them in a thoughtful, encouraging way. Raelee Carpenter said this in her GoodReads review of Blessed Are the Misfits, and I couldn’t agree more: “This book is…hard to describe. Funny, honest, heart-breaking, and hopeful. Profoundly awkward and utterly profound. If you don’t “get” modern, western church or Christianity, but you still want to follow Jesus, this book is a good place to start.”
++++God is Able :: Priscilla Shirer Don’t be fooled by the number of pages in this book. It packs a punch, refusing to sugar-coat anything while, at the very same time, preaching truth to worries and doubts. I especially loved the structure of the book: each chapter looks at a word or phrase from Ephesians 3:20-21. If you struggle with anxiety or fear, or if you need encouragement to hold onto hope despite whatever you’re facing, Priscilla writes in a way that feels like you’re sitting with a friend as she points you to Scripture. As the Amazon description says, this book isn’t “a denial of life’s adversities and troubles, but a biblical reminder that God is always up to great things, even when His great things are greater then instant remedies and visible change. He is a God who cares… and a God who can.”
++++Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be :: Rachel Hollis If you pick up this book, I hope you’re ready for a combination of honesty, wisdom, humor, vulnerability, and no-nonsense advice. Each chapter begins with a specific lie that Hollis once believed, covering everything from body image to relationships, motherhood to success and failure. I’ve followed Rachel on social media for quite some time, and she never seems anything but honest, fun, wise and passionate. And yet multiple chapters took me by surprise (in a good way), leaving me thinking “I can’t believe she actually shared that. But I’m glad that she did.” By the time you finish Girl, Wash Your Face, you’ll be inspired to make daily choices to better yourself by listening to truth over lies, therefore becoming someone who changes the world around her by loving her people (and herself) well.
Up next on the shelf:Searching for Spring: How God Makes All Things Beautiful in Time :: Christine Hoover Although I don’t know very much about Christine, the title and cover of this book got my attention. Now feels like the perfect time to begin this new release, as Winter turns to Spring here in Alabama over the next few weeks. Since I haven’t started reading it yet, here is what Amazon has to say: “The Bible says that God makes all things beautiful in their time, but when we look around today we see a broken and marred world. Our reality is so often the not beautiful that it’s hard to trust that God can make our mess into something good. So how do we live with hope for a future redemption of all things? In Searching for Spring, Christine Hoover takes readers on a treasure hunt for beauty in both familiar and unexpected places. For all who are in the midst of suffering, who find their faith withering, who are questioning whether God is at work–or even present–as they wait for something in their lives to become beautiful, this book will be a welcome reminder that God never stops his redemptive work and that there is a time for everything under heaven.”
++++Sons of Encouragement :: Francine Rivers This is actually a series of five shorter books that each look at the life of one man who quietly changed eternity. Although they lived in the shadows of other leaders, these men each answered God’s call to serve Him. I’ve read the first two — Aaron and Caleb — and am really looking forward to the other three on Jonathan, Amos, and Silas. One of my very favorite books by Francine Rivers is the Lineage of Grace series, which looks at each of the women listed in the lineage of Jesus — Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Each book in both series is a work of fiction, inspired by and based on Biblical accounts. Each one has helped me see these Biblical “characters” as real people with challenges, hopes, dreams, and hurts. Francine Rivers has a way of bringing each person to life, and I would highly recommend each series.