I get asked all the time about what I’m reading, or what I’ve read, or what books I recommend for x,y, and z. I’ve always thought about sharing the books I’m reading but have never gotten around to it; I finally decided that I want to do some more regular blogging on here while I’m working on freelancing, so I thought a good segment would be on my monthly reads!
I’ll be honest: it got really hard to read for fun in college. Being an English major, reading was basically my life, but it was reading un-fun things about theory (sorry Dr. C!) or reading classic literature that I loathed (sorry Dr. R!). That, on top of my internship last year made it hard for me to unwind with a book– I didn’t want to think anymore! I just wanted to veg. (Did I mention my last semester of college was when I got Netflix? I’m so glad I didn’t have it before then).
Now that I’m post-grad and no longer reading for torture (i mean for school) or working myself to death at my internship, my brain is a lot less exhausted these days, so I’ve been reading so much more. I finally fell back in love with reading!
The past couple months I’ve been on various launch teams for books (basically a marketing team that gets to read the book for free ahead of its launch in exchange for help publicizing/sharing the book). In between launch team reading I was able to slip in a couple fun reads, too!
Come Find Me, Sage Parker by Aliza Latta
I read this while dogsitting for my aunt over Labor Day weekend. It’d been a long time since I’d gotten lost in a novel– when I do read these days, it tends to be Jesus-y and nonfiction. But my brain needed an escape. A friend had posted about this book being free on Kindle (it’s not on sale now), so I decided to go for it and download it to my iPad.
The story is about Maeve Parker, a girl whose mother, Sage, left when Maeve was 9 years old– after being quite the unconventional mom up till then, Sage left “to go find her self.” But she never came back. Maeve was left to her own devices with Sage’s live-in boyfriend, Sol, who took on the role of guardian (but mostly in name only). They move when Maeve is 16 for Sol to start a new job; Maeve is thrust into a new community with new people, including Ky and Levi, who work to befriend her despite Maeve’s pushing them away (it’s hard to trust people when people have left you, you know. #storyofmylife). I need a Levi in my life: he doesn’t give up on her. As this school year with these new friends unfolds, and tragedy ensues, Maeve begins a quest: to find Sage Parker.
Y’all. I haven’t gotten so hooked on a book since The Fault in Our Stars. (and that’s saying something since TFiOS I basically read in a 24-hour time span). I read this in barely a day’s time. It is captivating– you won’t want to put it down! It is so beautifully written, with a few plot twists I did not see coming (which is not usually the case for me– I usually catch things!). The characters are richly developed and so vast– there are no real flat characters here, they all play a major part of the story. The story is heartfelt and puts you on an emotional roller coaster.
This is Aliza’s first novel, and I hope it’s not her last! I’ve read some of her faith stuff for (in)courage and she’s such a talented writer. While I wouldn’t label the book “Christian fiction” (that title enrages me anyway– you can find Christ in all literature if you look hard enough), there are a lot of Christian themes and thoughts weaved throughout, along with a lot of other issues we face today. It’s all woven into this lyrically poetic story about a girl trying to find herself– and her mother along the way.
Do you have to run away in order to find yourself? And when, exactly, do you know when that self you were so desperately looking for is found?
Shalom Sistas: Living Wholeheartedly in a Brokenhearted World by Osheta Moore
This is one of the books I’ve been on a launch team for. My friend Syndal invited me to join since she knew how much I loved launch teams (I get to read books and talk about them! Whee!!). Y’all. This launch team was so fun. Osheta is the real-deal awesome, and I look forward to the day she comes to Nashville so I can hug her neck in person. Beyond the launch team being fun (weekly dance parties during reading check-in, hello!!) The book itself was SO GOOD. And so needed for this chaotic, crazy world we’re dealing with right now.
She re-defined what Shalom looks like for me. I always thought of peacemakers as these perfect, quiet people that do BIG things to change the world, like Mother Teresa and the like. Osheta, like myself, isn’t this kind of peacemaker: loud, sassy, and sometimes overwhelmed, Moore knew that she wanted to be a peacemaker but didn’t know how to be a ‘typical’ one.
When she challenged herself to study peace in the Bible for 40 days (during Lent), she learned what shalom really looked like– and it wasn’t always meek and quiet. Sometimes tables got thrown. (thanks, Jesus!) Osheta realized that shalom was about finding the ways to make peace in her everyday life, and in herself. So in Shalom Sistas, she lays out 3 areas she wants to seek shalom- Shalom with God, Shalom within Ourselves, and Shalom in Our Relationships- and through that comes to her 12-point Shalom Sistas Manifesto, which outlines how Osheta practices being a Shalom Sista.
Within each of these points, Osheta uses her sass and biblical knowledge to explain why these places of peace are important, and how she’s implemented them in her own life (or attempted to) right where she is. There’s silliness, there’s snark, there’s biblical truth. A little bit for everyone, am I right?! She also gives practical ways to live out each manifesto point (Shalom Steps). I love practicality– don’t just teach me something and leave me going “how do I do it/use it/implement it?” I love the actions and ideas she gives for each of the points– some are big and fun, some are small and simple– all are great ideas to incorporate more Shalom in your life.
If you’ve read here for long, you know I love me some Annie Downs and Let’s All Be Brave. One of the things I love about that book is that it called me to bravery right where I was, right smack dab in the middle of my messy not-so-brave life. I am not this person set out to change the whole world or do it all– it’s just not in my DNA. I’ve never been someone who wanted to save the world or change everything. I just want to do what I can, with what I have, right where I am– and if that changes one life, then I’ll be happy.
I think that’s why I love books like Annie’s and Osheta’s. The world tells us so often that we have to act in these big, grandiose measures to be seen and heard. But we don’t. We can do one thing, and do it well, to change the world– to change our world, our community.
Annie taught me how to brave right where I am.
Osheta taught me how to bring peace right where I am.
And they did so through experiences from their own life– right in the trenches of it, not on the sidelines just telling me what to do. They’re doing this whole everyday thing right alongside me, and that makes it easier to stand up and say I can be brave and be a peacemaker right here.
Osheta uses her sparkly personality and wicked sense of humor to be real and honest about shalom fails and triumphs, and uses Biblical support to teach about shalom and seeking peace in the world– I highly recommend it if you’re looking for ways to claim shalom in your life.
“Shalom is what happens when the love of God meets our most tender places. Therefore, we can all be peacemakers, because we can all seek and access the love of God to heal our broken places.”
(bonus! my favorite Canadian Sarah Bessey wrote the forward. *fangirl screams here*)
Shalom Sistas is out NOW!
Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors
I was on the launch team for this one as well!
I first heard about Katie my freshman year of college when Kisses for Katie came out, and she spoke at my school’s chapel. She was so sweet and articulate about her passion and her mission, and that goes the same for her writing. I loved Kisses for Katie– I had always had a heart for serving others and had been on mission trips with my old church, but her words gave me a new way to see mission. I’ve never been to Uganda or anywhere “big” to serve, but I gave my heart to a little orphanage in Cozumel my sophomore year of college, and I haven’t looked back since. That is my mission field, where I feel most alive and connected to God.
In Daring to Hope, Katie poetically shares her story of tragedy and heartache and questioning of God in the hard seasons. She reminds us that God is with us in the dark, and that hope is always worth daring for. She is brutally honest and open about her struggles, and yet she is equally bold in her reminders of truth and hope that anchors her.
I’m in the middle of a rough, dark season myself, so this book wasn’t the easiest for me to read– but Katie’s words felt like they were written for me sometimes. They are a reminder and comfort of the hope we have in Jesus, even in the dark. It was lyrically written and filled with truth and scripture to carry us when we can’t carry ourselves, and anecdotes of her life in Uganda to remind us that we have hope– and it never disappoints us. It’s a beautiful book.
“The God of all mercy and compassion is using our heartache to draw us to Himself and transform us into His likeness. He will turn our sorrows into joy and He will use our suffering to illuminate gifts of grace. He will turn our darkness to light, and He will carry us home. “Chin up, love,” He whispers. “Hold on to that hope. Eyes on me, dear one. I am not done yet.””
Daring to Hope is out NOW!
A Moment to Breathe: 365 Devotions that Meet You in Your Everyday Mess by (in)courage team (lots of different writers!!)
Shocker, I was on the launch team for this one too! (last one for this month, promise!)
A Moment to Breathe isn’t a book, but a devotional. I love devotionals. I have a short attention span– I write in short stories/essays (versus writing a book), I prefer reading blogs and articles and essay collections versus a large novel. Devotionals are a perfect mix of scriptural insight and real-lifeness that makes me think and fills me up for the day ahead. If I could get find job writing/editing devotionals for a living, sign me up!
My everyday go-to for the last few months has been Savor by Shauna Niequist (and it’s still the way I close out my days). I typically either read AMTB alongside Savor, or I read it earlier in the day– usually when I’m overwhelmed or frustrated and need an actual moment to breathe before I explode.
I like that it’s undated so I don’t feel guilty if I miss a day, and can read at my own pace. So far I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the devotionals in the book– they’re written by some familiar faces (Annie Downs! Jennifer Dukes Lee! Deidra Riggs!!) and some I don’t know but am really enjoying. There were a few that didn’t feel relatable to me, but that’s always going to happen. I liked the little “moment to breathe” section at the bottom of each devotion– I wished they had all been more action-y and some way to apply a lesson or thought from the story. (Like I said above, I like practical application).
My only ‘complaint’ (not really a complaint, just a thought) is that I wish the devotions centered around the theme of the book– I was hoping for the stories to be more streamlined and less random. I was hoping this would be a devotional more focused on rest/Sabbath/peace, not just a conglomerate of devotions like other devotionals. Not the end of the world though– it’s still a great little book to find a few minutes of peace and quiet in an otherwise crazy day.
This is a great devotional– well-written, beautifully designed, easy to pick up and read for a few minutes of time with Jesus.
A Moment to Breathe is out NOW!
Those are what I finished in September! I’m still working on 2 books from September currently:
Dance Stand Run: The God-Inspired Moves of a Woman on Holy Ground by Jess Connolly: I’ve written a couple times about this one (I’m on the launch team for it, of course!) but Y’ALL. It’s SO GOOD. I’m a teensy bit behind in the actual reading (we get an ebook version of each chapter one week at a time, and September kicked my tail), but I’m a little over halfway done and it is going to change lives. I know it. It’s already changing mine. It comes out October 24th, so you’ll probably hear me on all the social media chatting about it. And if you preorder 2 or more you get some awesome stuff, so go buy it now!
Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
I’ve been so intrigued by this book since I first saw it advertised. It has not disappointed me! I’m almost halfway done and have learned SO MUCH about personality. Anne says it’s just a primer into the world of personality theory (things like Myers Briggs, Enneagram, etc), but there are a few I know nothing about, so I’m excited to dive in and learn. It’s the first time I’ve read a book just to learn something that wasn’t Jesus-y since college! I miss it sometimes. (OK not really but I do love learning).
It’s very practical, real-life anecdotal, informative, and slightly heady– if you enjoy Brene Brown, this is a much tamer version (much more my speed– love me some Brene, but she’s sometimes a little over my head). I’ll share more about what I’m learning once I finish!!
I’m intending to keep doing a monthly post about what I’m reading– both as a way to keep me reading (hold me accountable, people!) and as a way to share things and quotes other than on Instagram. Eventually, once I move my blog to self-hosting (soon, I hope), I plan to have a tab up at the top dedicated to all things books and what I’m reading/favorite books of all time, etc. To be a good writer, you need to be a reader. I want to keep myself reading — and share about my reading adventures here with people!
What are you reading right now? Especially fiction– after all this heavy launch team-ing, I need something fun to veg out to. Fiction suggestions welcomed!!
Until next month, happy reading!
**note: affiliate links have been used in this post, meaning if you click on them and buy something, I get a small commission. 🙂