Friday, November 15, 2019

Recent Reads

100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife Needs to Hear*… When you take a Love Languages quiz, I score highest in Words of Affirmation. This is also, unfortunately, where my husband scores lowest. In the early days of our marriage this was a real challenge for him. He is great at showing love in many ways (and we both score second highest in quality time) but verbal displays were very difficult for him. (The more I learn about the Enneagram, the more I see that this is probably a very common problem for his fellow eights!) He’s grown a lot in this area over the years and a couple of years ago came up with the creative idea of burning me a CD full of songs that give me lyrics he feels express the way he feels about me… but this book was filled with new ideas he found quite helpful.  

Anxiety is Really Strange… I am loving these short little psychology graphic novels. They’re such a great way to understand the concepts I’ve been studying so much this year and I highly recommend this one, too! They’re short enough that they’re totally worth your time even if you don’t personally have anxiety because they’ll help you understand for people you know and love who deal with it.

Focused Backstory… This writing book was such a great look at creating a great backstory for your fiction characters. A good backstory always makes a book so fascinating for me but when it doesn’t do it well (like when the main character’s life story is all laid out on page three) they lose me pretty quickly. I felt like I took a lot of great ideas from this book and I hope to see it really improve the backstory element of my fiction writing.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets… I listened to this one on audio and it wasn’t as dramatized as I had hoped but I still loved it. I can be pretty picky about the content in children’s books and movies but I really never found this one to be any kind of problem. The witchcraft/spells somehow don’t bother me in this story the way they would in another. This will sound very hippie, I know, but I feel like the “energy” of this book was genuine, that JK Rowling really did have good and pure intentions. I’ve read Christian books that gave me a bad taste and that I’d say had less-than-pure intentions so you can take all that with a grain of salt but I guess I’m trying to say the feeling beneath the writing is safe to me in this particular book and feels, honestly, just as safe as Narnia and LOtR to me.

The Highly Sensitive Child… I am an “HSP” (highly sensitive person) and check off nearly every item on Elaine Aron’s checklists. I always felt so much that there was something wrong with me growing up. Now I feel like three of my four children seem to pretty obviously be highly sensitive, and the fourth seems to be pretty likely highly sensitive. I wanted to learn a lot more about it from a parenting perspective, which I did, but I also learned a lot more about myself because of it too.

Ruth*… I am of course right smack in the middle of another Bible study right now so I only got to skim this one but I’m really looking forward to completing it soon! I was really interested in Ruth’s story even as a teenager and I actually have a picture frame in my bedroom that says “Where you go, I’ll go.” (I’ve also always been drawn to Jonah, mainly because I imagine the fear that likely went along with his decisions and his predicament, and I am hoping to study their Jonah book soon too!) There are eight lessons in the book and each lesson is broken down into three sections. Ideally you would of course meet with a small group to study each lesson together, but I love that you can break them up and study a section each day if you’re doing it alone, giving yourself more time to reflect on everything you learn.

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck… When I went to the Spokane Christian Writers Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Shoshanna Gabriel. She was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller for her sexual romance stories and then became a Christian. Suddenly she didn’t feel okay writing those books anymore and she had to change her name to change her brand. This book is a very similar story, except Shoshanna was already married and Sarah Hollenbeck was quickly falling in love with her new pastor. I’d classify this book is chick lit, which isn’t my usual genre. I was a little uncomfortable with a handful of things in this book but it was still a fun, fast read.
I recently read an argument against books like this, saying that all Christian books should be completely wholesome in content and feel. I 100% disagree, and let me tell you why. For a long time I was a Christian who wouldn’t listen to Christian music. “You can tell when you’re scanning the radio which stations are Christian stations. Their music is really low-quality.” These days I love Christian music and listen to it almost exclusively but back then I really noticed a difference when I was scanning the stations. I felt the same way about Christian books. I was reading Stephen King in seventh grade! I read Stephen King and chick lit in high school. If there had been some good Christian horror and chick lit more readily available to me back then I would have been much more likely to read Christian books and put those great messages into my mind instead of the ones I did!
I LOVE that there are books like this out there, as well as Christian horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, because the goal should be to draw new readers in rather than simply hang on to the old. I like it that a big fan of the Shopaholic series and Jane Green novels can become a Christian tomorrow and already have a built-in book recommendation waiting for her, just as I know exactly which books to recommend to a new Christian who only reads Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

Strengthsfinder2.0… My brother recommended this one when he took the Enneagram test for me. He was a huge fan and found it to be extremely helpful in his own life to focus on his strengths and play to them. I loved that concept when I read MotherStyles so I promptly requested the library book and took a Strengthsfinder test online. My top five strengths came back as Developer, Empathy, Harmony, Learner, and Strategic. Once I read up on them I felt like Developer and Harmony weren’t necessarily right for me. I definitely agreed a lot with what I read about Empathy, Learner, and Strategic though! This was fun, but I also felt like Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram are more helpful to me both in growing as a person and in recognizing my strengths. 

The Wedding DressThis is my first Rachel Hauck book and I loved it! Southern charm, romance gone awry, interesting characters, and a story that had me very interested. She is my newest Christian fiction thumbs up. I already have one of her Christmas books in from the library and I have two others by her (The Writing Desk and The Memory House) sitting on my shelf- can’t wait to dive in!

White Bird… I could have sworn I already shared this one so forgive me if this is a repeat. I loved this beautiful WWII graphic novel by RJ Palacio, the author of Wonder. WWII can always be a little rough and this one is no exception but the message was beautiful so I added it to my kids’ list for eighth or ninth grade. I meant to quickly thumb through this one and instead found myself reading it all in one sitting. It really resonated with me and I still think about it all the time.

*I received a free copy of 100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife Needs to Hear and Ruth from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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