For almost two and half years I traveled with my husband. We visited 48 states. But I was home most of last year. Being home allows me time to read great books. I’ve done lots of reading! Long biographies. Short novels. Bible studies that lasted all summer and fall. Books on business.
Here are some of the books I read last fall.
Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado
A sweet, if completely unrealistic story of a young mom dealing with her husband’s infidelity. She has inherited her mother’s bakery and coffee shop. With two children and soon-to-be ex-husband (who wants to prove he’s changed) she’s in over her head…until an angel steps in to help.
It’s a fun story, and I enjoyed having an easy, quick read at the time. I needed something uplifting with a storybook ending. This book was a good choice, though it’s not the style I usually enjoy.
Brick by Brick by David C Robertson
I heard an interview of the author on NPR (National Public Radio) and it sounded interesting, so I ordered the book. It is about the history of the Lego Company. Business practices, accomplishments, and failures of the family-owned company are explained in detail. I enjoyed the book, but it took me a few weeks to get through it. Legos were a huge part of our family. My guys loved building with those plastic bricks, and I keep a huge bucket on hand for little people who come visit us. Learning the history of this company was interesting, though parts of the book read more like college textbook for a business management class.
A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton
A former cop living in upstate Michigan. Retired due to a shooting in the line of duty. He’s now a private investigator. After a local bookie is murdered, he is drawn in the suspenseful mystery. This was a fun, quick read. I had read it began but needed an easy read on weekend in August. I picked this up. I’m sure I’ll read more by this author.
Tramp for the Lord by Corrie ten Boom
I have read this The Hiding Place a couple of times but had not read this book. I highly recommend anything you can get by Corrie ten Boom! After hiding Jews and others in their home the ten Boom family was arrested. Virtue and her sister were sent to a German prison camp where Betsy died. This book picks up where The Hiding Place ended. It is filled with stories of Corrie’s travels as she told of miracles she had seen in the camp. This book is encouraging and will help build your confidence in what God can do when we are open and obedient.
Not My Will by Francena H. Arnold
This book is published my Moody Press, and is, not surprisingly, a Christian novel. I’m usually not a big fan of Christian fiction; it’s too often predictable and not well written. But I enjoyed this one! The story of a young woman who was raised by a bitter, self-sufficient aunt is full of choices. Eleanor must choose to surrender or lose everything. Yes, parts were predictable. But the book is well written and full of love without being preachy. I recommend Not My Will for teens and adults.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
A friend gave this dystopia five stars, so I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. I read it in one day. I was drawn in by the characters and the story. Mare is a Red living in a land ruled by Silvers. Her family struggles to barely get by. Without their knowing or understanding why she finds herself working for the royals. Then she finds herself betrothed to a prince. The book is full of adventure and suspense. No sex, very little cursing. But there is violence.
Glass Crown by Victoria Aveyard
The second book in this series. I was very disappointed. I didn’t even finish the book; about halfway through I skipped to the last chapter. I was disappointed not only in the plot, which dragged on with lots of needless killing and violence, but with the lack of depth of the characters. If you enjoyed Red Queen, stop there. Let your imagination fill in the rest of the story.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
In 1942 horrible things happened throughout Europe. The Nazis. The camps. The extermination of the Jews. Many people had little idea of exactly what was happening. They closed their eyes to what was going on around them. Our of fear, ignorance, or hate. In July 1942 French police rounded up thousands of men, women, and children to be sent off to the camps. In part, they acted on orders from the Germans. But they went beyond their orders.
This fantastic book explores the connection between a modern day magazine reporter and a ten year old girl captured by the Nazis July 1942. I stayed up very late to finish this book in one sitting; I had to know what happened to Sarah. I will be reading more by this author.
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
From the Amazon listing:
“Mourning the passing of her mother, Sage Singer decides to attend a grief support group. She doesn’t expect to start an unlikely friendship with an elderly man also attending. Josef Weber is a beloved, retired teacher and Little League coach. Together they attempt to heal.
But one day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses but then he confesses his darkest and long-buried secret, one that irrevocably changes Sage’s worldview. She suddenly finds herself facing questions she never expected, such as what do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all, if Sage even considers his request, is it murder or justice?”
I read this book in a couple of days. But I skipped a great deal. Details of atrocities done by a Nazi in charge of a women’s camp. I’ve read enough about these camps. I don’t want to read more. The book would have been as interesting without the detail. Not one of my favorites.
English Standard Version of the Bible
The past few years I’ve been spending lots of time in Bible study, but I hadn’t been simply reading the Bible. I decided I needed to read it again, left to right, cover to cover. I took no notes and did no studying. I just read it. I enjoy doing this every few years. Last time I read the NIV 84 version. The ESV is similar in that they are both fairly easy to understand. I’m not a fan of the changes made to the NIV in recent years, so I’ve switched to the ESV for study and memorization. Reading about an hour each day, I finished reading the whole Bible in two months, the same two months in which I read the 800+ pages of Hamilton. The rest of this year I’ll be reading shorter books. I’ve also restarted my Read The Bible In A Year plan.
Hamilton by Ron Chernow
This is the book on which the popular Broadway musical is based. It’s the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States. The book is very long and very detailed. It took me two months to get through it all. I enjoyed reading about the historical details and Hamiltons relationships with others I’d read about throughout school. I got bogged down in some of the details at times; I’d put the book down when things got too deep. But I always wanted to pick it up again a day or so later.
Hamilton grew up in horrible circumstances, yet he rose to become a vital player among powerful men who designed our system of government.
I definitely want to read more by this author.
Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand
A friend recommended this book, but the trial and cover did not entice me to read it. I’m not a fan of reading about gory details of torture whether in fiction or a biography. My friend encouraged me to read it anyway. I’m glad I did
The author was a pastor in his home country of Romania where he was imprisoned for fourteen years. He endured regular torture sessions while in prison. In the book, he shares just enough detail to help the reader understand the severity of what he went through. Wurmbrand shares stories of other faithful believers and what they went through, again with just enough detail. Much of his writing is about what God is doing and how we as American believers can pray and be a part of ministering to those in former Soviet countries.
The book glorifies God, not torture. I found it encouraging and uplifting.
No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece
I’ve had this book on my To Read shelf since last March, but I couldn’t seem to get to it. It had been recommended by many people I respect. Jill Sullivan of While We’re Waiting has published quotes from the book on her social media many times.
I had the privilege of meeting Esther at a women’s conference in October. I was a speaker; she was a participant. I told her I had her book on my shelf and looked forward to reading it. This encounter prompted me to pick up the book as soon as I got home.
I won’t say I enjoyed the book. Esther’s story is ugly and hard to read. But the Jesus who she meets because of her pain is beautiful. Esther writes about lament. She discovered it’s okay to lament. In fact, God welcomes us to come to Him with our laments. David and other psalmist did. There is a whole book of lamentations. Yes, God welcomes my lament. I’ve learned this as I walked through grief. I’ve cried out to the Lord in my pain and sorrow many times.
I’ve read a few blog posts about faking it. Some writers says we should never fake it, others say we should. If these writers are trying to comment on this book, I wonder if they read it. I understand Esther to say we should not fake fine with God. He already knows what we are going through, so we can and should be honest with Him. We can pour out our hearts to God in our laments. And He is willing and able to heal our hurts.
I love how Esther points her readers to God and His Word as she describes her journey through suffering. The book is not an East read or enjoyable, but I highly recommend it.
The past few months I’ve had the privilege of leading a group of ladies through Inductive Bible studies around my dining room table. I love getting to know these gals as we grow together. One friend, Camille is my workout buddy. She’s been learning to lead the studies and has been helping me this fall. It’s exciting to see women eager to learn God’s Word and eager to help others learn His Word.
Here is the list of studies I complete since August.
This is a great introduction to Bible study for anyone who has never studied the Bible for themselves. The reader is led through a study of a few chapters of 2 Kings plus the entire books of Jonah and Jude. Topics covered include how to observe the text, interpretation of the text, the importance of keeping things in context, marking key phrases, cross referencing, 5 Ws & H, plus much more. This is not an all inclusive course on how to study the Bible, but it is a helpful overview of inductive Bible study. I’ll be leading a group of ladies through this study later this spring.
This study looks at the biblical account of Creation in depth. Four weeks of study covering the first two chapters of the Bible. We had about ten gals in this study. Each shared she had learned things she’d not seen before! Ron led a dozen men through this study. The feedback we got is that couples enjoy it when we study the same book together, but in separate classes.
Genesis Part 2: The Fall, The Flood, and The Nations
This seven week study covers chapters 3-11 of Genesis. Looking closely at what happened in the Garden of Eden is always eye-opening! This study helps us understand so much more about how sun came into the world, why Jesus had to come to earth, and what our role in the whole matter is. Examining the story Noah and his ark shows us this is not just a nursery tale. God’s plan of redemption is clear through it all.
This six week study looks at the life and faith of Abraham. After studying a Galatians this summer, the gals in my class wanted to learned more about the Promises God made to Abraham. They were excited to learn God chose Abram then Abram believed God and obeyed Him. Because of his belief, Abraham was considered righteous. We who are in Christ by faith are heirs of Abraham, heirs of the Promise!
Beginning in chapter 4 of Matthew, this ten week study looks in depth at the words Jesus spoke as He taught the crowds on the side of a mountain. Relationships, faith, forgiveness, and how we are to live as believers are all covered in this amazing teaching. Dig in! Learn for yourself what Jesus had to say about legal battles, divorce, children, and much more.