I’m really excited about the books I read this month. Several of them were highly recommended by friends and they did not disappoint!
You can click on the pictures of the books to find them on Amazon!
“There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.”
When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi: I can’t recall a single other book I’ve read that has been as heartbreakingly beautiful as Kalanithi’s story as written in this book. As a neurosurgeon who walked through deep pain, shock, and fear with many of his patients, Paul saw death and suffering up close on a day to day basis. But everything changed when he was forced to face death himself. Paul’s language is beautiful and compelling as he details his struggle through the question “What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?” He considers this question when counseling his patients through brain surgeries and thinks about this question when dealing with cancer himself. He finally comes to the understanding that life isn’t about avoiding suffering. Rather life is about living, about embracing the good and the bad, the beautiful and the terrifying. Kalanithi’s words are poignant and powerful. Hands down, my favorite book this month [maybe this year too?]. Bottom line: READ IT.
“Life is full of pain. Sometimes God miraculously delivers us. When he does, we rejoice and give him glory. He makes all things new and brings beauty from ashes. Sometimes we aren’t delivered, but he gives us true contentment in our circumstances, so the world can see his peace and satisfaction. And sometimes he leaves us with a constant ache, a reminder that this world is not our home, and we are just strangers passing through.”
The Scars That Have Shaped Me, by Vaneetha Rendall Risner: I’m actually not quite finished with this one, but I’ve read most of it in the month of May [and I make the rules here] so I’m including it in this post. I ordered this book after I listened to Vaneetha speak at a breakout session at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference last year. I was blown away by her perspective and her assurance in the Lord’s character. Vaneetha has been through extreme, painful, unimaginable suffering, and yet she writes so bravely on the unfailing, gracious, and faithful character of God. Regardless of what suffering you are going through [depression, loneliness, illness, death] I am confident that her words will speak healing and truth to your heart.
One more quote because it’s just that good:
“It is as though suffering is a strange sort of gift from God, a gift that we reluctantly receive and constantly want to give back. But it has extraordinary power to change us. It changes our outlook, our faith, our walk with God.”
“We need to lose the mental image of our pre-Christian state as a drowning person helplessly flailing about in the water, hoping upon hope that someone might throw us a life preserver. Outside of Christ we are, in fact, spiritual corpses rotting on the ocean floor among the silt and sludge.”
Alive in Him, by Gloria Furman: This book is basically a commentary on the book of Ephesians (one of my all-time favorite books in the Bible), so obviously I loved it. I listened to the audio version, which usually I love to do, but with this book I think I would have preferred to read my physical copy. I think this book would be best read alongside the book of Ephesians, as a commentary or supplement to the study of the book. I think listening to it made it a little more difficult to follow along. Regardless, I appreciated the depth that Furman’s book added to my existing understanding of Ephesians. Highly recommend!
“The devil is on a leash. He doesn’t do anything except what he is allowed to by God. Given the sovereignty of God over all things, we ought to acknowledge that the Bible doesn’t teach that grace goes down only until you get to the point where Satan takes over and starts doing his work. No, it’s grace all the way down, even into the deep dank cellar of affliction”
The Imperfect Disciple, by Jared C. Wilson: The subtitle to this book is literally “Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together.” A fitting read for someone (aka me) who feels so often that I cannot get my act together to achieve the “Christian ideal” of living, whatever that is. Wilson has such a relatable, conversational way of writing that makes him entertaining and compelling to read. He breaks down the intangible, ethereal definitions of discipleship and explains in clear jargon what it means to be a sinner saved by grace. He shares vulnerably of his own experiences and witnesses to how God meets us in difficult times. This book was enjoyable, refreshing, and helpful.
“[The best memoirs]…were written with love. They elevate the pain of the past with forgiveness, and thereby arrive at a larger truth about families in various stages of brokenness.”
On Writing Well, by William Zinsser: I actually listened to the On Writing Well audio collection rather than reading the physical copy of the book, and I’m really glad I did. I love when the author reads the audio version of their own book because it feels so conversational, the words seem to have more personality. William Zinsser explains how the most successful writing is simple, concise, and clear, which is exactly how this book is written and how the audio collection is compiled. His principles of writing were so incredibly helpful, and he delivered them in a way that was engaging and will stick with me for a long time. I definitely recommend this audio collection for anyone looking to develop their writing skills.
“You can’t change how you see—you can only change what you do with how you see.”
The Path Between Us: by Suzanne Stabile: I know, I know, another enneagram book. This is only the second enneagram book I’ve read, the first being The Road Back to You. To be honest (which I try to always be on this blog), I liked The Road Back to You a lot better. I didn’t necessarily feel that this book added much to my understanding of the enneagram. I loved reading The Road Back to You because I felt that it grew my compassion for and understanding of people who think and feel very differently than me. This book went type by type and explained how each type works and relates to those around them. It could be a good book to read to gain more insight on your specific type, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a go-to book on the enneagram.