The wonderful Leigh Kramer does a monthly ‘what I’m into’ post, and I thought that was a fab idea! So I’m linking up with her, and do take a while to look round her blog– she’s one of the nicest people in the blogosphere.
The sun is still peeking through but its strength is waning, and I feel like I am already mourning the summer. August has been a month of still being in ‘relapse’ mode, and I have been balancing the many visitors by staying in bed for the rest of the time. Which has meant I’ve only left the house once in daylight in August. (But that was to go to the beach for a couple of hours, which was amazing, so don’t feel too sorry for me.)
August has been a time of lounging in the garden, listening to the happy chatter of however many kiddies were visiting that day, barbecues and Jon-cooked fresh fish, and watching our boy jump on his new trampoline. Most of all, it has been a month of real talk with precious friends, and I have really valued catching up with long-term friendships.
I am reading fewer blogs these days (and feeling insanely guilty about that) but reading books instead.
Every Shattered Thing – Elora Ramirez. This is a gripping, powerful novel about a girl who finds herself caught up in a world of sex trafficking. I have reviewed this novel more fully here, and I thoroughly recommend it. The paperback is coming soon, but the e-version is available now and is super-cheap, (£2/$3), so it’s well worth a punt. Get it on amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
Packing Light – Ally Vesterfelt. This is the memoir of a twenty-something woman who decided to quit her secure job and leave her nice apartment in order to accompany a friend on a road-trip around the States for six months, visiting all fifty states, depending on friends or strangers to host them as they go. This is the story of why she did it, and the impact it had on her, her relationships, and her faith. For me it seemed to capture something of the zeitgeist of the Millennial Generation (Generation Y). It is well-written and a pleasure to read, and I enjoyed being Ally’s companion as she sheds material things and uncovers something of herself along the way. I’ll be interviewing Ally later on in the blog, so be sure to look out for that.
Buy Packing Light from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.
A Story Unfinished – Matt Mooney. I want to write a longer review of this brilliant and moving book, so look out for it, but I first heard of his story through this video, ’99 Balloons’, about his son born with Trisomy 18, and the 99 days that he lived.
This YouTube video has had over 4 million views. It is beautiful and hopeful and humbling. Watch it, and make sure you have tissues nearby.
Books on writing and art:
The Hidden Art of Homemaking – Edith Schaeffer. This is such a gem of a book! I would never have read it if it hadn’t been thrust upon me by a friend, because the title sounds like a 1950s manual for wifeliness, but it turns out that it’s a powerful argument for creativity in Christianity, together with suggestions of how to practice ‘hidden art’ in your home and family (she has chapters on drama, writing, gardening, music etc.) It probably has slightly more application to parents because of how she applies it (e.g. Great ideas on reading aloud together as a family, treasure hunts, hospitality etc), but the principles are still useful for everyone. It is a quick read, the theology is biblical and thoughtful, and it left me feeling enthused and motivated to create art. If you enjoyed my Christianity and Creativity series, you’ll like this.
Buy The Hidden Art of Homemaking on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.
Tell it Slant – I am the sort of person who wants a ‘how to’ book, and this is a ‘how to write creative fiction’ sort of book. Some of the chapters I found really engrossing, others dragged a bit, but it was most helpful for considering the different areas of story: setting, family, etc. It had some great prompts and I reckon I would go back there if I needed to break writers’ block.
Buy Tell It Slant from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
Book on 1 Peter:
NIV Application commentary on 1 Peter – Scot McKnight. This and the trusty Anchor Bible Dictionary is where I got a lot of the contextualisation from for my fiction series on 1 Peter. I had some instincts, and it was exciting to see them confirmed by McKnight’s analysis of the culture and time. I particularly appreciated the emphasis of this series, because so many focus on the text rather than the social and historical context. This is an outstanding, reader-friendly commentary, with plenty of suggestions for application, and I’d thoroughly recommend it. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or amazon.com.
Green zone. This is a really good film starring Matt Damon about the Iraq war and the search for the non-existent weapons of mass destruction. I don’t often like war movies, but this was really gripping and thoroughly engrossing. It was interesting to watch at a time when the US and possibly the UK are preparing to go to war again in the Middle East, and observing the similarities and differences of those two conflicts.
Knight and Day. Tom Cruise stars a secret agent who may or may not be a baddy, and Cameron Diaz as the slightly ditzy blonde who is half-kidnapped, half-romanced by him. As long as you don’t look at it too closely from a feminist perspective this is a thoroughly enjoyable, gently humorous and light action movie/ romcom, with plenty of fun car chases and intrigue, (and surprisingly enough for a romantic comedy, no sex scenes.)
Shalom Session: Brandy Walker offers these sessions, which are a cross between life coaching and spiritual mentoring. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was BRILLIANT. She asks such insightful questions and homes in on your identity and calling in life. It’s really helpful for clarifying things, especially if you’re in a ‘stuck’ place. She is also starting an online course this month for women on finding your identity and purpose (with a feminist edge), called ‘Breaking the Dress Code.‘ You can check out both on her website.
Story 201: I enjoyed Elora’s online course so much that I signed up for the second stage. It’s three months long and goes through the book The Artist’s Rule by Christine Valters Painter, which aims to unite your inner artist with your inner monk. So far, I am discovering that I like my inner artist but I do NOT like my inner monk. (Why recite when you can create?) Hmmm. I’ll be sure to let you know if I find my inner monk strolllng behind some pillar in my soul.
On my nightstand: are advanced sneak-peak copies of Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey and When we were on fire by Addie Zierman. I cannot tell you how excited I am about these books! More on them later – but suffice to say, you should preorder them now.
On the blog: I was a Sunday Superlative! I was very chuffed that Rachel Held Evans picked my No Job for Job post as a Sunday Superlative this month. I love the book of Job, and that post seemed to resonate with many. Thank you to all who shared it. I have loved the challenge of telling the truth that comes in sideways, and I am enjoying exploring themes of suffering in 1 Peter via my five-part fiction series (catch up on the first part here).
God and Suffering: Our Story. One great thing about September is that it means the God and Suffering series is returning THIS WEEK! I’m so excited about the line-up, and I’m looking forward to learning more from people’s stories.
Over to you:
**Disclosure: I have become an Amazon affiliate, which means if you click on a link above and then buy anything from Amazon, you will donate a few pennies to me, at no extra cost to you! How good is that?? (Needless to say, I only recommend stuff that I like.)**
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