What I’m into (August 2013)

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 thingEvery 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

Picking LightPacking 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 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.

Matt Mooney will be guest-posting on my blog later on the term, so look out for that. Buy A Story Unfinished from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
Books on writing and art:

imageThe 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 slantTell 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:
Scot McKnight NIV Application commentary on 1 PeterScot 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:

  • What were you into last month?

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5 Responses to What I’m into (August 2013)

  1. Sarah Caldwell 3rd September, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    What a wonderful post with so much goodness! 🙂 I’m interested in the Hidden Art of Homemaking book now based on your blurb, b/c I, like you, would NEVER have picked it up with that title! Congrats on being a Sunday Superlative! And the strawberries in the pic look delectable! 🙂

  2. Suzanne 2nd September, 2013 at 2:49 am #

    I bought Every Shattered Thing this week, and it’s next on my to-read list. I have heard only amazing things about it. I see a few others here that I have to add!

    I also just really need strawberries right now. What a gorgeous picture!

  3. Leigh Kramer 1st September, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    Reading through this post made me smile, Tanya! What a lovely collection of things to be into. I’m especially impressed with your reading. I haven’t read Jesus Feminist yet (it’s currently taunting me underneath a stack of other books I have to read first) but When We Were On Fire is beyond words amazing. I feel like I read it at the exact perfect time and I’m already pestering Addie to write her next book.

  4. Christina 1st September, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    I’m so looking forward to Jesus Feminist! I love Sarah Bessey’s writing and just her grace-filled approach in general. Also, congrats on making RHE’s Sunday Superlatives 🙂


  1. Packing Light {Interview with Allison Vesterfelt} | Thorns and Gold - 27th September, 2013

    […] to be hosting an interview with Allison Vesterfelt, author of Packing Light, (which I reviewed here). She writes about the cost of following your dreams, and she is a lovely person to accompany you […]

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