Thursday, April 17, 2014

A month of books

One of the exciting things about feeling so healthy the last several weeks is having the mental capacity to read. Since I first got sick 3.5 years ago, my brain has been so affected by the illness that I haven't been able to do much reading. So I've been making up for lost time lately. And boy have I read some dandies. I thought I'd share several of my favorites from the past several weeks with you today.

1. Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work by Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf

This is a book about the dignity and power of work. It describes God's original intention for work before the fall of man (work is not part of the curse!), explores the post-fall hardships of work, and suggests a new, Gospel-shaped understanding of work this side of heaven.

Timothy Keller, a writer and Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, integrates literature, psychology, philosophy and science into his theology of work to create a robust, engaging, and paradigm-shifting argument.

My family read this book together via a Skype book club (you should try it!) and we all loved it.

2. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

This book is a delightful page-turner about a field mouse named Mrs. Frisby whose son will likely die if she doesn't receive help from a group of unusual[ly endearing] rats.

If you don't often read children's literature, then you must change that! There are few adult books out there that are more poignant, entertaining, profound, and beautifully written as those written for kids.

I have loads of recommendations if you're looking for good children's literature!

3. Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren F. Winner

Lauren Winner converted from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity when she came to know Jesus Christ in college.

Since then, she's written a witty memoir chronicling her journey to Jesus; a book about sex and chastity (haven't read it); and a small book detailing the Jewish customs and traditions she misses and thinks Christians could learn from (this is my favorite of her books); and most recently, Still.

In Still, Lauren, wrecked by her recent divorce, experiences what St. John of the Cross called "The Dark Night of the Soul, " in which she can't see God's involvement or feel his presence in her life. Still is her fragmented spiritual memoir — a mosaic of snapshots from her season of darkness and doubt, in which she grasps for hope and trudges toward the Jesus she cannot see.

Still doesn't give fellow sojourners advice or wisdom for navigating the Dark Night of the Soul, but its honest recollections may make them feel as if they aren't alone, and will model for them the process of reaching for Jesus when grief and doubt weigh heavy.

4. Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Heidi is an orphan who moves in with her crusty uncle who lives in a cabin nestled high in the Alps. Heidi's infectious love of life softens her uncle who eventually opens his home to Heidi's friend, a sickly little girl confined to a wheel chair.

If you've always wanted to visit the Alps, or at the very least want to re-visit the Alps, then I recommend this beautiful little book. And if you love miraculous, happy endings, then you'll love Heidi. 

5. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I think my years of sickness must have shaped the kinds of books I gravitate toward: I love stories about sickly kids whose lives are changed by the beauty of the outdoors.

In this book, Mary is orphaned and must leave her home in India to live with her uncle in England. When she arrives at her uncle's house she is spoiled, demanding and rather sickly. But everything changes when Mary discovers a secret garden on her uncle's grounds and decides to cultivate it with her new friends, one of whom is her cousin who has bedridden all his life. Together they delight in the magic of spring and friendship. You will too.

Enjoy, my friends!


© by scj


  1. Great list, Sarah! Thanks for sharing. I love Heidi, too. It was fun to re-read it before visiting the Alps last fall and to see the "mountains on fire," just as Heidi saw them. (It also makes me crave bread and cheese . . . .)

    Have you read "The Yearling?" Another beautifully written children's book. And I'm assuming you've read "The Wind in the Willows," but if not . . . do! :o)

    1. Heidi gave me a hankering to visit the Alps again, Julianna! It was nice to visit vicariously through Heidi, though. :)

      I love Wind in the Willows. It's one of my all time favorites. And I've actually recently checked out The Yearling from the library! I'm glad to hear it's a dandy. I'm looking forward to reading it.

      Confession: sometimes I stalk your Pinterest book boards. They are full of wonderful recommendations!