5 Non-Fiction Highlights from 2020

Greetings! It’s Saturday again, and I’m back, as promised, to share 5 of my non-fiction highlights from 2020. I’m really excited about theses ones, so let’s just jump in! Feel free to check out my previous posts on my 2020 reading recap and my 2020 fiction highlights if you want to get some background info on this post. πŸ˜‰

Continue reading “5 Non-Fiction Highlights from 2020”

A Reading Streak Concluded…

To read part 2 of this reading streak saga, click here… Now onto part 3!

gospel of mark
The Gospel of Mark

June came, and with it a brief four day foray into the book of Mark. My church had just put on The Mark Drama, and after 6 weeks of memorizing the structure of Mark and talking about Mark and then rehearsing and performing over an intense weekend, it was finally over. Post-production blues had definitely hit, and I was glad to spend just a few more days in the company of this Gospel with Mum. The only reason we read it was because that particular day, Mum had a migraine and we couldn’t find our other book option. So instead, we lay in the dimness of her room, and read Mark. It was a very good call. Mark was always a very special gospel to me because of performing The Mark Drama with my church, but reading it with my Mum just added to the precious memories I have associated with the book.

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no 1 ladies
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

This was the book that brought me through my graduation. Finally, finally, finally! It seemed as if the 6th of July would never come. As I pushed to finish high school, it was a blessing to take 10 minutes of my otherwise jam-packed days and head out to the African bush in my imagination. I would wash dinner dishes Mum read to me, the clamour of my younger siblings on the trampoline floating in through the open door. It was summer by the time this book finished, and we read the last chapter with me in Dublin airport and Mum back at home. With graduation over, the countdown to university was getting lower and lower, and I was headed on a long-anticipated weeklong mission trip to Ireland…

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let me be a woman
Let Me Be a Woman – Elisabeth Elliot

This book will always be inextricably intertwined with Ireland for me. We started this book whilst I was away on my mission trip in that beautiful country full of warm-hearted people that so desperately need the gospel. I would sneak out after team meetings in the evening and sit on the pavement outside the church where we were staying, listening over the phone to Mum read Elliot’s words of wisdom regarding all things womanhood. Or I would perch outside on a windowsill in the fresh morning air, taking 10 minutes to listen to Mum read before the day’s activities started. I’ll confess it was often a struggle to concentrate on what she was reading. My heart and mind were full with the laughter and fellowship that our team shared during that week, but also burdened by the need that we were faced with when doing outreach among the community. I would often have to shake myself out of my wandering thoughts and focus my brain on what Mum was reading to me – after all, it was valuable stuff! 

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screwtape letters
The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis

We were down to the last month before I left home… What a month it was! We read Screwtape amidst the busy-ness of it all – a graduation trip to London to see a show in the West End, a goodbye open house where 80 odd people showed up. I also worked a 50 hour work week, packed up my entire life into 3 boxes and 2 suitcases, and went to a youth camp for a few glorious, frantic days. This was a month of transition and change and goodbyes. It was nice to have the anchor of reading with Mum through it all. Every day was one less day at home… But every day also brought a few precious moments to hide ourselves away in my bedroom and read a little bit more about Screwtape and Wormwood. Mum and I both were captured by the genius of this book and encouraged by the wisdom it revealed.

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enjoy your prayer life
Enjoy Your Prayer Life – Michael Reeves

We read this little book over the last few days before I moved into college, during the trip across the ocean and the manic few days shopping and prepping and unpacking and repacking. To be very honest, my memories regarding this book are few. I know it was a punchy and impactful read. But there is only so much your brain can retain when you have moved 5000 miles across the ocean and are just about to step into the new adventure called university.

This I do remember… We finished this book late at night, curled up on an air mattress at my grandparent’s house. The light was bright and I was tired after a busy day. It was a typical scene for us – one that had played out many times during our reading sessions over the past few months.

But this time was different. When Mum read the last page and shut the book, we sat in silence for a moment. We both knew that it was the end of an era. The next day I would move into university, and we would say goodbye. She would fly home, and I would begin my life as a university student. We were standing on the edge of a threshold, and I would be the one to take the step across it, leaving her behind. 

She prayed for me that night. I don’t remember exactly what she said. But I do remember her arms around me, holding me close. 

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Thus ended our 387 day reading streak – over a year without missing a day of reading together. I had no idea when we started reading that hot August afternoon in 2018 just how impactful our reading streak would be for our relationship. We spent a year together in the company of books – stories and wisdom, poetry and gospel. The words that she read to me did more than just entertain and educate me – they served to knit our hearts together in a special and unique way. 

So here’s to my precious Mama and the 387 days in a row that she read to me – each book we read was a joy, but the time we spent together was the far greater gift. ❀

I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have regarding this reading streak! Have you ever done anything similar? Let’s chat in the comments!

A Reading Streak Continued…

Click here if you haven’t read last week’s post all about the beginnings of my reading streak…

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just do something
Just Do Something – Kevin DeYoung

2019 moved forward along with my Senior year. Somehow it was now my spring semester and graduation was starting to loom large. This book came at just the right time. I was grappling with like big decisions about which university to pick and how I could know exactly what God’s will was for my life. The truths that this little book contains hit me hard and at just the right time. It’s crazy how accurate God’s timing is. πŸ˜€Β 

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l'abri
L’Abri – Edith Schaeffer

February rolled around, and with it the long-anticipated of a dear kindred spirit from across the ocean. She brought this book with her and joined in on our reading streak with us. We read this book at the end of many delightful days, lying on the living room floor with colouring books and blankets. One glorious weekend was spent in London, with Mum calling us to read as we sat on sun-dappled wooden floors in a house older than America. This book transported us to a chalet perched on the side of the Swiss Alps, containing a family uniquely dedicated to trusting God and ministering to those God brought in their path. The book was good, but made even sweeter by the company I shared it with for a whole glorious month. ❀

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the art of rest
The Art of Rest – Adam Mabry

My main memory of this book is reading it while sitting in the rain in our family van, just around the corner from my work. Mum would drive me to work 10 minutes early and we would sit and read before I ran off to deal with 30 children for three hours. The irony of the combination of the book’s content matter and my life during that time is not lost on me. It seemed that as we moved into March and spring my life only got busier. Graduating wasn’t an easy task, and life seemed full of busyness. It was good to take the time to read this book and be reminded of just how vital rest is in a Christian’s life.Β 

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the great adventures of sherlock holmes
The Great Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

We then took a break (or perhaps a rest! :D)Β  from non-fiction and ventured into the mystery genre for the first time. We spent a delightful month solving mysteries along with Sherlock Holmes. It would take us two 10 minute (ish) sessions to finish one chapter mystery, and so we’d have to live in suspense every other day when we stopped in the middle of a chapter. It was a welcome brain relief from the constant pressure that I was finding myself under as I headed rapidly towards exams and graduation. Who knew that murder mysteries could be so amusing? πŸ˜€Β 

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irresistable
Irresistible – Andy Stanley

Easter brought with it a 3 week road trip around Europe, along with this gem of a book. We read it in whispers in a tiny air bnb in Wittenberg, Germany after 16 straight hours in the car. We read it the day I committed to the university I’m now at – during a heavy rainstorm in Prague. I listened to it while curled up in a cosy chalet bedroom surrounded by snowy Austrian Alps. I also listened to it while unconsciously being burnt to a crisp during a swimming break while in Italy. This book will forever be connected to the beauty and history of Europe, though it actually has very little to do with the continent and has far more to do with reclaiming the richness of our Christian faith.Β 

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freckles
Freckles – Gene Stratton-Porter

Home once again and routine back in place, our next book was this delightful vintage read. Spring was blooming all around and it seemed fitting that this book emphasized nature and the beauty of the natural seasons. As seasons were shifting, both in nature around me and in my own personal life, it was somehow comforting to read the story of this tenacious, tender-hearted one-handed boy and his passion for nature. I also really only remember reading this book in my bedroom, which may contribute to the aura of peace and nostalgia that fills the memories of this book.

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Come back next week to read the final installment of this reading streak series!Β 

 

 

 

Top 5 Non-Fiction Reads of 2019

Hello! I’m back this week with some mini-reviews of my top 5 non-fiction reads of 2019. I actually read a lot more non-fiction in 2019, something that I’m really happy about. And I read some really, really impactful books! I’m excited to share some of them with you today. πŸ™‚

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gay girl good god
Gay Girl, Good God – Jackie Hill Perry

This book is incredible. It’s the autobiography of the author’s journey from being an atheistic lesbian, to a woman totally gripped by the reality of a good God and his gracious Gospel. I personally really resonated with the writing style – it’s lyrical and rich and tells such a beautiful story. This book deals with heavy topics in a much-needed manner, and it’s incredibly refreshing. I would 100% recommend this book to pretty much everyone – but particularly to anyone who is looking to grapple with the issues of sexuality in today’s world.

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book girl
Book Girl – Sarah Clarkson

2019 was the year that I discovered literary non-fiction. By that, I mean books that talk about books. This discovery made my bookworm heart extremely happy. This is one such book, and a very delightful one at that. I think my original Goodreads review does it the most justice…

This book… how do I even describe it? It’s like sitting down with a kindred spirit at the end of a long hard week and being able to share our hearts together… This was just such a heart-warming, refreshing read, with so much wisdom and joy and beauty packed between the pages to be gleaned! As a reader, as a woman, as a writer – my heart needed this book. It came to me at a moment where I was feeling spiritually and creatively low. But as I journeyed through the pages, I felt that my heart and soul were being gently nudged awake, pushed towards Christ, and being given the permission once again to dream and revel in the wonder of story. This book is a gem, and I know I will be coming back to it again and again.”

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the hole in our gospel
The Hole in our Gospel – Richard Stearns

This book isn’t an easy one to read. But it contains a message that I think very important for the western Church of this day and age to hear and take to heart. The premise of this book is this: if the Gospel is really transforming lives, then why aren’t we seeing more social justice and global change around the world? If Christ has transformed our hearts, the life we live should be radically different from the rest of the world. This book is a call to action – an incredibly convicting one. Definitely worth a read, and probably a reread (particularly if you fit into the catagory of middle/upper-class, western Christianity).

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Romantic-Outlaws-Hardcover
Romantic Outlaws – Charlotte Gordon

Judging from my review of Frankenstein that I shared last week, you might not be suprised that I read this book. After digging into Frankenstein, I found myself fascinated by the life of its author, Mary Shelley. I discovered this (huge!) tome of a book and gladly dived in. I was well rewarded – this is one of the most fascinating biographies I have ever read! It does not live up to the reputation that most biographies have of being dry and dull. This almost reads like fiction, it’s that well written. I found the lives of Mary Shelley, and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, absolutely riveting. This book is a very in-depth, well-researched look into their lives. So if you find history/Frankenstein/romantic authors interesting, you really do need to get this book and read it!

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answering jihad
Answering Jihad – Nabeel Qureshi

This is another one of those books that deals with an incredibly relevant and divisive topic – the issue of Islamic jihad. I know I have talked about this author, Nabeel Qureshi, before on this blog. He was a devout Muslim that became a Christian, and has since written three incredibly helpful books on different topics regarding Islam and Christianity. With the increasing instances of Islamic terror attacks happening around the world, it’s hard to know how to interact with this topic from a Christian perspective. This book is the answer to that dilemma.Β Here is a summarizing quote from my (excessively long :D) review on Goodreads:

“I came away from this book having learnt so much about the history of jihad and Islam, and ready to formulate my own beliefs on how I, as a Christian, should be responding to the Islamic extremism that is growing in prevalence today. Qureshi does not fear-monger, nor does he bash Muslims. Instead he gives the facts with love, acknowledging the violent roots of Islam, while underlining the importance of loving and accepting Muslims into our communities.”Β 

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So those were my top 5 non-fiction reads of 2019! I hope you find these reviews helpful as you travel on your own personal reading journey. πŸ˜‰

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? And what were some of your favourite non-fiction reads of last year? I’d love to chat in the comments!Β 

What I’m Reading – August 2019

Hello everyone! I’m back after a crazy 50 hour work week (yes, 50 hours) and a day of seeing people (73 today to be exact xD). I’m exhausted but life is good… I leave for university in the States in just over a week, and now that my work is behind me, I need to start packing. And saying goodbye. And other fun things like that. πŸ˜€ Today I had an open house and was bowled over by the amount of people that came to spend some time with me before I left. 73?! Crazy. But I’m so incredibly grateful for all those friendships… It’s definitely not going to be easy to say goodbye. Humans aren’t made to say goodbye after all. Thank goodness for exciting future plans and the ability to come back home though!

Anyways, today I want to share with you a couple of books that I’m currently reading (or wanting to finish/start soon). It’s definitely hard trying to find free moments in amongst that chaos to do some reading. But a bookworm is never truly foiled by life, right? For example, this past week I was doing 10 hour work days, but on my 30 minute lunch break I would read! You’ve gotta get that time in somehow! So here are some books that I’m currently reading…

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bookworm

Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading – Lucy Mangan

Ok so this is the book that I’ve been devouring on my lunch breaks over the past week. I’m generally a nosy/curious person, so I’ve really enjoyed reading this book which is basically a window into a fellow booklover’s life and memories. πŸ˜€ Though I don’t agree with every bookish opinion that the author holds, on the whole this has been a delightful way of reminding myself of why I love reading. It also has given me a long list of books I want to reread/buy, which is both a good thing for my bookworm heart and a bad thing for my ‘broke college student’ bank account. πŸ˜€

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screwtape letters

The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis

This is the current (and final :() book that my Mum and I are reading for our reading streak together. We’re currently on day 373 of reading together every day, and I will freely admit that my heart breaks a tiny bit when I remember that this streak will be concluded by the end of this month when I start university. But what a book to finish on! Lewis is seriously on fire in this book. He is witty, clear and very pointed, and I’m finding something to ponder in basically every chapter we read. This is definitely an impactful book and I’m looking forward to reading more of it!

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the-hole-in-our-gospel

The Hole in Our Gospel – Richard Stearns

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I got about halfway through this book way back in May and then just quit. The reason being that I started it on holiday, but once I got back home school ramped up hugely and I put it down and never picked it up again. Not good! I’m determined to finish this book before I leave for uni. One of the reasons being that I don’t want to have to carry it across the ocean with me (#limitedluggagespace). But the more important reason is that it is an incredibly impactful book with an important message and I really want to finish it! So here is my public declaration that I’m going to. Hold me to it, peeps. πŸ˜‰

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The-Good-God_Mike_Reevies

The Good God – Michael Reeves

I was inspired to pick this book up for two reasons: chatting about it (along with other important theological books) with a friend + the fact that my church is going through it in our small groups this summer. And man alive is this book amazing. It’s so easy to forget the huge impact that the Trinity has on the Christian faith, and this book is a wake up call to that fact. It’s been so good to be reminded of the foundations of my faith and just the impact that Trinity has on how Christianity works. It’s astounding if you dig into it! I’m really looking forward to reading more of this book, and this is one book I’ll definitely be bringing with me to uni!Β 

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Welp, that’s my list… And can we just take a minute to appreciate a very important fact…..Β 

3/4Β  of these books are non-fiction!Β 

Yes, I, the pro fiction devourer, am currently reading only one fiction book. Who kidnapped story-loving Hannah and replaced her with a non-fiction reading clone? πŸ˜€ But hey, I’m not complaining. It’s good to be actively working towards my goal of reading more non-fiction books this year. And I love reading such a wide variety of non-fiction! I think it’s good for me, and I’m grateful for the ability to widen my reading scope.Β 

Okey-doke, I’m off to read for a bit before I crash into my bed – gotta find time to read when you can, after all. πŸ˜‰ I’ll be back here next week!Β