What I Read in August 2015

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We Were Liars cover

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Another YA book. More young love. But this one is pretty unique. Cadence tells of summers vacationing on a private island with her wealthy family members – in particular, a summer she can’t remember the end of. I would never want to spoil a book for anyone, so I will leave it at that. It’s a super quick read that you’ll want to restart as soon as you finish it.

Real Church

Real Church: Does It Exist? Can I Find It? by Larry Crabb – In this short but meaty book, therapist Crabb explores why even theologians and leaders don’t really want to go to church anymore. He reveals the patterns and flaws of some of the popular “types” of churches and then describes what would make a church he would want to attend. Seems simple, but it’s changed things up for me. I would highly recommend all Christians read this!

impossible_werlin

Impossible by Nancy Werlin – After diving into Maggie Stiefvater’s books this summer, I’ve been casually perusing the YA shelves at our library for other authors I might try out and like. This fairie novel seemed like it might fill the void while I wait for The Raven King to come out. Werlin spins the tale of Lucy, who discovers a world she couldn’t have imagined where the women in her line go crazy after the birth of their first child (always at age 18). Lucy’s been a pretty normal kid until now – albeit with a crazy birth mother trailing around after her occasionally. But as she, her foster parents, and her old friend Zach go on a quest of sorts to figure out the ballad “Scarborough Fair,” they truly open up a new world where fae and human mingle. It sounds weird and cheesy. But Werlin does an excellent job making her characters realistic and likeable. The ending is kind of bizarre, but the novel has many crazy fans, people on GoodReads claiming its perfection. So if you like YA and some fantasy, give it a try.

lizzyjane

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay – So, despite my devotion to Anne Bogel and Modern Mrs. Darcy as a site, I am not an Austenite. Even though Anne has mentioned Reay’s books several times, I just kind of skipped over them as works for Austen-loving readers. But my friend Melissa urged me to pick one up. And I am so glad I did!

Lizzy & Jane is a sister tale, and it doesn’t rely on you knowing the plotline of Pride and Prejudice, even. (Although of course I DO. What kind of English person would I be if I didn’t? I HAVE read it. Once.) Elizabeth is a chef in New York City who travels back to the Northwest to take care of her sister – Jane, undergoing treatment for breast cancer, the same cancer that killed their mother when Elizabeth was 18. The turmoil between the two is palpable, but I love how the story unfolds for all the characters.

Reay is just an incredibly talented writer who is able to weave in faith without making it a religious novel. It’s the kind of book I would want to write, where faith is just part of life, not beaten into anybody. That and the lovely food writing and cooking scenes make me want to read this book again RIGHT NOW. And maybe even pick up an Austen novel.

tess-of-the-durbervilles-by-thomas-hardy1

Tess of the d’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy – My best friend Michelle and I have talked forever about having our own little book club. Her recent surgery and recovery were the kick we needed to actually get going since she had a little more time than usual (she’s a busy college professor in New York). Tess was our first book.

I knew pretty much nothing about Tess except that the narrator, John, teaches it in A Prayer for Owen Meany. And (perhaps related to the Austen thing), I am not much of a reader of the classics. In college, I focused mostly on Shakespeare, medieval, and Victorian works, because those were the professors I liked. I mostly read modern stuff, although I try to read a couple older pieces a year. All that to say, I was surprised at how easy it was to read Hardy’s 1891 work.

Tess is a fascinating characters – often meek and passive but occasionally whipped into a passion, almost bursting with life. The modern-day woman is going to want to throw this book against a wall. But it’s worth reading for the ending and to see Tess’s progression throughout.

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And that was it for August! I’ve finished just two books so far in September – another Katherine Reay and a book that made me sob uncontrollably – and put a good dent in Cutting for Stone, my and Michelle’s next “book club” read.

What have you read and loved lately?

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