While this post is dedicated to my July bookshelf I am writing and posting it at the end of August, which is stirring up both happy and humdrum feelings. Part of me is excited and ready to return to the fall routine since I will officially report back to school next week for professional development and get to meet my kiddos after Labor Day. Yet, I would be lying if I didn’t mention feeling blue that summer is ending. (This blueness could be due to the fact that it’s 60ish degrees, rainy, and breezy in Michigan right now and I feel like my pool must be crying.) It could also be that our schedule this summer was the fullest it’s ever been: seeing great friends, travelling to gorgeous spots here in Michigan, and enjoying our family time, making me both grateful and sad that it’s ending.
Okay, enough pity party, it’s time to rally. Let’s talk about some books!
The Fortune Hunter is the second book from Daisy Goodwin and was another excellent read. Many of the same qualities found in the American Heiress make The Fortune Hunter a compelling and engrossing read. It’s not quite as Downton Abbey-esque, but still gives us a great glimpse into English (and Austro-Hungarian) aristocracy. This book spoke to the History teacher in me because all three key figures–Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) of Austria, Captain Bay Middleton (a distant relative of Kate Middleton), and Charlotte Baird–actually lived, loved, and interacted with one another in the late nineteenth century. Goodwin’s writing seems to be a hybrid of pure fiction and the novelish non-fiction writing style of Erik Larson who uses historical documents to construct compelling stories for lovers of both history and literature. Of the two Goodwin books I liked The American Heiress a bit more but I would highly recommend both. Click here for my June Bookshelf post that includes a discussion of The American Heiress.
The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst is great for any and all of us that feel overwhelmed by commitments to our careers, families, friends, churches…I could go on and on so I’ll stop there and not stress us all out before even talking about the book. Lysa’s fundamental philosophy is that while it may feel Christ-like to say ‘yes’ to all who ask something of us, we may actually be clogging our schedules and not making time for the ‘best yeses’ that God is directing us toward. As I read The Best Yes I found myself wholly subscribing to this philosophy and her chapters made the process of discerning best yeses seem practical. My only critiques would be that some of her case studies seemed a little too simplistic at times and the book itself is about 40 or 50 pages too long. However, I think it’s a helpful approach to reducing our commitments while not reducing our relationship with God.
The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills was our book club selection for the month of July and I feel obligated to admit that while I (and a handful of others) enjoyed it, the majority of my club was not impressed. This memoir by a Chicago Tribune reporter chronicles her time spent with sisters Harper and Alice Lee. Harper Lee seems to be a polarizing figure of late with the publication of Go Set a Watchman, which challenges our altruistic image of Atticus Finch. While I’ve chosen not to read Watchman, I thoroughly enjoyed The Mockingbird Next Door. It’s a slow-paced account of Mills’ time with the Lee sisters that left me with an endearing portrait of two extraordinarily accomplished women who reminded me of my own grandmother and her sister who we affectionately referred to as ‘Aunt Dutch.’ If you are a fan of memoirs or To Kill a Mockingbird I think you’ll enjoy it as I did, however my English teacher buddies were also not fans of Mills’s writing style. I would say to be safe this is a good title to get from the library rather than Amazon.
I am still enjoying Savor by Shauna Niequist each morning and would highly recommend it to those of you looking for a daily devotional that also instills a sense of fellowship as you read.
As always, the foundation of my book pile this month is the First Century Study Bible with notes and articles by my teaching pastor at Mars Hill, Kent Dobson.