The Word Weaver
Deb Weaver ~ Communicating God's love, grace, & truth
"Savory Book Selections"
by The Word Weaver, Deb on January 1st, 2014

Books are sweet delicacies.  I love to read and often share my personal reviews with others. 
 
This year, I started a list of books I read.  I’d considered it before but knew that, in my disorganization, I’d never keep up with little scraps of paper on which I’d invariably list books.  In early January, I ran across a pretty blank journal that a friend had given me.  Suddenly I had a perfect place to keep my list!  I’m so glad I did.  I guess this falls into the categories of “Better Late Than Never” and “Definitely Continue!” 
Over the year, I read fifty-four books.  As I entered the last title (and my thoughts about it) into the journal, I looked over the list.  There was a smattering of different genres including: children’s, adult, suspense and mystery, romance, writing advice, biographies and autobiographies, inspirational, and Christian living.  It was fairly-evenly divided between non-fiction (26) and fiction (28) which surprised me because I tend toward non-fictional works. 
 
Some people are shocked by how much I read and wonder where I find the time.  Keep in mind that I work part-time and have adult children so I have more flexibility in my schedule than many folks.  The number is really not of significance—the act of reading is.  Whatever number of books is a challenging goal to you—3, 5, 7, 10, 30, 100—let me encourage you to try it!  Let me know how it goes for you. 
 
Reading is like eating.  I must ingest words daily.  I generally read my Bible and a devotional selection in the morning, blog posts during the day, and books in the evening.  I’ve found that if I turn the computer or T.V. off about 7:00 p.m. I’ll often curl up and snack on a book before bedtime. 

Most often, I am in two-three different kinds of books at a time.  This is because I chew non-fiction books slowly, reading a chapter or two at a time, allowing time to digest concepts.  Biographies usually take a couple of days.  I swallow fiction books nearly whole, often staying up late to finish in one sitting.
 
Following are three courses of book selections that I found particularly savory and satisfying.  They’re listed alphabetically by author’s last name.  I hope that you find it to be a helpful guide when you’re looking for a new selection to try.

A Tray of Fiction:

The Elegance of a Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
 
At my daughter’s urging, I read this novel, and I’m so happy I did.  It may take a little patience and time to really delve into but, if you persevere, you’ll discover that it’s a lovely piece of prose.  Though I do not believe all of the worldviews pondered by the characters, I luxuriated in its many profound, beautiful thoughts.
 
A quote that I love, especially the last line:  “The camellia against the moss of the temple, the violet hues of the Kyoto mountains, a blue porcelain cup—this sudden flowering of pure beauty at the heart of ephemeral passion: is this not something we all aspire to?  And something that, in our Western civilization, we do not know how to attain?  The contemplation of eternity within the very movement of life.”
 

To me, this is what happens when we live daily in gratitude and anticipation, looking for moments of beauty and joy and thanking the One who makes them possible.  I want my life to consist of this!
The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
 
This is a sweet, gentle book of hope and finding home. 
 
“…The elephant was saying her name to herself…It was the name that her mother had given to her and that she had spoken to her often and with love.  Deep within herself, the elephant said this name, her name, over and over again.  She was working to remind herself of who she was.  She was working to remember that, somewhere, in another place entirely, she was known and loved.” (p. 94-95)
 
Though marketed toward children, Ms. DiCamillo’s writing is timeless and for everyone.  I plan to read more by her.  


Listen to the Shadows by Joan Hovey
 
Truly tingling suspense! 

(Now, as a disclaimer, you should know that I am a scaredy-cat from way back so what spooks me may not necessarily frighten you.)


Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon
 
This side story is of Father Tim Kavanaugh, the pastor from the Mitford series.  I love Ms. Karon’s ability to weave a faith journey and grace into everyday life.  Her characters feel like family to me, and I love my visits with them.

Misery by Stephen King
 
My first foray into Stephen King’s fictional work, I found it to be everything others say about it—highly imaginative, brilliantly written, and masterfully suspenseful.  It was both horrifying and captivating!  The language was very coarse but it also fit into the storyline.  I was visited by this story for weeks. 



Blue Hole Back Home by Joy Jordan Lake
 
This is a haunting book of race, courage, and forgiveness.  It’s beautifully written—plot-driven, well-developed characters and relationships, descriptive, and poetic.  

Non-fiction Buffet:

I read many excellent choices that I could recommend, but these are the ones that spoke most personally to me this year.
Preemptive Love—Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time by Jeremy Courtney
 
This is a powerful, challenging story of love, hope, and sacrifice.  Jeremy and his wife moved to Iraq where they help children who are in need of heart surgeries, many as a result of birth defects caused by chemical warfare.  I learned a lot about the history of Iraq—how ignorant I have been of the numerous conflicts and the devastating effects of chemical warfare these people have endured.  I was also challenged by the Courtney’s commitment and courage.
 
Jeremy explains the motivation for such love and sacrifice:  “The truth is, preemptive loves does not begin in the heart of humanity.  Neither Americans nor Iraqis are inherently better at loving first than the other.  We are all tribal, programmed to protect our own. Instead, preemptive love originates in the heart of God.  The one who made the universe and holds everything in it—the one to whom Muslims, Christians, and Jews are all ostensibly pointing—is the first and last enemy lover.  And in the end, it is not our love that overcomes hate at all.  It is God’s.  And preemptive love is not just something God does as a one-off transaction.  Preemptive love is who God is…and when we accept God’s preemptive love, that Christ makes all things new, we can quit playing by everyone else’s rules and pursue a long, risky journey with the God who loves His enemies—even enemies like you and me.”  (p. 218-220)



Kisses From Katie—A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis
 
This amazing true-life story of Katie Davis, a young woman who moved to Uganda to meet needs and ended up adopting thirteen girls, is filled with heartache and hope.  It’s an incredible call to love, give, and live sacrificially wherever we live and to be the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus to each person in front of us.  May I answer the call.
What Women Should Know About Facing Fear by Christin Ditchfield
 
I've struggled with fear, anxiety, and worry since I was a child.  Over the years I've learned to battle it with Scripture, prayer, and praise but, at times, I have to fight harder than others. It gets discouraging to continually face fear.  

I found this to be an excellent, encouraging resource.  Christin Ditchfield shares her own experiences and gives practical advice.  Scripture verses and study questions are included at the end of each chapter.  The last section of the book includes answers to questions women ask about counseling, medication, and helping fearful children; information about panic attacks; and recommended resources.  I’ll be returning to this book periodically as the need arises.   
A Million Little Ways—Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live  by Emily Freeman  

To say that I loved and highly recommend this book is putting it mildly.  Every person should read this book.  It’s a significant, life-giving, transformational conversation with the author.  Emily Freeman believes each of us was born to make art in the way we live.  She asks, “What makes you come alive?  What’s most alive within you that you can offer someone else?”  The answers to these questions vary from person to person, from day to day, from season to season—there could be a million different things—but discovering our passions is essential to being God’s living poems. 
 
A fun story related to this book:  I was seated at a table during the Allume blogger’s conference chatting with the gals seated on my left side.  I shared with them effusively about this book.  Then I turned and introduced myself to the gals seated on my right.  They ended up being the team who had published Emily’s book!  I snatched it out of my bag to show them how thoroughly I’d underlined it.  They were so delighted they ended up taking a photo of my open book.  We were all part of a mutual admiration society for Emily Freeman!

Seven—An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

Challenging!  Convicting!  Important! Jen journals about her family’s experiences of fasting for a month in seven key areas of her life in order to reduce their consumption and to free them to give more.  This falls in line with other books I’ve read (Crazy Love by Francis Chan and Radical by David Platt) that emphasize that our purpose is to obey God’s Word in caring for others. 

We have excess—outrageous, obnoxious excess—and it’s wrong to nearly drown in our stuff while our neighbors (near and far) are submerged in poverty.  I want to be more like our generous God who lavishes us with resources, attention, time, and Himself.
Bread and Wine— by Shauna Nequist
 
I love Ms. Nequist’s inclusive attitude about cooking and sharing meals together.  In this lovely book, she relates stories about life, friendship, and love around the dinner table. 

I especially appreciated the idea of the birthday party toast in which you gather to celebrate a loved one’s birthday and verbally gift that person with words that specifically express the impact he’s had upon your life.  As someone who firmly believes that words are tremendous, powerful gifts, I love the idea! 

I read this in one night but plan to go back through and try several of the recipes included at the end of each small chapter.  The pantry guide in the back is quite helpful. 


Follow Me—A Call to Die, A Call to Live by David Platt
 
Written by the author of another life-changing book, Radical, this selection was a challenging, upfront look at salvation based on Jesus’ words rather than on cultural and religious trends or personal preferences. 

Bottom-line:  Jesus Christ offers us grace and said, “Follow Me.”  He is worthy of our obedience.  May my answer always be yes.
 
The Greatest Gift—Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp
 
Divided into daily December devotions, this book is written by one of my all-time favorite authors/bloggers/women (Can you tell I love Ann Voskamp?!)  It is a refreshing reminder to still in the midst of frenetic activity, to search for our abundant moments of grace, and to savor the Presence of The Greatest Gift ever given.  

“Christmas is about God’s doing whatever it takes to be with us—and our doing whatever it takes to be with Him. He climbed down from the throne in heaven to get to you.  Climb over the throes of Christmas to get to Him.”  (p. 236)
 
I so appreciated having Ann’s perspective and experienced more peace and perspective during Advent than ever before.  Let me recommend you purchasing this devotional for December 2014! 
 
Or perhaps you feel like December passed in a blur of too much activity and not enough worship.  Why not start out the year with a renewed perspective and use this book right now? 
Dangerous Surrender—What Happens When You Say Yes to God by Kay Warren
 
Kay Warren’s well-ordered life was shattered when she read an article about the AIDS epidemic in Africa.  She began to learn more, to allow her heart to be broken over it, and to actively seek to meet needs.  Since then, she’s become a trusted, knowledgeable advocate in this area.  She shares her struggle to surrender her safe, comfortable life, the pain and heartache this outreach has caused, and the indescribable joy and fulfillment saying Yes to God has brought. 

My heart thudded in beat with this author and her life’s message.  I’m asking God to direct me to a ministry of His choosing where I may help meet the needs of the poor, the lost, and the maligned.
 

Complimentary Selections on this Year-end Menu:

These two non-fiction books didn’t make the list above because I didn’t technically finish them this year, but they are too good to exclude!  I’ve given copies of both to several people and highly recommend them.
One Thousand Gifts—A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann  Voskamp
 
I read it twice in 2012, and it continues to impact me every day.  In poetic prose, Ann discloses how being grateful for everyday, small moments transforms her messy, sometimes difficult life into one of abundance and purpose.  I have found this to be true of my life as well.  Dare to count your blessings too?
 

Jesus Calling a daily devotional book by Sarah Young
 
I’d repeatedly heard about this book from Facebook friends, but I didn’t order it until June.  Since then I’ve used it each morning, sitting quietly with my hot tea, Bible, and journal.  It is written from the perspective of Jesus and, oh, how I’ve treasured reminders of His love and presence through these words!  The devotions are quite short and only take a minute to read; their impact is lasting.
 

Already Anticipated Reservations for 2014:

Thanks for letting me share my favorite literary highlights!  I’d love to hear your personal recommendations as well.  Please leave them in the comments. 
 
 
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Copyright 2014 The Word Weaver, Deb Weaver


Posted in Let's Talk About Books!    Tagged with Books


6 Comments

Barbie - January 1st, 2014 at 5:18 PM
Thank you! So many of your selections are on my reading list for this year!
The Word Weaver, Deb - January 1st, 2014 at 7:51 PM
Isn't it a joy to have a stack of great books?! I love it!
Eunice - January 2nd, 2014 at 10:34 AM
You have inspired me to read more nonfiction. When I have time to read, I usually go for easy fiction just to entertain. I think I can use my reading time more wisely with several of your suggestions! Thanks! I also may actually write down what I read in a journal. Maybe...
The Word Weaver, Deb - January 2nd, 2014 at 10:58 AM
Yay! I'd love to know your thoughts about them! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Eunice!
5 Hearts, One Family - January 7th, 2014 at 11:45 PM
I definitely don't read enough anymore. I was a total bookworm as a kid! I really like the idea of keeping a journal with the books read and stuff like that.
The Word Weaver, Deb - January 8th, 2014 at 10:12 AM
Let me encourage you to do so! It is much harder as an adult to find the time to read, but it's so rewarding!
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