I have, in the last couple of years, read some amazing books. The kind you want to read again and again because the content connects with you on a deep level. The kind you recommend to everyone you see because you just know that they, too, would love them. In highlighting them, more specifically, their authors, I feel like I am talking about close, personal friends. Seriously, it is common among my girlfriends to say something like, “don’t you think Shauna Niequist would really love this meal?” or “did you see the funny thing Jen Hatmaker did today?” (As if they were in attendance at the last women’s weekend getaway or something…) It’s because these women are witty, vulnerable, challenging, and just genuinely likable.
To the authors, I have to say this: Ladies, what you’re doing is working. Across the country, groups of women are inspired by your words and, and are therefore, joining each other in community, focusing outside of themselves, and learning to let God do crazy things (Anything) in their lives. Or at least that’s what it appears from where I’m standing, with MY people. Good job. JUST REALLY- Good. Job.
There have been many books over the last 3 years, but these are four of my favorites.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess Jen Hatmaker.
The premise of this book is brilliant. Jen identifies seven areas of her life in which she is living in excess and takes one month to reduce waste in each of those areas. Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. For example, during the clothes month she only allows herself to wear seven different articles of clothing. For the entire month. Seven. Seriously. Food- likewise- she eats only seven different items of food for the entire month. Insanity. And…totally awesome. In removing the excess from her life, she discovers that there is room to focus on what really matters loving Jesus and loving people.
I think the beauty of this book is that every person relates to it in a different way, as per his or her own area of excess, view of food, stress level, etc. For me the major takeaway was not conviction of an area of excess in my own life (not that there aren’t areas of excess). But I was blown away by her awareness of the marginalized in her world, whether on the streets of Austin or globally, and her intentionality toward interacting with them. Blown. Away.
Something in me clicked when reading this book: The desire to put foot to pavement to change something. I do not think The Caroline Project would have been born if it weren’t for this book.
Also, Jen Hatmaker is a hilarious writer. One of my girlfriends was reading this book on the city bus on her way to work one day. Ya, she definitely snorted when she laughed out loud! You might not want to read it in public, I’m just sayin… Read it. You will love it. You will love her.
Jennie describes a turning point in her life, when she discovered the blog of Katie Davis who is a young woman living in Uganda, working and loving. She tells of her experiences after telling God “we will do anything.”
This was the book I was reading 2 months ago, right when we found out that the infertility was permanent. A couple of days later, in the morning, I texted a friend that I could feel a part of me dying. Later that same day I read the following words from this book: “…But all of that was building something, making us one, even though at the time it felt as if parts of us were dying. In reality, they were dying-and that was okay; that was the plan.“ On that same page, “through our radical submission, God moves.” Definitely the Holy Spirit used this book to speak to me during some of the darkest hours. It was just what I needed to hear and just what I needed to say to God.
Beware-When reading this book, (especially when read in conjunction with Francis Chan’s Crazy Love; which is what happened to me) look out! Serious insanity may ensue. For example, it might just make you commit to giving away part of your income each month because you can’t have any more kids…because you know that the only thing that matters is if God is doing something in your life.
This is the story of what happened when the Smith family found out that the daughter Angie was carrying was ‘incompatible with life’. It was moving on so many levels. Her honesty and vulnerability in describing their story was…beautiful. This book was given to me somewhere in between the miscarriages. Things I read in this book shaped my response for the next 3 years, including “All of us will have times of crisis. The most we can do is put our hands on the stone and accept what happens next with the grace that says circumstances will define neither God’s love for us nor our love for God.”
Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table Shauna Niequist
This is the book I’m reading right now. I’m savoring it. Here’s what it’s about: loving Jesus, loving people, loving food. She writes her life. And I swear, we’re friends…
In the chapter I read last night she described what pregnancy is like for a woman who has had a miscarriage. I had to force myself read it quick, and emotionless, or I would have ended up in a heap on my couch. This is a true story: Because of this book, I recently added something to my culinary bucket list: making risotto. Then, over Memorial Day, I went to that cooking class where the chef made risotto! I am not kidding- THIS VERY WEEKEND I am going to make it. Thanks, Shauna! I invite you to come over for dinner. Also, I can neither confirm nor deny that this is the book for 3 book clubs that I am participating in…
Alright- my work is done. Now your turn- what are some of YOUR favorite books?