My year in books pretty much reflects my life stage at the moment. My reading has included parenting, Christian living and counselling, fiction for fun and relaxation, and a mild attempt at furthering my general knowledge.
Parenting (& Grandparenting) Books
I’m throwing three great books into this category—but all have been reviewed already on TGCA, so no need to do so again. For your reference, they are: Parenting First Aid: Hope for the Discouraged, (Marty Machowski), Child Proof (Julie Lowe) and Grandparenting with Grace (Larry E. McCall).
Praying Through the Bible for your Kids, Nancy Guthrie
A one-year daily Bible-reading plan with four readings, a comment applicable to raising children, and a prayer. I loved that many observations were about parents more than children. She applies the scalpel of God’s word challenging parents to consider their own hearts and motivations. She reminds that God is parenting parents: loving, caring and comforting, as well as helping them speak grace to their kids and the gospel to their lives. There are also many prayers for children: to bring them to the Lord, change their hearts, grow them in fruit of the spirit, and prevent them from conforming to the world.
CrossTalk, Mike Emlet
Emlet notes something I’ve also discovered: “If you’re like me, you have probably received more instruction on how to study the Bible than you have on how to practically use it in your life and ministry.” Emlet seeks to address that by both showing us how to read the Bible in its context and properly use it in a redemptive-historical way, as well as how to understand people deeply, so that we can minister to them in their life situations. He helps us think about how to bring God’s word to people’s lives accurately, sensitively, and truly founded on Christ and his gospel. Highly applicable for those who minister the word to others.
Emlet seeks to show us how to read the Bible in its context and properly use it in a redemptive-historical way, as well as how to understand people deeply, so that we can minister to them in their life situations.
Pressure Points, Shelby Abbott
Addresses pressures facing Christian college students. Abbott starts with who we are and how we are fully known and loved by God, which shapes our life’s direction and how God wants us to live. He then turns to relationships that college students might have: romantic, friendships, with parents and church community and how they can be lived in ways that honour God in their complexities. He confronts the emptiness of social media and modern technology, as well as how to look to Jesus when times are hard. Each chapter concludes with reflection questions. It would be good for a young adult to read on their own, but there would also be real benefit to work through it with a mentor. It is written with a North American college context in mind, but much is applicable to a wider Western university context.
God, Sex and You, David White
There are numerous books available on sexual intimacy for married couples. White has provided a bigger picture: the biblical basis and theological considerations giving a reason to have a high view of sexual expression in marriage. He notes it is a good gift of God that reflects his trinitarian nature, his love for people and that he is a God of delight. He considers the damage of sexual sin, sex as service in marriage, and single sexuality. He addresses the challenges for parents in this area and what it means to discuss biblical sexuality in the public sphere as we live in an ever changing sexually expressive and permissive culture. A broad ranging and theologically strong treatment.
Neal Shusterman’s Scythe Trilogy, Unwind Series and Dry
Yes, I have snuck nine young-adult books in under this title, but they are all so good!
- Scythe portrays a world where technological advances are so great that humans are immortal. The cloud, containing all people’s information and memories, has evolved to be the Thunderhead, which benignly and expertly solves the world’s problems and requires no government to do so. In essence, the world is now perfect. But what happens when everyone lives forever and overpopulation occurs? Enter the Scythes, an elite worldwide unit of professional gleaners, who are tasked with choosing who will permanently die. Dark indeed but incredibly thought-provoking. Both teens and adults in our house devoured the first two and are eagerly waiting to read the third on holidays.
- Unwind is truly chilling dystopia. It is years since the Heartland Wars, between ProChoice and ProLife sides of the USA. In an effort to keep both sides happy, all pregnancies and babies must be brought to full term and no terminations may occur. But between age 13 and 18 teens can be retroactively terminated and unwound, with all body parts used in organ donation, medical restoration and cosmetics. These five books considers the astonishing potential consequences of society’s current choices.
- Dry explores how people could react if the water in a region turned off completely. It’s good for our youth to think about the potential impacts of environmental change and policy on society, and how they might behave when really put to the test. After all, as one chapter title implies, it’s only three days from human to animal.
Shusterman writes powerfully and sees the key issues in the complex situations that face us. His premises are more realistic than Hunger Games and more intelligent than Maze Runner, raising big philosophical questions for teens and adults to consider.
Conn Iggulden’s Conqueror series
I really appreciate Iggulden’s writing. He clearly does a massive amount of research, and manages to convey stories crossing ancient times and places with depth and interest. This five-book series charts the rise of Genghis Khan (and then his sons) and the extension of the khanate to essentially cover all of the Asian continent from Chin & Sung lands in the east, to Arabic lands in the west, then extending north to Russia, and across to Poland and Hungary. He seems to have had a truly impressive force of personality, as well as a cutthroat willingness to destroy all things in his path. The Mongolian skills and tactics in war and particularly archery were unparalleled at the time. Iggulden has two other fascinating series about Julius Caesar and the Wars of the Roses, but I think this is the best.
Christine Dillon’s Grace in Strange Disguise trilogy
Already reviewed recently on TCGA—a great Australia Christian fiction series that models storytelling the gospel. A solid story with believable characters that will challenge your own faithfulness, prayerfulness and how you speak of Christ to others. God’s amazing grace is a key feature of each book, and how God in his mercy reaches out to those their brokenness. I’m excited to hear there will be up to another three books in this series, so stay tuned for more!
Any Ordinary Day, Leigh Sales
How do people go on when in the midst of one normal day, things change forever? Journalist Leigh Sales starts with her own story of uterine rupture putting her and her unborn child at risk, and then moves to investigated and reflect on how people cope and change when they have faced a major event. Included are Stuart Diver (Thredbo landslide), Walter Mikac (Port Arthur massacre) and Louisa Hope (Lindt café hostage crisis), and well as some whose painful events were more private.
She speaks to coroners, police officers, priests, journalists and a prime minister to add depth and breadth to her considerations. It was interesting that three people interviewed have a strong personal Christian faith and I appreciated Sales’ honesty about her struggle with this, almost a sigh when people told her, yet an openness to try to understand how their faith helped them. It’s an engrossing read. Sales has done an excellent job with confronting but also uplifting subject matter, providing analysis and research while keeping a very personal and caring touch over it all.
Human Race: Ten Centuries of Change on Earth, Ian Mortimer
An illuminating, solid read which may take a little more time, but ideal if you’re interested in learning more about the major changes of the Western World over the last millennium and how they impacted life today. Mortimer considers each of the last ten centuries, the major factors in them and comes up with one agent of change (usually a person) for the century. I found his final conclusions on the major agent of change of the last millennium fascinating. At the very end, he considers the future, and some of the major changes that might affect us in years to come.
Detailed reviews of these books and many more are on Wendy’s blog ([email protected])