January's Books.

Well friends, the first month of #flippingthrough2016 is done!
My goal for the year is to read 50 books. I want to explore outside my genre of choice (Christian living), broaden my knowledge, and write reviews along the way.

I don't know if it's the treatment, reading, or both, but I have been able to retain and comprehend information better this last month. I am thankful for that improvement! 

Hopefully these reviews will be helpful for you.

And as always, if you have any book recommendations, please let me know. My booklist continues to increase, and I don't mind it one bit!

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
It's been awhile since I've read a novel, so I was hesitant to pick this up at first. I am so glad I did. This book covers thirty years of history in Afghanistan while closely following the lives of two women and the tragedies, losses, hope, and friendship they encountered. I felt heartbroken and enthralled by the story all at once. After reading, my interest was sparked to read a book set in the Middle East every month this year.

Seeing Through the Fog by Ed Dobson
I was touched by Ed's perseverance to continue living well even with a debilitating illness. Being a pastor, he wrestled through the gap in his theological knowledge and personal experience—a struggle which hits home for me. Although I was not a fan of his writing style, I appreciated the refreshing honesty. I finished the book then learned Ed had passed away only a week before. He lived for fifteen years with ALS, spreading a much needed message about hope. Films on Ed's story can be found here.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
When I visited the library to borrow this fictional children's book, I couldn't find it anywhere on the shelves. After some searching, I noticed a boy cozied at the table with Wonder, completely engrossed in his reading. I placed a hold, and when my turn came, I was captivated as well. This book illuminates the importance of community, kindness, and how those things bundled together make for something triumphant—something bigger than facial deformities and bullying and naysayers.

Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner
This memoir chronicles Lauren's conversion from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity. She writes with a unique voice and blatantly honest mind which both remain consistent throughout the book. I did struggle to finish the final two-thirds, mostly because I am horrible at keeping up with history. Considering Lauren is a historian, facts regarding both religions are naturally a big part of the book.

Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines
I began reading this book at Barnes & Noble for an hour, bought it, continued turning pages on my couch, and finished it in bed late the same night. Amber weaves her pain, questions, hopes, and desires together in a way that is enchanting and uniting. Through her words, I saw how I tend to run from the things my soul really needs: church, community, and creativity. I wish I could gift all the women I know with this book—it's easily one of my top four favourites now!

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
This book was highly recommended by bloggers and writers I follow, and it did not disappoint. Anne Lamott is undoubtedly a remarkable writer. I took a lot of notes and wrote in the margins. It felt like I was attending one of her workshops or classes—she poured out such valuable advice. I will admit, some of the content made me squeamish, and for that I will rate the book as PG-13.

Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl
The first half of the book was a chilling read, as it described in vivid detail the horrors and realities of life in Nazi death camps. I learned a lot from this. I don't know if I can give my honest thoughts about the other half, because Frankl's theories went over my head. He was definitely onto something good with his theory of logotherapy, but I recognize it lacks biblical adequacy. I didn't finish the last 25 pages. I don't know much about psychology, so I struggled to get through it.

The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson
The best part about this eye-opening story is that it's all true. David Wilkerson, a country preacher in Pennsylvania, followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to minister to gang members in New York. You will be blown away by the miraculous power of God and His fierce love, mercy, and goodness. There is no heart too hard or addiction too binding that He cannot heal!

* BONUS BOOK
If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski
Eight of my February books were already available for library pick-up, so I snuck this one in early. I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, but I was surprised when it reeled me in from the start. I am grateful for the work Jamie and his team have put forth with To Write Love On Her Arms in helping those with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. I am also grateful this book is not solely focused on that work, because it is easy for what we do to override who we are. Jamie allows us a look into his life—one that is not exempt from depression, heartache, or broken relationships itself. He reminds us it's okay to be honest and it's okay to ask for help.