Books I'm currently reading:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Book #1)
by J.K. Rowling

This is my fun read right now. My sister and I weren't allowed to watch or read Harry Potter as kiddos, so I have no idea what I've been missing out on. Sometimes my cousins would watch the movies when we visited, and I'd hide behind their rocking chair because I couldn't join them in good conscience. 

I figured it's time to read the series for myself. If I like them enough, I might even convince my mom to give them a chance, too. People have said there are some beautiful, redemptive themes which I look forward to parsing out. 

A few of my friends are committed HP fans, so I texted them the photo above. They were thrilled. The big question is: what Hogwarts house will I belong to? A BuzzFeed quiz tells me Hufflepuff, but I have no idea what that is or what it might say about me. We shall see!

Vulnerable Communion
A Theology of Disability and Hospitality
by Thomas Reynolds

I'm reading this one for my internship and it's constructive theology I need time and help to understand. I worked for a few hours today to create an outline on what I've been reading, hoping that'll aid me as I distill the main points into something I can effectively remember and share.

Reynolds' words and reflections might be complex, but his thesis is clear. He'll be unpacking the following statement as the chapters carry on:

There is a strange logic to the Christian witness, one that gives testimony to a strength that comes through weakness, a wholeness that manifests itself in brokenness, a power that reveals itself through vulnerability.

I'm curious to see where he goes with this idea and how it then informs our perspective on disability and hospitality. Maybe I'll share more thoughts in the future. Let me know if you'd be interested in reading those?

Mental Health and the Church
A Ministry Handbook for Including Families Impacted by Mental Illness
by Dr. Steven Grcevich

Also for my internship. I snagged this after coming across Key Ministry, which Dr. Grcevich founded. More studies are showing the great neglect found in churches when it comes to including people with hidden disabilities, particularly mental health conditions. The book is practical and direct. I'm not very far, but I've already been moved to recognize my ignorance and passivity, repent, and seek how to appropriately respond.


I've had 6-8 books on rotation for months now, as you'll see in my ever-growing Goodreads list. These are the main three I'm working through as of today. Honestly, books and I have been out of sorts this year. Partly because of brain disassembly, partly just lack of discipline or choosing other activities—like long nature walks and spontaneous times with friends. Once fall weather hits, I imagine I'll be making consistent library trips again.     

What are you currently reading? I'd love to hear!

2016 in reading.

2016 in reading. Erika Spitler's 12 favourite books of the year. |

It's 10pm on December 31, 2016. Fireworks have begun their rhythmic beats in the skies and I just finished reading my 50th book of the year. That's right, I snuggled up with my beloved copy of The Calvary Road tonight, making sure 2016 wouldn't leap over the finish line without me fulfilling my reading challenge. 

This year was the hardest yet. Even so, I'm grateful for the company of books over the last 12 months. When I didn't have the ability or strength to leave my house, I was given the treat of words to take me on adventures. I went places I never could otherwise. And I learned things. Oh, how I learned things.

If one must have any sort of card to carry in their wallet, may it be a library card. That little plastic will provide you access to the hearts and souls of thousands. I'm indebted to the kind librarians who collected title after title on my behalf. I think my largest number of holds placed was 17.

Finishing this challenge was important to me. I wasn't sure I could do it because fatigue and cognitive impairment make reading feel impossible at times. But I pressed on and just kept flipping.

It was Anne Lamott who wrote, "Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life; they feed the soul."

As we move into the coming year, I'd like to introduce you to the 12 books which expanded my understanding, creativity, empathy, and "sense of life" in 2016.


* If you have any recommendations, please do send them to me. I'd love to hear what you're enjoying these days. 

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

This is an exceptionally intimate story set during WWII. I was left breathless and broken for those who have experienced the tragedy of war. Doerr has written a book unlike any I've previously read.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
A Year of Food Life
by Barbara Kingsolver

Although much of the food industry facts and details were lost on me, I thoroughly enjoyed glimpses of the Kingsolver-Hopp family's locavore year. My introduction to Kingsolver's writings was everything I'd hoped for.

Assimilate or Go Home
Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith
by D.L. Mayfield

I consumed all 207 pages in one sitting, fully captivated by D.L. Mayfield's essays. I hope to swoop her into a giant hug one day, thanking her for giving language to my unkempt thoughts, questions, and convictions on the gospel.

Behold the Lamb of God
by Russ Ramsey

As I wrote in my last post, this narrative reshaped my perspective on the Advent season and brought new meaning to our celebration and expectation. I'd recommend this at any time of the year, not just Christmas.

Bird by Bird
Some Instructions on Writing and Life

by Anne Lamott

If you're a writer, I hope you're able to get your hands on a copy of Bird by Bird. I recently gifted my best friend with it, believing Lamott's instructions will profoundly touch her writing life. I know it did for me.

A Chance to Die
The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael

by Elisabeth Elliot

After reading raw and moving stories of Amy Carmichael, my love for missionary biographies only grew. I'm so thankful we get to learn from those who have given their lives to serve the Lord. You'll be challenged in all the right ways.

The Cross and the Switchblade
by David Wilkerson

A short, but powerful book. If you need reminding that no heart is too hard or addiction too binding, read this. My 11 year-old brother also loved it.

The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd

Rich friendship, beekeeping, and lessons about prejudice, forgiveness, and a mother's love... what else could a novel ask for? Sue Monk Kidd writes in a way that is poetic, vulnerable, and educational. I also really liked The Invention of Wings by her.

A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini

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. It's heartbreaking and enthralling. I plan to read The Kite Runner in 2017.

Walking on Water
Reflections on Faith and Art

by Madeleine L'Engle

Be forewarned, once you start reading these reflections, you might not be able to stop. You just might find yourself up till 2:30, soaking in every last word. Yep, don't say I didn't warn you. Artists, (or nourishers and creators as L'Engle would say), consider this a gift penned for you.

When God Weeps
by Joni Eareckson Tada & Steve Estes

I was so impressed by this book. Both authors take a delicate subject like suffering and instruct readers so well without compromising in compassion. I found it biblical, comforting, and a much-needed read.

Wild in the Hollow
On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home

by Amber C. Haines

Pain, questions, hopes, and desires are weaved through this memoir in a way that's enchanting and relatable. I saw how I tend to run from the things my soul really needs: church, community, and creativity.

2016 in reading. Erika Spitler's 12 favourite books of the year. |

All 50 books Erika read in 2016:

All In by Mark Batterson

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Assimilate or Go Home by D.L. Mayfield

Behold the Lamb of God by Russ Ramsey

The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

The Calvary Road by Roy Hession

A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot

The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

Forgotten God by Francis Chan

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller

Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter

Hiroshima by John Hersey

If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story by Joni & Ken Eareckson Tada

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

My Name is Hope by John Mark Comer

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan

Scary Close by Donald Miller

Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Seeing Through the Fog by Ed Dobson

Seeking Refuge by Issam Smeir, Matthew Soerens, Stephan Bauman 

Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

Silence by Shusaku Endo

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada & Steve Estes

Wild and Free by Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan

Wild in the Hollow by Amber C. Haines

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky

Wonder by R.J. Palacio 

#1 Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

#2 When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket

#3 Shouldn't You Be in School? by Lemony Snicket

#4 Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? by Lemony Snicket

はじめてのキャンプ by Akiko Hayashi

What I read this spring.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
If there's a website, blog, or book I've read more than any other the last few weeks, it's got Austin Kleon's fingerprint on it. According to him, Show Your Work was written as a "book for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion." THAT'S ME! I read this book with one hand raised, one jotting notes, and the other flipping pages. (Is that even possible?) Whether you're an amateur or a professional, a stay-at-home parent or an entrepreneur, read this. You will feel freed up to learn, create, and share the working process publicly.

All In by Mark Batterson
Have you read a book on the lordship of Jesus? If not, this would be a great resource to start with. It's straightforward and convicting. I had to do a life and heart check after I finished reading.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
This novel is aimed toward youth readers, but adults can learn from it as well. Melody, the spunky main character, has cerebral palsy. She has the sharpest memory but no one at home or in her school knows it. Through Melody's first person narrative, children and adults with disabilities are given a voice.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
As you follow along Marie-Laure and Werner's lives, you will find yourself breathless and broken for them and countless others who have experienced the tragedy of war. Doerr's poignant characters and lyrical metaphors make for an exceptionally intimate telling of WWII. This book is unlike any I've ever read. I will rush to make it one of my first purchases when I have the chance to work again. I'm so in love.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Set in South Carolina during 1964, this novel is poetic, vulnerable, and educational. It's the story of a teenage girl and her search for answers to her late mother's past. She discovers rich friendship through a trio of beekeeping sisters and learns the realities of prejudice, forgiveness, and a mother's love. Sue Monk Kidd's vivid descriptions brought each scene to life. I can still feel the sweet relief Lily felt after her first week at August's home.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida (translated by KA Yoshida & David Mitchell)
Written by a 13-year old Japanese boy with autism, The Reason I Jump is a compass, gently pointing its readers into better understanding of what autism is really like. The book consists of 58 Q&A and tiny essays. It is a quick read, but one that is powerful enough to shatter any assumptions one might have about Naoki's world.

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!

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.