Sorry, I’m having issues with uploading pictures, but here are a few more brief reviews of books I read last year.
First We Have Coffee and Papa’s Place are collections of Margaret Jensen’s sometimes-humorous, sometimes-serious stories about her mother and father, respectively. Many insights about hospitality, trusting God, and forgiveness may be gleaned from these books.
God’s Guidance: A Slow and Certain Light, by Elisabeth Elliot, is a helpful but not formulaic book about finding purpose and discovering God’s will.
Mother (read it online for free), by Kathleen Thompson Norris, is a sweet story of a young woman trying to figure out what really matters in life.
Before I had my first child, I subscribed nearly 100% to the attachment-parenting school of thought and refused to read On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam because, ugh, put my baby on a schedule? How heartless! Hello, eight months of severe sleep deprivation. So, looking for a new approach when I was pregnant with Cupcake, I decided to at least glance at this book to see if I could pick up a hint or two and was pleasantly surprised to find very reasonable, not rigid, advice on how to help your baby fit in to your family and get the rest he or she needs. The most helpful thing I learned, which I am convinced has helped make Cupcake the good sleeper that she is, is to give baby a full feeding upon waking (not just “snacking” here and there), have some awake-time, and then put baby back to bed when he or she is drowsy but not yet asleep. I think every new parent can learn something from this book.
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God, aside from having a goofy title, is a pretty good book. It shows how a woman can rejoice in whom God has created her to be, rather than feeling dissatisfied and unimportant because she is “just” a homemaker.
Maybe it’s that I identified with the main character in a lot of ways or just that it’s a well-crafted, interesting, short novel, but The Magic of Ordinary Days, by Ann Howard Creel, is a book that has stayed with me. Set during World War 2, it’s the story of a learned city girl who finds herself in a marriage of convenience to a farmer and befriends two Japanese sisters at a nearby internment camp, with some unexpected plot twists. (Update 2/6/2008: I just remembered that there is a scene in this book that is rather explicit, so I don’t recommend it for young readers.)
The Road of Lost Innocence: As a girl she was sold into sexual slavery, but now she rescues others. The true story of a Cambodian heroine, by Somaly Mam. The title says it all. This is a graphic, heartbreaking book to read, but it’s a story that must be told. I’m very glad I read it, even though it was hard to get through.
Anyone who has a sweet tooth will enjoy The Taste of Sweet, by Joanne Chen. It’s a whole book exploring every aspect of sweetness–why things taste sweet, the science of artificial flavors and sweeteners, why some people enjoy and crave sweet things and others don’t, and more. Fascinating.
The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey, includes lots of good solid advice about getting out of debt and saving for the future. Most of the principles are Scriptural, others not so much. Balance this book with Randy Alcorn’s Money, Possessions, and Eternity.
The Sisters of the Quilt trilogy, by Cindy Woodsmall, is not just another same-old, same-old Amish series. It is comprised of three books, When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends, which tell the story of young Amish girl whose family and community turns against her after she is assaulted by a stranger, accusing her of fornication rather than offering her compassion. She is forced out of her community and into the “real world,” where she falls in love and studies to be a midwife, but is still tied down to her old life in many ways. These are Cindy Woodsmall’s first books. I can’t wait to read more by her. Her next book is supposed to be available in September.