One and a half months into my 2019 reading challenge and I think it’s time to talk about it. I know it’s February, but I like the thought of talking about each month’s reading, and January is a good place to start.
Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
This book sounded like a good way to start the year; Christian non-fiction about leaving behind busyness and exhaustion, striving and high expectations.
The first few chapters really captured my attention; it was inviting and the call to live a simpler life resonated with me. The author was honest, and the further I read the more personal the book got.
I didn’t appreciate the later chapters as much as the first few, which I put down to not relating to her life experiences. It was more storytelling than essay style, which does suit some people but I struggled with.
I feel bad rating this book 2 of 5 stars, but 2 for me is ‘okay’, which isn’t too bad. The overall message of the book is definitely relevant, and I think a lot of people would relate to living with less burdens and being content rather than striving for perfection. Life is messy, a fact that the author has faced rather than danced around.
My rating: 2/5
Anointed for Work by Richard Brunton
This is a short book full of brilliant points. It’s small but every sentence is important and I gained a lot from reading this.
This book is a great reminder of how we can all do God’s will regardless of where we work (not every Christian works in a church, for instance, but that doesn’t make their work less meaningful or needed). Parenting and home life is also mentioned frequently (not everyone has a workplace).
The author brought perspective to my own job and my attitude toward work. He encouraged me to be prayerful and intentional, and reminded me that Jesus can make all the difference if we invite Him to dwell in our workplace. Even though I may not have a position of authority in what I do, I have spiritual authority as God’s child.
My rating: 4/5
The Awesome Power of Blessing by Richard Brunton
Another small book by the same author as Anointed for Work (Richard Brunton), The Awesome Power of Blessing was just as encouraging and a great reminder to bring God into every aspect of my life.
My biggest take away from this book is that there is power in blessing someone in Jesus’ name. We have authority through Jesus, and bringing that into situations can counteract negativity, as one example.
My rating: 4/5
The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan
I feel like such an adult at having read this book. The Financial Diet, while being the title of this book, is also a blog started by the author with the purpose of explaining anything finance related to people who don’t understand it. It breaks down terminology and gives practical examples (of how to get out of debt, for instance, or how to invest wisely). TFD helped me take my money more seriously, especially when I first got my job and wanted to budget and save.
Each chapter of the book covers a different area: budgeting, investing, career, food, home, and love. This was part of the appeal; talking about finance in every day situations. As someone interested in lifestyle/home topics, I liked that TFD talks about meal planning and how that can save you money, or things to consider when you’re making a career change.
TFD brings finance down to a level that I can understand and apply.
My biggest ‘problem’ with the book is that it’s written by an American, so there are lots of references to debt for college students, and investing using American apps. But throughout the chapters there are interviews with other people, which helped break up all the American specifics.
My rating: 4/5 stars
The Other Side of Summer by Emily Gale
I don’t know if you noticed, but the first four books I read in January were all non-fiction; The Other Side of Summer was the first library book I read, all of which were novels.
This book was a nice break from all the Christian books I’d been consuming, and I went through it quite quickly. It’s aimed at teenagers, but a well written book can be enjoyed at any age, am I right am I right?
I appreciated that this book was set in Australia, and reading from the perspective of a thirteen year old was really refreshing. It was simple in that she’s a young protagonist, but reading about grief (a family member dies at the beginning of the story) and the way she processes her emotions was so intriguing. I loved seeing everything from her point of view; as she goes to school like a normal kid whilst journeying through grief and a family mystery. I would call this novel magical.
My rating: 4/5 stars
The Two of Us by Andy Jones
The Two of Us was not the book I thought it would be. What I expected was a novel about a couple in love as they navigate their relationship. What it turned out to be was much, much more.
The woman in the relationship is pregnant, which we find out at the beginning of the story. This factor changes the book from a light romance to a thoughtful novel that shows the reality of loving someone and choosing to stay in a relationship even when it’s difficult.
I liked that it was deeper and more heartfelt than I was expecting, but I struggled to connect with the protagonists. It’s told from the perspective of the male in the relationship, who I couldn’t really relate to. Because of this, I felt like I didn’t get a full idea of the woman, and I felt distanced from her. Reading about the pregnancy from his point of view was interesting and fresh, but I didn’t get attached to the characters.
My rating: 3/5 stars
The Heir (Selection series #4) by Kiera Cass
I read the first three books in this series last year, borrowed from the library, but The Heir and the fifth book weren’t available. I was excited to find them both at the library in January, however, and didn’t hesitate in borrowing them to complete the series. The first three books are about a girl who falls in love with a Prince, whilst the last two books are about their daughter.
This book is set in a future America, where instead of having a President they have a King and Queen. It’s dystopia mixed with The Bachelor, which is as bizarre as it sounds.
I was hoping for there to be some action in this novel; you know, some baddies who come and invade the palace, kidnap someone, set fire to curtains. Instead, the story line was much more relaxed. It focused heavily on romance and, much to my distaste, a love triangle. (In my opinion, a love triangle is the worst trope out there.) Still, it was nice to have a quick and easy read, and hearing about the different governing system in a future America was quite interesting.
My rating: 3/5 stars
There you have my January reading. The plan is to do this each month to keep track of my reading, but who knows what will happen.