Now that I’m even more interesting (31) I figured I should do something really dramatic. Like quit my job and take off to Italy for 2 months with no solid plans for when I return. So I did. There will be plenty more blog posts to come about my trip but for now I thought I’d start with all the interesting books I read this summer. It’s amazing how much reading you can get done when you don’t have anything else you have to do. So in the middle of day trips through Tuscany, museum visits in Florence, and long afternoon naps, I was able to get through these gems…
(warning: I read a lot of books this summer)
It seems a little cliche to read a book about Tuscany while in Tuscany, but I found great joy in discovering the little quirks I was beginning to notice about the culture. It doesn’t take being there for long to find great humor in the sarcastic stories of Phil Doran. It was the first book I read on my trip and laughed out loud several times at his witty writing style. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in Tuscany.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) is a must read for all the women I know. Her honesty in her own journey and the stories she tells of other women are inspiring and challenging. I highlighted the heck out of this book and will definitely be re-visiting it throughout my life. She touches on the challenges of working and leading in a still mostly male dominated society. She discusses the tension between work and mothering. She encourages women to face the insecurities so many of us feel and be ok with all the things that are distinctive of us as women. Sandberg does not approach the book with the male-hating/feminist rhetoric that she has taken flack for. She is very honest, uses a lot of statistics and personal stories and makes a great case for why women everywhere need to “lean in.” Read it.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a fun novel recommended by friend Cindy’s blog for her summer book club. It was a super easy and fun read. I finished it less than 2 days…which is pretty easy when you don’t have a job and hang out at Boboli Gardens all day. I don’t read enough novels in my real life so it was refreshing to escape to the far away lands of Seattle and Antarctica for a few days. The writing style is unique and its easy to love the characters. Definitely gets some thumbs up from me.
It’s interesting to me that most of the people I hear talk about this book have not actually read it. I didn’t want to be one of those people any more so I read it…and I liked it. As he always does, Rob Bell posed thoughts and questions that make the reader consider other ways to think about things. I didn’t agree with everything he said, but I didn’t disagree with it either. I won’t say much more. I liked it, I would read it again, and I would recommend it to anyone who talks about it but has not actually read it.
I’m a big fan of Andy Stanley so this was a no brainer for me. I guess I’m cheating a little bit because I haven’t actually finished it, but I’m almost done and its really good. Visioneering takes you through the story of Nehemiah and lays out a course of taking the vision that God has placed in you and seeing it become reality. No matter how big or how small you think the vision for your life is, this book is inspiring and challenging and a must read for anyone who has ever felt a stirring for something bigger than themselves. This summer was the perfect time for me to start reading it as I am in the process of discerning what steps to take next in my life and how they fit in the bigger vision that God has for me. Reflection questions at the end of each chapter help you break down the process he discusses in the book.
I haven’t figured it out yet, but somehow, Amazon knew that I had just gotten back from Cinque Terre and would totally buy a love story that takes place in my now favorite place on earth. “They” were right and I bought it. It was a good story but I was probably largely biased by location so I’m not exactly sure who to recommend it to…probably anyone who has been to Cinque Terre. And now, I just want to go back…and fall in love…in Cinque Terre preferably.
The Rest of God was a perfect companion on my sabbatical. I went through it slowly throughout the summer and was able to reflect on each chapter individually. Much of the book comes down to trusting God to do with 6 days what we think we can do with 7. The timing of it was perfect for me. I came out of the most crazy busy season of my life and rest was definitely not at the top of my list. As I was praying and thinking about what I wanted my life to look like when I got home, it was a great context to help me process through that. It’s a great book to go through slowly and digest as you go. I would especially recommend it to anyone going on an extended period of rest or sabbatical.
Classic. I know a lot of people who re-read this book recently. I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it a lot more this time around when I didn’t have to read it. I still haven’t seen the movie though…
Following Jesus was never intended to be safe or predictable and yet for many of us, our lives are just that. “Upended” by definition is to “affect drastically or radically, as tastes, opinions, reputations, or systems.” The main premise of the book is about being an apprentice of Jesus in everything we do – especially our day to day lives that can get so wrapped up in…well just about anything and everything. I found the book challenging but extremely encouraging. Probably one of my favorite chapter was on being present. This is something I’m trying to do well in my own life. Here is a quote that stuck out to me, “Presence conveys value to another like nothing else. It affirms that she, and not anything else in the universe, deserves your thoughts, gaze, and listening at that moment. Presence is the wellspring of influence, for it is the first step to loving well.”
Women, Food and God is basically about how everything we eat says something about our lives, our spirituality and how we feel about ourselves. Pretty much every woman I know has struggled with food and/or weight at some point in their lives and for many of us its an ongoing battle. I thought Geneen Roth did a nice job of breaking down our relationship with food and how to change negative patterns and thought processes related to it. She talks a lot about spirituality in a very open sense that one could apply to whatever specific forms of spirituality he/she believes in. I really enjoyed the book and got some good journaling out of it!
Shout outs: Orthodoxy, Celibate Sex, and The Land Between are all books I’ve read before or read partially and re-visited at some point over the summer.
There you have it, my Italian Summer Book Review.