Please note: I have intentionally decided not to include Amazon links (unless something is available exclusively on Amazon). Instead, if you are interested in reading any of the books I mention, I encourage you to check out your local library or independent bookstore. These places (and the communities around them) need your support, and they are generally quite willing to order any book if they don’t currently have it in stock. However, if Amazon is still the more practical choice for you, it is easy enough to search and find any of the titles that I mention.
Money Honey, by Rachel Richards
A financial book written for Millennials! The basic principals that Richards teaches in this book are very similar to those taught by money guru Dave Ramsey, but Richards writes in a very fun, engaging way that is very openly targeted at Millennials. Even in my 30s now, money and financial sense is something that I struggle with, but Richards’ book was not only informative but also encouraging. Highly recommend.
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
This was a re-read for me, in preparation for leading a discussion on it. I first read this book several years ago, when my father was in the last years of his own illness. Yes, this book is about two teenagers with cancer, and my father was in his sixties when he passed away, but there are certain realities around terminal illness that are true no matter what. Because I was reading the book this time in order to lead a discussion on it, I was obviously paying much closer attention to various themes and metaphors throughout the book (Green really loves his metaphors). The thing that struck me the most on this reading is the difference between Hazel and Gus’s attitudes towards how they will be remembered. Gus fears oblivion, but the oblivion of being forgotten in THIS world. He wants to leave his mark, to be remembered for something. Hazel, on the other hand, just wants to minimize the damage of when she is gone. She doesn’t deny or push away the people who already love her, in fact she is very devoted to her parents and to making the most of all the time that she has with them, but she also doesn’t want to bring people into her life when she knows that they will just get hurt sooner rather than later. Hazel’s character is often described as Nihilistic, but she is actually much more an example of humility in my opinion.
Particles of Faith, by Stacy A. Trasancos
This is the second time I have read this book, and I STILL found new things to underline and make notes. Written by a woman who has multiple advanced degrees in both Chemistry and Theology, who was a working, published scientist and now teaches Theology on various education levels, this book is a beautiful explanation of the compatibility and complementarity of faith and science. She covers everything from the design of the atom to the Big Bang to evolution, and it’s just brilliant. I’m fascinated by the history and evolution of our planet, so I was particularly intrigued by her section on human evolution and discussion on the book of Genesis. Highly recommend, whether you are science or faith minded or both or neither. This book is an important contribution to discussions that are always going on around us.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
I honestly can’t remember if I’ve actually read this book for myself before. I know that it was read to me as a child, and I grew up on the BBC mini-series and later the newer movies, but I can’t remember actually reading it on my own. Regardless, I know this story like I know the history of my own life, and so it was lovely to revisit. I was a little surprised at how awkward some of the writing can be at times, given how brilliant all of Lewis’ other writing is, and the characters can come off a little flat at times (especially poor Edmund). But still, I have endless love.
The Book of Esther
One of my favorite Biblical stories in the Old Testament, I decided to re-read it in honor of the Jewish feast of Purim, which commemorates the saving of the Jewish people when Queen Esther interceded with her husband, the Persian King Xerxes. Esther is one of my favorite of the Old Testament ladies. An Israelite and also a Queen, she was beloved by everyone for her beauty, gentle nature, and modesty. Even though she herself was not at risk, she still put her own life on the line in order to save her people by interceding with the king. The Book of Esther is also just a great story, full of intrigue and suspense.
My Badass Book of Saints, by Maria Morera Johnson
A friend gave me this as a Galentine’s Day gift this year, and it was so perfect! I actually had a copy a few years ago, but never actually finished reading it before I felt compelled to pass it on to another friend. So it was especially wonderful to have it come back into my life right now. I loved this book because of the diversity of the women that Johnson includes in it. You can’t tell right away from the title, but the book is only about women, and not all of them are even canonized saints. Some of them were missionaries, some were warriors (St. Joan of Arc, one of my favorites), some were mothers who dedicated themselves and sacrificed their own lives for their families. Some were outspoken and audacious and some were quiet and reserved, which can be just as inspiring to those around them. This book is a beautiful look at the many diverse and powerful ways that women can affect the world.
The Whole30, by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig
I was more just reviewing this book, as I’d already read the entirety of it last year. As one of my Lenten practices this year, I’ve been eating according to the Whole30. 17 days in, and I feel so amazing! I sleep better, I have more energy, my mind is clearer, and I’m developing a much better relationship to what and how I eat. If you haven’t looked into the Whole30 yet, I can’t recommend it enough.