Wednesday, February 6, 2019

An Open Book/On the Bookshelf: Books to start off the new year

We've moved into February (how???) and I'd like to take a minute to let y'all know what books I read to begin the year 2019. Somehow, I found myself reading entirely non-fiction (which I guess is a great way to inspire myself for the coming months ahead?), so I'm going to pull out some fiction in the next few weeks ;) 

Additionally, make sure to jump on over to Carolyn Astfalk's "Open Book" link-up to find more discussions about books! 

Gay Girl, Good God, by Jackie Hill Perry.
Jackie Hill Perry experienced SSA and was in intimate relationships with other women-and then she gave her life over to God, and discovered that her current lifestyle was incompatible with God's plan for our sexuality. I really liked this book-I loved the emphasis on how God is calling us to Himself, and that living a life for God doesn't mean that unhealthy desires will suddenly cease to exist. The author's story is powerful, and I recommend this. I did wish that she would have gone a little deeper in some parts, found it odd that she didn't even really mention marriage as 1 man, 1 woman and the mystery of Christ being united to the Church as Bridegroom until the very end of the book, but this was a good book. I really appreciate how the author walked through the struggle of undergoing a temptation just after her initial conversion experience, and wanting to flirt with a lady but resisting. She is so vulnerable and honest, and I am so happy she courageously shares her story! It was also cool to read about someone dealing with SSA from a non-Catholic perspective, since I pretty much only have heard about this topic from other Catholics. I recommend this book! 

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv. Y'all, this book has me FIRED UP about children, education, and the importance of nature. Drawing from studies, research and various analyses, Louv discusses how many kids do not experience nature much-and how this has negatively affected their mental, physical, and emotional health. The week that I read it we happened to get nice-ish weather and even though it seems like we already go outside a fair amount, we were outside a ton-and it really did have a positive effect on the kids and I! This book helped me to start thinking very intentionally about how much we go outside and how we spend time outside (in manicured areas vs. the "untamed wild"), and while I did not agree with everything in here, there was a lot that I wholeheartedly agree with.

To Light a Fire on the Earth, by Robert Barron with John L. Allen Jr. 
This is a fantastic book which outlines some of Bishop Barron's points of interest regarding Scripture, the New Evangelization, and the beauty of Catholicism. Through interviews and observations, Allen gives a comprehensive portrait of who Bishop Barron is and what he believes the Catholic Church really needs to be focusing on as it seeks to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I really loved this book; I've read articles and seen videos by Bishop Barron before, and I love how knowledgeable he is while still being very approachable in his writing. While reading the section of this book on "beige Catholicism," I nearly jumped up and down with joy and immediately wanted to become friends with this man. I also love how in this book, Bishop Barron references various secular and non-Catholic Christian figures we can learn from regarding how we proclaim the Gospel. This was a great book and I really want to read more by him!

The Awakening of Miss Prim, by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera. 
I've probably reviewed this book on the blog before, but since I just re-read it after not having picked it for a long time, I thought I'd mention it. This book is lovely. Simply and utterly delightful, it follows Prudencia Prim as she applies for a job as a private librarian in the small village of San Irenao. Prudencia sees herself as not fitting in with the modern world, and finds a lovely refuge in this village where the Feminist League fights for better working hours (no more long days of drudgery that don't allow time for personal pursuits), small shops sell handmade goods, and the young children spout Virgil and talk about great works of art from ages past. Prudencia, through her encounters with the villagers and her employer-the charming (yet aggravating) Man in the Wing Chair-begins to undergo a conversion and learns about Truth, beauty, and peace. I highly recommend this book. 

Ten ways to destroy the imagination of your child, by Anthony Esolen.
This was a satirical discussion (in the spirit of The Screwtape Letters) about how we can quench the fire of our children's imaginations. Esolen is witty and points out key areas that we can focus on, such as keeping our kids from engaging in nature, destroying sense of a higher purpose to live for, and not letting them read fairy tales. He references tons of great authors like Chesterton, Lewis, and Tolkien. His tone came off as a little condescending at times, and some people could probably get pretty offended by some things that he says, but there are still lots of great points that Esolen makes and this overall is a really good book. I enjoyed it, there's a lot of good wisdom in her to reflect on further, and I definitely want to read more by this author! 

I'd Rather Be Reading, by Anne Bogel.
I loved this collection of essays! It was a quick read, and made a perfect afternoon pick-me-up as I nursed my baby. It was very thoughtful and beautiful as Bogel reflects on a booksish life. I was so excited that there are many parts of this book which I can completely relate to as a lover of literature. Bogel totally "gets" book lovers, and it's just so wonderful to read the thoughts of someone like-minded in that sense. This book makes me want to reflect on different bits of literature that have impacted my life, so there may be some more book-centric posts on this blog in the coming months ;) I highly recommend this is you are someone who loves books!  

Living Large in Our Little House, by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell.
Fivecoat-Campbell briefly walks through the story of her parents seeking "the American Dream" of buying a big, beautiful house, and then the journey she and her husband took as they unexpectedly and "accidentally" began living full-time in a tiny house (480 square feet). She also brings in stories from other people who live in tiny homes (ranging in size from 40 square feet to 600ish square feet), and talks about practicalities to consider if you want to choose this lifestyle. I actually found some of that technical stuff really interesting-I was not aware that in many places, building codes require a minimum square footage, which is why so many people in "tiny homes" live rurally! Something I really appreciated in this book was that the author (and those she quoted) talk about the challenges and difficulties that they face, and how they've learned to work through those. The author talks quite a bit about how "living large" is a state of mind, that all people can embrace-no matter what the square footage of your house is. She also talks about how she and her husband are not minimalists, and how they deal with a small space but still do things like decorate for the holidays and adorn their home with collections. However, in general, this book underwhelmed me. I think it would be really helpful for some people, but even though I like learning about this topic, a lot of the stories focused on married couples with no kids or families with one or two kids. In various Catholic circles, I've known or have heard of families with many kids who live in a "small" house, and I think it would have been cool if this book would have featured a family like that in addition to the DINK couples and the couples with few kids. 

The Long Loneliness, by Dorothy Day.
This is the autobiography of social activist Dorothy Day, and it was fascinating! I've read about Day before, and I know about her, but I think this is the first time I've read a long piece that she wrote. She is a beautiful writer, and her story is powerful. I loved getting this glimpse of her life, of the experiences that formed her later on as she eventually became Catholic. I also loved seeing what a big impact certain fiction and non-fiction books had on Day's life-books are so powerful and important, and her story is a great reminder of that! Some parts were a little hard to follow, since I'm not hugely familiar with the specifics of the political scene in America at that time, but I still am enjoying this (I'm almost done with it, I think I have about 90 or so pages left). I recommend it for people interested in Dorothy Day and/or people who like memoirs. 

Thanks for joining me in this bookish discussion! As always, let me know if you have any recommendations, and I'll try to get to them eventually :) 


  1. I'm always so amazed at how many books you read! I love non-fiction, so def gonna check these out. I am currently reading "The Hand of God" by Dr. Bernard Nathanson - former abortionist turned good! Also another great read was "Inside the Kingdom" by Carmen Bin Laden.. sister in-law to Osama and gives a glimpse into life in Saudia Arabia and extreme Islam. Really good!

    1. I second that comment! I guess you clearly make it a priority, although I still can't quite wrap my head around it.

    2. Elisabeth, those sound so amazing-I'll definitely keep my eyes open for both those books. Non-fiction can definitely be fabulous and so, so, interesting.

      Jenny, since you have several more kids than I do, I'm pretty sure your entire life and perspective is something that I can't wrap MY head around! ;) I think a couple things contribute to my reading frequency right now: a baby (who loves to nurse and/or nap on me), and having a book around so I can read small increments throughout the day.

  2. So good! I've been wanting to read The Long Loneliness and it sounds like you have a great review of it! Lately it's been the opposite for me - picking up fiction instead of my usual non-fiction. But that will change during Lent! Thanks for sharing your bookshelf - it's always so interesting to see.