Wednesday, April 5, 2023

An Open Book: March 2023 Reads

Another month has arrived, so I'm linking up with An Open Book to chat about what I read last month! I honestly felt like I was struggling to focus and read at some points, but I thankfully still managed to get to some great nonfiction books and a novel! Let's dive in. 

Them Before Us: Why we need a global children's rights movement, by Katy Faust and Stacy Manning

This was a really good, practical, encouraging, and eye-opening book about how children have a natural right to be raised by their mother and father, and how we must help safeguard that right when possible. One of the authors is the wife of a pastor, and is very much rooted in her Christian faith, but both authors make a point to address topics from a natural law framework and are very encouraging. I enjoyed this book and found it helpful to look at hot-button issues like IVF from the framework of children's rights, but there were a couple aspects that I had questions about. First. there are many negative statistics about blended families, and the authors do not look kindly on remarriage. I know that there are, like the authors say, instances when blending a family very negatively affects and endangers a child, but I also know of families where this is not the case. So, I wanted to see a little more of a balance. I was also a little confused by one part where the authors discussed a "heroic lesbian couple" adopting a child after a bunch of heterosexual couples refused. Since the authors had already made a big case about why we shouldn't place children with same-sex couples, I wish this would have been explained a bit more. Otherwise, this was a great, insightful book!

Putting Joy into Practice, by Phoebe Farag Mikhail

This book has been on my radar for a while, and I am so grateful I finally picked it up (I'm also wondering why I didn't read it earlier). Phoebe Farag Mikhail has given us a tremendous gift in this volume. She brings together timeless wisdom, personal stories, reflections, and practical applications that can help any Christian-no matter his background-open himself up to receive God's grace and joy in a renewed way. I greatly appreciate that the author is ecumenical without losing orthodoxy-she gleans wisdom from other Christian churches while remaining firmly grounded in the faith and traditions of the Coptic church. I was deeply moved by the author's discussion of ways that Coptic Orthodox men and women have embraced God's joy in the midst of deep suffering and persecution. This is a beautiful book, and I highly recommend it! It was beautiful! 

As I Have Loved You: The life of Catherine de Hueck Doherty, by Omer Tanghe

Written by a priest who knew Catherine Doherty, this volume gives an overview of Catherine's life and the history of the Madonna House apostolate. It also discusses various aspects of Catherine's spirituality and includes stories from different men and women who have joined the Madonna House Apostolate. I'm not sure that this book would appeal to people unfamiliar with Doherty and her work, but since I love her writing and she is one of my go-to intercessors, I really enjoyed the neat perspectives in this book. 

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell

I had seen the miniseries of this over a decade ago, and I'm grateful I finally picked up the novel! It was excellent. It follows Margaret Hale, the daughter of an Anglican clergyman. At the story's outset, Margaret's father reveals that he cannot, in good conscience, continue with the Church of England, due to a differing theological belief. So, he uproots their family to Milton, a manufacturing town in the north of England. Here, Margaret is faced with a completely different environment, and becomes more attuned to issues of social justice, economic inequality, community and family bonds, and love. It was excellent, and I particularly enjoy how Gaskell portrays her heroines in this and other novels I've read by her. I recommend it! 

Tales of Faith, by Holly Ordway

In this approachable book, Ordway discusses how we can present different works of literature to people and help them experience God' beauty through those works; a key step of evangelization. She specifically touches on a variety of ancient and medieval works, like the Aeniad, Beowulf, and some poetry, and provides short introductions to help set the stage for each work. Then, she includes an actual excerpt, followed by discussion questions. She also has helpful lists of recommended editions and other books, and a section where she provides tips for using this book in school (and homeschool) settings and in church small groups. This was a fun, helpful book that makes me very excited to introduce different classic pieces of literature with my kids as they grow older. I really enjoyed it! 

Thanks so much for joining me this month! If you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments! 


  1. Thanks for linking to An Open Book! Tales of Faith sounds helpful. There is so much beauty and so many things ripe for discussion and consideration in classic literature.

    1. I agree-there is lots of beauty to be unearthed in many of those works, and I think it's great that Ordway makes the process so approachable!