Wednesday, April 3, 2019

An Open Book: It's Springtime!

Another month has begun, which  means it's time to update all of you on my most recent reads! Even though March was a long month, I found that I didn't get quite as much reading in as usual, but the books I did read were pretty fascinating :)

Hop on over to Carolyn Astfalk's blog for more reviews at An Open Book!

The Cozy Minimalist, by Myquillyn Smith.
This book walks you through the process of "cozy minimalizing" your home, and I loved it (though I haven't actually gone through the steps in the book yet). The author is so relatable, and I was cringing and laughing as she talked about having to carefully remove all of the decorative pillows from her bed so she could sleep at night (totally done that before!). I love how she pulls together the ideas of coziness and minimalism, so that we have another minimalist model to look at that's not the sterile image we're so used to seeing. This book seems really practical and I enjoyed it! 

Girl, Arise! by Claire Swinarski.
I LOVE the Catholic Feminist podcast that Swinarski hosts, so I was excited to read this book. It's a small book (only 100 pages) so it's pretty easy to pick up and read-but it does pack a punch. She walks through her journey as a Catholic Feminist, and also discusses a variety of areas where we can all grow as Catholic Feminists. Some of her thoughts really challenged me in a good way. Yet, while I loved the topic, I didn't love the approach-despite the way that Swinarski emphasizes the importance of uniting with women who have different work (office jobs, stay-at-home, etc.) and have different interests, there were several times in the book where her tone regarding women who align more with "traditional femininity" seemed a little harsh and condescending. I also found it frustrating when she was so dismissive of people who like discussing the liturgy, because it's totally possible to have a personal relationship with Jesus and talk about which way the priest is facing! I enjoyed this book, but upon reading it discovered that I'll have to be careful who I recommend it to, since some women may get a bit uncomfortable/offended by the tone of the book.

The Search for God and Guinness, by Stephen Mansfield.
This was a really fascinating look at the history of the Guinness company, and the legacy-political, social, and religious-that the Guinness family has left on the world. I loved how the author discussed the way that, even just 200 years ago, there was more of an emphasis on working towards something that your descendants could continue, instead of our modern take on things, which tends a lot more towards "start from fresh, do something cool, and it dies with you." While he was fairly objective, it seemed like he was a teensy bit biased with some of the church history he discussed, but everyone will bring his or her own bias to a topic like that. I enjoyed this book, and even though I think beer is gross, it made me want to try beer again-maybe I shall someday!

Peace Like a River, by Leif Erikson.
Narrated by Reuben, a young boy who miraculously an emergency at birth, this story walks with Reuben's family as his older brother escapes town after being convicted of murder. Reuben, his poetic sister (who is always working on her stories and using big words) and his miracle-working father head off to find their lost family member. This story was very well-written with beautiful prose and it was really interesting on top of that! I definitely recommend it-it's a good book to curl up with and become engrossed in for great lengths of time.

The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene.

Maurice Bendrix, a writer, begins meeting with Sarah Miles to learn about "life as a civil servant's wife" (her husband, Henry, is a civil servant) for a piece that he is writing. Maurice and Sarah wind up having an affair (which Henry is oblivious to, since he's consumed by his work). Unexpectedly, Sarah breaks the affair off. Fast-forward two years, and Maurice runs into Sarah and Henry again. He tries to find answers, to grapple with why she broke off the affair, and what love actually is. This is a small book, but so deep and well-written and complex. Ultimately, it's a story about conversion and about the struggle of recognizing that there's a God and seeing how that impacts our lives. Emphasis on the struggle part. This book is well worth reading, re-reading, and discussing with other people.

Great Christian Thinkers: From the Early Church through the Middle Ages, by Pope Benedict XVI.
This book covers several (I think 70?) early Christians from Pope Clement-whose work "Letter to the Corinthians" was written all the way back between 70-140 A.D.-down to Julian of Norwich, who is celebrated in both the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. I love the way this book is set up: Each "Christian Thinker" is featured in about 3 pages, where a brief biography is given, followed by that person's main focus of thoughts and theology, followed by a brief reflection on what we can learn from him or her today. A few people (like Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine) have several pages dedicated to their work, but mostly it's short, sweet, and to the point! There are also people from both the East and the West featured, which I love. This is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it, especially to people who want to learn more about early Church history! 

Thanks for joining me in this literary overview! As always, please let me know if you have any recommendations-I love discovering new-to-me books :) 


  1. What a great selection of books! I loved The End of the Affair - so well written! And I'm going to see if I can find Great Christian Thinkers on Formed. I'd like to read that. Thanks for linking up!

    1. Thank you for hosting the link-up! I hope you're able to find Great Christian Thinkers-our local public library had a copy, which stunned me! I learned so much from that book, it was well worth the read :)

  2. I don't know if I could manage "cozy minimalism." My house is firmly in the "too much stuff lives here" camp. BUT I want to look for this book anyway and see if I can let some stuff go.
    I have "Girl, Arise!" but haven't started reading it yet. Sounds like some of it might put me off.
    Great list of books! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I hope you enjoy "Girl, Arise"! I think there's a lot of good in there, even though some of it was off-putting.
      I think you could probably benefit from the cozy minimalism book even if you don't let stuff go-inspired by the book, I reworked a couple things with my kitchen (without getting rid of any items) and it looks more cozy now! (I pulled out a couple bookends that haven't been in use and stuck them on my counter with some of my many books). It's amazing how one small change can brighten up a room.

  3. You read such an interesting variety of books! I so enjoy hearing about them. And thanks for your honest take on Girl, Arise. I've liked many of her podcast episodes, and it's a good and necessary conversation to have. But I've found the same sentiment you mention, which is completely off-putting to me. If there is room at the table for women who work outside the home (which, obviously, there is), there is also room for SAHM's, and women who choose to wear only skirts or prefer Mass in Latin and facing east. Maybe it's somewhat my perspective, but I get a sense of there being deep prejudice against the latter in the circles that proclaim to be both Catholic and feminist, so tend to not be part of them.