Wednesday, May 4, 2022

An Open Book: April 2022 Reads

Happy Easter! Another month has arrived, and with it is a chance to discuss my latest reading. I'm linking up with An Open Book to explore what I read in the past month-it included some re-reads and some new discoveries, both fiction and non-fiction. Let's dive in! 

A Woman of No Importance, by Sonia Purnell

This is the fascinating true story of Virginia Hall, a one-legged American woman who worked as a spy in World War II. Her work revolved a lot around France and organizing parachute drops, sabotage, and undercover work, and it was extremely interesting to read about. Parts were a little dense with lots of names (and code names) to keep track of, but I still really enjoyed it. 

REREAD: Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

I needed a change of pace from all of my books about war and realized that I do not re-read Austen's novels nearly enough, so I picked this up. Ever since first reading Northanger Abbey, I have been of the opinion that it is not appreciated nearly enough, and on this re-read, that conviction only grew. This book is hilarious, tons of fun, and actually quite deep in parts. It follows Catherine Morland, a young heroine who leaves her large family and home in a small town to explore Bath, where she seeks great adventures. Catherine subsists off a literary diet of gothic novels, and her wild imagination causes her to form vivid opinions and images of others. It's quite hysterical, and Catherine's growth is pretty fantastic and actually was quite relatable (I've had my share of Catherine Morland moments in the past). It's excellent! 

Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik

This is a delightful retelling of the fairy tale a way. The author does a marvelous job of weaving her own tremendous story of a young Jewish girl in Eastern Europe, Miryam, who takes on her father's business as a moneylender to help their family when they are stuck deeply in poverty. Miryam's fate becomes entwined with those of Wanda, a peasant girl, and Irina, a girl whose father is trying to marry her off to the mysterious young tsar. At the background of their existence is the ever-present winter that is caused by the menacing and mysterious Starek: an otherworldly group of individuals who also murder and steal gold from the humans. Some parts of the book felt a little tedious (the POV changes a lot, and the book is rather long at more than 400 pages), but it was well done, and I really enjoyed it! 

Is Atheism Dead? by Eric Metaxas

In this lengthy but engrossing book, Metaxas makes the argument that, due to various scientific research--especially what has taken place in recent years--it is impossible to logically and rationally deny that there is a God. In chapters that focus on scientific discoveries and biblical archaeology, Metaxas points out that a variety of factors point to the existence of God, and that to deny this is to make some rather extreme, illogical leaps. He also dedicates some chapters to analyzing points made by famous atheists. The tone of this book feels a bit reminiscent of Chesterton, and Metaxas includes a lot of insightful research. This was really, really fascinating! 

REREAD: The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis

I first read this book as a young teenager and came away from it rather confused and I don't think I was ready to read it. So, after all these years, I finally picked it up again and I am so glad I did! This allegorical/fantasy story follows a man who travels on a bus from hell to Heaven. As he observes the behavior of his fellow passengers both on the bus and once they disembark, he provides many insights and points of reflection for the reader about good and evil, and the gift of life with God in Heaven. This book was short, but really, really deep and extremely good. There is a lot of wisdom in here to ponder, and a couple of very specific points hit me in the oof, that realization hurts but I absolutely needed that reminder kind of way. I highly recommend this! 

Unveiling Grace: The story of how we found our way out of the Mormon Church, by Lynn Wilder

This was a fascinating memoir by a woman who joined the LDS church and passionately participated in it for three decades--even becoming a tenured Professor at BYU. Her life completely took a crazy turn when one of her adult sons, while on his two-year mission, realized that he needed to leave the LDS church to become a Protestant Christian. Her story was pretty riveting, and while I don't share all of the same theological conclusions as the author, I really enjoyed this and learned a lot! I've read stories or seen videos of people who leave the LDS church oftentimes go directly to atheism or agnosticism. So, it was really nice to read about people who did not follow this trend, and who grew much closer to Christ rather than being pushed away from him. It was also really nice to read a story of someone who came out of a very normal LDS life, and not a FLDS background. I highly recommend it! 

Socialism Sucks: Two economists drink their way through the unfree world, by Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell

Two middle-aged men from America embark on an adventure to study socialism in action; visiting countries like Sweden, Cuba, and China. I know pretty much nothing about economics, so this lighthearted, approachable discussion really helped bring things down to my level (though I do wish the authors would have spent a little more time discussing how the Nordic countries are, apparently, not all that socialist-since many people assume that they are, myself included). Even though the authors begin this book with a "trigger warning" about their affinity for alcohol and "low grade misogyny," I was still a bit annoyed when there were a few different tangents about strippers and drunkenness. Those parts aside, though, I really enjoyed this! It was an entertaining introduction to this topic. It was interesting to read about when the authors attended a Socialism Conference in America and discovered that a lot of young Americans who  cling to the label of "socialism" don't actually subscribe to the key socialist ideal of abolishing private property; they are just led to believe that capitalism is the cause of all the world's evils and that socialism is the only right answer. This was a quick read and not the most in-depth or scholarly book out there, but it was a fun introduction into certain economic issues. 

Thanks for joining me this month! If you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments-I have a massive stack of books that I'm working through right now, but I always love adding more titles to my TBR list! 


  1. Northanger Abbey is probably my favorite Austen novel. It truly is hilarious!

  2. So many books to add to my TBR list here! The Great Divorce and Northanger Abbey stand out. I've read books by Lewis and Austen, but not these two. Yet. Thanks for linking to An Open Book!

    1. I hope that you enjoy those! Both of those books are amazing, and well worth reading over and over :)