Wednesday, October 5, 2022

An Open Book: September 2022 Reads

It's time for some book talk! I'm linking up with An Open Book to discuss my recent reading material. In September, I mostly read nonfiction, with a couple of fantastic fiction books thrown in the mix. Let's dive in! 

Tramp for the Lord, by Corrie Ten Boom

In this book, Corrie Ten Boom relates many stories of her life and travels after surviving WWII and the Holocaust. She has many beautiful reflections on God, the spiritual life, and forgiveness. Even though I read The Hiding Place several years ago, multiple times, I never knew there was a follow-up book, I loved getting to read more of her story. 

Librarian Tales, by William Ottens

This was a light, quick read about the author's experience working in public libraries. Some of the stories caused me to giggle, and I enjoyed reading some of the crazy experiences that Ottens or other librarians have had. However, I didn't like the writing style (this book felt more like a series of blog posts-apparently the author does run a popular blog), and I didn't agree with some of the agendas that were briefly promoted in the book. Still, I learned a lot about the process of getting hired at a library, and the different roles of librarians. 

Code Name Lise, by Larry Loftis

This was a fascinating non-fiction book about World War II's most highly decorated spy, Odette Sansom. Odette was a young wife and mother to three daughters in England but went to France as part of SOE (Special Operations Executive) where she worked throughout the war. Her story was really interesting, and I really appreciate that the author was able to draw from many, many primary sources. In fact, the author notes that nearly every-single line of dialogue in this book comes from primary sources and eyewitness accounts! There was a scene that I almost couldn't read, when Odette was being tortured by the Nazis, but otherwise it was hard to stop reading this gripping book. 

Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius, translated by Martin Hammond

This has been on my TBR list for ages, and I am so grateful that I finally picked it up! This book was a series of short reflections and thoughts from this famous second century Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher. It was excellent. I didn't agree with everything in here, since he was a pagan (there's also the fact that persecutions of Christians happened during his reign, though historians apparently argue about how much Marcus Aurelius actively did to persecute Christians), but a lot of his thoughts on the virtues, on goodness, and on one's purpose align very closely with Christianity and were pretty fabulous. There were many beautiful nuggets of Truth and wisdom in here, and I recommend this book! 

Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It's Killing Us, by Shane Claiborne

In this approachable book, Claiborne shares how his thoughts on the death penalty have shifted and he discusses the death penalty in light of his Christian faith. He walks through the history of the death penalty: how the early Church approached it, and how the death penalty has been used in the United States. He shares stories of innocent people who have been sent to Death Row, he shares stories of guilty people on Death Row whose lives have been spared, he shares stories of forgiveness, mercy, and suffering, and everything in between. It's apparent that Claiborne poured a lot of love and research into this project, and he brings up many good points for people of Faith to consider (I was VERY glad that he tackled the "but the Bible says it's OK!" argument). I also was fascinated (and disgusted) by the chapter on lynchings, and it was chilling to learn that lynchings decreased as the death penalty became more prevalent. I would have loved a little more in-depth sources in a couple parts (and some more specific examples of restorative justice at work, maybe from other countries), but overall, this was a great book and I recommend it!

REREAD: Out of the Silent Planet, by C. S. Lewis

Dr. Ransom, a philologist from England, is kidnapped and taken to the planet Malacandra, where his abductors plan to offer him to an alien race as a victim of human sacrifice. However, Ransom escapes his captors and winds up learning about this wondrous planet and its intriguing inhabitants. I hadn't read this book in many years, and I'm glad I picked it up once again-it's a delightful story, with beautiful depth to it as well. 

Prince Martin Wins his Sword, by Brandon Hale and illustrated by Jason Zimdars

In this delightful children's chapter book, Prince Martin yearns for a sword of his own. But, his father tells him that before he can have his own sword, he must display certain virtues. So, Prince Martin heads off on an adventure and fights certain fears and struggles that he has. This story was delightful, and the illustrations were fantastic. I enjoyed reading it one evening (this book is under 60 pages), and my six-year-old really enjoyed reading it aloud to his younger brother! The chapters are only a few pages each, so it's very approachable to my firstborn, who isn't accustomed to reading long chapter books yet. This book is the first in a series, and I've read that the books get longer and more complex as the series continues. My kids and I are excited to read more! 

Thanks so much for joining me this month! If you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments-I love adding to my list!


  1. Great list!! I remember reading Code Name Lise a year or so ago-- I really reflected on her decision to leave her children to do such work, what a difficult decision. C. S. Lewis's Space Trilogy is one of my favorites!

    In the past few months I read Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Unset and Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (for my Well Read Mom group). Highly recommend both!

    1. I was thinking about that too, with Code Name Lise-I cannot imagine how devastating or difficult it would be to make that decision. It was fascinating to learn her story! Thanks for mentioning those books-I read Cather's book a couple years ago and enjoyed it, but I haven't picked up Kristin Lavransdatter in years...I really need to revisit that one! I'm sure I'll have a lot of different takeaways at this point in life vs. when I first read it.

  2. I don't think I've ever read Meditations, but I did read Seneca in college. (In Latin, mostly, believe it or not!) The Stoics were what I came to think of as proto-Christian. Their belief system really lended itself to the adoption of Christianity. I'd love to find time to delve back into some of that literature. Thanks for linking to An Open Book!

    1. Oh, that's so neat that you got to read Seneca! I only ever read whatever random sentences from Seneca were in our Latin translation assignments (which were oftentimes assortments of quotations). I've sadly "lost" a lot of my Latin knowledge, it's one of those things I want to work on regaining sometime. I think your description of Stoics is really neat-that makes a lot of sense! As I read Meditations, I kept thinking about how in our very relativistic culture of "nones," we would do well to present Meditations (and similar works) to people-it perhaps could be a good first step back into Christianity.

  3. Wow, these all look like great ones! Always so impressed by you AnneMarie, and how much reading you accomplish each month.. especially now with a new baby!!!

    1. Thanks, Elisabeth! My HUGE stack of library books was definitely an added motivation to do some reading-and some books on my shelf went back to the library unread, because I just wasn't in the mood for everything I had gotten.