reading rainbow

It's been awhile since I've done one of these! I went through a reading lull last month and needed a little break, but I've been hitting the books as hard as ever the last few weeks. These are mostly books about motherhood and faith, since those are two areas I've been struggling with. I decided to spend a couple months reading books that would encourage me in those areas, and that's exactly what they did. There are a few novels scattered in, so fear not! And please, as always, tell me what I should read next.

Let Me Be a Woman by Elizabeth Elliot--5 stars: I don't think Elizabeth Elliot wrote something I'm not in love with. This book wasn't what I was expecting, but it was wonderful nonetheless. It's a biblical look at womanhood, but it's comprised of letters she wrote to her engaged daughter, telling her what it means to be a Christian wife, mother, and woman. She also wrote about the importance of singleness, so there's something for everyone. I was encouraged, challenged, and uplifted. 

For fans of: theology, marriage, faith, conviction 

Simply Tuesday: Small Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily Freeman--2.75 stars: I had really high expectations for this book, but it fell short. First of all, I love the premise. It's about finding joy and contentment in a small life, which I am ALL about. There were a few sections that I wanted to read over and over, because they were so good. However, I had two main problems, the first being her writing style. It felt like she was trying to imitate Ann Voskamp with that flowery, fluffy, ethereal writing style and I HATE IT SO MUCH. That's just my personal preference; I know some people love it. Freeman gets lost in her own metaphors and can't find her way out. There are two big metaphors she uses throughout the whole book, and they never once made any sense to me. It felt overly cheesy and corny, and I think it really took away from the meaning of the book. My second problem was her theology. I read it several months ago so I can't remember specifics, but some of it was a bit off, and she quotes a few people and Bible translations with wonky-at-best theology. If you're the kind of person who is constantly busy and trying to figure out how to slow down, this might be a great book for you. I've got 99 problems, but having a jam-packed schedule isn't one of them. However, just know I can't wholeheartedly endorse it due to some theological issues, but there are some good takeaways in it.

For fans of: pithy one-liners that don't always make sense, flowery writing, having someone tell you it's ok to sit down and take a break

Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman--5 HUGE stars: THIS. THIS is what I wanted from Simply Tuesday. There was no mystical writing, just concise but powerful words that nearly brought me to tears over and over. She writes like a modern Elizabeth Elliot. Let me be clear--you do not have to be a mom to relate to this book. The title is a bit of a misnomer; the tie-ins to motherhood were very occasional and almost felt forced. She doesn't limit motherhood to biological children, but to adoption and even to friendship. She pulls every type of woman into this book. This book was more of a reminder of what our time on earth is for. The first half was an overview of the Old Testament, and the second half covered the gospel (I think...it's been awhile!). She helped me understand parts of the Bible I've always struggled with, and the conviction was unreal. I want to hand this book out to everyone. Everything is biblical, and her theology is spot-on.

For fans of: the Bible, theology, Biblical mothering, conviction, Elizabeth Elliot

The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee--2 stars: This was for my online book club, and...meh. I should've known when I saw that it was YA. I despise almost that entire genre. The last thing I want to read about are angsty, hormonal teenagers who do stupid things. It takes place in Australia in the 80s (which took me almost the whole book to figure out). Rose needs a dress for her school's harvest festival, and has an old, creepy woman make it for her. People are convinced the dress is magic, or the old woman is a witch, or both, or something. I don't know. And there's a murder. I read it a few weeks ago and I don't even remember the details of the murder. The only parts of this book I liked were the scenes where the woman was teaching Rose how to sew. Everything else was pretty terrible, and there were some disturbing themes. I don't recommend this one at all.

For fans of: creepiness, cranky teenagers with daddy issues, having flashbacks of your high school Homecoming 

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic--5 stars: Overall, I LOVED this book. It was a breath of fresh air, and I agreed with 98% of what she says. The essays are only a few pages long, often entertaining, and had some great advice and ideas I never would've thought of. She makes a big case about writing this book because she feels like she's drowning in motherhood, but I did not get that vibe AT ALL. Sometimes it felt mildly annoying that she seemed to have it completely together, and I felt a little stressed out that she had a million creative solutions for every problem that I never would've thought of. But still, highly recommend. It's challenging, but in a good way.

For fans of: feeling like you're failing as a mom, encouragement about motherhood, reading stories of other people's toddler disasters

Surprised by Joy/The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis--4.25 stars: When I grabbed this from the library, I was only looking for Surprised by Joy, but this book had The Four Loves as well. Surprised by Joy is Lewis' memoir about growing up atheist and eventually coming to believe in God. It was beautiful, funny, powerful, and just as wonderful as I hoped it would be. I read most of The Four Loves, and parts were very good, but it was a little too deep and philosophical for what I wanted at the moment. I wasn't feeling it, so I returned it without reading the last chapter. No regrets.

[Sidenote: I had this book for about a month, and every time I read it or said it out loud, I read The Four Loves as "The Four Loaves," like loaves of bread. I was confused for weeks about why this book about love was titled about bread until one night my brain finally corrected itself. I laughed for a long time.]

For fans of: Surprised by Oxford, faith, theology, Christianity, reading about boarding school life in Victorian/Edwardian England

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner--4.5 stars:  It's the 1940s, you're 15 years old, and your little sister is waiting for you in your flat as you walk across London. A few blocks from home, the air raid sirens go off. It's the beginning of the Blitz, and your little sister disappears without a trace. Dun dun dun. This book follows two sisters, Emmy and Julia, from the beginning of the war when they're evacuated to the countryside to live with strangers, through the war and after. This book was so good. It flashes between the war and modern day, when an old lady named Isobel is telling her story for the first time of surviving The Blitz to an American student at Oxford. I couldn't put it down, and I didn't want it to end. It's slightly tragic, yet beautifully redemptive. I had tears in my eyes as I finished it.

For fans of: WWII, the 1940s, mysteries, The Nightingale

I'm currently in the middle of Rise of the Rocket Girls, and I am LOVING it. What are you reading?


  1. So this came at a perfect time, I desperately needed some ideas for the women of our new small group to go through. I have been wanting to read both Missional Motherhood & Let Me Be A Woman. I'll keep those both in mind when I meet with the ladies this Sunday.

  2. And of course I am now headed to add most of these to my reading list...

    I'm currently in the middle of Shades of Gray (Sepetys, whose first name I ALWAYS read as "Ruth" when in fact it's "Ruta") and The Light Between Oceans. I'll let you know how they turn out but I haven't met a Sepetys book yet that I didn't like, so I'm sure that'll be a recommendation when I'm finished.

    I am 100% with you on the flowery, fluffy, ethereal (a.k.a. vomit-inducing) writing. Not knocking people who love that style of writing but I just cannot get into it. It always feels fake to me.

    1. That's *Between Shades of Gray. Sorry, Ruth. Ruta. Whatever.

  3. Secrets of a Charmed Life was already on my TBR list but I just added Missional Motherhood because I can always count on you for good spiritual book recommendations!

  4. I am currently reading two books. I'm Glad About You, by Theresa Rebeck--only in the first chapter, so not much to say just yet. The other one is Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert's Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor by Kendra Broekhuis, which comes out early next year.

  5. I need to try that Elizabeth Elliot book, it sounds fantastic. I can't stand that flowery writing either. I read one of Ann Voskamp's book and was so excited because everyone RAVED about it, and I. COULD. NOT. STAND. IT. Not my style at all! I do love Emily Freeman's instagram pictures though!

  6. So a friend HIGHLY recommended missional motherhood and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! AND..I saw Secrets of a Charmed Life on Goodreads and really want to read it..now I definitely want to read it after your review!! hooray! A few good ones i've read lately are Life-giving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson, Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah, and Falling Free by Shannan Martin. Love your recommendations!!

  7. Okay, I've been feeling discouraged about my momming lately so I think I need to read these books. This was a perfectly timed recap for me.

    I'm currently reading a fantasy book but I have a book about the Von Trapps on hold at the library I need to pick up asap. It's one you recommend ages ago.

  8. I'm glad you read Simply Tuesday so now I don't have to. It was on my list but I never got around to it. Don't get me started on Ann Voskamp. I know people love her work and I tried SO hard but I don't understand her at all. I think I got 14 pages into 1000 Gifts and had to stop.

    Danny the Dinosaur is on heavy rotation over here. It's a thrilling but simple read. For fans of: animal stories and those who enjoy reading about prehistoric creatures.

  9. I dislike Ann Voscamp for the exact same reasons. Just can't get into the emotionally fluffy stuff! For a while the coordinator of our church mom and tots group would read a blog post of hers every meeting. I was not sad when she decided it was too crazy in that room to read something to the group! I am way more of a Jen Hatmaker girl. Her book For the Love is amazing.

    I JUST got Secrets of a Charmed Life from the library! Excited to get into it!

  10. BRB gonna go order Missional Motherhood immediately.

  11. Thank you! I needed a new motherhood book (because I've barely read any and am starting to feel like I forgot to show up to class until the final (the "final" being fall-on-the-floor tantrums).

    I can't remember if you read Catastrophic Happiness by Catherine Newman, but I'm reading it now and loving it. It's making me feel much better about the aforementioned tantrums.

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  13. I just finished Secrets of a Charmed Life over the weekend! I thought it was really good, although the journal entries that took up the majority of Part 3 killed the momentum for me and lowered my overall positive feelings about the book just a bit. I continue to be amazed by all the different points of view of people who lived through WWII in all the different countries. I'm just so thankful that didn't happen in my lifetime. Missional Motherhood sounds really good. I have had Simply Tuesday sitting on my nightstand since I got it for Christmas last year. I started it once and couldn't get into it, and your review is making me less likely to pick it up. I read Emily Freeman's Grace for the Good Girl a few years ago and LOVED it, though. So much. It was perfect for whatever stage of life I was in and it just spoke to me.

  14. BRB running out and getting the parenting book and the WWII book. THANK YOU


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