My kids have gone to school today armed with their favourite book to share with their class. It got me thinking about how I can celebrate World Book Day, so I want to share with you a few of the books that I have read recently, which I have enjoyed and been impacted by. The rest of the family have joined in too – while this is a fairly long blog post I hope there’s something in here for everyone to enjoy on World Book Day :)
The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst
This was written by the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Its full title is The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. As a busy working mother, pastor’s wife and worship leader my life can seem an unending ‘to do’ list. I think our culture perpetuates the myth that we always need to be doing (or at least be seen to be doing!). But God has been talking to me about that recently, nudging me gently to take stock, learn to prioritise and say no in order to spend time with Him – and find my ‘best yeses’. As soon as I opened this book it felt like it could have been written just for me – it resonated so deeply and the illustrations were of situations I could relate to directly.
Lysa explains the idea behind the book: ‘In the Spring of 2013, I sat down with 100 women from across America ranging from early twenties to retirement. I asked them their deepest needs and desires, challenging them to name the real struggles they face in striving to live well and follow Jesus.
‘The answer that surfaced over and over: feeling overwhelmed and empty in not knowing how to make wise decisions in the midst of endless demands. As I listened to them I thought, “me too”. I knew this was the next issue I must tackle in my writing.’
There is a LOT of wisdom within the pages of this book about the reasons behind why we always feel the need to say yes, and why saying no is so important. I hope that I remember and implement as much of the advice as possible as I know it will do me – and those around me – good. I heartily recommend this book if you regularly feel overwhelmed by the pace of your life.
Forgetful Heart by Lucy Mills
A fellow member of the Association of Christian Writers, I had already come across Lucy’s writing in other forms so was intrigued to see what her first book would be like. The subject matter already had my interest as I know I have a forgetful heart (as well as mind!), and that it can be difficult to connect with God in our busy, distracted world.
Here is Lucy on the inspiration behind the book: ‘There were three main threads that came together to inspire and form Forgetful Heart. One was a recognition of my own spiritual forgetfulness, a confession of my own weakness. Another was the result of exploration – reading through scriptures that called on the people of God to remember him, not to forget the One in whom they found their very identity. The third thread was a fascination with how our minds work, how we retain and retrieve information. Together, these wound themselves into an idea that would not let me go. The book had to be written, regardless of whether anyone else cared to read it. I needed to make that journey.’
I love the way that Lucy writes with real honesty but also allows the grace of God to shine through the book. Unpacking what our memories are, why they are important, what causes us to forget and how we can learn to remember God, she definitely takes us on a journey – through her own experiences and those of biblical people. Each chapter ends with a poem she has penned herself – a beautiful touch and a great way of helping us to make things personal too as so many read like psalms or prayers. She also provides the reader with questions to ponder. There is a real richness to this book, and I am convinced it is one that I will come back to time and time again.
And now for something completely different…
A Killer’s Countdown by Wendy Jones
Wendy is the webmaster of the Association of Christian Writers and also provides information for Christian ebook downloads on Facebook. I have gotten to know her via these forums over the past few years. When her debut novel came out towards the end of last year I was excited to read it, especially as I know it is the type of book that I enjoy but very rarely go out of my way to get hold of. For the majority of time, my reading consists of reading non-fiction Christian books ‘for a reason’ – to review, for research, to help me develop, to help me lead others, and so it was refreshing to read something purely for pleasure, which I knew I wasn’t supposed to be learning from! ;) It is the first in a series of books about Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie. She is new to the job so has something to prove – which she does in admirable fashion.
Wendy explains why she chose to write crime fiction: ‘I have been a lifelong reader of mysteries and also enjoy writing. So my writing a murder mystery was a natural progression from that. I wanted to write a crime book that could be read by anyone so avoided the swearing and sex which is in so many books these days. That doesn’t mean the book isn’t realistic as it is gritty and somewhat gruesome in places. Although I am a Christian the book isn’t overly Christian but written for a crossover market.’
Wendy paints a great picture of DI McKenzie’s life as a detective within the Scottish backdrop (she had obviously done her research into the subject), as well as building tension perfectly. Even once you know who the killer is, the cat and mouse game has you turning pages more and more quickly as the suspense grips you. If you like crime / detective stories I would recommend you get hold of this book, as I’m sure you’ll enjoy it immensely.
My family’s choices…
My son, age 6, loves The Book with No Pictures because it makes parents say silly stuff when they are reading it to their kids. The premise of the book is the explanation it gives of how books work: ‘Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say’. Such as: ‘my head is made of blueberry pizza’. Yes, this book brings lots of giggles to our house – thanks to their auntie who bought it for Christmas :)
My daughter, age 9, loves the whole Jane Blonde series. A young girl, she becomes an agent and, along with her friends and her family, try to stop her evil uncle Copernicus. The books are about her missions.
She also loves the Topz Secret Diaries. Topz is the daily Bible reading notes produced by CWR, which she also enjoys, and the books focus on particular characters – revealing their secret thoughts about friends and God as well as details of their everyday lives in diary form.
A recommendation from my husband: The Father Heart of God by Floyd McClung. This is a well known classic, which he read again recently while preparing for our Father Heart of God preaching series. It really brought home how fundamental it is to be assured of, and secure in, the Father’s total love and acceptance.
A final word from me…
There is a wealth of reading material out there – and so much treasure to discover. For instance, drawing on books I read more than a few months ago: of the novels I love (actually I ‘devour’) CF Dunn’s ‘The Secret of the Journal’ series; I also found Sisters of Lazarus by Paula K. Parker a refreshing take on a familiar subject. I was challenged and undone by Krish and Miriam Kandiah’s book on adoption and fostering Home for Good, and spurred on and encouraged by Chine Mbubaegbu’s Am I Beautiful? (a book I edited a couple of years ago, but which is definitely staying on my shelf for my daughter to read in her tweens). I laughed and learned through Rob Parsons’ new book The Wisdom House, thoroughly agreed with Philip Yancey’s Vanishing Grace and have also gleaned so much from Jeff Lucas’ latest title, which I have had the privilege of editing recently (called There are No Ordinary People it is due out in May).
As someone who reviews books it gives me such joy to feast my eyes on the piles of books I have waiting for me to dive into – I’m thrilled to have received Cathy Madavan’s first book Digging for Diamonds this morning – I just know that’s going to be a good one :) So, whether you are an avid reader or not, can I encourage you to pick up a book you’ve been meaning to read today and get stuck into it?!
Happy World Book Day x