Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Summer reading (July QuickLit)

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy's QuickLit to share short reviews of what we've been reading lately. 

Summer has been unusually cold and rainy around here. We've been alternating between work and holidays, home and travelling, and I've finally had time to read many of the books I have bought months ago and saved for later.

Most of the books I've read are non-fiction, but these stories are more compelling, exciting and engrossing than many novels I can think of. Seriously, it's hard to find novels that I'd enjoy as much as these... 

Ken Tada, Joni Eareckson Tada & Larry Libby: Joni & Ken. An Untold Love Story.

Most (at least Western?) Christians know who Joni Eareckson Tada is. Fewer, perhaps, know her husband. As Joni comments in the acknowledgements section of the book, most of the "untold" part of this love story is Ken's part - he has stayed in the background, while Joni has been a public figure, telling her story in books, talks, broadcasts, etc.

Joni's breast cancer story is a big part of the book. That overwhelming health challenge - on top of quadriplegia and chronic pains - actually brought Joni and Ken closer together, as Ken became more involved in Joni's health care than before. Strangely, the cancer 'gave' them more time together, better communication, more intimacy, and even stronger mutual trust and respect than earlier.

One of the book's messages is that a 'fairly good' marriage can become better - lots better. And that good relationships don't just happen - that it takes conscious effort from both to be open and to extend grace to one another.

As for the rest - read it for yourself, it's worth it :) A hopeful story.

Derek and Lydia Prince: Appointment in Jerusalem

Old "Christian classic" memoir that a friend recommended to me. 
Lydia Christensen, a well-to-do schoolteacher in Denmark, sought for life's meaning, encountered God in a dynamic way - and felt led to go to Jerusalem. There, she became a foster mother to a baby girl who was nearly dying, and she experienced a lot of challenges as well as miraculous answers to prayer. (The events in the book took place in the 1920's and 30's.)
A riveting story.

Eric Metaxas: Amazing Grace. William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

William Wilberforce was a truly fascinating person. And Metaxas is a skillful writer: he tells Wilberforce's story in an entertaining way, with many enlivening details and witty commentary. He also gives enough background of the time period to help me understand how and why Wilberforce was significant and extraordinary (and in which things he was a more typical representative of his time).
An interesting story.

Kara Tippetts: The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life's Hard

Kara's life story, focused on Jesus: how Kara found and met God's grace in many hardships. The most touching parts, for me, were her thoughts on how her cancer was impacting her children and how to talk with the kids about it. 

Honest and beautiful book.

I did read a bit of fiction, too:
Katherine Reay: Dear Mr Knightley
A modern retelling of Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs. If you're familiar with that story (as I was), you'll probably enjoy noticing the parallels and picking up clues along the way. 
The character of the heroine, Sam, and certain plot twists required a bit of willing suspension of disbelief from me, and I didn't mind that. The novel was entertaining and engaging enough to keep me reading way past my normal bedtime.
(And of course I appreciated the literary quotations and allusions, especially the Austen ones...)


  1. I read Metaxas' book this month, too, Tuija! It was excellent. I've also read the book about Joni and Ken; it offered another really interesting and inspiring take on Joni's life story.

    The Kara Tippetts book sounds good; I didn't follow her writing regularly but knew about her illness and recent death.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Your comments on the Metaxas book were spot on.

  2. I had the same experience reading Dear Mr Knightley - staying up way too late at night! :)

    1. I don't often stay up too late reading, at least not way past midnight like with Dear Mr Knightley... Fun to know someone else has done it too - thanks for your comment! :)

  3. Anonymous23/7/15 15:48

    Have you heard of the Austen Project? Some fairly famous authors are "updating" all of Austen's novels. I know Joanna Trollope did one, and Alexander McCall Smith updated Emma.

    Thanks for the book recommendations. These sound great!

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      As for the Austen project, I've read Trollope's Sense and Sensibility and McCall Smith's Emma. I know that Northanger Abbey has been published, too, but I haven't read that one yet. I'm in two minds about the Austen project: on one hand, it's an interesting experiment to put Austen's characters and storylines into modern times, especially since the writers are good and you can also hear their own voice in the end result - on the other hand, the project feels a bit like a rip-off, profiting on Austen's popularity...