In the last week, I’ve finished three more books from my Summer Reading List. I’ve now read half of the books from that list, and, so far, I’ve enjoyed everyone one of them. You can read my brief reviews of the first three books here.
The three books listed below are all quite different from one another. One is fiction, two are non-fiction. One book was a page turner. One book I savored for months. And one book I read in just a couple of days, laughing so hard that I cried. I try to keep my reviews brief, so that you can read through all of them, but feel free to scan, or pick and choose. I’m aware that my reading tastes are quite eclectic, and certainly my choices won’t appeal to everyone. (Please note that all book links are Amazon affiliate links.)
Sophie Hudson is a funny, fabulously charming, witty, totally southern, funny, gifted Christian writer. Did I mention that she was funny? In her brand new book, A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon, Sophie Hudson writes of her Christian faith, shares stories from her immediate and extended family that are endearing and occasionally hysterical, and ends it all by sharing a few recipes for some of the dishes mentioned in the book. It’s not often that I read a book in just a couple of days, but I just couldn’t put this one down. One evening, I laughed so hard while reading that I almost couldn’t breath! My husband kept looking at me like I was insane, but I didn’t care. It was just THAT funny! There’s also a wonderful balance of tender moments mixed in with all of the hilarity. You might be familiar with the author’s BooMama blog, but even if you aren’t, this book will bless your socks off! I promise! If you already know and love BooMama, then you’ll love her book, and you’ll also know why I’m excited that they’re building a SteinMart in the city where I shop.
In all honesty, I really liked Philipp Meyer’s novel, The Son. His tale of the McCullough family is told from the voices of four different members of the family, each from a different generation, and covers more than two hundred years. Beginning in the 1830’s with Eli McCullough, a thirteen year old boy who is abducted by Comanche Indians after having watched them brutally slay his mother and sister, Meyer carefully unfolds the tale of Eli and his descendants. The story is set, predominantly, in the southwestern United States, and covers the settling of the frontier, the Civil War, the oil boom, the plight of the American Indian, and carries us right into the modern era. The story grabbed me from the beginning and it was definitely a page turner! While I did enjoy this book, there were a couple of things that bothered me.
First, technically, there were several editorial errors – words misused, misspellings, etc. Not a big deal, but there were enough of these errors that it bothered me. Second, the occasional scenes of sexuality became increasingly more explicit as the book progressed. In some measure, that seems somewhat appropriate as it reflects the changing sexual ethics of American culture that occurred during the two centuries represented. However, I thought that some of those passages were just a bit over the top.
Please also be aware that this story, necessarily, includes a great deal of violence, and some of it is quite graphic. The McCullough family’s story includes brutal Indian attacks on settlers, war violence, attacks on poachers, violence that would be termed a “hate crime” today, etc. The book is certainly not overly violent, in my opinion, but it might be unsettling to sensitive readers.
I thought The Son was skillfully written and a worthwhile read. Though a few chapters were slow, many others kept me reading “just one more chapter” far too late into the night. I’m glad I made it a part of my Summer Reading List.
I can remember, many years ago, listening to Steve Brown’s Key Life program on the radio in my car. When I first heard about this book, I remembered how much I enjoyed his radio show, but I was also intrigued by the title, A Scandalous Freedom: The Radical Nature of the Gospel. After spending way too many years of my adult life living in self-imposed, extra-biblical bondage, realizing the truth about the freedom that is only found through the gospel of Jesus Christ was a wonderful thing. That said, this book was one I just couldn’t get enough of. Steve Brown does a fabulous job of listing the various ways we have of stifling the freedom that Christ gives, and then he shows us how to throw off those restraints and live in the freedom that Jesus wants for us. Judging solely by the number of pages I highlighted, these were some of my favorite chapters:
- The Perfection We Desire and the Forgiveness That Sets Us Free
- The Gospel We Forget and the Joy That Sets Us Free
- The Masks We Wear and the Authenticity That Sets Us Free
- The Enemies We Demonize and the Humanity That Sets Us Free
- The Failure We Foster and the Victory That Sets Us Free
From the book,
One of the great freedoms we have – because we don’t have to protect our goodness, our correctness, or our convictions (we just hold them) – is to love all kinds of people. When we can’t do that, we hurt ourselves and become tightly bound.
There is a better way of getting better than trying harder. Sanctification becomes a reality in those believers who don’t obsess over their own sanctification. Holiness hardly ever becomes a reality until we care more about Jesus than about holiness.
In addition to his radio ministry, Steve Brown has also written numerous books and served as a pastor for twenty-five years. He is now a professor of preaching at Reformed Theological Seminary in Florida.
I took several months to read A Scandalous Freedom: The Radical Nature of the Gospel, taking the time to ponder and savor each chapter as I read it. I highlighted the book heavily as I read, and frequently sent passages via text to a dear friend. (She’s probably glad I finally finished this book!) It will be fun, when I one day pick the book up to read again, to see if God impresses me with the same things as being of the same importance or if totally new passages will bounce off the page at me. This was a great read!!
Remember, I think that it is vitally important that you read! It’s good for you and it’s good for your family. If you need some reading ideas to get you started, my current reading basket, along with lists of the books I’ve read for the past couple of years, can be seen in the side bar on the right side of the blog. (You’ll have to click over to my site to see these if you’re reading through a feed reader or email subscription.)
Pick up a book, pour a cup of something hot (or cold!) to drink, and start reading today!