The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World is Rosaria Butterfield’s third book. I’ve read her other two, and, while I love them all, this is by far my favorite. My favorite chapter in her second book, Openness Unhindered, was about Christian hospitality. Now, she has written an entire book on the topic – and it’s phenomenal. This will definitely be at the top of my favorite books for the year. Interspersed with her own experiences, Butterfield delves into the biblical imperatives for practicing hospitality, as well as the many facets of what it actually looks like. She is clear that hospitality is not just entertaining like-minded people; it’s making the stranger your neighbor, and your neighbor part of the family of God. Not only is this book full of great wisdom and a challenge for the church today, it is also beautifully written. It’s more literary than her others, which feel a bit more academic. I love that all of her chapters begin with a personal story that shows one aspect of hospitality; I would read a book by her filled with just her stories. This book is convicting and challenging, but she paints such a beautiful picture of what the body of Christ could be with some sacrifice, intentionality, and the help of the Holy Spirit, it’s also inspiring and encouraging. Everyone should read this book. Also, I want her to be my best friend. Below is a great video giving an introduction to this work.
A friend recommended On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Robert Bucknam and Gary Ezzo as a good primer for feeding routine and sleep training, with the advice to not be too militant about it. As someone starting from knowing nothing, this was very informative – what a normal day for an infant looks like, how to breastfeed, hunger cues, etc. Also, it was helpful having read it prior to baby’s arrival. I didn’t feel bogged down in making sure my life fit exactly to what the book taught, and was able to take in some of the basic, foundational principles: good feedings lead to good sleep, routine is helpful for babies, and eat-play-sleep is a good pattern to follow. Apparently this book is super controversial but I didn’t dig into the differing sides. I found it helpful for me and look forward to implementing some of the ideas with our little one. (I’m 22 weeks – over halfway, and very eager to meet baby.)
A friend gave me Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper last fall, and I’ve been slowly working my way through it since the beginning of the year. Piper essentially writes a plea to his readers to think more broadly about their salvation than themselves and their immediate context. In the first several chapters he lays out his argument that God didn’t save His people for our sakes, He saved us to be part of His grand design that all the world may know Him. We spend a lot of our life focused on our own pursuits and how we can maximize our happiness and ease. But the question Piper asks is, Is this as a primary pursuit in life honoring to the salvation God has given us? Jesus promises suffering for obeying Him; the life of a Christian is not easy. Our primary goal is to delight in God and share that delight with others, which often involves risk and toil. While he does have a chapter on laboring for God in non-ministry vocations, Piper has a strong emphasis on world missions. A lot is packed in to this slim little book and I don’t think I quite got all of it. But of what I did get, it’s very convicting and makes you reassess your life priorities.
Carry On, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse is a collection of stories about the well-known characters of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves – beloved characters of literature for over a century, and of Jeeves and Wooster on the BBC and Ask Jeeves fame. The first story shows how Jeeves and Wooster are put together, when Bertie requests a new valet. Bertie, a London society gentleman who seems to get into an awful lot of trouble for not doing much more than laze about, realizes Jeeves is not only an excellent valet, but a brainy schemer who gets Bertie and his friends out of fixes. Jeeves is often getting Bertie out of engagements he somehow stumbled into, or rescuing a friend being threatened to lose their allowance from their rich aunt or uncle. The book is episodic, with each story as a stand-alone, so an easy read. Wodehouse’s British humor is wry and ironic and even laugh-out-loud funny at points. Written in the early 1900s, he crafts a world of humorous characters and situations, while offering a satire of the declining English aristocracy. This was my pick for my book club (each member picks the book on their month; I had March) and I look forward to sharing it with my ladies. This book was also the first I attempted on audiobook. This particular novel took a while to get used to the British accent of the narrator, but besides that it was convenient to be able to listen while I drove. But overall, audiobooks aren’t for me – I just enjoy the heft of a book in my hand and being able to flip around through the pages.
I am still in a bit of a reading slump; I haven’t been able to read much besides light or funny books. (I’ve started about three or four books and I won’t say abandoned them yet because my bookmarks are still there – I’ll get back to them eventually…maybe.) I enjoy the comedian Jim Gaffigan and we already owned his book, Dad Is Fat, so I figured I’d give it a go. This is a collection of essays from Gaffigan about his life as a father of five covering a range of topics including children’s books, birthday parties, sleeping arrangements of a family of seven in a two bedroom apartment, and people’s reactions to the number of your offspring. It has a lot of his material found in his album Mr. Universe, though the book material is further expanded. The book is humorous though it tends toward the snarky and cynical side, with a little heart here and there. I know Gaffigan is offering a commentary on our perceptions of parenthood and having children, but I would’ve enjoyed it more if he’d had more insights past these common perceptions instead of just talking about them. But his observations of some of the ridiculousness of having children were funny, and I found the glimpse into a different life interesting.
I’m a fan of all the Star Trek movies, and I have always found Leonard Nimoy an intriguing person. I Am Spock by Nimoy is a memoir about the creation of Spock and covers the formation and progression of Star Trek from the original series in the 1960s to 1995 when the memoir was published. It is essentially a biography of the character Spock; Nimoy expresses that he immersed himself in the character so much and so long that he is a permanent part of the actor. Celebrity memoirs can be trashy and full of gossip, but this one is very dignified and enjoyable. Nimoy portrays his co-workers with great respect and admiration. He offers very interesting behind-the-scenes glimpses in the evolution of the Star Trek franchise and the character of Spock. Nimoy was a passionate man (that did other things beside Star Trek – did you know he directed Three Men and a Baby? New to me!) that was intent on perfecting his craft as well as guarding the character that had become so much a part of him. It’s an easy read and very informative about the entertainment industry and the evolution of the Star Trek franchise specifically. I enjoyed this book, and only wish that it was updated with his reflections on reprising his character in the new Star Trek franchise.
I was talking wth a friend the other day and the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne came up. I asked her how it was and next thing I knew she was putting it in my hands. Though I have been on an easy reading kick, I figured I’d give this one a try because, though it’s much heavier content, it’s short. The story follows Bruno, a nine-year-old German boy, who is suddenly taken from his home in Berlin to a new home somewhere far away. From his bedroom window, Bruno can see a tall fence topped with barbed wire and hundreds of people dressed in striped pajamas on the other side. One day, while exploring along the edge of the fence, he meets a boy in striped pajamas named Shmuel. They strike up a friendship and daily spend time discussing their lives, each from their own side of the fence. Boyne, who calls this novel a fable, has crafted a very unique look at the Holocaust and its devastating effects, while also asking the reader to consider the fences that still exist in the world today. Though a quick read, it’s quite thought-provoking and poignant, worth the read.
The Lost Compass by Joel Ross is the sequel to The Fog Diver and picks up immediately where the first book leaves off. In this story, Chess and his crew must find the legendary Compass that supposedly can lower the fog, making the earth livable again. They receive help along the way from the wise scientists that have studied the fog, but must find the Compass before the evil ruler of the Rooftop, Lord Kodoc, does. This novel is just as fun and surprising as the first, and a great wrap up of Chess’ adventure.
I’ve been really enjoying reading middle grade books. They’re creative and intriguing stories and, though they can deal with serious content, they’re not depressing and heavy. In this dreary winter, I just need something lighter. Also, there’s no graphic content I have to worry about – not even romance plots (which I just don’t care for). To continue my reading streak of this genre, I picked up The Fog Diver by Joel Ross. This novel is about a post-apocalyptic world where a deadly fog has covered the earth and the surviving humans live on the highest mountains and travel the skies on floating airships. Chess is a fog diver: he dives into the fog to salvage items to sell so he and his crew can eat, pay rent for their wobbly little shack at the base of the Rooftop mountain, and, most importantly, get help for their guardian, Mrs. E, who’s gotten fogsickness. Most fog divers don’t last past a couple years because of exposure to the fog, but Chess was born in the fog and part of it lives within him. Because of his special resistance to the fog, the evil lord of the Rooftop is hunting him. In order to protect Mrs. E and Chess, their crew is planning an escape to another mountain and face all kind of dangers to get there. This novel is incredibly imaginative and entertaining, full of wonderfully unique characters and amazing worldbuilding. The story was unpredictable and kept me guessing until the end which is always fun. It’s an engaging adventure novel and I’ll definitely read the sequel to see how the story wraps up.
The first thing that drew me to this book was the beautiful dust jacket (even the cover is beautiful too!). And the story lived up to that first impression. Pax by Sara Pennypacker is the middle grade story of a boy and his fox and it is a tearjerker from page one. Peter’s dad enlists in the military to partake in the impending war and forces Peter to abandon Pax, the fox he’s raised from a kit, in the woods. From there, both the boy and his fox embark on adventures that help them discover who they truly are. This book is a prime example of why I love children’s books. The writing is beautiful and, though written for children, is in no way dumbed down. Pennypacker explores themes of family dysfunction, love, grief and loss, and the costs of war. Her writing is beautiful and evocative, drawing you inside the bond between Peter and Pax. It’s also a quick and easy read – though almost 300 pages, I finished it in just a couple of days.