5 Books of 2018 (ish) So Far

I set an annual goal to read as many books as I am old. So, this year I am reading 32 books, and I am currently 1/3 on my way to goal. Instead of waiting until December to share my favorites of the year, here’s a post where I share my favorite five so far.

Here’s my favorite 5 (so far)

The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
Young Adult Fiction

This charming tale shares the semi-whimsical story of adopted sisters who are wrestling with identity and destiny. It’s a delightful fairy tale that I couldn’t help fall in love with. I downloaded it for free on Amazon First Reads, and sometimes it’s hit or miss, but this was definitely a hit. It’s by no means perfect, but this warming story of hope and love is what I needed to read this winter.

Purchase it on Amazon

30133224Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Science Fiction Fantasy

Veronica Roth has returned after writing her Divergent series with her new sophomore series, Carve the Mark. As a writer myself, I am so impressed with her world building detail. This densely rich world draws the reader in — albeit slowly — but once one commits to the first act her characters will take one on an intriguing ride into a world that I myself cannot wait to revisit with the next installment this April.

Purchase it on Amazon


The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth by Christopher L. Heuertz

There are some books that after reading you realize you will probably read it 15 more times throughout the course of your life. It’s a like a required reading for your soul. This is one of the books that falls into that category. As Chris explains, the enneagram is a sacred map to your soul. It’s more than just a personality test you take online. It’s a way to discover how God uniquely made you and how to connect with your Creator through spiritual discernment, healing, and disciplines.

Purchase it on Amazon


How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

This charming book was made for someone like me, who dreams of owning a bookshop in a quaint town where each patron’s love story is just as important as the ones in the books I sell. This story follows Emilia as she tries to keep her father’s bookshop from closing, while at the same time, she is discovering that this small Cotswold town has a bookshop full of true love stories!

Purchase it on Amazon

35793266Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life by Phileena Heuertz

There are some books that arrive when you need them. There are some books that you want to slowly read each chapter, digesting each page as if its overwhelming truth would form you into a stronger, more faithful, believer in Christ. This is one of them. I adored this book. Phileena shares her physical and spiritual pilgrimage and offers prayer practices to help one in their own journey. From sleepfulness to wakefulness, her journey has led me into a deeper relationship with God. So yeah, read it.

Purchase it on Amazon


What do you think of my list? Share your book recommendations in the comments below and/or follow me on Goodreads.

A Simple Book Review: Humble Walk

17545195_1153412608115580_570836955456015731_oMy old neighbor and friend I seem to run into a lot around Chicago, Taylor Lyall, wrote a book! I have mentioned it before, but I wanted to write a post specifically dedicated to it.

It’s called Humble Walk: Lessons from a Simple Man Following Jesus.

Like it’s namesake, the book is simple. It’s 150+ pages of wisdom and experience of this man’s journey with God; however, just like anything with God, it’s also profound.

I had so many moments with God whilst reading this book. Sitting on the Blue Line, standing in my kitchen, laying on my couch, and walking around my living room, all were moments where I encountered God. He totally used this book to encourage, affirm, and inspire me.

Read it.

Some of my favorite takeaways

When you are running away from sin,  you are running toward Jesus whose greatness is incomparable to the things you gave up. When we flee from our sins, we take away the tools used by the enemy in his attacks against us.

Sometimes, it just takes a little patience and courage for God to use you in a big way. All you have to do is be obedient to Him… The Holy Spirit is alive and wants to talk to us! God didn’t just write the Bible to have us follow by ourselves. He sent us a Helper who wants to interact with us daily. How cool is that?

We have budgeted money so that if someone is struggling financially or we want to bless someone, we will be free to make split-second Spirit-led decisions.

You can learn more about him, his work, and purchase a copy of his book on his website.

I hope it blesses you like it blessed me.

He Entered Without Knocking

23526522I am listening to the The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip and Carol Zaleski and it’s been quite the treat.

While on the treadmill this morning I heard a quote that struck me (here’s my paraphrase): “He entered my heart without knocking.”  Who said it? I don’t know. Unfortunately, with audiobooks it’s hard to go back to something, especially when you’re exercising.

The chapter was on C.S. Lewis and his early years of being an atheist and how God was bringing Christian writers into his life causing him to question his beliefs. He references this in his autobiography Surprised by Joy:

A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.

Every time I read that quote I cannot help but give a good, grateful chuckle because it was not only true for Lewis, but true for me too. For him it was George McDonald and G.K. Chesterton, and for me, J.R.R. Tolkien.

It was as this author said, like someone entering my heart without knocking. Just one day there was a truth that had taken up residence and everything started to make sense. Christ was real! The myths found in Tolkien’s work were not just stories but echoes of the truth that we indeed are in need of a savior.

The door that was kept closed and locked filled with doubt, anger, and unasked questions was now open, and without me fully understanding, I was able to make space for the Holy Spirit.

And I will be forever grateful.

Re-Reading Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian

the chronicles of narnia prince caspian book cover illustrated by Pauline Baynes.jpgAs I said in another post, I am re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I am actually listening to it while I design and layout books, so it’s quite nice.

I just finished Prince Caspian and I forgot how much I enjoyed that story.

Lewis is a masterful author and he is able to take such deep, complicated, mysterious theological truths and weave them into a simple story. So as I did before, I wanted to share some quotes that have stirred my soul.


“Aslan” said Lucy “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”


“Will the others see you too?” asked Lucy.
“Certainly not at first,” said Aslan. “Later on, it depends.”
“But they won’t believe me!” said Lucy.
“It doesn’t matter.”quotes

“Things never happen the same way twice.”


Aslan: “You doubt your value. Don’t run from who you are.”quotes

“Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the kingship of Narnia?”

“I, I don’t think I do sir,” said Caspian. “I am only a kid.”

“Good,” said Aslan. “If you had felt yourself sufficient it would have been a proof that you were not.”  quotes

“Feeling like the voice she liked best in all the world was calling her name.”

The last one, oi, it gets me. It’s the best.

Re-Read: The Magician’s Nephew

cabc5b77190f6cb6923e08e49dffde17It’s time to read through the Chronicles of Narnia once again. Some books, especially series, are worth revisiting. I have read through Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Kingkiller Chronicles, and all of Jane Austen’s works repeatedly. There’s a comfort to reading them, but there’s also levels to literature that you can only enter if you take the time to revisit.

I haven’t read Narnia in ages. Most of this series I read BC (before Christian), so I’ve had great pleasure reading the first one, Magician’s Nephew as a Christian as it has a completely different tone and resonance.

I highly recommend reading this book. It’s the story of how Narnia was created and how evil entered that world. It’s a beautiful allegory of our own story. My library uses Hoopla so I listened to the audio version read by Kenneth Branagh and it was a treat!

I wanted to share some quotes that have stirred my soul:


“But I cannot tell that to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh, Adam’s son, how cleverly you defend yourself against all that might do you good!”


“Well, you know how it feels if you begin hoping for something that you want desperately badly; you almost fight against the hope because it is too good to be true; you’ve been disappointed so often before.”


“But please, please – won’t you – can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?’

Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.

‘My son, my son,’ said Aslan. ‘I know. Grief is great.”


[On assuming Aslan knows our needs]

“Wouldn’t he know without being asked?’ said Polly.

‘I’ve no doubt he would,’ said the Horse (still with his mouth full). ‘But I’ve a sort of an idea he likes to be asked.”


[On the witch eating the apple]

“Child, that is why all the rest are now a horror to her. That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. Oh, the fruit is good, but they loath it ever after.”


“All get what they want; they do not always like it.”


A Travel Companion Book

I love choosing a travel companion book. It’s the book that you begin and end on an adventure. Sometimes I have not chosen wisely as it’s too small or too big or doesn’t fit the tone of my trip, and other times I have found the perfect book.

What I like about these books is that the book may not be that great but the experience of reading it on your journey increases the value of the story. There are some stories that are inextricably tied to a vacation that I cannot differentiate between them causing a bias that will forever taint my review of a book.

I love books. I love that they can do that.

I just finished reading, The Girl on the Train, on my trip to California.the-girl-on-the-train.jpg

This book is a good example of an okay book made better by a trip.

I loved that halfway through my flight to California I started it leaving my seatmate shocked that I could read over 100 pages per hour. I then continued reading this book in car rides, in cafes, and then finished it at the Knott’s Berry Farm hotel. I think I will always remember concluding the book and having to go on rides directly after all the while being consumed with this story. It felt odd enjoying a rollercoaster after knowing what happened to Megan!


What are you some of your favorite travel companion books?

Marinating on Socrates in the City

11528037As I’ve stated on my blog before, I am a big fan of Eric Metaxas. Thanks to the Chicago Public Library, I’ve been able to listen to Socrates in the City: Conversations on “Life, God, and Other Small Topics” on my commute to and from work and sometimes when I am cooking dinner.

I have the problem of inhaling my books, but this book forces me to take small bites. It’s filled with questions, wisdom, and sometimes unsatisfying answers. This books demands marination!

To give some background on Socrates in the City, it began with Eric Metaxas who felt the Socrates’s famous words, “the unexamined life is not worth living” was worth living out. So he created a forum to encourage conversations on life, God, and other small topics.

I highly recommend downloading a copy at your local public library or on Audible. It’s completely worth it as it’s the actual recorded sessions from the forum.  Speakers include luminaries such as Dr. Francis Collins, Sir John Polkinghorne, Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, N.T. Wright, Baroness Caroline Cox Os Guinness, Peter Kreeft, and George Weigel among other thoughtful writers, scientists, theologians, philosophers, political leaders, and historians.