“Be careful what books you read, for as water tastes of the soil it runs though, so does the soul taste of the authors that a man reads.” -John Trapp
The following books have filled my soul’s tastebuds over the past couple months. I recommend feasting on pretty much all of them.
A Basket of Summer Fruit by Susannah Spurgeon
A dear friend gave me this and the following Susannah Spurgeon book along with a prayer it would be used to encourage and exhort me. That prayer was definitely answered. Susannah remains my literary bff and someone I want to be like when I grow up. Her words are marked with wisdom and a deep love for the Gospel that soars the eyes of her readers to the Lord. These devotional books cannot be recommended higher.
A Cluster of Camphire by Susannah Spurgeon
“Just buy it.” -My philosophy and encouragement for you when it comes to any and every Susannah Spurgeon book.
The Gospel Comes With a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield
“The purpose of radically ordinary hospitality is to take the hand of a stranger and put it in the hand of the Savior, to bridge hostile worlds, and to add to the family of God.” -Rosaria Butterfield
This was a beautiful, necessary, Gospel-covered book. I loved it and learned a lot through Rosaria’s openness (it was unhindered, shoutout to everyone who will get that joke) and Scriptural . Chapter six, “Judas in the Church,” was especially significant for me and was worth the price of admission.
The thing I would caution readers against is allowing the notion to creep in and take up residence that “in order to practice biblical hospitality my life must look like the Butterfields.” Your life will look different from Rosaria’s but this isn’t a comparison challenge, it’s a call to obedience. Are you obeying the Lord in His call to biblical, Gospel-drenched hospitality?
Relationships: A Mess Worth Making by Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp
“Relationships are costly, but so is avoiding them. If you choose to avoid them, you will minimize the conflict in your life but that safety has liabilities of its own. If you choose to face conflict head on, it is full of risks and the potential for great hurt, but it can also be redemptive. Either way, you will not remain untouched by your decision. What is your tendency? Do you tend to avoid conflict? Do you rush into it? Or do you move into conflict with a God-centered perspective? -Timothy Lane, Paul Tripp
Um, yeah, okay, everyone should read this book. Done.
Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating by Marshall Segal
“Worship is the goal of all Christian dating, because worship is the goal of the Christian life. God did not make us to be married but to make much of Him.” -Marshall Segal
This book was straight up chapstick for my dry heart. Marshall Segal has long been my favorite writer on dating and I was thrilled about this book’s release. However, upon receiving a copy of it early last summer, I was unable to emotionally gather resolve to read it. But God knows the best timing, and diving into it last month was exactly when I needed it. I can’t recommend it highly enough, not just for the not-yet marrieds but also for the marrieds to read and process through to better help the not-yets in their lives.
My favorite part about this book is that it’s not ultimately about marriage, but something greater than marriage. That “something,” for a believer, is God’s glory, and the pursuit of it (over and above a spouse or any other ambition) 100% affects the way we date, marry, and live in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. He is worthy of dating (and not dating) and marrying (and not marrying) well.
Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand
“There’s only one method of resistance to brainwashing: it is ‘heart washing.'” -Richard Wurmbrand
This book was intense. I listened on audiobook and it was hard to absorb at times as the brutality was so great for these actual tortured brothers and sisters. What a testimony to the faithfulness and grace of God. I wish every believer would read this and be grasped by the Gospel that saves, sustains, and sanctifies, even (especially) in the most intense sufferings.
One of the most significant quotes for me came not from Wurmbrand but from a young Russian girl who was imprisoned for her faith. In a letter to a praying sister she said:
“When you listen to those who loudly deny God, it seems that they really mean it. But life shows that many of them, though they curse God with their lips, in their hearts have a great longing. And you hear the groaning of the heart … they seek something and wish to cover their inner emptiness with their godlessness.”
That’s revealing about our culture, isn’t it?
Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian’s Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II by Louis Zamperini and David Rensin
I loved Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and I loved this book. If you like history, the Olympics, Jesus, and stories of perseverance, you’ll love this.
None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
J. Wilk is one of my favorite humans and I love her words. Especially these. This is my second time reading None Like Him and it was even better than the first time. Get this book. It fixes the eyes on the Lord and explains how our design and makeup is intended to reveal something about God Himself. It is so good.
Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby
Like almost every kid growing up in the early 90s, I wanted to be like Mike. The basketball great (the best that ever lived. Come at me, haters) was one of my heroes and I soaked up everything I could about him. I read books, watched documentaries, studied his plays (and pitifully tried to recreate them), and collected anything with No. 23 on it. I even sprayed his cologne on my prized MJ basketball. Yeah. I was obsessed.
Fast forward 20+ years. Michael Jordan still has a special place in my heart and I still watch documentaries and read about him. That’s where this book comes in. I listened to this as an audiobook and, wow, the length and thoroughness was intimidating (21.8 hours). I cannot imagine the years of research that went into its formation. I was struck repeatedly by the detail given not only of MJ’s life but of the lives of those around him (as well as games, plays, historic moments, etc.). What got my heart the most was seeing MJ’s humanity (what makes any story about a “hero” believable) and his thirst for perfection, something designed to draw his heart to look for the only Perfect One. I’ve always been fascinated by the way he would take every blow and criticism and turn it into fuel to better play and out-perform himself and this book showed more of that (as well as the toll it took on MJ and everyone around him) than I was expecting.
This book was a huge undertaking for me but if you love Number 23 (or Number 45, haha) and want to imagine you walked with him through pretty much all life events, this is the book for you.
Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
I love Anne. She’s a kindred spirit for sure and for certain. This is the second book in the Anne of Green Gables series and, while it was good, I didn’t love it as much as the first.