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It’s hard to believe the summer is drawing to a close. Between work adventures and out of state trips to see friends, it has been an absolute whirlwind for me—and while that has wreaked havoc on my posting schedule, surprisingly, it has not wreaked the same havoc on my reading. Thanks to some lovely audio books, some very poorly timed traffic jams, and a surprise gift from a dear cousin, I’m actually within range of meeting my goal this year. So without further ado, here are the books that have been keeping me entertained and educated over the past few months.
Silent Souls Weeping
I have several loved ones who deal with chronic depression and I deal with some anxiety myself. I actually received a very strong prompting that I should buy and read this book, and I am so glad that I obeyed. The stories, studies, Conference talks, and other resources shared in Silent Souls Weeping helped me feel more empathy for those who struggle with depression and mental illness. The book is very well-researched and well-written, and treats sensitive issues with a balance of compassion and honesty. This is a must read for anyone who has depression or cares for someone who does. I’d also recommend it for church leaders who may need to provide support and counseling for those who deal with mental illness. I truly believe it is an inspired book.
(5 / 5)
This was my faaaaaaaavorite book when I was in middle school, and I thought it would be fun to read it again and see if the magic is still there. It absolutely is. It was funny to see how much of my life is in this book: my love of abandoned places, small tows, and farming. Even, at times, my writing style. I had no idea just how much of an impact Rimwalkers really had on me.
I also caught more nuance this time, especially as Tory deals with the emotional aftermath of the incident at the heart of the climax. There are no easy answers, no quick redemption packaged in a nice, tidy box. You can have memories that fill you with both joy and regret.
Brava, Mrs. Grove. You gave us such a gift, and I love it still.
(5 / 5)
I wish I’d had this book before starting my business, but I still got so much out of it. It is the best resource I have ever read about starting a small business—and as one who has taken entrepreneurship courses through the SBA, LDS Employment Services, and BYU’s business school and did paranoia-level research before she started her business, that’s saying something. I’m 100% positive that this book has more value than most online “solopreneur” coaching has, combined. Christy’s way of explaining the ins and outs of starting and running a business is clear, concise, and straightforward. She gives you everything you need to be successful.
And she’s inspiring and uplifting, too. I feel so empowered, and I appreciate her acknowledgment of God’s influence in our lives, goals, and business endeavors. A few key takeaways for me:
- God uses my talents and dreams to work good in the world.
- There is room for all of us in the market. We can support others who have businesses like ours without sabotaging our own dreams and goals.
- It’s important to say no to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
- I need to protect my priorities.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is even thinking about the possibility of starting a business. To all my entrepreneur friends, you need this book in your arsenal. Brett got this for me as a gift, and I feel totally spoiled.
(5 / 5)
Eve and the Choice Made in Eden
This book gave me an even greater appreciation for the temple and the role the creation story plays in temple ordinances. I’ve always been fascinated by Eve and knew there was more to her story than the limited details we get in the standard works. Campbell combines scriptures, the words of modern church leaders, and historical context to present a more complete picture of Mother Eve, Father Adam, and the choice to partake of the forbidden fruit. She argues (convincingly) that chronic oppression and mistreatment of women throughout the ages comes from an incorrect understanding of the Fall and Eve’s role in it. Campbell also celebrates both men and women and their divine differences in a way that is refreshingly different from the divisiveness the world wants us to subscribe to. While I did feel the narrative made a few leaps, overall, I found it enlightening, empowering, and uplifting.
(4 / 5)
Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West
Badluck Way is both beautifully written and thought-provoking. The Sun Ranch focused on conservation ranching, so my ag-loving heart was drawn in by their wildlife-friendly, sustainable practices. It cheered my hear to read of such a ranch working so hard to balance profitability with regenerative agriculture. It was my dream written out in beautiful, evocative prose, and I ate it up.
And then the wolves came.
Andrews did an excellent job of avoiding both romanticizing and vilifying the wolves. They are just animals, neither inherently moral nor inherently evil. And when the wolves start preying on the cattle, Andrews does a great job presenting the dilemma and ethics of killing an apex predator to protect a livelihood that many good people rely on. It’s a very thoughtful, balanced view of the controversy, and one that every rancher and conservationist should consider. In an interview, the author said he hopes “that people will understand that this is a book containing great sympathies, both for the wolf and for the rancher.”
The last 1/4 of the book did drag on a bit for me and I found myself zoning out a lot (I listened to the audio version), but otherwise, it was a good read.
(4 / 5)
The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession
I really enjoyed the movie version of The Big Year, so I was excited to learn that it was a book first. It was well-written and fun, and it kind of made me want to do a big year. (But in reality, I think I’ll just stick to backyard birding…) Mostly, I just really enjoy stories about people following their dreams—the quirkier, the better. There were a few parts that were a little dull (I could have done with slightly less than a complete history of North American bird watching…), but so long as the story centered on our three protagonists, I found it engaging and enjoyable.
(Also, a note on the audiobook: I found the narration a bit grating at times. I would recommend the print version over the audio version.)
(3.5 / 5)
A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls is a super quick read, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one. Despite the simple writing, it packs some heavy punches. It is beautiful in that simplicity and perfect in its execution. The characters are unexpected. The monster is vivid and mysterious and unique. Conor is a worthy protagonist, and he will break your heart.
Read this with a fresh box of tissues.
(5 / 5)
Keturah and Lord Death
Oh, Keturah, I would have loved you. Although you got off to a bit of a slow start for me, you quickly warmed my heart. You were lovely, well-written, and engaging. You kept me turning the pages, eager for news of your beloved village and friends. Storyteller you are, indeed.
But your final choice made no sense to me. I’ve read other reviews, and other reviewers seem to love the ending, so maybe it’s just me who felt your choice was a little… convenient.
This is a lovely book and I’m not hesitant to recommend it. I’d actually love to hear what you think of the ending. Does it work for you? Or did it leave you a little unsatisfied like me?
(3 / 5)
The Golden Tower
I really loved the first book of this series. While it was highly derivative of Harry Potter (outcast boy discovers that he’s a wizard and goes to wizard school, where he meets new BFFs—a boy and a girl—and despite the fact that he’s a child and there are plenty of capable adults around, he is the only one who can defeat an evil overlord who found a way to cheat death by moving his soul around…), I thought the twist introduced at the end of The Iron Trial (book one) was enough to make this series unique.
Now that I’ve finished the final book in the series, I can say that it’s… good. Not great. Not life-changing. It’s never going to be the phenomenon that Harry Potter was. But it is enjoyable. Clare and Black did an excellent job with world building. I love the culture of the mage community. I love the magic tied to the elements. I loved that they really explored what happens if you push magic too far. I love that Callum has father who cares really deeply for him. It’s a quick, easy read, and a delightful adventure to listen to while driving or doing laundry.
It’s a solid 3 stars for me, both for this book and the series as a whole.
(3 / 5)
What have you been reading lately?
What should I add to my reading list? Tell me in the comments below or over on my Facebook page!