Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
This book was at the top of every list this year. As the recipient of the this year’s Man Booker Award, I decided to give it a shot. George Saunders uses a style that is a mix of historical biography and magical realism in the format that is reminiscent of a play. While it takes a minute to get used to format, I have found it fascinating. The setting of the story is after the death of Willie Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son, as he is in the space in between earth and the afterlife. As Saunders, a journalist and short story author, takes a step into novel writing, he does it boldly and it’s paying off. Many have called him the new Mark Twain, entering a new frontier of writing. Lincoln in the Bardo provides a unique perspective on grief and familial love and I’m excited to see how this one plays out.
To Read: Educated by Tara Westover
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
The Things They Carried is the true and fictional account of an American soldier’s experience in the Vietnam War. It is what did and did not happen to Tim O’Brien. It is a collection of stories about the things he saw and the things he imagined and the things he heard about and the things he wished had happened and the things he wished he had not. It is a collection of poignant, often haunting vignettes that toe the line of reality while communicating the all-too-real trauma of fighting a war you do not understand. O’Brien’s writing is exceptional in its ability to communicate what we normally only feel in our gut. This is a book about war, but even more so it’s a book about stories – the ones we tell ourselves and the ones we tell others. There is a reason The Things They Carried has become a mainstay of American history curriculum because no one tells a story quite like Tim O’Brien.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Many of you might have already read this book or seen the movie inspired by it, but I have done neither. I am excited to learn more about something that has been such an iconic part of US history. I recently finished a podcast on the Civil Right Movement, and I am interested to see a more in-depth look at how that movement fit into the space race. This book opens the blinds on a previously unknown fact: “ the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.” (quote from the back cover)
Remember God by Annie Downs
Remember God was a book that was recommended to me as I have been walking through some difficult circumstances recently. Annie Downs is honest and genuine as she shares her story of wrestling with God and what it means to sit in disappointment. The book doesn’t necessarily end with a happy ending but reminded me that in every season, whether we’re on the mountain or in the valley, we must remember who God is. With the new year, I have been encouraged to reflect on the past year and remember the ways I have seen the kindness of God in my life. If you are currently in a waiting season or walking through unexpected circumstances, this book will encourage your faith and help you to remember Him.
To Read: The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage by Brene Brown
Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll
Ever since I began to spend time with God on the daily, Chuck’s preaching and writing have been instrumental to my faith journey. Chuck’s books Searching the Scriptures (2017 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist) and The Swindoll Study Bible NLT (winner of the 2018 Christian Book Award for Bible of the Year) were bestsellers, so I guess I’m not alone in my experience of Chuck’s books as something significant! This particular book of his, Living the Proverbs: Insights for the Daily Grind, was gifted to me by two very important role models in my life, and I have been since enjoying the devotional during my quiet times. Personally, I wonder if the Book of Proverbs is sometimes read through too quickly. This in mind, I sincerely appreciate how Chuck’s extended discussion on the verses helps the reader slow down and soak in what is being said. The devotional passages are long enough to foster reflective meditations and yet short enough not to be overly daunting. If you’re seeking to refresh and deepen your faith for the new year, this book should definitely be on your radar!
To-Read: A Love Worth Giving: Living in the Overflow of God’s Love by Max Lucado and Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado