Call Me American by Abi Nor Iftin
Call Me American is the true life story of Abi Nor Iftin, a Somalian Refugee who travels to the US in his twenties. The book deals mostly with the story of his life in Mogadishu during civil unrest and war. During these times, he fell in love with the America he saw in movies and ironically idolized Arnold Schwarzenneger (an immigrant himself). He grew up learning English through movies and would teach it to the other children in his city. But when the extremist Islamist group, al-Shabaab rose to power in the early 2000s, it became increasingly dangerous for him to live out his Westernized identity. Thus starts Abdi’s journey to becoming an American.
Luckily, he is able to obtain a green card and emigrate, however, leaving his mother and siblings behind. This story highlights the risk, difficulty, and hardships that lead many immigrants to leave their homeland and come to the US, while also revealing the unexpected difficulties to start a new life in a country that is much different than the movies Abdi was used to. This story provides its readers with a clear perspective on the immigrants and refugees for those of us who have very little exposure to that life. I highly recommend this book for all!
To-Read: Letters to a Young Pastor by Eric E. Peterson
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass did not learn to read until he was 12 years old. Born a slave, raised a slave, he was denied that basic skill, that is, until his owner’s wife taught him. After years of violent treatment, exhaustion, and compounded forced labor, he finally escaped in 1838, navigating the fierce waters of being “free”, yet a fugitive. As he put it, “perfectly helpless both as to the means of defense and means of escape,- in the midst of plenty, yet suffering” (p.101) in the northern landscape of Philadelphia, then New York. Fast forward some time, he became one of the greatest intellectuals and abolitionists in history. His story is remarkable because his account of life as a slave, and a harsh road to his education and freedom, is true. He lived it, and by God’s grace, he lived to tell about it. A truly gripping piece that helped me, yet again, understand my history, our history, as a nation, and the progress that has been made, and the work still to be done.
To-Read: The Gospel Comes With A House Key by Rosaria Butterfield
Your Blue Flame by Jennifer Fulwiler
Jennifer Fulwiler issues readers an unconventional challenge to pursue our passions, or our “blue flame”—unconventional in that we don’t need to quit our jobs or ditch our families to do so. As a wife and mom of six who has authored several books, hosted a daily radio talk show, and produced and performed her own stand-up comedy tour, Jennifer shares authentically from her own successes and failures to show us how to chase our dreams in real life, not in spite of it! With practical chapters addressing hurdles such as confidence, finances, and redefining success, Your Blue Flame is a liberating, no-excuses call to do what makes us come alive so that we can be more alive to the people and world around us—which is really what our blue flame is all about.
To-Read: Rhythms of Renewal by Rebekah Lyons
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
Thrillers are enjoyable reads because of the cat-and-mouse game the author and reader get to play. Right when I think I’ve figured out what’s happening — the author pulls the rug out from under me. In The Woman in the Window, main character, Anna Fox, is established as an unreliable narrator early on. Between her consistent overindulgence in wine and an unexplained separation from her husband and child, a never-ending stream of questions seems to surround her. As the story progresses, you start to wonder more and more about the information Anna has provided. Is she telling the truth? Is her account of events accurate? If I can’t trust the narrator, who am I supposed to trust? While the narrative took a moment to establish its footing, now that it has, I’m on the edge of my seat. If you enjoy trying to solve mysteries before the author reveals all, you’ll enjoy this book as much as I am. It is as much a puzzle as it is a great read!
To-Read: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Tell us, what are you currently reading? What’s on your To-Read Pile?