What I’ve Been Reading: January, February, March 2019

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I think spring just sprang. (Finally!) I love my cardigans and fuzzy socks, but at the moment I’m all in for this change of season. Bring on the warm afternoons, the green rains, and all the breezes, blooms, and birdsongs!

Now that April has arrived, I’ve come to the reluctant realization that a quarter of the year is already behind us. And because I’m an organization-girl, a moment like this causes me to pause, look behind me, look ahead of me, and assess.

In my first post of the year, I discussed one of my New Year’s goals: “reading more.” I talked about pursuing habits instead of end results, and I mentioned some of the specific processes I was putting into place to help myself invest more time in reading.

I heard somewhere that most New Year’s Resolutions fade out by mid-February, and I can attest that I’ve often lost hold of enthusiastic resolutions I’ve made, even before January ends. But, so far this year, the new approach I’ve taken with my reading habits has worked!

I’ve been logging how many minutes I spend reading each day for the last three months (feel free to call me OCD, it’s kind of true), and 1) I’m definitely reading MUCH more on a daily basis than was my habit last year and 2) my average time spent reading each day has continually increased from January to February to March. I know not everyone works well with strict structure and measurements like this, but for me, it’s exactly what I needed.

So, I say all that to arrive here: I thought I’d share with you some of the wonderful literature I’ve been enjoying this year. This list isn’t comprehensive, but these seven books are some highlights from what I’ve read over the last few months.

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle

I read A Wrinkle in Time as a kid (I’m guessing I was ten or so?), but I heartily believe that good books should be reread and that “children’s books” should be read by both kids and adults. In my mind, what makes A Wrinkle in Time so effective is its creative storyline and relatable characters—especially the heroine, Meg Murray—and these elements work together to demonstrate the power of brave, sacrificial love and to help us readers understand ourselves, our human weakness and strength, in the process.

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, Agatha Christie

I love a good mystery, and Agatha Christie’s are some of the best I’ve read. I picked up Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? at Blackwell’s Bookshop during one of my Oxford visits to see my sister, and it fulfilled my expectations. Light, intriguing, surprising. I find Agatha Christie entertaining and easy to read, and at the same time I admire her crisp, dialogue-driven style and always feel inspired to write more cleanly when I read from her.

The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis

I’ve read this book so many times, but I learn and remember so much truth each time I return to it. I doubt anyone but Lewis could’ve made fictional letters between two devils so spiritually enriching and insightful. I know it’s ironic, but I always come away from Screwtape deeply encouraged for my walk with Christ, trusting in Him more fully and motivated to follow ever more carefully in His steps.

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

A classic Dickens (which, to my shame, I had not read before this year). Going into it I knew the overall storyline, but the novel still surprised me. The cast of characters was smaller and the plot more straightforward than I’d expected—probably because the Dickens novels closest to my heart are his most ridiculously complex, especially Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend. That said, the comparative simplicity of A Tale of Two Cities made the narrative effective and memorable in a different way, and Dickens delighted and touched me yet again through Lucie, Charles, and Sydney’s story.

Moon Over Manifest, Clare Vanderpool

Recommended to me by friends, Moon Over Manifest is one of those children’s books with much deeper truths to share than we might at first expect. The tale follows young Abilene Tucker, a girl searching for a story to make sense of her life. She encounters the people of Manifest, Kansas, “a town with a past,” and gradually unearths its buried stories from twenty years earlier. A wholesome, delightful story with a winsome heroine and a profound theme.

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

This was my second reread of Frankenstein, and this time what most captured my attention was Mary Shelley’s crucial question, Does happiness result from virtue, or does virtue result from happiness? Of course this isn’t the only issue she’s concerned with in her dramatic story of godlike sciences and choices that have horrible consequences, but it’s certainly a question near the very heart of the novel.

Ready or Not, Drew Moser & Jess Fankhauser

Published just last year, this book for twenty-somethings is fully entitled Ready or Not: Leaning into Life in Our Twenties. I finished it just this week and am still processing its contents, but I’ve come away with a very positive impression. Moser and Fankhauser discuss vocation, family, community, and much more, urging twenty-somethings to live “fully present and fully prepared,” walking by faith and not by sight. The book gave me quite a few new terms and phrases to hang my thoughts on—things like fathoming my life, living implicated, and serving my work. All in all I’d highly recommend Ready or Not for anyone in this stage of life that sometimes feels “in-between” but can be deeply fulfilling here and now.

So that’s what I’ve been reading. What about you? Do you often reread old favorites? Have you discovered any new literary gems this year?

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