In an effort to keep better track of my reading goals this year [and hold myself accountable], I’m starting a monthly Book Review Roundup of the books I read in the previous month. I expect the fare to be a mix between authors I know who release new books, books I’ve had for eons [that I’m just now reading], and recommendations. Since I’m starting a month and a half into the year, this list combines my January and February reads.
The Gurus, The Young Man, and Elder Paisios
A really engaging read, even if you don’t practice Orthodox Christianity. Who doesn’t love a true story based in exotic locales? A man’s empirical search for theological and metaphysical truth leads him on a journey around the world, and eventually back to his spiritual roots. Elder Paisios had a reputation for boundless love and mercy toward the “spiritual children” who came to him for advice, and that love is brought to life in the stories from this book. I would recommend it for anyone with an interest in spirituality, mysticism, and world religions. It’s a memoir-not theological instruction-so it’s very accessible [not the case for all Orthodox books, let me tell you]. My only critique is that some of the phrasings and terminology may be a little unfamiliar to non-Orthodox readers, but that’s a minor issue that shouldn’t deter from your overall enjoyment of the book.
2.5 stars/Don’t Recommend
I had no clue until very recently that Amish Christian Fiction was a thing. To clarify, that’s fiction written by Christians [presumably for Christians], about Amish people. [Not written by Amish people for other Christians.] The idea of Christian/Amish romance did exactly zero for me, so I decided to go the mystery route. Having an ingrained distaste for by-Christian-for-Christian popular media, I was very reluctant to read it. But I’m trying to do this thing nowadays where I don’t make snap judgements and actually look into things for myself. So, I read A Plain Scandal. It was not wholly unpleasant, but I was underwhelmed. I would recommend it to young adults who are not quite ready for explicit content. And people who already like the genre would probably enjoy it. Otherwise, it’s slow-moving, predictable, and anemically written. A Plain Scandal is well-intentioned and not entirely without merit, but Flower’s attempt to create mystery and romance with a squeaky-clean cast makes it hard for the average person to relate, Christian or not. Word to the wise: if you want smoldering intrigue and palpable romance that leaves the really choice bits to the imagination, without insulting your intelligence, just read Jane Austen.
Landline was a Christmas gift from Emily and Anne (2 of my rad sisters-in-law). I read it in 3 sittings and enjoyed it throughly. The conflict in Landline was believable enough to make me uncomfortable, while remaining an overall quirky and hopeful story. Georgie McCool discovers a phone in her closet that lets her call her husband . . . in the past. What will she do with her second chance at love? Rainbow Rowell writes intelligent chick-lit, full of sympathetic, lovable characters who mean well and do the right thing, even if they cuss now and then. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books. I’d recommend Landline for a good weekend read, especially if you’re in the mood for awkward humor and happy endings.
So that’s my round-up for the month. Two outta three ain’t bad. Tune in next month to see what delights and disappoints. And as always, let me know what you’re reading (and if you’d recommend it) in the comments!