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What's On My Shelf (Aug 2023) | Book Recommendations for Christians

Updated: Sep 12, 2023


books stacked on a wooden table decorated with purpose daisies

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” - George R.R. Martin


This summer's reading adventures have found this quote true for me. I picked up a few nonfiction titles that have brought me as a fly on the wall into the lives and journeys of others: Across the treacherous shores of Patagonia, deep into the bush of Tanzania, and into the secret meetings of arms dealers.


I'll be honest, I wouldn't mind actually travelling there myself, but, for now, enjoying the travels vicariously will do.


When you're looking for what to read next, I provide book recommendations for Christians. These are a handful of titles that have crossed my shelf the last while. I hope you find the book reviews helpful! Happy reading!


And, as always, I'd love to hear what's on your shelf, leave me a comment below or email me!

Book Recommendations for Christians

a handful of book covers for Christian readers
Book Recommendations for Christians

Follow along on Goodreads


Christian Living

I'm always challenged by the Puritans ability to practically share biblical truths. This title is on the topic of spiritual disciplines, the means of grace.


He writes, "as the Christian life does not begin without means, neither can it grow without them." He goes through prayer, thanksgiving, reading, watchfulness and meditation. There's also two chapters on the armour of God, which I hadn't considered specifically as a spiritual discipline and appreciated his thoughts. (4 stars)


(I read this for VT Reading Challenge #14 - A book written by a Puritan)

Here's a must-read for you!


As disciples of Christ, we're not meant to remain stagnant, but to continue following in the footsteps of our Saviour. The authors present you with an invitation and practical teaching to equip you to know and love God well. I wrote a FULL REVIEW on this one, read it here. (5 stars)

Non-Fiction

This historical tale of The Wager has threads of exploration, survivor, and battleship. I actually really enjoyed it. The drama among the castaways captured my curiosity, as I was eager to know who would defect and how. The story kept you guessing about how the court martial would go down, but I found it a satisfying ending, which was surprising.


Byron was my favourite character, a young sailor who felt he'd made a poor decision and had the courage to change it and later goes on to climb the ranks of the Navy. (5 stars)


(read this for VT Reading Challenge #23 - A book on the current New York Times bestseller list).

What I most enjoyed about this book was the joy I felt traveling through East Africa again. The places, cultural nuances, and landscape were all so familiar to me that my heart was just happy to be back in Africa again.


The traveling companions on this journey were a bit of a conundrum. Burton, the experienced explorer, linguist and anthropologist leading the initial overland journey alongside Speke, the ambitious, yet arrogant hunter-turned-explorer. Their journey to Lake Tanganyika was detailed, likely due to the volume of Burton's writings, but what stands out is the enormous animosity between the pair after their return, fueled by Speke's outright, unfounded accusations against a man who was his leader and mentor.


So, while the history is fascinating, the integrity of the characters deplete over time - neither were professedly Christian, their views about race and slavery varied, and both their legacies hinged upon events of their younger years rather than how they lived the rest of their lives. It reminds me that we can accomplish great things in our lives but fail in the end if our character doesn't hold up.


These guys traveled and explored during the same time as David Livingstone, and I found myself wondering how I picked up this one first instead of one of his. So, I'll go on the hunt through the shelves for it now.


If you enjoy traveling through Africa with drama unfolding between explorers, this one is for you. (4 stars)

During the while I've probably hit burnout, so I grabbed this title to gains some insight and as an opportunity to reflect. They use a lot of examples from sport psychology, physiology, and science, which I find interesting. The authors talk about cycles of rest and stress, the benefits of both, and I found the discussion on mental fatigue of decision making really eye-opening, particularly in the context of my work as a mental health nurse.


If you've read books on productivity, there may not be a lot of new information here, but I found the examples thought-provoking and it gave me good food for thought. (This is #59 for the VT Reading Challenge - A book on productivity). 4 stars.


I picked up this memoir after seeing it in my Goodreads feed and thought it looked interesting (and I needed a memoir for my reading challenge). She shares about entering the CIA as a young adult, how her career progressed, working undercover, and how her personal life was impacted. I gave it 4 stars because I found her writing engaging, particularly as she describes her work. Her story definitely made me more curious about how she was really doing with the challenges she faced in her personal life-she alludes to the difficulties, but doesn't go there a lot. Overall it was a good read. It got me thinking about how what we believe about our identity is significant to how we live. Living under pretence as she did was difficult and it's interesting that sometimes we do the same thing as we try to keep up appearances in our own worlds. Note, this is written for general market, so there's some language and mentions of sex. (4 stars)

Fiction

After his sister has been missing for a year, Detective Trevor West is given a new lead. Last seen in a remote region of Alaska, the police chief recommends a bush pilot to help get him there. Carrie James is still in hiding, hoping her traumatic past is behind her, until it isn't. The two cases intersect and they're caught trying to get ahead of those following them.


Given the trauma she's experienced, Carrie finds purpose in her work. After losing the most important people in her life, this seemed to drive her toward helping find the missing sister. While some of the danger scenes seem a bit implausible, the scenes were well written. His fear of flying is a comical touch.


This is a second book in the series and you briefly meet some of the characters from the first one, but it can be read as a standalone. (3 stars)

William Cole is a long hunter, spending little time in society and lots of time traveling through Kentucky. Though he's alone much of the time, he's well connected with others. One evening at a tavern eating dinner, he hears a drunk man wager off his 18 year old daughter's hand in marriage. Cole's conscience is pricked and he goes out to the cabin to provide her way out.


Lucinda has an arthritic disease and for the last 10 years-after the passing of her mother- has been secluded in her father's cabin enduring his abuse. When William presents at her door, she's terrified of what her father's done and agrees to go with him, embark on a journey along the treacherous Wilderness Trail.


Lucinda has always wondered what God's purpose for her life is and continues to seek His guidance during the travels and William, bearing the burdens and responsibilities of others has struggled to trust God with them. Their faith in God is strengthened through their hardships, as does their admiration and love for each other.


Lucinda is an inspiration, she fought with physical pain throughout the journey and struggled to let others care for her, so determined not to be a burden. But she learns that love is vulnerable and for love to grow it means leaning on each other.


If you enjoy historical fiction set in the 1700s, characters whose faith is challenged and deepened and an adventure through the wilderness, I think you'll really like it! (5 stars).



*Denotes advanced reader copies (ARC) I've received from Netgalley and/or the publisher with the opportunity to post an honest review.

 

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