1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
I had heard a lot of positive recommendations but didn't know a thing about it until I started reading it. I actually thought it might be a fiction book. It is most definitely not. It is about a thirty-six year old neurosurgeon resident who received a lung cancer diagnosis during his last year of residency. Despite the depressing circumstances, I really liked the content of the book.
The first half of the book focuses on his life before the diagnosis. I learned about his family history, his college passions and experiences and his experiences in med school and residency. I found it fascinating his experiences, his reasons for taking the path he chose, as well as the way his experiences changed his understanding of the mind, personage and death.
The second half talks about his life after the diagnosis with the last part being written by his wife to share what he was not able to recount because he passed away. It is inspiring all that he learned from his experiences and so eloquently shares with us through his book. It causes you to think about how you are spending your life and what might be the best use of one's unknown amount of time on earth.
2. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
A lot of people had said good things about this book as well. I didn't care much for Eat, Pray, Love but thought I'd check it out since I heard it reminded the reader that they already have permission to create. It seemed like a good book to read while I am in the process of pursuing writing with more purpose and dedication.
I found it to be an inspirational and encouraging book for anyone who is interested in pursuing a passion in their life. I did not agree with everything she said or thought but found a lot of helpful information, including the reminder that we do not need permission to pursue our passions; we were created with passion and creativity as part of our makeup. If you have a dream you desire to pursue but need some encouragement, motivation or inspiration, definitely check out the book.
3. Setting Their Hope in God: Biblical Intercession for Your Children by Andrew Case
This is a book that contains numerous prayers for parents to pray for and with their children. Interspersed among the prayers are quotes about prayer - it's purpose, benefits, etc. I enjoyed having a daily reminder and opportunity to pray for my children. I am not always great at making intentional, purposeful prayer time for my children. This enabled me to think about them and their needs and have directed prayer that could lead me into more specific prayers for each of my children. It was an enjoyable exercise that I usually did shortly before bed.
4. Love Warrior: A Memoir by Glennon Doyle Melton
I had read Carry On, Warrior several years ago and enjoyed it. I was not a regular visitor to Momastery so most of the essays were new to me. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect in this book. I had heard that it would be a chronicle of Glennon's marriage to Craig. Anyone familiar with Momastery would know the bones of the story - how Glennon found herself pregnant and at rock bottom and choosing to start fresh for the sake of her baby, how she and Craig chose to marry, that there was some News a few years ago that Craig shared with Glennon that they had to work through.
The gist of the story was known, but it was very interesting to have the details fleshed out and to learn more of Glennon's history, the pivotal moments in her life and the origin of the sayings attributed to her (We can do hard things. Do the next right step.) I was a little uncomfortable during parts of the story. I felt that the book resolved well and contained quite a bit of encouragement and inspiration for the reader. If you like Glennon's previous writing or have followed her for awhile, you would probably enjoy this book.
5. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
A friend of mine said that this was one of her favorite book series. I trust her opinion so I decided to check it out. I haven't read a lot of Christian fiction lately. I got kind of burned out on some of the authors and genres within Christian fiction. This one, however, was quite refreshing and unlike what I've read this year.
This book (the first of The Mitford Series) follows the daily life of Father Tim, an Episcopal priest in the small town of Mitford, North Carolina. The reader experiences the daily, unpredictable schedule of the rector as he seeks to care for his parishioners and members of his town. He acquires a stray dog who is disciplined by scripture, a rambunctious boy whose grandfather is stricken with pneumonia and many secrets of the inhabitants of Mitford.
I became fond of all of the characters in the book and enjoyed the twists and turns of the story the author led me on. When the book ended, I had so many questions about various characters and want to know what happens next. Thankfully there are twelve other books in this series so hopefully I will get to become even more acquainted with and delighted by this town. The book is an uplifting and encouraging read that makes me yearn for small town living.
6. Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World by Karen Ehman
I saw a Facebook posting about applying for the launch team for this book. The title of it struck me and I knew I had to check out the book. I received a PDF of the book to read and review but I love the message so much that I have pre-ordered a copy of it for myself (it releases November 15th) to be able to have on hand and re-read as I anticipate doing regularly.
This book is full of helpful and doable advice about loving the people in our life. She shares her experiences with looking for opportunities to love and serve others in meaningful ways. She reminds us that the purpose of our love and service is to reflect Jesus. She is such a genuine and caring person, like a mentor you didn't know you needed. Her words resonated with me and encouraged me as I desire to live out God's greatest commandment of loving him and loving others.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who desires to know how to better love those around them - family, friends, kids' friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the "necessary" people in our lives (mail carrier, garbage service, teachers, etc).
7. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I had heard that this was a great book for writers, fiction or non-fiction. It is part autobiography, part information and advice. I really enjoyed hearing about Stephen King's life and his interest in writing from an early age. I enjoyed hearing about his writing process and how he fleshes out ideas.
I do not have a desire to write fiction but a lot of his writing information is applicable to writers of all types. I have read one of his fiction books and watched a couple of the movies adapted from his books. Horror is not my genre of choice for books or movies but my genre preference does not matter as far as receiving useful information from this book. If you are a writer or desire to improve your writing skills, I would definitely recommend reading this book.
8. First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
I think I have read one of her other books but was not familiar with her style and storytelling. I knew she was a Georgia author and I loved that this book was set in Atlanta so I recognized the places mentioned. This book is told from the alternating perspective of two sisters, Josie and Meredith. Fifteen years ago their older brother Daniel was killed in a car accident and it has affected their relationships with one another and others. Meredith sees Josie as irresponsible and self-absorbed while Josie views Meredith as a judgmental perfectionist. Josie's been carrying around a secret that may completely tear their family apart.
I enjoyed the two-person perspective as it allows the reader to see each person's strengths and weaknesses. I had no idea what the secret might be and enjoyed learning about each sister's lives and their own fears and concerns. It was a good story that held my attention throughout the book. It's a good fiction read.
I am amazed that I finished six non-fiction books this month! Some of them I had begun in September (or earlier in one case) so it's perhaps not as impressive as if I'd read them from cover to cover in October. It was a fairly diverse selection of books. They all had something beneficial to share with me. How many books did you finish in October? Please share any that you would recommend!