Who doesn’t love a good book recommendation??
In this episode Phy shares the highlights of her book list from 2022, including theology, nonfiction and fiction reads.
Welcome to Verity podcast. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer. I’m here to teach you how to know what you believe, to live it boldly, and to communicate it graciously to the world around you. I believe that women are ready to go deeper in their faith than ever before and they don’t have to go to seminary to do it. I am so glad you’re here and I hope you’ll join me on this journey, because every woman is a theologian.
Hello, friends. Welcome back to Verity podcast. Well, it’s that time again, it is time for a book recommendations episode. Last time we did children’s Bibles and books and this time, I’m just going to share with you the books I have been reading so far, in 2022. I wanted to do this every quarter and I definitely failed because it’s quarter three, and I’m going to be giving you the highlights from the last three quarters. And then hopefully, I can do quarter four sometime in December, and get us back on track before we get to 2023. I hope to do these once a quarter so you can hear what I’ve been reading and what I’ve been loving. But if you want to get weekly updates of what I’m reading, and what I finished, how I like it, sign up for my newsletter, the Conlectio, because every Tuesday that goes out and I have listed all the books that I am reading, loving, not loving, et cetera, I have them linked in there. So, if you want more frequent book recommendations, that is the place to get them. I’m going to be sharing with you a variety of books. These are not all heavy theology books, but I’m going to throw in some great spiritual titles as well. I want to share everything I’ve been reading because I know some of you are looking for fiction recommendations and some of you are interested in nonfiction that isn’t theological. So, I’m just going to share with you the whole as my mother says, of books that I’ve been reading in the last couple of months.
I have a goal of reading 45 books this year. And I’m actually doing pretty well on that goal, I think I’m at 32 or 35, I count a book as read if I listened to it on audio, audiobooks totally count and also if I read two thirds of it and don’t finish it, I count that as read because I got the gist of it. I also have no shame in quitting books that I don’t like because who has time to waste on books, we don’t like. I don’t, I want to read books that I do like, so I give myself permission to quit books. I also read multiple books at once, I usually am reading from five books at once and usually they’re all different genres. Because I like to kind of pick up what I’m feeling like reading, I tend to have a short attention span, it’s something that I’m always having to work on, so I like to have different types of books that I can kind of hop between to keep that interest going. I’m going to share with you some of the books that I’ve read in the last nine months, and some of what I loved, some of what I didn’t love. And then once we get the transcript back from our transcriber of this episode, I will put all of the links to these books on the blog. So, the show notes all go to the blog as soon as we can get the transcripts back and get them up on the site. It usually takes a little while for us to get them back. So, thank you for your patience, but this will be up probably in the next 30 days.
Let’s start with the spiritual theological books because I know that’s what a lot of you are here for. We’ll start there. Okay, number one is a vintage Oswald Chambers’ book on prayer that I happened to find in a stack of books I bought off of Facebook marketplace. So, I thrift a lot of commentaries and old books on the Bible. A lot of pastors sell them on Facebook marketplace or I get them from thrift stores. And I find a lot of great stuff but this is one of my favorites. I did not know that Oswald Chambers, who wrote, ‘My Utmost for His Highest, one of my favorite devotionals. I didn’t know he had a book on prayer and it is amazing. I’ve told so many people about this book and it’s been updated to be called, If You Shall Ask or If You Will Ask. So, the one version I have is from the 1940s and it’s called If Ye Shall Ask and I think the updated version is called If You Will Ask, by Oswald Chambers. And what I love about Chambers’ is the way he writes is so direct and it’s convicting, yet it’s gentle, and you can tell that he is living it. I don’t know what else to say about this book, except that you should buy it. And it will transform your prayer life and your understanding of just the Christian life in general. One of the things in it that stood out to me the most was, he says, somewhere in the middle of it, “If you feel misunderstood that makes sense. No one on earth will understand you except the God who indwells you.” And I thought, “Oh, my goodness.” I’ve been searching for these people to just understand what I’m going through, understand me, understand everything that I’m carrying. This was such a conviction to my heart that no one will understand this the way God does, and no one will sustain you the way God does, so If You Will Ask by Oswald Chambers.
The second book I read was a biography of St. Thomas Aquinas, by G. K. Chesterton, and I will admit, I got maybe halfway through this one and had to pause. But I really enjoyed it because Thomas Aquinas was one of the greatest theologians in the history of the church. He was one of the first, not the first but one of the most notable to combine faith and reason and to argue for Christianity, with logic and history and reason. And so, I love that that’s just a respect that so much and so I began reading this, but I had to put it down, because it was getting a little heavy for my season, but I’m going to be picking it back up. The third one is Warfare Prayer, and this is by C. Peter Wagner, who is a missiologist. He studies church growth and it’s interesting to me because C. Peter Wagner does not identify as charismatic. He’s not from a Pentecostal background, he’s not from an Assemblies of God church. The book is also old, it was written in the 90s but I recognized his name so I grabbed it when I was at a thrift store. I found this book so challenging, and so interesting because he’s observing churches and their understanding of spiritual warfare, as someone who considers himself evangelical so he doesn’t consider himself Pentecostal. But he’s observing the church growth among Pentecostal denominations, and especially in South America, church growth in South America in the 90s. And talking about the need for intercession, especially for leaders to have specific intercessors for them. So, like Christian pastors and leaders and ministers, and teams of ministers, missionaries, having specific intercessors for them because of the spiritual opposition that they are facing territorially. So he talks in this book about territorial spiritual warfare, which we see in the Book of Daniel, it talks about the specific spirit that was over a province that was providing resistance to the angels of God. And so, he talks a little bit about that and how prayer plays a part in spiritual warfare and this was just a really emboldening book for me and my prayer life. Although there was some stuff in there, I was like, I don’t know if I completely agree with that, or what I think about that. It was definitely thought provoking.
The next book is called No Little People/Lord’s Work in the Lord’s Way by Francis Schaeffer, and if you follow me on Instagram, or get my newsletter, you’ve seen me link this book. It’s really short, it’s beautiful. It’s just a little collection from crossway books and I got it when I was at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference this summer. I am so glad I bought it because I have read it and reread it and reread it. I love Francis Schaeffer but this particular book, I would recommend to anyone who’s in ministry, anyone who is doing ministry online in real life, because in it, Schaefer talks about how we cannot do the Lord’s work in the flesh. We cannot do the Lord’s work apart from the Spirit of God. And we do, we try, we try to do that and then in No Little People, he’s talking about how there are no people who are insignificant in the kingdom of God. There are no little people there are only consecrated people. Oh, it is so good. Okay, just go buy it from Crossway. It’s amazing.
The next book, I also got at TDC was, Letters from the Chinese Church, this was compiled by Hannah Nation, and this is a group of letters translated from Chinese. The letters are sermons that were preached to the Chinese church by leaders in the Chinese church. It’s so fascinating to read their perspective as a persecuted church, so convicting, I read it very slowly. I usually read it after my Bible study each day and I’ve really enjoyed getting their perspective and thinking about what is it like to follow God when you have so much to lose? So, Letters from the Chinese Church, it’s actually called Faith in the Wilderness. Okay, so those are the spiritual books, I have more, but I’m going to stop myself there. I want to now move to my nonfiction, nontheological books that I’ve been reading. The first is, Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie, if you’re familiar with The Read-Aloud Revival, this is Sarah, she wrote this book, as well as the book The Read-Aloud Revival, and this book is for homeschoolers. I cannot recommend this book enough if you homeschool or if you’re thinking of homeschooling, it should be required reading for every homeschooler. It’s small and thin, and it is absolutely amazing. It’s amazing and any homeschooler who’s read it will tell you that. Many of us reread it every year. It’s phenomenal and it is such a weightlifted off your shoulders when you look at educating your children and the responsibility that we bear in that. It’s just beautiful, so Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie.
The second one is, The Temperament God Gave Your Kids and I don’t remember the authors of this at the moment, but they’re a Catholic couple. And this book was written 10 years ago, but I have found it to be absolutely transformative, and helping with my parenting and understanding also parenting with my spouse. So, Josh and I, if you’ve listened to the marriage series, know that we’re very opposite. We are opposite even in our parenting in some ways, and so we’ve had to communicate about that constantly. What I loved about this book is that it actually turns to the four temperaments that were really popular in the 90s, choleric, melancholy, sanguine, and phlegmatic. I wasn’t super familiar with these temperaments, but I find them to be pretty straightforward and when I read through them, I found that Josh is phlegmatic, melancholic, I’m choleric, Eva is sanguine and Adeline is melancholic. It was just hilarious because we’re all different personalities, jury’s out on Ivan, I think he might be my personality. But what is so cool about this book is that it has so much respect for scripture and for God’s design of our kids, but it also is talking about how you can’t parent every kid the same way. Because your bubbly, outgoing, distractible sanguine child is going to need different things than your more anxious melancholic child is and we found that to be true even at this young age that we’re parenting. And so, this book was just a great reminder and it was also great to see that she had chapters– the couple had chapters at the back that were about parenting with a spouse who has a different personality than you. So even though it’s a Catholic resource, and I’m not Catholic, I found that the Catholic elements were pretty minimal and it was just a generally helpful book, The Temperament God Gave Your Kids.
The third book I have in this category is Waymaker, by Ann Voskamp. I am honored to know Ann in real life and she is truly exactly who she portrays herself to be online. Who you see online is who she is, which is always reassuring with an author. It’s been five years since she has had a book come out. So, Waymaker is five years in the making and what I found in that book was just such encouragement and such beautiful writing. To trust the Lord in suffering and to remember that the Lord is the one who makes the way, not us. We are not the ones who have to save ourselves, it’s God who does it, who redeems, who makes the way. So, if you’re going through suffering or you know someone who is or especially if someone’s going through struggles in their marriage, I found this book just speaks to that in such a gentle way. So Waymaker, by Ann Voskamp.
After a three-year hiatus, Verity Conference is back and it’s coming to Petoskey, Michigan, November 4th and 5th. I’m so thrilled to bring back Verity Conference after our short break of a few years for COVID, and this time we are much bigger with two amazing speakers joining me to talk about Apologetics and Evangelism. How do we share our faith effectively in today’s culture, in a way that is both gracious and truthful, you’ll hear from me, Jeremy Jenkins of All Things All People and Pricelis Dominguez, who is going to share with us how to love other people, while also speaking the truth? Jeremy specializes in world religions and cults, and he will be talking about evangelism in that context. I am so excited for this event. I hope you can join us. You can grab the remaining early bird tickets on my website, phyliciamasonheimer.com if you click the conference tab.
Okay, now we’re going to move to the fiction that I read this year and I’m not going through all of the fiction because there’s actually quite a lot I listen on audio to a lot of books. And as I go through these, I just want to remind you that fiction to me is a tough topic. If you’ve listened to my episodes on sexual sin, you know that I had a history with erotic fiction, I was addicted to erotic fiction from high school into my early 20s. Basically it’s pornography in written form and so I’m very sensitive to sexual content in fiction books and almost all books have it now. Even young adult fiction has it although it’s less explicit in young adult fiction. I’m very sensitive to that and I try to be careful what I’m reading because of it. In some books there will be language and I will overlook language depending on the book. So, if there’s excessive language, I won’t listen to it but if it’s not super excessive, I will discern through it. You need to follow your convictions on that matter and if it is okay for you not okay for you, I’m able to discern through it without saying the language that I’m listening to. But if that’s a temptation for you, it may not be good to listen to some of those things. Same thing with sexual content, you may not be as sensitive as I am, but are you able to skip over it? Or is it going to be a trap for you? I talk more about that in the Redeeming Love episode as well.
Here’s some of what I read for fiction. First, Pride and Prejudice. I read this as a kid, I loved it. I love the movies. It was a reread for me and I was so surprised actually how easy it is to read. It’s just so well written and such a classic. I enjoyed it so much; it made me cry. I was like, I just– I needed to go back and read this. This is so good. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Another book I went back in time to read was the very first, Nancy Drew Mystery, The Secret of the Old Clock, I needed something light and easy to read, something fun and so I had gotten a set of five vintage Nancy Drew’s at a library sale. I was so happy to snag them, still regretting I didn’t grab the whole set. There were five more and I didn’t want to pay for them. I should have done it. Anyway, learned my lesson The Secret of the Old Clock, ahh the vintage Nancy Drew’s they’re just so good. I’m talking 1960s or earlier, the 1970s forward, they messed with the storylines, no good 1950s, 1960s and earlier, Nancy Drew’s that’s where it’s at. Okay, the next one I read was the Firekeeper’s Daughter. So, this book has been on a ton of lists for like a great novel, you should read it. It’s a young adult novel. It’s about a Native American girl who lives in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. I was really interested in this because Sault Sainte Marie is only two hours for me and I don’t get a lot of novels based in Michigan. So, I thought it’d be cool to read and the cover was really gorgeous. So, I was like, “I have to read it.” I did not love this book. I think the way the narrative was written and I’m not sure this is the case, but I think then way the narrative is written, maybe was supposed to be more in line with oral tradition in Native American culture. If that was the case, I would understand because I own the First Nations New Testament translation and I love that.
It’s written in that kind of oral tradition. But in a novel, it was kind of hard to follow and it was kind of choppy and it was really long, it took a long time for the story to build. And I don’t know, it was just not some– it wasn’t as enjoyable of a novel as everyone made it out to be. Also, I would say trigger warning for drug content because it’s about basically a drug cartel in Sault Sainte Marie, and some of the stuff that happened was kind of improbable. That’s a little something that bugs me in stories when, 18-year-olds are super emotionally aware when they wouldn’t be [laughs] because they’re 18. I don’t know it’s just stuff like that that’s kind of irks me as a writer, but I we’d give it like a 5 out of 10 but the cover is beautiful. Okay, the next series that I read was Louise Penny’s, Inspector Gamache series. I am saying a series because I think I’ve listened to eight of these this year. I love these because it’s set in Quebec, which is a little bit, maybe a little south of our latitude. So, it’s very similar country to where I live in northern Michigan and it’s in Canada. We’re basically in Canada, we’re literally two hours from the Northern Ontario border, so I love reading things that are kind of set in my area. And they also speak French throughout the novels a little bit and Adeline’s learning French, and I’m learning it with her so that’s kind of fun and it’s very descriptive. I also love that they’re mysteries– they’re murder mysteries, but they’re not gory or spooky, they’re just kind of tame in that way. There may be some themes that you don’t enjoy, you can look up the synopsis of the different books. I think there are now 18 books in the series and I have greatly enjoyed them but again, be discerning as to what’s okay for you. So far, there hasn’t been any sexual content and that’s just a relief for me because I’m always having to just be aware of that.
The next book I read was the Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott. So, Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women, which I love and the whole series, I’ve read the whole series. I thought I own the Old-Fashioned Girl, but I haven’t read it so I’ll read it. This was another slow one, really slow build to about halfway through, but I kept reading because I love her writing and it was definitely worth it. In the end. It was a sweet ending with a slow pace novel, but it is really great if you like classic books, if you’ve read Little Women, and you want to read another one of Alcott’s books. Okay, the next two are by Kristin Hannah. I took, The Great Alone, which is about Alaska on our camping trip in the summer and I read it in two days. This was not an audiobook, this was a regular book, and I read it in two days and I think it’s 300 pages. It was definitely fast paced. I didn’t know what was going to happen. There was I think a little sexual content that I skipped over. And I’ll tell you this, you will be completely sucked in. However, I found this book very unbelievable because it was as if every traumatic thing that could happen to one person happened to the protagonist in this book. Literally every terrible thing that could happen, so I find that again bothersome. I’m like give me some realistic drama but let’s not, you know, have two compound fractures in one book. That’s just too many compound fractures for anybody at any time, but especially in one book. So, The Great Alone definitely was interested in it, definitely finished it, didn’t find it believable, could be traumatic if you’re sensitive because it’s just a lot of stuff going on and an abusive domestic abuse theme so be careful about that.
The second Kristin Hannah book I read was, The Four Winds and this one was a lot slower than, The Great Alone, I listened to this one on audio, it’s about The Dust Bowl. This one did have some sexual content that I skipped multiple times. So, in the beginning and then towards the very, very end, there’s some sexual content. It’s also pretty dramatic, lots of bad stuff happens, but it’s The Dust Bowl, bad stuff was happening. It made me very intrigued by The Dust Bowl, it made me look up stuff historically, like what was happening. The one thing about The Four Winds I really was interested in it definitely finished it. But the one thing I did not enjoy about this book was that it put [chuckles] communists in a really good light and I found that also bothersome but that seems like an understatement. It seemed just an odd theme to put in this book because they were communists who are trying to– socialist communist trying to get funding for the refugees who were going to California from Texas during The Dust Bowl. Obviously, these refugees needed support, but they specifically use the word communist over and over and over again. I don’t know if that’s just because it was what they were calling people at the time, but it portrayed communist in such a good light that I just thought if someone doesn’t have historical awareness that I have, it could very much change their perspective on a very problematic movement. So that was one thing that I found a little concerning and I’m not making a political statement here. This is objective historical fact, communism resulted in the death and murder of many, many, many people, so you can Google that if you want to know more about that.
All right, so Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, we read this aloud to the girls this year and I’m not listing everything we’ve read aloud to the girls. I will maybe do a separate podcast episode of all the read alouds we’ve done with the kids, because that’s a really long list. But we did listen on audio to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the girls really enjoyed this. They would color and listen to it and Eva called it the story about the girl and the dresser[laughs] which really is kind of what it is. We really enjoyed this and we talked a lot about what magic is and how it’s portrayed in this book and what it means and what magic is in fiction versus in real life, kind of, as I talked about on the Halloween episode.
Okay, last two books, I realized I stuck these in the wrong place, they should have been up in the nonfiction section. The Brave Learner, I read this this year and I keep going back and rereading it. I would say, Teaching from Rest and The Brave Learner, go hand in hand. I have never read a book that has more good ideas for bringing learning into your home and making it fun. You do not have to be a homeschooler to love this book, The Brave Learner, it is fantastic. I almost felt overwhelmed with how good it was, I just love it. So, Julie Bogart is the author of this one and she also wrote the book Raising Critical Thinkers, another great one if you want to check that out.
The last book I wanted to mention today is the one I’m reading right now. It is called A Needle in the Right Hand of God, and it is about the making of the Bayeux Tapestry. This is an embroidery that portrays the Battle of Hastings, when William the Conqueror defeated King Harold. I was actually looking up books on the Norman Conquest for my girls, and I found this book at the library. I got it and I was like, “Ooh, yes, this looks interesting, history, I love history,” especially medieval history so I was so excited about this but then when I got it home, I realized that the first two chapters is about what happened at the Battle of Hastings and then the entire rest of the book is about Hitler trying to take the tapestry and use it to authenticate his German race. As much as that sounds interesting, it was not as interesting to me as the Battle of Hastings. So, I’m a little– I feel a little bit like I got a bait and switch with this book that they’re like, “Hey, this is about the medieval period.” But wait, “No, it’s actually about World War II.” That bothers me a little bit but I am still reading it, so the jury is out on that one. Okay, you guys, this was a lot of books, a lot of information all over the map with the recommendations. I hope that this was fun for you, a little bit of a break from the normal theological fair, but we’ll be back next week with another theological episode. I hope that one of these books will make it onto your shelf.
Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of Verity podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, would you take the time to leave us a review? It helps so many other women around the world find out about Verity, and about Every Woman a Theologian, as a ministry and a shop. We appreciate you and I hope you’ll be back next week as we continue to go deeper into God’s word and the heart of Jesus Christ.