I am back to reading more than just novels in August. I am learning more about women and their role in culture, the Bible, and even in history. And I am learning some fascinating things. Women are amazing and powerful creatures that society needs to stop underestimating. We are capable of so much, even in the face of oppression.
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman (Finished August 2)
This was an audiobook that I picked at random so I would have something to listen to on my daily walks with the pupper. This book told the story of zookeeper Antonina Zabinski’s work with her husband, fellow zookeeper Jan Zabinski, in Warsaw before and during World War Two. The couple had devoted their lives to caring for both domestic and exotic animals. As Germany began to invade Poland, the Zabinskis realized that they were in a unique position to help some of the Jewish population in Warsaw. They began smuggling in “guests” to live and hide inside their villa. This, they did, while still attempting to care for their beloved animals and raise their small son.
This book paints the picture of a strong and determined woman who did not allow anything to stop her from living by her convictions. Borrowing often from Antonina’s journal, the reader is given little stories from her day-to-day life: Things she witnessed with her son as he tried to make sense of this unusual world he was growing up in, funny little stories of things she’d witnessed in her animal friends, introductions to some of the 300 guests she and Jan hosted during the war.
This was quite a fascinating tale, and I would highly recommend the book to anyone.
Hermanas by Natalia Kohn, Noemi Vega Quinones, Kristy Garza Robinson (Finished August 12)
This was a book that was listed as part of Sarah Bessey’s Field Notes Book Club, something I’ve been trying to very loosely follow throughout the year. This book sought to highlight female voices in the Bible, such as Esther & The Canaanite Woman (AKA Mija), and draw connections from their stories to modern-day experiences for WOC, specifically for Latina women.
As a White woman, I found this book to be extremely enlightening. It helped me to get a better idea of what it means to be a WOC in a world where White privilege prevails. It highlighted the challenges that Latina women experience both inside and outside the church in terms of xenophobia and sexism.
I deeply appreciated this glimpse into a world that I can never know first-hand. I can imagine that for Latina women, this book may come as an encouragement to know that their voices are desperately needed both inside and outside of Christendom.
If you have the chance to read this book, take it.
Lost Women of the Bible: Finding Strength & Significance Through Their Stories (finished August 15)
I’ve been hearing a lot about Carolyn Custis James lately from friends of mine. I’ll admit that, despite my stance as a Christian Feminist, I’ve never actually read any of her work. So I made it a point to find one of her books to read and get a better feel for who she is.
I really loved this book. CCJ goes through the stories of several women through Scripture to show how they’ve each been lost to the sands of time and tradition. She discusses Tamar, Naomi, Hagar, Noah’s wife, and Esther. Among many others.
We’ve become used to seeing so many of these women through the patriarchal lens of conservative church culture, and CCJ has a beautiful way of cutting through all of that to help the reader see these stories from an entirely different angle. She restores lost dignity to each of these lives as she helps us read these stories in a new light.
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager (finished August 18)
With so much serious reading last month, I decided to devote my weekends to reading only novels. Novels are how I relax and let my brain drift a little.
This book was particularly enjoyable. It was a little bit Agatha Christie and a little bit Stephen King. While I did eventually predict the ending, there were a couple of twists that I did not expect.
If you’re the type that enjoys a good thriller, give this one a chance.
Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein (Finished August 28)
This book is probably one of the hardest I’ve gone through in the last year. There were stories shared in this book that made me feel physically ill. Many of them brought up memories of growing up in Evangelicalism and the ingrained sense of guilt that I carried (and carry still) in regards to my own body and sexuality.
Having said all that, this is a very necessary book. Linda Kay Klein’s voice is desperately needed as we attempt to unravel all of the damage done in the name of purity.
We need to be able to listen to the many many stories out there of very real people who have been harmed and traumatized by purity culture. If we cannot acknowledge how the children of my generation when purity culture was at its peak, we cannot have any hope of doing better for our children or their children.
We absolutely can do better.
Recursion by Blake Crouch (Finished August 31)
This was the second novel that I read to help my brain rest after all of the hard things I’d been focusing on. This one was… okay.
I was intrigued by the premise: an epidemic, called False Memory Syndrome (FMS), is sweeping the nation. This condition hits without warning and no one knows how a person happens to become sick. What is known, however, is that once a person is afflicted with FMS, they suddenly have years of false memories stuck in their brain. These memories seem as real as any other memory. The false memories tell them stories of other lives they’ve lived. Children they had, who never existed. Partners they’ve spent their lives with, who they’ve never met.
As the book began to explore the story behind FMS and the search for a cure, it felt like things began to drag. The story seemed to become more and more implausible, and I found myself getting bored with it.
This may be because I really am not a science fiction person. It may just not have been my taste. I did rate it 3/5 stars on Goodreads though.
That’s it for August’s reads. Have you read any of these books? I’d love to know your thoughts. Let me know in the comments!