books · literature

September Reads

Another month has gone by and a new list of books has been added to my “finished reading” list on Good Reads!

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Finished September 14)

This is a classic that I find myself returning to again and again. I don’t even care that it’s a cliché for a woman, particularly a Christian woman (why do we all adore Austen and this particular novel so much??) to read this. I love it and I won’t apologize for it.

I admire Elizabeth’s strength to stand up against her mother’s pressure to simply see her girls married. Mrs. Bennet longs to see her girls married to men who could advance her family’s reputation and/or financial situation, but anyone, it seems, would do. Elizabeth’s younger sisters seem to have fully ingested their mother’s Koolaid, and just want to be married. To anyone. Marriage was their idol.

I admire Jane’s kindness and her resolution to only ever see the good in others. I recall that the first time I read this book, Jane annoyed me severely. I thought her incredibly naïve. Now, I find her character to be beautiful. Funny how perspectives can change over time.

I have thoughts on other characters in this novel, but I want to keep this short. I will just say that I love how rich and complex Austen created each of her characters to be.

 

Another Day (Every Day #2) by David Levithan (Finished September 20)

 

This was the second book in the Every Day series, a book about a disembodied soul who changes bodies every day and ends up falling in love with a teenaged girl named Rhiannon.

This book is exactly the same story as the first leg of this series, except this time it’s told from Rhiannon’s perspective. I expected to be bored hearing the same story twice, but I found that it was interesting how different the same story can sound coming from another perspective. Whereas A, our disembodied soul friend, idolized and worshipped the ground Rhiannon walked on in the first book, here you discover that she really is a normal teenaged girl; flaws and all.

 

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung (Finished September 26)

 

All you can Ever Know is a memoir written by Nicole Chung. Chung, who was born to an immigrant family from Korea and adopted at two months of age by a White couple, details her life growing up in a mostly white city where she rarely ever saw people who looked like her. She discusses how she came to the point of reaching out to her birth family, the journey that she took to get in touch with them, and the response she felt from her adoptive parents as she voiced her desire to be in touch with them.

Chung describes the many emotions she had as she attempted to connect with her sisters and her birth parents. She shares how their relationships began from tender and anxious moments, the barriers they faced as they had to decide if there was a possibility in pursuing a deeper connection, and where they ended up at the time of the book’s publication.

I loved this book. I think Chung’s voice is desperately needed today as part of the conversation both around what it means to be adopted (particularly as a Person of Colour being adopted into a White family), as well as the importance of acknowledging race and colour and validating the POC experience in mainly White spaces.

 

The View From Rock Bottom: Discovering God’s Embrace In Our Pain (Finished September 30)

 

I’ve followed Stephanie Tait on social media for about 3 years now, I believe, and I’ve always adored her voice of passion. She speaks so honestly and authentically about what it means to deal with pain. Not just the physical variety, but emotional wounds as well.

She’s been very outspoken about her journey to being diagnosed with Lyme Disease, a condition that she has lived with for nearly 2 decades before finally being diagnosed. She has also been very open about her own adoption story, and the hurt she has experienced related to that.

She does not do as many of us who grew up in the evangelical church were taught; she does not suppress her hurt and pain for the comfort of others, nor does she try to wipe it all away with some empty Christianism like, “count it all joy!”

She gets to the core of the topic of suffering. Tait points out in her book that the Evangelical church has caved to the prosperity gospel when it comes to suffering. While many Evangelicals will rebuke what we often think of as the prosperity gospel, the name-it-and-claim-it promises of wealth and happiness, we still see the prosperity gospel formula thriving within our church walls. The idea that if we do the right things, pray the right prayers, and have enough faith that God will eventually bless our efforts with healing is, in fact, a form of the prosperity gospel.

I love her insight. I can see how in my journey, as a woman who has suffered from chronic pain for most of her life, I have also fallen for the idolatry of the prosperity gospel on occasion. I have allowed myself to believe that if I have enough faith and patience, God has to eventually heal me. But that promise is given nowhere in Scripture.

Tait is also careful to note that it is not wise to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and become cynical. God does not promise us healing, but He also does not *not* promise it. He can heal if He chooses. And sometimes, He does. But it is never based on the worthiness of our faith or works.

It is dangerous and harmful to say otherwise.

If you have ever struggled with any sort of suffering: physical, emotional, financial, etc… I would recommend this book to you. Tait’s perspective is one that the Church needs to hear. Her message is one of encouragement to those who grieve.

Have you read any of these books? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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