October Reads

This one is much later than I planned. Life happened, and it got delayed.

I’m rethinking my monthly posts on this subject. I feel like I come across so much good content in a month: books, articles, podcasts, even music that I would love to expand how I catalogue everything that has spoken to me. Whether that’s a new format in my posting or a monthly newsletter, I’m unsure. I’ll have to ponder on that for a while. If you have preferences, let me know here or by using the contact form 🙂

Without further ado, here are alllll the books I read in October:

Vox by Christina Dalcher (finished October 3)

Vox is a dystopian work written in the same vein as The Handmaid’s Tale or Red Clocks. Dalchar invites the reader to imagine an America where women have literally been silenced. Every girl and grown woman must wear a tracker on her wrist that counts the number of words she speaks each day. If she surpasses 100 words in a single day, she experiences an electric shock bad enough to leave burn marks behind. Women are no longer legally allowed to work in any profession. A woman’s body is so strictly guarded that any sort of sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage is enough to have her sent to a prison camp.

And in the midst of this, linguistic expert Jean McClellan is given a rare opportunity by the president of the United States to use her voice.

I enjoyed the plot of this book. It was intriguing enough to capture my attention until the end. I really wasn’t a fan of any of the characters, however. And I’m not sure that I was meant to be. The story is set in a very hard and miserable time, and that will affect people’s personalities.

I think if you liked The Handmaid’s Tale and Red Clocks, you’ll probably also appreciate this book.

Catching Your Breath: The Sacred Journey from Chaos to Calm by Steve Austin (Finished October 12)

This book was written by Steve Austin to share his personal journey that took him from the brink of suicide, crippling anxiety, depression, and shame to healing. He shares his story in such a transparent way that invites the readers to not only take his words to heart but to also find themselves in his story. Am I also prone to perfectionism? How has my spiritual life affected my psyche, etc… I deeply appreciated how he approached each topic with a genuine heart to help others find peace in their lives.

There really was only one point that really pulled me out of the book and made me feel disappointed. There was a moment in which he alluded to David’s rape of Bathsheba as adultery. It wasn’t entirely surprising, nor do I blame Austin for including it in his book because this narrative is so pervasive in Evangelicalism. It’s easy to perpetuate it without much thought. I do hope, however, that if Austin releases another edition of the book, he will consider removing it.

Overall? I loved this book and would recommend it.

A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming by Kerri Rawson (Finished October 19)

Kelly Rawson, daughter of the infamous BTK Killer, bared her soul in this memoir. She traces her family’s story from before she was born to her father’s capture and imprisonment. She describes in great detail the trauma she suffered when she discovered who her father was and what he’d done and the steps she took to find healing.

This book was hard to get into in the beginning. I really hate to say that because this is a story of a real human being who lived through something most of us could never even imagine. However, the first half of the book seemed to be lacking somehow. I’m unsure if she wasn’t given helpful guidance on how to structure her book, or if there was a lack of authenticity. Rawson often seemed on the brink of digging into trauma she and her family suffered growing up due to her father, but then pulled back. Which is understandable. It’s a very vulnerable thing to lay out your entire life in a book.

My heart went out to her in the end when she seemed to believe that forgiving her father meant keeping a relationship with him. It is entirely possible that for her it does mean that, but having grown up in the same tradition she did I cannot help but feel that she’s been taught some very bad theology around forgiveness.

I will own that it’s also entirely possible that I’m reading too much into it. I don’t know Rawson, so I really cannot judge that.

I admire Rawson’s strength in taking back her identity. I admire her strength in getting help when she’s needed it. I admire her strength in owning her story.

Educated by Tara Westover (Finished October 28)

This was my final read for October. It was a surprisingly emotional read for me as I was able to spot so much of my own story in these pages. While our lives were not exact parallels by any means, there were patterns in her story that also appeared in mine. It resonated with me quite deeply.

Tara was born into a fundamentalist and survivalist Mormon family in the mountains of Idaho, USA. Her only schooling was a handful of textbooks her mother bought when she was small and the words of Joseph Smith.

She describes her narcissistic and mentally ill father who believed that he was a mouthpiece for God and who controlled his family’s every move. She describes her mother’s lack of agency in her own life and eventual blooming into her own brand of narcissism.

She describes the sibling abuse she suffered at the hands of her older brother, and how she was disowned by her own parents (and several of her siblings) when she tried to call their attention to it.

Westover also discusses her decision to go to Brigham Young University in Utah at the age of 17 and how that eventually led to her earning a Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 2014.

It’s not an easy read, by any means. But Westover’s strength and courage are admirable and inspiring. I really loved this book.

That’s it for this month. Check back in a few weeks for November Reads!

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