4 Books I Loved in 2015

I know it’s already February, and this really is more of a January thing to do, but I want to tell you about a few books I really enjoyed reading in 2015.

Part of becoming a better writer is making sure I am challenging myself to read.  That may not be something you feel like you need in your life, if not, that’s ok.  No pressure.  Move on.  

I loved reading as a kid.  I begged my mom for books at the store.  I begged to go to the library.  As I came into adulthood and parenthood, I didn’t think I had time for reading that was just fun, just for me.  I read stuff that I needed to read as a mom, as a home school mom, as a Sunday school teacher, but anything else was spotty.  Sometimes in the summer I would try to get through 5 fun books, stuff like fiction or biographies of famous people.  Even that didn’t happen every summer.

I’m reading more, and it feels like self-care.  If reading doesn’t feel like self-care to you, let it go.  Do something that speaks to you as a person.

But if you’re like me, and you love books, here’s some I can recommend.

I’ve picked 4 books I loved in 2015.  Only one of them was released in 2015, because like I explained before, I’m playing catch up.

Here we go:

1.  Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne

Oh my, how I need this message.  I can be so judgmental, you don’t even know.  I get on high horses all the time.  If you don’t know that about me, then I’ve done a great job hiding that part of my personality from you.  Let me just pull back the curtain and tell you, I’m a crappy person sometimes.  I’m working on it.  This book was SO good for me.  I have to give credit to my husband.  He bought this book.  (Not for me.  That would be jerky.)  He bought it for himself because apparently being prideful and pharisaical is probably a universal struggle.  He thought he needed it.  My husband read it, and from his thoughts about the book, I knew I needed to read it.

I am honestly putting this book on my list because I’ve been thinking I might need to reread it.  It was that impactful.  There is a section of the book called “Gift Projection: When My Calling Becomes Everyone Else’s Calling.”  If you don’t think that’s a struggle for me, just read a few of my blog posts.  My toes are still red and swollen from that section of the book.

No one starts out with the desire to become a Pharisee. They’re the bad guys. We all know that... But the truth is that accidental Pharisees are made up of people just like you and me, people who love God, love the Scriptures, and are trying their best to live by them. The thing to note about accidental Pharisees is just that. They’re accidental. They’re like dinner at Denny’s. No one plans to go there. You just end up there. So how does it happen?
— Larry Osborne, Accidental Pharisees



2.  Aloof by Tony Kriz

I absolutely love this book.  It is honest and full of spiritual incite.  There are things about God that I now treasure because I began pondering them after things Tony shared in this book.  I know that’s a tall order, but it is true.  He brought up several ideas that sent me back to Scripture to search out and understand God a little deeper.  That might be the ironic thing.  The book is all about how aloof God is, and I feel like I know Him a little better for it.

Let me give you one example.  Chapter 19, The Ten Virgins, talks about how our relationship with God is explained with the marriage metaphor.  We all know that the church is the bride of Christ.  Tony asks the question, if it would be more truthful to explain it as a betrothal metaphor.  Our wedding feast hasn’t come.  Our wedding feast is described in Revelation 19.  Reading this, going back and rereading parables, I am convinced he is right.  I don’t know God like I know my husband James.  We aren’t to that stage of our relationship.  I will know God with that intimacy someday, but not before Heaven.

That’s just one example of the thoughtful examination Tony puts into this beautiful book.

Throughout history we Jesus-folk have been trying to close the gap between God’s revealed abilities and desires and our actual daily experience. The dissonance and disconnect is so strong that we will even believe in a tortilla just to quiet the loneliness.
— Tony Kriz, Aloof


3.  My First White Friend by Patricia Raybon

I bought this book from Patricia when she visited Amarillo, and she inscribed it to me “with love.”  But as she wrote these words, she gave a disclaimer, “This is my angry book.”  She maybe felt that I would become angry reading her words.  Well that didn’t happen.  I didn’t find her book angry at all.  The book was truthful, insightful, and full of hard-earned grace.  I was so grateful to get to see some of her life experience and perspective being a upper-class, black women in Colorado durning the 1950s through the 1990s.  We can’t fully step into her shoes, but this book allows us to dip a toe in.  I encourage you to do so.  I love true-life stories, and this book is full of completely interesting life stories, now vividly painted into my brain.

Love triumphs, Merton wrote, ‘at least in this life, not by eliminating evil once for all but by resisting and overcoming it anew every day.’ Because sin isn’t going away.
Racial sin will rise up every time. And racial ‘victims’ can vainly try to answer it with sin — its own punishment, as the Catholic saint Thomas Aquinas put it. Certainly, I have sinned in my life by hating white people, especially for their privilege, and hating myself for not having enough of the same thing. And I have been hated by them in return.
This sin must be answered, I see now — for my own sake surely — and answered best perhaps with the crushing weight of forgiveness, freeing, as Aquinas said, the ‘oppressed and the oppressor together.’
That is good colored stuff, no matter who says it. And it feels good to consider, even as I try it anew every day — and often fail at it. But I can try it again the next morning because of something curious:
Forgiveness just isn’t a one-time thing.
— Patricia Raybon, My First White Friend

4.  Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I loved this book.  It was like reading a Wes Anderson movie.  It was, in my imagination, vividly stunning.  The details were so quirky and unique that I couldn’t help but fill my head with the described surroundings.  I have read news that they are making it into a film, and I know I will be disappointed because it could never be as I outrageously imagined it.  Although, Cate Blanchett would be a beautiful choice for Bernadette Fox.

This humorous book was so fun to read because so much of it is written in notes, emails, memos, and journal entries.

Monday, November 22 / Note from Ms. Goodyear sent home in the Monday Messenger / Dear parents, This is to clarify that Bernadette Fox, Bee Branch’s mother, was driving the vehicle that ran over the other parent’s foot. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend despite the rain. Kindly, Gwen Goodyear, Head of School.
— Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

That’s my list.  Enjoy!  Read on!



My favorite band, Dr. Dog, came out with a new album this week.  Of coarse I'm going to share.  And I'm a sucker for songs about listening to music.