October Book Reviews
Surprised By Joy: The Shape of My Early Life
Lewis writes about how he came to faith -- or better put, how he lost his faith as a teenager, became atheist, then became Christian in his later years. He states that this is not an autobiography; he leaves out details he deems unnecessary to the overall scope of the memoir, but there is still plenty of memories he shares that help the reader learn about many aspects of his early life that shaped his later literary genius. His honest and raw writing was in part new and exciting (I am used to his fiction) but at the same time familiar and endearing (I told Greg it was learning about the life of an old friend). Lewis starts off Belfast, where he spent his early childhood, to miserable boarding school experiences, the trenches of WWI, and eventually to Oxford (where he "reasoned his way back to God").
I loved Surprised By Joy. It was extremely interesting to catch a glimpse inside young Lewis' upbringing and experiences, many of which affected his writing. My favorite: his childhood drawings and writings about a fictional Animal Land echoed the later literary masterpiece that is the Narnia books. If you've read some of Lewis' books and have any curiosity of the man behind the books, then I wholeheartedly recommend picking up Surprised By Joy.
For Women Only: What You Need To Know About the Inner Lives of Men
Shaunti attempts to answer a question that many women wish they knew: What goes on in a man's mind? Rather than being sarcastic and ridiculing men, she respectfully uses research data she's compiled to discuss seven different areas she wants women to understand about the men in their lives, including that men need respect, men are insecure (despite their "in control" exterior) and often feel like impostors, men are visual, and men enjoy romance (though sometimes hesitate because they doubt they can succeed).
Overall, I liked the book. I think there is some great conversation-starters for the men in your lives. I read part of the book when I was in my early twenties and single. It helped me see the importance of being careful with my words towards my brothers and other men in my life because my sarcastic jokes where stemmed in disrespect. And now, having read it on our honeymoon, it was a good chance to pick Greg's brain and ask what he thought of different things Feldman discussed. We agreed that there was definitely a lot of great research, but that she often placed blanket statements that we didn't feel neccesarily applied to all men. Just because a majority of the 800 men voted a certain way did not mean there were not outliers, so we were a bit put-off by some of her "revelations" that she stated as facts. This said, I do not want to minimize that Shaunti does an excellent job of respectfully diving into some differences in a man's mind that are beneficial for a woman to better understand. I think it is a great starting place for conversations with the men we love, with the caveat that these men may have completely different responses and thoughts than what is stated as normal in For Women Only. Just as we women have a variety of personalities, likes and dislikes, desires, and needs, men are also nonidentical and shouldn't all be thrown into the same box.
A Moment of Weakness
Jade Conner and Tanner Eastman are best friends as children even though their family lives could not be more different than each other. At ten years old, Jade moves with her dad to Kelso, Washington while Tanner stays on the East coast. They're reinitiated ten years later in Kelso when Tanner takes an intern position in town. They reconnect and spend a summer falling in love, but in a moment of weakness (cue the title), their lives are forever changed and they're love is shattered.
Ten years later, they're both religious freedom fighters in their own way -- Jade in her community as a mom concerned for what children are exposed to, and Tanner as a lawyer defending clients who have been wronged because of their Christian views. They reconnect because Jade is desperate for help when she is threatened to lose her only child to her ex-husband, who claims her Christian worldview is brainwashing their son.
Originally published fifteen years ago, this novel hits close to home more than ever before as new legal cases against Christians are brought in the spotlight, most notably the Oregon bakers who were sued for respectfully denying to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Kingsbury uses her superb fiction writing to highlight an area she feels strongly about -- defending Christian freedoms as a constitutional right. Though there's several underlying plots that sometimes veer the reader against this overarching theme, Kingsbury is able to get several messages across. I recommend it for an easy read that will make you think.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free through Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.
You and Me Forever
Francis and Lisa Chan
7 Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness
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