Would you look at that? Another month and another four books have just flown by!
You’ve gotta love summer reading, don’t you? More uninterrupted time to sink into a world that isn’t your own. More of what you want to read and less of what you have to read. And, hey, if you can throw in some excellent environmental conditions (beach/pool side or in the cool of the AC), all the better!
As my reading tends to do, this month’s selections tipped the scales in the direction of the secular. What can I say? I am working to expand my horizons in the area of Catholic/Christian formation and personal development, but I’m a newbie. (That said, please leave any recommendations in the comments!)
Without further ado…here’s my July book stack!
Crazy Rich Asians
I heard about this book when Anne Bogel recommended it to a reader on her podcast What Should I Read Next? (Excellent podcast, btw! If you are a literature lover, you should totally check it out!) She had been talking to someone about books that were page-turners, not too deep, and had really interesting characters. It sounded interesting, so I checked it out!
Now, funny story. When my family would ask what I was reading and I’d tell them the name of this book, I’d get some funny looks. They’re all used to me reading stuff that could be turned into a PBS/BBC Masterpiece series and this certainly didn’t fit that description. So then, I would say, Well, it’s about a Chinese American girl who starts dating her Singaporean coworker who turns out to be a bazillionaire and then hijinks ensue. Then they’d be all Ahhhhhhhh, gotcha. Apparently, novels pertaining to wealth, travel, class differences, and romance are within what they would call my wheelhouse.
All that to say, I really enjoyed it! The end was a little abrupt, but it seems that’s usually the case with this type of novel. It’s the first in a series, though, so I’m considering checking out what comes next. Also, the movie based on this book hits theaters on August 15 and based on this trailer…I AM HERE FOR IT!
Beatriz Williams’ Jazz Age Novels
So let me ask you. Do any of the following descriptors strike your fancy when it comes to choosing your next novel?
- historical fiction
- slightly sultry (but not over the top)
- family connections
- WWI and/or WWII
Yes? Well then, dearie, have I got an author for you!
I got totally and completely hooked on Beatriz Williams and her ridiculously addictive books about 2 years ago when I read A Hundred Summers. With that novel, I fell in love and I fell hard. Williams sucks you into her early 20th century world of glitz and glamour, love and loss and keeps you enchanted with every word. I’ve recommended her to a couple friends before and they don’t seem to be quite sure whether to thank me or blame me! It’s not an exaggeration to say that these are books that make you forget to make dinner. If Netflix can be a babysitter, than these books are Mom-sitters.
A Certain Age and Wicked City are two of the three books in Williams’ Jazz Age Trilogy. Cocoa Beach rounds out the trilogy and I’ll give you exactly one guess as to the first book listed on my upcoming August reads post! These books are chock full of intrigue, suspense, some serious romance, and all of the craziness surrounding the 18th amendment in the 1920s (that’s the Prohibition era, kids!). And, as she usually does, Williams weaves a web of characters that float between the three novels. This technique really draws the reader in and keeps them coming back for more. I highly recommend!
Life of the Beloved
OK. Are y’all ready for a hard left turn? Because this is where I totally shift gears on you. Time for some spiritual direction and formation. Are you ready?
My first exposure to Henri Nouwen (pronounced “now-when”) came from listening to the Abiding Together Podcast. (Are you sensing a theme? Apparently, if you want me to read it, you’d better podcast about it.) This book was featured as their Lenten book study earlier this year, but I didn’t get around to reading it until just now.
The subtitle “Spiritual Living in a Secular World” seems a little misleading to me, if I’m honest. I think a better one would be “Four ways to recognize and come to believe you really ARE beloved of God.” But, I guess that’s probably a little long, right? It is a “secular” book, though, in that I really think it could be read by anyone and not just Catholics. For someone looking to become more secure in the beliefs that God loves them and that they are worthy of that love, this book is excellent.
It was a quick read in that it wasn’t too lofty or difficult to understand. What took the most time was all of the highlighting and rereading of the highlights I made! Unfortunately, I borrowed it from the library on my Kindle, so my notes are not my own. I only have access to them for the next week or so before the book disappears from my queue. But if the amount of highlighting I did is any indication of the quality of the book and what I got from it, I really should just go by it in print. So, so much goodness about our Father’s love for us and how we can be that love to the world.
And now, just because I love you, I want to share a couple of images I made with my favorite quotes from the book. Maybe they’ll spark your interest and you’ll pick up a copy for yourself.