Recent Reads

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The past few months, I've been squeezing in lots of time with books. Far from being an inactive ambition, reading is about living and thinking fully. As Will Schwalbe wrote, "reading is not the opposite of doing; it is the opposite of dying."

As you will see, I tend to alternate between fiction and non-fiction titles to mix things up.

Jayber-CrowJayber Crow by Wendell Berry ***

There is something very satisfying about finishing a well-read novel and this masterpiece by Wendell Berry is no exception. Set in a small town in Kentucky from the 1920's-1980's, the book follows the life of an orphaned boy named Jayber who later becomes the town barber. The premise may sound less than intriguing, but the prose is poetic and the final sentence leaves you stunned by the pure beauty of the story.

bread-and-wineBread & Wine by Shauna Niequist ***

Part memoir/part cookbook, this 2013 book by the daughter of Bill Hybels is exquisite. Shauna invites her readers into the painful corners of her heart and also gently prods them to become better friends + better hosts. The book is about hospitality and intentionality, but it's also a celebration of food and friendship. When I closed the last page, I wanted to be a more thoughtful friend...and I wanted to go out and buy some champagne. A perfect pick for a book club!

Ender's-GameEnder's Game by Orson Scott Card

Originally published in 1994, this worldwide bestseller is a science-fiction novel where children are trained as soldiers to prepare them for a fight against alien beings from across the galaxy. As is characteristic of dystopian young adult lit, the story has some disturbing scenes and a less than happy ending. I sympathized with the plight of Ender Wiggins. In many ways, it is a modern "Lord of the Flies." A movie was released in November 2013, but I'm not sure if I want to see it.

Lean-In-by-Sheryl-SandbergLean In by Sheryl Sandberg ***

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, writes a smart manifesto about "women, work, and the will to lead." Sandberg confronts the reality of gender inequity in the workplace (and in the home) and calls women to "take a seat at the table" in politics, corporations, and non-profits. She also writes candidly about work-life balance and motherhood. A compelling read for both men and women. Another excellent pick for a book club - in the workplace or among friends.

steal-like-an-artistSteal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Written by Austin Kleon from Austin, Texas, this short and visual pocketbook offers "ten things nobody tells you about being creative." One reviewer called it a "breezy" read and I agree with that descriptor. It's fast-paced and bite-sized. Pick it up and read it in less than an hour for a bit of inspiration.

the-secret-scriptureThe Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

Published in 2009, Barry's novel follows Roseanne McNulty, a woman in her nineties who lives in a mental institution in Ireland. Through her own accounts and the written reports of her psychiatrist, the book outlines the mystery of her childhood and what brought her to her current state. A heart wrenching (and sometimes slow-moving) mystery - difficult to read at parts. Somewhat unbelievable, but also quote-worthy at parts. Not a must-read.

platform-by-michael-hyattPlatform by Michael Hyatt

Written by the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and a top blogger on the topic of leadership, I picked up this book because I've enjoyed some of Hyatt's blog posts on technology, family, and social media. I admire Hyatt's business sensibilities and the platform he has created in the crowded blogosphere. I also am encouraged by his longstanding marriage + friendship with his wife and adore the fact that he has five daughters (rare for a CEO to have a big family). This particular work would probably have been even better suited as an e-book since the digital world is changing so quickly.

the-end-of-your-life-book-clubThe End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

This is Will's memoir of the last years with his mother, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in her seventies. Mary Ann is clearly a strong woman - thoughtful, kind, and passionate - and this book is a beautiful tribute by her son. He writes about the books that they share and the conversations that follow. Even though I didn't always agree with her politics, I especially related to Mary Ann's belief that education and literacy will spark change - even in the most war-torn places. I closed the pages and immediately followed the International Rescue Commission on twitter.


What have you been reading?

* The three books with stars are the ones that I loved the most and highly recommend.

* I just joined goodreads (I have no idea why I didn't do it before!) to chronicle and rate the books that I read. Any tips for a newbie? Friend me if you would like to discuss books and keep up with what I'm reading.

©2024 Stephanie Sheaffer - All Rights Reserved
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