Spring is in the air. I love the whole ‘crisp in the morning and warm sun in the afternoon’ thing that we have going on here in Knoxville right now. As you know from my last post, we’re in a season of transition here at The Happy Envelope, too. We’re moving to our new Kingston Pike location later this summer, but have to be out of our current Homberg space by April’s end.
I’m looking forward to our dreamy, new space (squeeeeeal!) but I’m also a little hesitant about this summer. Hopefully, it will be a gift for Ty and me: time to refresh, focus on our upcoming move, and enjoy the company of our three girls and each other. We’re usually so work focused. A part of me is all, “What am I going to do with my time?”
Enter my Favorite Pastime: give me a book, a blanket, a cozy chair—I’m a happy camper. Fiction, memoir, theology, biography: sign me up for all of ‘em. I have a stack that I’m still trying to get to (yes: I still read books that are printed on paper. How novel!) In the meantime, I want to share a few of my favorites with you. This list paints with a broad brush: fiction, memoir, mystery, devotional, children’s… I’m covering a little bit of everything!
New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp
For years, this devotional has been my birthday gift give-away, until finally all my friends were like, “Sarah: stop giving me this book. You gave it to me last year.” It’s simply the gospel every day, which perhaps sounds repetitive and dull, until you read it regularly and realize how often you forget the gospel. It turns out, I need quite a bit of reminding.
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This is one of those great fiction books with a little bit of everything: mystery and intrigue, love, twists and turns, incest (WAIT. WHAT?) It’s well-crafted and solidly written. And despite the touch of afore-mentioned incest, it’s not dark or hard to read at all: it’s just a good page-turner.
Still Waiting by Ann Swindell
With a subtitle of, “Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want,” who can pass? Which of us doesn’t have something we’ve dreamed of, wished for, prayed over, or misunderstood in our life? This was an impulse purchase for me, knowing almost nothing about it when I ordered it, and I devoured it in two days. Swindell’s story is moving and the truths she draws out are applicable to anyone who finds themselves longing for things to be different.
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
Perhaps this one is top of mind: I just hosted my book club this week, and we discussed Jayber Crow. This novel reads like nothing I’ve read before. Each page is filled with lines that made me pause, ponder, re-read. It’s like reading half poetry and half fiction. The story overflows with small truths about everything from the church to the importance of community to the flaws with ‘progress’. Beautifully written: be prepared to take your time with it.
Baby Bird and the Great Gift by Sally Lloyd Jones
Almost every time I read this book to Eden at bedtime, I find myself tearing up. First of all, the illustrations by Jen Corace are gorgeous, energetic and colorful. Second, Baby Wren just wonders why she can’t be like these other animals with all of their flashy abilities? She wonders why everyone else is doing so many better things than she is. (Hmmm… does that sound familiar to anyone?) If you need a reminder that God created you to be YOU, this will be the needed salve.
God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life by Tim Keller
So, let me know if you don’t need God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life. Oh, nobody? That’s right.
This little—practically pocket-sized—devotional from the book of Proverbs has hit me between the eyes and straight to the heart, over and over again. My copy is dog-eared and underlined. The obsession with Tim Keller continues… he’s the only author on my list twice.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Little Owen Meany will always have a place in my heart. He’s a picture of Jesus: misunderstood, delightful, and ultimately sacrificial. While every box doesn’t check for that analogy, the thread connecting the two is clear. Irving writes a believable, beautiful novel about a relationship between two boys who need one another. PS: If you’ve seen the movie, they are practically nothing alike. Don’t even begin to think you already know the story!
LIT by Mary Karr
This is one of my favorites stories of redemption. Karr beautifully and honestly writes the account of her descent into the bottle and back out of it. I like this part of the way Amazon describes it, “An oddball tribe of gurus and saviors awakens her to the possibility of joy and leads her to an unlikely faith. Not since Saint Augustine cried, 'Give me chastity, Lord-but not yet!' has a conversion story rung with such dark hilarity.” That about sums it up just right.
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
When it comes to Bible study, If you’ve ever thought any of the following, then this book is for you:
- This workbook is dumb.
- I’m dumb.
- My pastor is so smart.
- I need to know the Bible better.
I’ve been participating in and leading Bible studies and small groups for years, and I’ve never before read these practical tips on how to study the Word of God for myself. The title is actually misleading: there’s no reason at all that a man can’t apply these methods and increase in knowledge and understanding. These easy-to-follow structures are tools in your tool belt, my friend. Get cracking!
Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller
Owning my own creative business is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s also one of the most satisfying things that I’ve done. It’s work. It can be hard. But it’s creative, and a passion, and it can be so good. The title of Keller’s book comes from the liner notes of John Coltrane’s famous album, “A Love Supreme,”:
This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say ‘THANK YOU GOD’ through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues. May He help and strengthen all men in every good endeavor.
My copy of this book is more highlighted, crumpled, and written in than any other book I own. I have practically washed it with my own tears. The encouragement to make work a ‘THANK YOU GOD’ rather than an ‘ALL ABOUT SARAH’ or even, ‘ALL ABOUT CIRCUMSTANCES’ is much-needed, even to this day.