Month in Books: November 2014

It’s December! Where has the year gone?

Anyway, I’m putting my excitement for Christmas on hold just long enough to write up my November wrap-up – here it is!

The Body – Stephen King – 4 stars This is a really interesting autobiography; it centres around one main event in King’s childhood, and builds up everything around it. With emphasis on writing techniques and routes, this book makes for a really interesting read.

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal – J.K. Rowling – 5 stars I thought it was time to read a whole novel in Spanish, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone seemed like a good place to start! I’d forgotten how much fun this book was.

Northern Lights – Philip Pullman – 4 stars My second re-read of the month! I love this story and setting so much, and the protagonist, Lyra, is just fantastic. I’m glad I read this one, but I don’t plan to go back to the other two; I felt like the shift into a second world and the concentrated antitheism let the series down for me.

The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter – 4 stars This is actually one of my set texts for later on in my course, so I’ll probably have to go back to it again next year. It’s a collection of Ms. Carter’s takes on popular fairy tales and folklore, all beautifully written and most pretty dark. It’s really interesting to see the famous stories re-interpreted, and to understand what someone else views as the important components of the classic tales.

How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell – 4 stars I reviewed this here! I really enjoyed this little children’s book: set in the dark ages, vikings and dragons wrestle for superiority in a series of comedic and touching events. Not to be compared with the movie.

The Red Necklace – Sally Gardner – 4 stars I must have been feeling nostalgic this month, because this is my third re-read of a book I loved when I was younger. This is set in Revolution-era France, and is just fantastic. Scary, romantic and a little bit weird, I absolutely recommend this. Also the audiobook is read by Tom Hiddleston, so…

The Pursuit of God – A.W. Tozer – 5 stars This was my first time reading a proper theological book, and I really loved this one! It was both practical and inspiring, and really well written. I’ll be picking this one up again!

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness – Timothy Keller – 5 stars This is a tiny little book, but it’s full of really solid advice. Insecurity is loud and confidence is knowing you’re loved as-is. Highly recommended read!

The Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis – 5 stars  I read more Christian non-fiction this month than I have in my LIFE, but I really enjoyed it! This one is more in the realms of apologetics: why does suffering happen, and how can an all-loving God condone it? Eloquently presented and thoroughly explored, this book taught me that C.S. Lewis is well-respected and over-quoted for a reason.

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend – Kody Keplinger – 4 stars I heard a movie adaptation was on its way, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and pick up the e-book. I read it in one sitting. I think I’d call it a YA romance, but it did feel like it was considering some much more profound issues. I didn’t agree with everything implied, or particularly appreciate the emotional sparsity, but on the whole the book kept me hooked and I managed to get really invested in the characters. A fun, quick read.

Divine Healing: A Scriptural Approach to Sickness, Faith and Healing – Andrew Murray – 4 stars I was a bit unsure about this book at first: the first few chapters felt a bit repetitive and I wondered whether the great points Mr. Murray was putting across actually needed to be a whole book. About halfway through I felt a shift, and there was suddenly a lot more fresh and diverse material to get my teeth into. Because the subject of this book is something I haven’t read a lot about, I really appreciated the frequent Bible references, so I could go and look up evidence for myself. It’s important not to accept everything you read, even if it is a ‘Christian’ book! I did walk away feeling inspired and empowered, so I’d recommend this!

Eleven books! I’m quite pleased with that, considering I’ve been flooded with passages to read for my course. Have you read any of the books on the list? What was your favourite read of November?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

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World Cup Inspired: France

If you weren’t aware, the FIFA World Cup is in full swing, sparking good-natured national rivalry across the globe. I decided it would be fun to pick a country, and find books that I’ve read that offer a representation of said country, whether that be historically, culturally or linguistically. Today (or at least, as I write this) France plays Germany! I’ve chosen to pick books based on France not necessarily because I support them but because the books I’ve read about Germany tend to be focused around the World Wars, which I didn’t feel was a fair representation of the country.

  • Revolution – Jennifer Donnelly This YA historical fiction is grossly under-appreciated. Two girls from different centuries find that their paths collide in Paris, only to discover that they are not alone in their struggles. It’s been a long time since I read this, but I will say this: no plot summary can do justice to the brilliant work that is this book. Five stars from me!
  • The Red Necklace – Sally Gardner Don’t worry – this is the last one related to the French revolution! Sally Gardner is one of my favourite authors both for YA and Adult literature, and this was the book that introduced me to her. This historical fiction blends magic realism, fantasy and romance to make one of my all-time favourite novels. Another five stars!
  • Waiting for Anya – Michael Morpurgo I think, being a Michael Morpurgo book, we can all assume that this is going to be a heart-warming and tenderly told read. Set in the Second World War, the story follows an endeavour to rescue Jewish children from the Nazi regime. A really touching children’s book that receives 4 stars from me.
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick Recently adapted into a movie, this beautiful YA/children’s book blends illustration and prose to create a completely original steam-punk-esque depiction of 1930’s Paris. Definitely recommended for all ages; you’ll fall in love with orphaned Hugo as he searches for answers. 4 stars!
  • Chocolat – Joanne Harris This one’s a movie, too! When slightly eccentric mother and daughter move to a little French village, they create a stir. The unheard-of blasphemy of opening a chocolaterie during Lent means that tension is manifest. Beautifully written and sensitively told, Chocolat is a really fantastic novel that I gave 4 stars.
  • La Parure – Guy de Maupassant To my shame, this is the only book on my list that was originally written in French. It’s a short story published in English as “The Necklace.” A comment on consumerism and an exploration of human nature, this is well worth a read. (As it’s such a short work, I’m hesitant to attempt a plot summary for fear of diminishing the reading experience!) That’s 3 stars from me.

If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to know what you thought of them! Also, who are you supporting this World Cup? Are there any books about France that you’d recommend? Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!