Can’t let 30 days of gratitude not include books!

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Books I’m currently reading include:

The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

The Christian Athiest by Craig Groeshel

Villette by Charlotte Bronte

?Come Walk With Me: A Practical Guide to Knowing Christ Intimately and Passing it On by Carol Mayhall

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So grateful for books and the friends who recommend great titles.

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Earlier this summer I asked people to tell me about their summer reads.  One thing that made me happy was the excitement that came when people shared about the books they were reading. This leads me to make an announcement:
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In this media saturated culture—books are still important!
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Here’s a compilation of the titles some of my friends have read this summer:
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Sunny has shared some great titles with me over the years. Her summer list includes:
Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa
The Walk by Richard Paul Evans
The Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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Holly offered these titles:
Major Pettigrews Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Kingdom Keepers III by Ridley Pearson
Ghosts of Tsavo by Phillip Cavuto
Wrestling Prayer by Eric & Leslie Ludy
The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharius
Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas
Eat the Cookie Buy the Shoes by Joyce Meyer
Authentic Faith by Gary Thomas
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
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Diane shared her list:
You Never Stop Being a Parent- Thriving in Relationship with your Adult Children by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jim Newheiser
Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Alsup
Counsel from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James
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Belinda-Marie offered:
Lost and Found by Jaqueline Sheehan’
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer
Finding the Way Back to Mayberry by Joey Fann
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Cindy M found herself reading:
The Idiot by Dostoevsky
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
66 Love Letters by Larry Crabb
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Kay enjoyed:
Forrest Gump by Winston Groom
Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and a Fork by Mike Huckabee
The Love Languages of God by Gary Chapman
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Miel read:
TrueFaced by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol and John S. Lynch
Soul Cravings by Edwin McManus
The Remnant by Tim LaHaye
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Malinda recommends:
The Scent of Rain and Lightening by Nancy Pickard
Chalktown by Melinda Haynes
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Amy read Wives of the Signers by David Barton
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Melinda recommends Doctrine by Mark Driscoll
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Chaplain Dan read Healthy Congregations: A Systems Approach by Peter L. Steinke
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Beth read several titles by David Barton, as well as, The Names of God by Ann Spangler
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Kimberly shared the title The Dead Don’t Dance by Charles Martin
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Rose planned to pick up The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
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Ashley enjoyed Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
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Val has the book Experiencing God Day by Day Devotional by her bedside
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Dawn read Women and Mystical Experience in the Middle Ages by Frances Beer
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Jennifer enjoyed the titles Dancing With My Father by Sally Clarkson and The South Beach Diet
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Gwen highly recommended Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper
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Cindy reread a favorite: Cries of My Heart by Ravi Zacharius
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Thanks everyone for sharing the books that you have read this summer. I’m adding some of these titles to my want to read list.
Do I really have a picture of Miley on my blog???  It’s the only cover of The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks that I could find. Once again this book was read as the result of a recommendation. A friend told me the book was  much better than the movie. Must confess, I haven’t seen the movie, but will tell you I did enjoy the book. I especially enjoyed the spiritual development of the characters—actually, it was more the spiritual transformation of the characters.

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Verdict: Quick read. Decent story. Great for an airplane.
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The stories of Andy Andrews in Return to Sawyerton Springs, have a Mayberry like appeal to them. This book is especially true of that vibe since it is all about the small town in which Andrews grew up. “It is a place where the paper comes out once a week, and everyone already know what’s in it. When the pastor speaks on Sunday morning, his congregation already knows what he will say. As the children bring home their report cards, the parents already know their grades. This is a place of character and love and memories. Good memories…” Homespun humor.

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Verdict: Light read. Would make a good gift for parent or grandparent.
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One of my favorite Christian authors is John Ortberg. I enjoy his ability to write with simplicity and humor, while he simultaneously presents profound truths. Once I got past the self-help sounding title I found The Me I Want to Be, Becoming God’s Best Version of You to be a very practical and insightful book on the basics of spiritual formation. Consider this quote: “God’s plan is not just for us to be saved by grace, but it is to live by grace.” Ortberg guides the reader through practical discussions on finding identity, flowing with the Spirit, renewing my mind, redeeming my time, deepening my relationships, and transforming my experiences. The book comes with a code that can be used to receive a personal spiritual growth assessment from a site called MONVEE.
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Verdict: Recommend to anyone!
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Finally, last week I completed The Book Thief. Listed under young adult fiction—which I’m glad I didn’t know before I read the book since it may have deterred me—this is an excellent and engaging read. Set in Nazi Germany during WWII, the story follows a young orphan girl who is fascinated with words. Narrated by ‘Death’ (yes, you read that correctly), the story is both winsome and weighty.
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Verdict: Interesting and engaging. Recommend.
One of the genres I regularly read in the non-fiction department are books on leadership. We are all leaders in some sphere of influence. I also have a desire to continually become aware of resources that might be helpful to others.
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Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges is the latest leadership book to be added to my shelf. The book was given to me as part of the resources for a leadership team on which I currently serve. I have to admit I did not read the book until someone else commented on how much they got out of it.  (Hanging head in shame.) I had read a Ken Blanchard book before and even though he is a best selling author and business leadership guru, I wasn’t sure how it would translate into Christian leadership. If I were honest I would have to say I looked at the book with some suspicion, (i.e., business guru trying to break into the Christian leadership market).
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Heart?Head?Hands?Habits
I was very wrong, and I am very grateful to have been influenced to read this book. Blanchard and Hodges challenge to Lead Like Jesus comes out of a genuine desire to live as a Christ follower. They provide a convincing argument that leading like Jesus is the most relevant leadership style for today. I found Blanchard & Hodges description of servant leadership to be well defined. They say the journey of a servant leader starts with the heart (motive and intent). [BTW—The discussion on pride and ego are worth the price of the book. EGO is described as Edging God Out as opposed to Exalting God Only.] Then it travels through the head (belief system and perspective). To have hands of a servant leader is to be a leader who puts into practice  internal skills and values (investing in and caring for followers). Finally, all of these things will translate into the servant leader exhibiting habits like Jesus (solitude, prayer, study and application of scripture, accepting and responding to God’s unconditional love, and involvement in supportive relationships).
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Verdict: Recommend this book highly to anyone whether or not they are in a formal leadership position.

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Thanks to my fellow book lovers who left book recommendations!
I appreciate your additions to the summer reading list.
Here’s the first installment on some books that have been on my nightstand recently.
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick is the story of the Plymouth colony from its inception. This is not your run of the mill Pilgrim and Indian story commonly heard at Thanksgiving. Philbrick manages to communicate an authenticity to both the English settlers and the native Indians.  Both groups are presented in light of their humanity.  In my opinion, the strength of the book was the depiction of struggle through adversity as the Pilgrims faced challenges of forging a  life in a strange new land. I especially enjoyed the narratives that focused on Indian life, to include Squanto and his role in this time period.  Apparently Philbrick is an extraordinary historical researcher, but even with the knowledge of his expertise I still read historical material like this with a grain of salt.  One thing I fault the author with is his lack of emphasis on the importance faith had in the lives of the Pilgrims. It’s what brought them to America in the first place.
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Verdict: Not a page-turner, but I persevered.
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The Good Husband of Zebra Lane by Alexander McCall Smith is number eight in the delightful series The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency.  Set in Botswana, Precious Romatswe  is an unlikely founder and chief detective of this sleuth organization with offices housed in her husband’s auto repair shop. Through it all Precious manages to use wisdom and common sense to solve the mysteries of the bush country.  This volume finds discontent in abundance around the agency. However, the surprising results of the case du jour reminds all involved of the good in their lives.
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Verdict: Enjoyable, light reading. Smith’s characters continue to endear themselves.  (BTW-This series is TERRIFIC on audio!)
p.s. More titles from YOU are welcome! I’ll be adding more throughout the week too.
©Brenda Pace, 2010
I’ve noticed a theme in my reading lately–The last three books I’ve read focus on the lives of women—specifically, women of other cultures.
I read the true story of a Jewish woman during WWII:

I read a  novel about an Afghan woman during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan through the rise of the Taliban:

And this weekend I completed a fictional account of two sisters who fled to the US from China following the invasion by Japan in 1937:

The thread of continuity in these stories is the fact that all of the ‘heroines’ in these books were bright—verging on brilliant—women.  The thread continues as each was dealt a tragic blow that kept them from fully embracing their potential. Their situation was exacerbated not only because of their time in history, but also because of the attitude their culture had/has toward women. This attitude toward them was played out especially strong and negatively in their marriage and family relationships.
I would consider each of these books a good read and would recommend them. (Thanks to my friends who recommended them to me). A residual effect for me after reading them was a sense of gratitude to be an American woman.  I can’t say I’ve never felt slighted because of my female status, but never from my father or my husband.  I’ve always felt I had opportunities.  I’ve always had people who challenged and encouraged me to grow intellectually, spiritually,  emotionally and experientially.
There’s more thoughts percolating on this topic. Until then, what are your thoughts about being a woman in America?  Have you ever felt slighted or ‘less than’ because you are a woman?
©Brenda Pace, 2010