April book recommendations

While we’re talking of books, here are a few I’ve fallen in love with recently.

jayber crowJayber Crow
by Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry is one part farmer and one part poet. I love his writing—slow, earthen, and timeless. He writes about small town America, and the land, and love, and prayer, and what it means to be human. This is his best book, of the ones I’ve read to date. When I finished I wanted to turn back to page one and start all over again. Ryan says I should warn you that there’s occasional language.

mysterious benedict society

The Mysterious Benedict Society
by Trenton Lee Stewart

I’m endlessly indebted to my friends Travis and Wendy Zook for introducing me to the Mysterious Benedict Society. My 9-year-old son Aarick and I raced through it, and were equally charmed. It’s witty and puzzling and exciting and clean, with likeable characters, great words, and surprising twists.

Now we get to start on the sequels…!

lord and prayer

The Lord and His Prayer
by N. T. Wright

I bet you can’t guess why I’m reading this one!

I came to a phrase in the Lord’s Prayer that utterly baffled me, so I asked three good men (Bible scholars) (including my husband) what in the world to make of it. The next week at church, one of them handed me this book. I’m loving it!

Mr. Wright is direct and insightful. I enjoy his high church backdrop, his gentle language, and his passion for Jesus and truth.

stopping at lemonade

Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand
by James Vollbracht

I stumbled on this book at our local library. The subtitle caught my eye, both as a mother and as a pastor’s wife—“How to create a culture that cares for kids.” Mr. Vollbracht lectures across the country on community life and the positive development of teens. He believes there are six interconnected circles of culture (the individual, the family, the neighborhood, the community, business and government, and our elders), and if we’re going to do well with our young people we must find ways to connect them into each one. We value their contributions, listen to their voices, and maximize their strengths. Wow! Now I want to start a campaign.

“Our kids are a very important barometer of how we all are doing, and if they are in crisis, we as a culture and community are in crisis as well.” —Vollbracht

this is not my hat

This is Not My Hat and
I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen

Jon Klassen’s books are amazing! He builds a perfect interplay between words (only a few of them) and illustrations (understated and hilarious). He leaves lots of room for childish imagination and problem solving to figure out exactly what happened. These two stories make me laugh out loud.

The strangest thing happened to me while reading this collection of books. On Sunday I finished Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand and picked up The Lord and His Prayer to begin reading. In chapter one, I came to a full stop at this quote from T. S. Eliot: “And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

Whoa. Major déjà vu. I just read that somewhere!

Sure enough—in the final chapter of Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand. Now how weird is that?

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What have you been reading lately? I’m always up for more suggestions!

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9 years ago

I don’t read many books these days. Every time I read a post like this I think “Wow! Why don’t I read books? Look what all I am missing out on!” :/ I picked up Emmerson Eggerich’s book “Love and Respect in the Family” last week end at the Love and Respect conference we attended. I haven’t gotten very far yet, but I’ve been challenged already!

I think I know why I don’t read books – I like to devour a book in a short time and if I can’t, I just don’t read!

9 years ago

Your book recommendations are among my favorite posts from you, Shari. Thanks!
Right now I’m reading Lisa Tverberg’s Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus. Very, very thought-provoking and compelling. Also just finished Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott.

9 years ago

How funny. Just yesterday I wrote down a poem by Wendell Berry, “The Vacation.” Have you heard it? Haunting. And I don’t even like poetry. I requested Jayber Crow at the library, thanks for the suggestion.

I’ve been revisiting the Betsy-Tacy books with my nieces. Maud Hart Lovelace and Lois Lenski worked magic. Those books fed my imagination when I was young. And they are just as delightful to me now as they were then.

9 years ago
Reply to  Tryphena

I had not read “The Vacation.” Wow! Thanks!

One thing I love about Berry is that all his work is true, to himself and what he believes. This poem fits into his other writings, how he feels about nature and technology and the changing world. Good stuff!

9 years ago

I laugh out loud at This is Not My Hat, too! Picked up All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot at the thrift for $0.33. I read it before but it’s one of those old books that’s worth going back to several times over

9 years ago

Now you HAVE to tell us what you learned about the Lord’s Prayer! I am frightfully curious.

The Mysterious Benedict Society helped me understand one of my kids. Seriously.

I just joined a book club here in town. It’s sooo fun! Last night we discussed All The Light We Cannot See. It’s a WWII novel, but not vulgar and overly depressing. The author has a poetic, but fast-moving style. I thought he did exceptionally well with portraying characters–even the bad guys managed to draw my sympathy. You’d probably like the book, at least I did!

9 years ago

Jayber Crow has been on my to-be-read list for several years. I need to push it to the top.

I haven’t been reading much for myself lately – but we’ve been enjoying some great books as a family. Three books that we finished just this past week are All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (a sweet story about a Jewish family in Brooklyn in the early 1900’s), Twice Freed by Patricia St. John (a historical fiction about Onesimus and Philemon), and On the Far Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (which my children thought was maybe even better than the first book.)


9 years ago

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry is a favorite of mine. Especially the chapters where Hannah arrives to the conclusion that how we tell our stories to our children points them in a particular direction. Profound insights in a simple story. Can’t wait to get my hands on Jayber Crow.

9 years ago

Thanks, Shari. Off I go to amazon.ca to order The Mysterious Benedict Society!

9 years ago

I bought a set of the Benedict Society books for my boys as a year end present. They are on the second round of reading them. In one month. 🙂 And my ten year old now carries a cherished bucket of gear, just like Kate. Thanks for a great recommendation!

9 years ago

I love your book list posts and just came back to this one for inspiration. I’ve been stretching my toes in Out of Africa and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. (This marks the end of my commenting catch-up binge. 🙂 )

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