social spark Aisling Beatha: 50 Books to Read Before I Turn 50 - Part 1 - Books I Have Read and am Currently Reading


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Monday, October 22, 2018

50 Books to Read Before I Turn 50 - Part 1 - Books I Have Read and am Currently Reading

Back in January, around the time of my birthday, I made a list of "50 Things to do Before I Turn 50".
One of the items in that list was "Read 50 books before I turn 50".  I promised I would post what I was reading, and have not yet done so.  We're almost 10 months into the challenge, which is 3 years long, so in theory I should have read over 13 books by now to stay on track.  Let's find out how I'm doing:

1. Motel of the Mysteries ~David Macaulcay

I bought this at Christmas as a gift for my son who has recently finished a Masters Degree in Archaeology.  We had been talking about the things archaeologists say about their finds that seem like assumptions to me, but my son was explaining how they can know what even a tiny piece of something is.  This book is set in the future, and is about an archaeologist who comes across a motel somewhere in what we know as America and all the assumptions that he makes about what he finds. It is quite funny to think about what we will leave behind and what future people groups would make of them if they rediscovered them as an archaeologist would.  I enjoyed this book.

2. Searching for Sunday ~Rachel Held Evans

Like millions of her millennial peers, Rachel Held Evans didn't want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals--church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back to Church. And so she set out on a journey to understand Church and to find her place in it.
I didn't ENJOY this book as much as I had hoped to, but that may be because I never managed to get through it in one straight run.  I kept putting it down and coming back to it weeks and weeks later.

3. The Stolen Marriage ~Diane Chamberlain
I picked this up because the Kindle Version was on offer.  Check it out, it is a good read.  There's so much I could say about it but I don't want to spoil the mystery.  

In 1944, Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life, marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night and Tess quickly comes to realize that she is now trapped in a strange and loveless marriage.

4. How to be Champion ~Sarah Millican
Part autobiography, part self help book, part confessional, with all the humour we have come to expect from Sarah Millican.  This book made me laugh out loud more than once.

5. The Golden Acorn ~Catherine Cooper
The Kindle Edition of this Children's/YA adventure book is currently free on Kindle in the UK. I picked it up because my son recommended it as a book by a local author and I was not disappointed.

The Golden Acorn is the first book in the Jack Brenin series. Book 1 can be read as a stand alone or as the first book in an ongoing adventure. Once you've read this book we're sure you'll want to read more about Jack Brenin and the magical 'Otherworld' he becomes involved in.

6. In The Sanctuary of Women ~ Jan L Richardson

A book of reflections on women. Some are women I am familiar with through the bible, others are women I am familiar with through church history, others still weere not familiar to me before reading this book. If you are a woman on a spiritual journey, Jan's writing is well written, thoughtful and comes from a place of understanding from her own experience that life isn't all sunny.

7. The Early Classics of Agatha Christie

If you like Agatha Christie's later writing, try and find a copy of this anthology of someof her earlier stories. There is an early Poirot story as well as some of her stories that were not part of a series.

8. Room ~ Emma Donoghue

If you have ever watched the news stories of people who have been kidnapped and kept captive for many years and wondered what life is like behind those closed doors, then this novel is a great insight into what it might be like.
Jack lives with his Ma in Room. Room has a single locked door and a skylight, and it measures ten feet by ten feet. Jack loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on the screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits there is a world outside.
Having read this book, I have refused to watch the movie based on it, as the book has already made the story far too real.

9. The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathan Fairfax

I picked this up on a 99p Kindle deal and loved it.  It made me laugh so many times and read out pieces to my family to explain why I was laughing.
When Jonathon Fairfax accidentally helps a murderer bump off Sarah Morecambe, the secretary of a senior politician, he sets off a chain of events that astonishes him. Jonathon is wrong-footed by even the most everyday things, so he's particularly startled to find himself caught up in a conspiracy that goes right to the heart of government.
If you have read any of the Douglas Adams Dirk Gently books and enjoyed them, I think you will like this one too.

10. The Sewing Machine

Sometimes I struggle with books written with shifting perspective, BUT this one is so well written and did such a good job of gripping my attention that I did not want to put it down. And truly, I never saw that ending coming, until right before it was revealed.
It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.
Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.
More than 100 years after his grandmother's sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams. He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

11. I am Malala
Have you ever wondered about the story behind the young woman who stood up for the rights of girls everywhere to be educated? This book takes us from her childhood home through the growing influence of the Taliban, on to the day when she was shot, and her move to Birmingham, England for treatment and recovery.

12. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Because - WHY NOT

13. A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear

Meh. I expected more from this but found it monotonous and repetitive.

14. Shalom Sistas
Taking readers through the twelve points of the Shalom Sistas' Manifesto, Osheta Moore experiments with practices of everyday peacemaking and invites readers to do the same. From dropping "love bombs" on a family vacation, to talking to the coach who called her son the n-word, to spreading shalom with a Swiffer, Moore offers bold steps for crossing lines between black and white, suburban and urban, rich and poor.

15. Walking the English Coast
Whether you are planning to walk the English coast or just tackle some other long distance walk in the UK, this book has much advice to offer. For the record, yes I'd love to the coast walk do but since I can't wild camp (sleep apnoea means I need electrical power at night) it is going to take a bit more planning.

As I said at the beginning of this post I should have read 13 books since the beginning of the year in order to be on track with this, so I'm doing OK so far, in fact, I'm a little ahead of the schedule.

16. Catching Contentment
If anyone has a right to feel angry with life, then Liz is a strong candidate. Having battled with lung disease from a young age, suffered at the hands of bullies, and, reluctantly, given up her much-loved teaching job, she has plenty to complain about. But she has made a point of exploring contentment.
Liz is the wife of a local church minister and I am part of the launch team for this book which doesn't release until the middle of November. So far, there have been parts that have really encouraged me, parts I have struggled with and parts where I have uttered out loud "THIS is what I'm talking about, why don't people get it?"

17. 12 Things To Pray (Chronic Health Conditions)
This book is for those with a heart and desire to pray for those struggling through the confusing and difficult road of a chronic health condition. Often people say, "I am praying for you" but don't know how to pray for those with chronic illness and pain. While this book doesn’t address every idea of what to pray and is not a "formula", it is a good "jumping off point" for you to be praying for yourself or those whom you love that struggle with chronic health issues and their loved ones.

18. Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship
I've only just started to dip into this book, and I think I am going to wait until I have finished the Liz Carter book mentioned above in order to not overwhelm myself with books on illness and disability.
Swinton wrestles with critical questions that emerge from theological reflection on time and disability: rethinking doctrine for those who can never grasp Jesus with their intellects; reimagining discipleship and vocation for those who have forgotten who Jesus is; reconsidering salvation for those who, due to neurological damage, can be one person at one time and then be someone else in an instant.

19. Finding God in the Margins: The Book of Ruth
In four short episodes we encounter refugees, undocumented immigrants, poverty, hunger, women's rights, male power and privilege, discrimination, and injustice.
In Finding God in the Margins, Carolyn Custis James reveals how the book of Ruth is about God, the questions that surface when life falls apart, and how he reaches into the margins and chooses two totally marginalized women who in the eyes of the patriarchal culture are zeros.
So far I am just a short way into this book but I love the comparison between the story of Naomi and the story of Job. Both lost everything, but Naomi also lost her spouse and as a widow in a patriarchal society had no way of gaining back any of what she had lost, whereas Job would have been able to at least try.

Books I WANT TO READ coming in the next post

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