Books I Read in 2015

Now that it’s nearly one month into 2016 and nearly two months since I last posted on this blog, it feels strange to be posting and possibly a little silly to be posting a summary of last year’s reading. However, as a few friends had asked for book recommendations recently, and I was feeling more and more scared of posting anything the longer I left it, I figured I’d just go ahead and post this list.

For now, I will simply put an asterisk next to the books that I’d heartily recommend…then in a later post, I may (or may not) get around to explaining why I recommend them. Just keeping it real, folks!

And just to keep it really real, on the device I’m currently using, I can’t work out how to highlight the titles in order to italicise them…sorry!

Fiction

*The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

*Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

The Housemaid’s Daughter by Margaret Mutch

*The Spare Room by Helen Garner

The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party Bub Alexander McCall Smith

A Light in the Window by Jan Karon

Academy Street by Mary Costello

*The Storied Life of A.J Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

*A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

*Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

*The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

*Paper Towns by John Green

At the Water’s Edge by Sarah Gruen

Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Suspect by Michael Robotham

The Dust That Falls From Dreams by Louis de Bernieres

*Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

After You by Jojo Moyes

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann

*Wonder by R.J Palacio

Chance Developments by Alexander McCall Smith

Hester and Harriet by Hilary Spiers

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

 

Non-Fiction

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Suprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter

*The House of Grief by Helen Garner

*My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

*Flesh Wounds by Richard Glover

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

*Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

 

Biblical and Applied Theological Books

*Invest Your Suffering by Paul Mallard

*Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Alberry

Hearing the Spirit by Christopher Ash

Sing the Songs of Jesus: Revisiting the Psalms by Michael Lefebvre

Finding God in the Psalms by Tom Wright

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

*The Road We Must Travel by Chan, Peterson, Hybels et.al

*Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness by Dale Ralph Davis

*True Word for Tough Times by Dale Ralph Davis

New Testament Wisdom for Everyone by Tom Wright

The 3D Gospel by Jayson Georges

*Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung

*Heading Home by Naomi Reed

*Connected: Living in the Light of the Trinity

 

 

O Shazzameena, where hast thou been?!

You may, or may not, have been asking this question over the past two months as I have failed to post anything on this blog.

While I say ‘failed’, I have been doing my best to realise that it’s not a failure in life if I don’t post on a blog. Nothing in my life or yours rests on whether I post or not.

Nevertheless, I have missed the act of writing itself – some of the time, anyway. For the rest of the time I have just been getting by and getting on with the stuff that’s been going on in and around me.

Just now, as I looked back over the list of books on my Goodreads page, I realised that while I have not been writing, I have still managed to be reading. And there have certainly been some good books among those I’ve read:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

New Testament Wisdom for Everyone by Tom Wright

Paper Towns by John Green

At the Water’s Edge by Sarah Gruen

Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel

The 3D Gospel by Jayson Georges

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

I wasn’t all that taken with At the Water’s Edge but the others were enjoyable reads, with Paper Towns and The Book of Strange New Things standing out in my memory as great reads.

The past two months have included some vacation weeks from my work at college (hence a lot more books read than I would otherwise read in that time); a lovely stay in a generous friend’s apartment with a view of Sydney Harbour; my 43rd Birthday and some lovely celebrations with friends and family; a short but sweet dinner at my place where we laughed so much, for so long, in a way that many of us had not done in quite some time. Marvellous stuff!

While I have felt rather paralysed at the thought of sitting to write these past couple of months. I hope to remedy that in coming weeks. There is soon to be another couple of weeks of vacation break at college. So during that time I hope to make use of some ‘Free Writing’ prompts and write for 15-20 minutes most days using the prompts given.

Feel free to tune into the free-writing posts. Or not. It won’t be polished writing. The idea will be to write without stopping or editing, for the given time. Perhaps you could give it go yourself! If you would like to see the page with the prompts I’ll be making use of, you can check it out here.

The Month of June with Shazzameena

A few of the blogs I follow have been doing a ‘What I did/read/didn’t do in June’ kind of post the past few days, and it got me thinking. What did I do in June?

I could list a whole load of things I didn’t do in June – things I cancelled, postponed, put at the end of the list. I could list lists I didn’t even get around to making!

I started the Photography 101 challenge in June…then went on holiday away from technology that would allow me to post my photography. Thus, I dropped the ball on that challenge, photographically speaking.

I was reading the Bible this morning and was reminded not to worry about the things I can’t do anything about. Not to worry about tomorrow, or yesterday, or the things I didn’t do last month. The notes I was reading alongside reminded me to be like Jesus, to stop and notice the flowers and how they’re dressed. To take time and hear that well-fed bird flapping past me.

Sky, Sea, Grass, Flowers

Sky, Sea, Grass, Flowers

So I’ve taken a little moment, looked at my diary, made some notes, done a bit of remembering, and I’ve come up with a list of things I did in June – things I have every reason to be thankful for – to stop for a moment and enjoy – just as Jesus would.

1. I started the month singing with a Jazz band at a fundraiser night in Wollongong.

Empty Jazz Cafe - later filled

Empty Jazz Cafe – later filled

2. I turned up to work as I was meant to – then enjoyed the break I got because the students were doing exams then on vacation.

3. I walked with several old friends and coloured in more streets on my walking map.

4. I got help from people who know what they’re talking about, and started to see lighter days ahead.

5. I saw ‘The Mafia Only Kill in Summer’ at a lovely, local cinema with a lovely, local friend.

6. I enjoyed the generosity of a friend’s holiday cottage for two nights in the Blue Mountains – with the company of a lovely, old friend.

7. I got my hair cut.

8. I completed the ‘5kg lost in 2 months’ challenge – and celebrated with a favourite food item.

It has to be pink. It has to be from Donut King.

It has to be pink. It has to be from Donut King.

9. I had a lovely holiday with two lovely friends in another cottage loaned to me by other lovely people on the South Coast.

Kiama to Gerringong Coastal Walk

Kiama to Gerringong Coastal Walk

10. We walked for 4 hours on one of the days!

Reassuring signs along the way!

Reassuring signs along the way!

11. We managed to walk the three sections of the ‘Minnamurra to Gerroa’ walk – over three days – with the vital accompaniment of dates and water.

Dates, Water and Water

Dates, Water and Water

12. I cooked one of the recipes from one of Margaret Fulton’s Cookbooks – inspired by the challenge on the Cookbook Guru blog.

Margaret Fulton's Lime Grilled Chicken

Margaret Fulton’s Lime Grilled Chicken

13. I read some books (and rated them):

‘A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrik Backman (5/5)

‘True Word for Tough Times’ by Dale Ralph Davis (5/5)

‘The Rise and Fall of Great Powers’ by Tom Rachman (3/5)

‘The Rosie Effect’ by Don Tillman (4/5)

14. I took risks! (not my normal mode of operation)

Risks!

Risks!

15. I enjoyed many a crossword and coffee

Coffee and a Crossword

Coffee and a Crossword

And shall continue to do so….

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #4

As I prepare to go to bed,* the wind and rain are lashing against the windows of my apartment. It’s nights like these that my thankful thoughts go immediately to warmth and shelter.

Tonight I finish the day thankful for:

1. A roof over my head.

2. Windows that close.

3. Curtains that dampen some of the drafts.

4. A beautiful quilt that kept me warm as I read a book on the sofa.

Duck Egg Blue - I trust the ducks have somewhere to hide tonight.

Duck Egg Blue – I trust the ducks have somewhere to hide tonight.

5. A fascinating, illuminating and sobering book to read.

The book just happens to co-ordinate with the quilt!

The book just happens to co-ordinate with the quilt!

6. Bed socks to keep my feet warm – in and out of bed.

Warm Feet - Warm Heart

Warm Feet – Warm Heart

7. A bed.

8. Today’s promise of an end to the heat of summer.

9. The subsequent anticipation of wearing clothes that are more ‘wintery’ and therefore more to my liking 🙂

10. A visiting speaker at work today, bearing good news of many who’ve found lasting shelter under eternal arms.

* I wrote this last night. It’s still raining and blasting a gale this morning. I read the Daily Prompt just before I went to sleep and then couldn’t get the song out of my head ‘…red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue…I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too.’ It will likely be some days before we see a rainbow anywhere.

Books I’ve Read – 2014

I’m really bad at remembering what books were about after reading them. So I’m afraid the list below will not include reviews. However, I will highlight a few that have managed to stick in my mind and why:

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – From time to time, I find myself sitting opposite women who are finding it really hard to see a way forward in a marriage where communication has all but broken down. This novel explores what it might be like to wake up one day having forgotten the past 10 years of your marriage, and how issues that seemed so significant in the daily grind lose their grip.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – I don’t remember much about this book. But I do remember identifying a little with one of the single women in the book and I remember the heartache of bravery while trapped in an awful situation.

The Rosie Project by Grahame Simsion – I just loved this book! It made me laugh out loud (in public) and weep a little out loud (in private).

In the list below of Christian Books/Applied Theology, I find it too difficult to pick favourites. I feel I had a good diet of things to apply and learn from this year. However, the ones that crop up pretty much every day in my thoughts and speech are: True Friendship by Vaughan Roberts, And So to Bed by Adrian Reynolds, and A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada.

Fiction

Eventide Kent Haruf

Perfect Rachel Joyce

Benediction Kent Haruf

A Faraway Smell of Lemon Rachel Joyce

The Storyteller Jodi Picoult

The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd

The Engagements J.Courtney Sullivan

Life After Life Kate Atkinson

The Husband’s Secret Liane Moriarty

The One Plus One Jojo Moyes

What Alice Forgot Liane Moriarty

Instructions for a Heatwave Maggie O’Farrell

We Are Completely Beside Ourselves Karen Joy Fowler

The Brightest Star in the Sky Marian Keyes

The Hypnotist’s Love Story Liane Moriarty

Longbourn Jo Baker

Sister Rosamund Lupton

At Home in Mitford Jan Karon

Painter of Silence Georgina Harding

Big Little Lies Liane Moriarty

We Are All Made of Glue Marina Lewycka

The Rosie Project Grahame Simsion

The Last Anniversary Liane Moriarty

The Universe Versus Alex Woods Gavin Extence

The Light Between Two Oceans M.L Stedman

Fangirl Rainbow Rowell

Lila Marilynne Robinson

Short Stories

Varg In Love Alexander McCall Smith

To Build a Fire Jack London

Memoirs

Garlic and Sapphires Ruth Reichl

Tender at the Bone Ruth Reichl

Notes From a Small Island Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson

Christian Books – Applied Theology

Ordinary Hero Tim Chester

The Heart of Singleness Andrea Trevenna

True Friendship Vaughan Roberts

If I Should Die Before I Wake K. Scott Oliphint and Sinclair B. Ferguson

Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity Michael Card

And So to Bed: A Biblical View of Sleep Adrian Reynolds

The Single Issue Al Hsu

Eating Heaven: Spirituality at the Table Simon Carey Holt

Life Together Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Pastoral Theology in the Classical Tradition Andrew Purves

How People Change Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp

Relationships: A Mess Worth Making Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp

A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain and God’s Sovereignty Joni Eareckson Tada

Table Grace: The Role of Hospitality in the Christian Life Douglas Webster