A Gathering of Books: June 2013

RachaelReads
If you have known me long, you know how passionate I am about reading.  I go through reading spurts, but without fail, summer is my reading peak.  This summer is no exception.  We don’t have cable and rarely turn on the television.  I love to read late into the night, at the pool or during any free moments that open up.  I thought I would share with you what I have been reading this month and offer my take!
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The first book I finished up in June was Follow Me by David Platt. I have read Radical by David Platt and his follow-up, Radical Together. Both challenged me immensely. Follow Me flows in the same vein of the Radical books. The emphasis is on our mission as followers of Christ. As we see when Jesus first calls his first disciples, becoming fishers of men is the emphasis. David Platt opens our eyes and challenges us to step into our mission to share the gospel wherever we are.

For a reason I can’t exactly pinpoint, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the Radical books. Perhaps it was because of the commonalities to his previous books. If you haven’t read David Platt before, I would recommend starting with Radical or Radical Together (my favorite), then if you like those, move onto Follow Me. Radical is also a fantastic book to do as a small group series, perhaps the most life-impacting study I have done as a small group.  His video teaching sessions are a must if you decide to do this study.

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The next book I finished in June was Telex from Cuba.  With the extensive time I have spent in Cuba, I am fascinated with Cuban history and Cuban life.  This is historical fiction.  It is a fictional account based on life in eastern Cuba and in Havana during the revolution of the 1950’s.  I enjoyed this so much.  I can’t quite tell you what it is like reading about events that were happening at exactly the time my father was living in Havana as a teenager.  I feel connected to him in ways I never appreciated before.  But even if you aren’t a lover of Cuban history, I think you will find this novel enjoyable.

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I recently discovered Jonathan Martin on Rachel Held Evan’s blog post, Ask a Pentecostal.  I started listening to his sermons (which you can find here) and have been transformed by his storytelling and down-to-Earth approach to the Kingdom.  So, when I saw that he had a new book coming out, I ordered  Prototype immediately.  The book reminds me of his preaching.  He is a fantastic story-teller, and the book made me feel like I was sitting down having a conversation with a friend.  It got me thinking about how God perceives me in a way I have honestly never considered in my entire church-going life.  I gobbled the book up quickly and have been digesting it ever since.  (My boy on a bike moment?  Girl on a school bus…. looking out at God’s creation, sensing His love for me in a way I can never adequately describe.  Read the book and you will understand what those last sentences were about.)  Do yourself a favor and READ THIS!

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This book has quite a story behind it.  I have been a fan of Ken Follett since I read one of my favorite novels of all time, Pillars of the Earth.  I loved the follow-up, World Without End, almost as much.  A few years ago, he came out with part one of a three-part historical fiction series.  It was called Fall of Giants.  I am normally not at all captivated by world history (I’m a bit shamed to admit) and was skeptical about Fall of Giants taking place during World War I.  I read it anyway, and loved it almost as much as Pillars of the Earth.  I patiently waited for part two to come out (years later) and for over six months have waited for it to come out in paperback.  To my delight, I saw the book at my local library.  However, it was a 14 day rental and the book is over 900 pages.  I set a goal and started reading…..

I finished it in less than a week.  Basically, I read late into the night every night and spent a couple of days curled up in my bedroom with the book.  It did not disappoint.  Ken Follett writes epic, sweeping novels with believable, lovable characters.  I found myself intensely interested in World War II history, which is a miracle in of itself.  I highly recommend Ken Follett.  But I would start with Pillars of the Earth.

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I haven’t actually finished Havana Nocturne.  I started it a few nights ago, and decided to include it in my June reading list.  I don’t typically read non-fiction unless it is a Christian author.  This book has been in my bookcase for a couple of years now, though, and with my piqued interest in Cuban history, I thought it was a perfect choice for my next read.

Bible Study:

I try to never read anything at the expense of Bible study.  In my Bible in One Year app, I have been working my way through I and II Samuel, John and Acts, and continue to read through Psalms and Proverbs.  I was a little sad to finish the gospels, which are always life-altering, but Acts is a good reward.  I love reading about the early church.

Our small groups in Gathering are also doing a Bible study based entirely on the book of Malachi.

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What a study.  Our previous church offered Blemished as a small group study several times, and I always heard rave reviews of it.  For whatever reason, I was never able to go through the study, so I jumped at the opportunity to do it now.  I am facilitating the study at our weekly small group, which pushes me to dig a little deeper than perhaps I would otherwise.  This study forces me to look at what I offer God, my priorities and most of all, my motives.  It is eye-opening and tough and making an impact on my spiritual life.

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There you have it!  That’s what I have been reading in June.  Even though I have an iPad, I can’t seem to let go of holding an actual book.  Anyone else feel the same way?  What are you reading these days?  I would love any recommendations. Hopefully you will get another set of book reviews at the end of July!

sig Missed any posts? Here are the most recent:
A Gathering Under the Trees
A Gathering of Links XIV

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Comments

  1. Heather Astumian says

    Rachael I always enjoy reading your blog. You always post about things that make me want to become and do more. You are truly an inspiration and an example of a Godly woman.

    • Rachael says

      Thanks, Heather. Did someone pay you to say that? :) I miss you lots. We should get together for coffee again soon!

  2. Whitney says

    Yay! I miss the days of coming over to your house, drinking Cuban coffee, and borrowing your books. :) Because of you I read “Life of Pi,” and it is still one of my favorite books. The synopsis sounded so weird, but I trusted you and read it anyway. I have basically been begging all my friends to read it ever since. I even told Timothy’s grandmother, who teaches literature at Purdue, about it. She said that she had considered watching the movie first and I was all DON’T DO IT. Ha!

    I’ve had “Pillars of the Earth” on my bookshelf for a few years now and have only gotten about ten pages in. You’ve inspired me to pick it back up! I’ve been scouring our Goodwill for new books and have come up empty. I think we’ve had this conversation before, but I just have a hard time checking out books at the library. I want to keep them. :)

    • Rachael says

      I’m always trying to get people to read Life of Pi, too! We are two peas in a pod. I think you’ll love Pillars of the Earth. At least I hope so. I have been better about checking books out from the library. Our book collection is ridiculously large (I say that after ordering 5 books from Barnes and Noble less than 5 minutes ago). I love finding good books at Goodwill, too!! That’s where I got Telex from Cuba. We should get together and talk books :)

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