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For the love of Books

I remember it like it was yesterday: my first fascination with the library. Our school was small, tucked in the Sunday school classrooms of a local church, which mean the library was miniscule. The balcony of the sanctuary had been closed off and turned into more classrooms, and the smallest section was designated to house a couple hundred books and two dozen wide-eyed (or tired-eyed) students every other hour. 

I was in the fourth grade when I learned this room was a haven. (I was in the third grade when a library volunteer broke our hearts about Santa Claus in that very room, but that's a different story entirely...) The Mandi mystery series was my addiction of choice and it escalated from there. In the sixth grade my bestie and I combined even our lockers so one could hold our school things and the other could act as our personal library. 

We were writing a book ourselves and it shared sacred space on the shelf with Elsie Dinsmore and her adventures. I found said book a few weeks ago, all 116 pages of it, and boy have I improved... and I now laugh at how young our leading ladies were. Seventeen is not so grown up after all, but at age ten it sure felt like it would be.

Anywho. Back to books that were written by someone else. My fascination with the library turned into a fascination with building my own, and I collect books like a mad woman. They overflow from my bookshelf, piling on the floor as I do my best to burn through them. In 2014 I made a goal to read 12 books in 12 months. I ended up with around 20. This year my ambitions aim a little higher.

My goal this year is to read 100. Actually the goal is listed as "100 Books I Don't Have Time to Read" which could not be more accurate. I've read 16 so far and with the arrival of summer break I plan to blaze through a few dozen more (hopefully) before the fall semester rolls around.

What I've Read...
Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty
Be still my heart. This book was oh, so good, and such sweet honey for my soul. The hard times are still the good times, and God is good ALL of the time. I love Sara's approach to praying scripture, her monthly adorations and the way she declares the goodness of God through all her trials. This book was my faithful companion flying for spring break, and I would highly recommend it!

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Any other Pride & Prejudice fans out there? Or Downton Abbey? Well, lucky for you this book combines the two. Longbourn is the home of the Bennet girls, and this book takes us to the heart of their story, only from the perspective of the help, particularly Sarah, the maid, and her hope for more out of life than laundry and looking for reasons to dislike the new stable boy. I could not put this book down! It is a must read if you're looking for a new fiction find.

If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher
I first heard of More Love Letters on Tumblr, and I have to admit this book flashed itself all over Instagram simply begging me to bring it home. I perused it over spring break and was so engrossed (admittedly thirty pages in while still at Barnes & Noble) so I knew it was a done deal. Hannah is honest and raw, and her heart is pure gold. This book has stirred something inside of me to go out, do good, and dream big with Jesus in a way no book has in a long time. Check it out ASAP!

What I've Listened To...
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
Oh Audible, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.. But seriously, downloading this as an audio book for my long drive from TX to OK was one of the smartest decisions I made all semester. I loved "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" web series (again, I'm a Pride & Prejudice nut), and I was delighted to find out that the gal who played Lizzie did the recording. She does all of the voices SPOT ON and The Secret Diary takes you further into the plot than the weekly videos did. I personally recommend watching the series first, but I still think you can get plenty out of this. But it is one I'd recommend the audio book over the physical book, simply because Ashley Clements is stinking hilarious.

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
Again, Audible is my new favorite thing. Shauna recorded her book Bittersweet and listening to her read through her triumphs and trials in that soothing and encouraging voice of hers warmed my heart. I had picked up a physical copy of Bittersweet a few years ago but never finished it. This book was truly a delight!

Make It Happen by Lara Casey
Can I have Lara Casey narrate my life? Or at least give me a pep talk every morning? I preordered this book to arrive upon its release, but I had no time over the Christmas break to read it. THEN when I found out that she had recorded the Audible version, I was all over that so fast. Her podcasts and interviews are always my favorite, and I am a dedicated PowerSheets user + Southern Weddings Magazine follower, and this book was her heart in paper (or recorded) form. Go. Listen. NOW!

What I'm Reading...
The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus
I was gifted this book by my Hope Spoken small group leader Jeanne Oliver and I am loving it thus far. As a creative, it speaks to the sweet spot in my soul, but it also speaks to those who might not consider themselves to be creative, calling out the fact that they were created by the Creator of the universe and made in His image. This makes them, well, creative. "Everything God does is an expression of his love. It is neither trite nor superficial that the Scriptures summarize this in three simple words: “God is love.” It is critical to understand this because, if we are to reclaim our role in the creative process and express our lives as masterful works of art, we, too, must be sure that our motivation is the expansion of love.”

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
The legend presented at the beginning of this book is incredible, and I am eager to see what Batterson has to say upon further reading. I want to cultivate a powerful and persistent prayer life, and this book came highly recommended. I'll keep you posted, but so far so good. "What we perceive as unanswered prayers are often the greatest answers. Our heavenly Father is far too wise and loves us far too much to give us everything we ask for. Someday we’ll thank God for the prayers He didn’t answer as much or more than the ones He did."

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
I may or may not be obsessed with the royal family... and by that I mean I am absolutely fascinated by them! I'm a big fan of the Cinderella story, and I was absolutely one of the few, the proud, the crazy that awoke at 3am one April morning to watch Kate Middleton emerge in a STUNNING wedding gown and become the Duchess of Cambridge. So when I spotted this book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, it practically screamed my name. I gave it a test run, reading the prologue and the first chapter before ordering it on Amazon. My intention was to read it on the plan to South Carolina later this month, but I've already reached for it twice, so it may not last that long.

I'm also reading Essentialism and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which should not surprise anyone as I'm never reading fewer than four books at once. If you haven't checked out Audible, I obviously highly recommend it, and I look forward to seeing which of you picks up the books listed above! Now it's your turn!

What are YOU reading? Any recommendations? Send them my way!

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