Books

Top 5 Books of the Month: August 2020

Hello everyone,

It is always refreshing to talk about books. I had another fantastic month of reading, and I am ready to share as we start another month.

I was not able to post on Monday due to my family moving, but I am now back to my regular schedule! 

Let’s dive into the books! 

  1. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (book 1 of A Series of Unfortunate Events)

This month has another really hard collection of books to rank! I think this one only takes the top spot because of the nostalgia and humor. It has been way too long since I have revisited this series! 

I believe this is one of the most well crafted and creative series in children’s literature. I love love love these characters. I love the countless times the author tells us to stop reading if we want to be spared the horrible events soon to be read. I love how mysterious it is and yet so darn funny. 

I have decided to read this while watching the Netflix show which is amazing. I am a firm believer that video entertainment can make a solid adaptation without butchering the story. This series is a testament to my opinion.

If you are unfamiliar with this series, you will find 3 unique, wealthy siblings who become orphaned and are given to their relative who wants nothing more than to steal their fortune. The sad thing is that it is so obvious but only the children seem to notice. The children are very intelligent and conquer many obstacles, but the fact that they are children makes the silly adults around them have an advantage.

Snicket hit that very spectacular sweet spot of hilarious humor, mystery, and creativity while giving us fantastical characters. The series is a series of unfortunate events but you still continue to hope their situation will get better and pick up the next book and the next and the next. There is something so special about the tone of this story that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Maybe it is the fact that Lemony Snicket acts like he is documenting the real lives of the three Baudelaire orphans, inserts himself into the story, and continues to tell you to spare yourself the horror of the events that will continue in his books. That sounds like creative genius! 

And sentences like this…

“The book was long, and difficult to read, and Klaus became more and more tired as the night wore on. Occasionally his eyes would close. He found himself reading the same sentence over and over. He found himself reading the same sentence over and over. He found himself reading the same sentence over and over.”

“In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.”

“You can invent things like automatic popcorn poppers. You can invent things like steam-powered window washers. But you can’t invent more time.”

“But the law is an odd thing. For instance, one country in Europe has a law that requires all its bakers to sell bread at the exact same price. A certain island has a law that forbids anyone from removing its fruit. And a town not too far from where you live has a law that bars me from coming within five miles of its borders.”

all by Lemony Snicket from The Bad Beginning

  1. Multiply by Francis Chan

What. A. Book. Francis Chan continues to empower and convict Christians with his relatable, straight to the point writing. I read this book alongside my fellow book club members. We had such a beautiful discussion and all of us left changed for the better. This book was written to be read and discussed with others. He has videos to watch that correspond with the chapters. He had asked questions throughout the book. He encouraged prayer after every single chapter. He beautifully explained the Bible and how the promise of the church did not pop on the scene in the book of Acts but had been foreshadowed through the old testament. Chan delivered so much truth in this book and left me genuinely humbled.

The call for Christians to make disciples has been lost in the quest for desires and better church services or thrown to those with the titles leaders and missionaries. We have gravely missed why Jesus rose from the grave, why the Holy Spirit dwells within us, and why there is the body of Christ called the church. Now yes, Jesus did rise from the grave to defeat death and yes, the Holy Spirit prays for us, intercedes for us, and does so much more. Yes, the church is to strengthen believers as a body. But Jesus rose from the dead so His new covenant would be instilled in the fact Jesus is alive preparing our places in heaven for those who believe. And guess who points to the truth that Jesus and heaven is alive? You and I! The Holy Spirit was given to us to also show the attributes of God and help us as we lead others to Jesus. The church is to remember our focus on earth and encourage and support each other as we extend the kingdom of God! 

Francis Chan sets our sights on the importance of Jesus’ covenant and promise and how we are a part of it! No ifs, ands, or buts. He invites us to invite others to share eternity with Him. This invitation has been planned by God for years and is not left to “important people”. Chan encourages Christian not to be anxious at this fact but convicted and ready to change. You have the promise of a risen Savior in Heaven, God living inside of you, and (hopefully) a Christ-centered and encouraging church you are a part of! What do we have to be afraid of? 🙂

I cannot rank these last 3 books so they are going to be tied for third! Hehe yes, I am terribly indecisive. 

  1. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

McGuire is such a beautiful writer. There were times I just stopped to marvel at how amazing a passage was written. If I could write like that, I could die a happy girl. The ending was a bit quick but that could have been because it was a short read.  

So everyone knows the premise of children going through unexpected doors to fantasy lands. Now imagine them coming back not knowing how to adapt and not wanting to be back on earth. Pretty cool idea right? Well that’s what this book is about. Imagine no one believing you. Imagine spending 5 years in a different land but everyone else thinks you ran away for just a few days. Imagine your parents thinking you are crazy. 

Nancy, the protagonist, is sent to a boarding school, Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, after living a huge part of her life in another world. She wants nothing more than to find a door back to her land, but she is now stuck in a new environment and has parents that do not understand her.

I really do not want to say much more about the story and let it unfold for you all if you pick it up!! I hate when people spoil books for me so I will not spoil this story for you! 🙂

3. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson 

I am always a sucker for historical fiction! The yellow fever pandemic in Philadelphia in 1793 is an event I had (surprisingly) never heard of. I loved how thoughtful Anderson seemed to be about historical accuracy while still captivating readers. 

Mattie, the protagonist, and her family run a coffeehouse in the then capital of America. She has all those adolescent struggles: lack of freedom, an overbearing mother, never time to be alone, and not allowed to do the things she wants. In her situation, some of her feelings are legitimate. 

But she will find out that these struggles seem pointless when yellow fever takes over the city. 

This book also shed light on other aspects of early American history like the lives of freed African slaves, the importance of coffeehouses during the time, and the controversy of medical treatment.

This is a quick, informative, and enjoyable read and maybe even fitting since we are in the midst of a pandemic right now! 

3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Another book by the lovely Laurie Halse Anderson! This contemporary fiction novel has one of the most natural 1st person voices I have come across. She was able to insert comedy without taking away from the gravity of sexual trauma. 

Melinda Sordino starts freshman year having lost all her friends, not caring about her grades, and trying to say as little as possible. Her ex friends think she’s a goody two shoes. Her classmates think she is weird. Her parents think she is being selfish. What does Melinda think? She thinks she has a secret that is too awful to tell anyone about. And she wonders if she will ever find her voice again. 

This book is witty and intense. It is a testament to the power of words and mental health. People are not crazy for how they react to trauma. People can overcome the scars left by trauma as well. Melinda Sordino is a fictitious character but her story is similar. Her struggle is real. Her silence was comfortable and started for a good reason. Instead of judging the quiet or the tension surrounding others, maybe we should ask why there is tension or silence before we judge! 

Well that’s a wrap! 

Happy Friday and happy reading! 

~ Kenedy M. 

All images couresy of Google images

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