I’ve realised that I’ve been reading but not writing in the last month. Needless to say that while on holiday I managed to buy 5 books in 10 days, sooooo….maybe need to find space for another bookcase this Autumn.
Here’s what I’ve been reading this summer!
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death by Maggie O’Farrell – This incredible memoir by Maggie O’Farrell (who wrote a book I loved called After You’d Gone) talks about 16 moments in her life where she came close to death and one where her daughter almost died. It’s written in a way where you are right there with her, feeling every moment and I utterly recommend it. For me, it brought back some memories of my own life and encouraged me to pause and reflect on them.
The House of Unexpected Sisters by Alexander McCall Smith – This is the latest paperback in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series. I’m always tempted by the hardbacks because it’s so tough to wait another year for the next installment but then they wouldn’t all be perfectly lined up on my bookshelf. This story is my favourite for a while, as Mma Ramotswe makes an accidental discovery that changes life forever. It’s also incredible how these books touch on subjects with only hints and not directly talking about them due to the nature of the way the characters think and talk to one another.
Maggie and Me by Damian Barr – After going to a workshop that was led by Damian on writing biography (which turned out to be all about memoir – maybe I’ll make Learning From Sophie into a book after all 😉 ) it seemed only right that I should read his own memoir. Damian is not too much older than me, and a lot of the talk and settings of his memoir was familiar. It was a difficult read as a youth worker – there were multiple encounters with the church, a Christian organisation I’ve volunteered with in the past, high school teachers and it really made me look back at every young person I’ve worked with worrying what I may have missed. Again, it was well written and honest.
Undivided by Vicky Beeching – When I first started playing guitar and leading worship Vicky’s songs were the ones I went to because (praise God) they were written in a key I could sing in. She was a friend of one of my friends from Aberdeen, so have had a number of interactions with her on social media over the years. I was incredibly saddened to the reaction of so many when she came out publicly a few years ago. I had the privilege of hearing her speak at Greenbelt while on holiday, and immediately started reading her book. It’s stemmed a lot of discussion I’d already been having with friends over the years about homophobia in the church, the power of leaders to spiritually abuse others, and the way we do prayer ministry at youth events. Vicky’s story highlights exactly why I have had concerns for a long time, and I also admire the graciousness she has shown in writing. It also touches on theology and church history. My only concern is a story she shares involving rape threats which she blames on not being able to be ‘out’ hurting a guy who wants to date her – which actually I think is more to with a wider issue of misogyny and toxic masculinity. An important story that needs t be read by many in the church (along with watching Season 2 Episode 1 of Queer Eye so you can listen to the wisdom of Mama Tammye). Especially as many LGBTQ+ Christians were there at Greenbelt, some of them courageously sharing their own stories of experiencing hate and homophobia.
What have you been reading this summer? Let me know in the comments!