January is almost over, and I just realized I haven’t published my December reads. But today’s the day. I finished seven books last month: Clutter Free by Kathi Lipp plus six others. Read on for my impressions of each (ranked according to when I finished reading them).
The Poverty of Nations by Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus
Poverty of Nations tackles such questions as these: What can be done to help the poorest countries of the world? Which of our past efforts to alleviate poverty have been effective? Which well-intentioned programs have served to increase rather than diminish the problems faced by impoverished nations?
I found The Poverty of Nations a fascinating read, full of proven strategies for fighting poverty on a national level. And I appreciated the authors’ unique perspectives and the combination of backgrounds. One is an economist and the other a theologian.
Their book does an excellent job of explaining the problems in easy-to-understand language while backing up their claims with myriad statistical data and Biblical truth.
Finally, the book does not stop at merely pointing out the flaws in our current approaches to lifting other nations out of poverty. It offers concrete solutions, simultaneously inspires hope, and sounds a clear warning against going down the philosophical paths that resulted in the poverty of nations in the first place.
Table Talk by Jennifer Flanders
Back in November, I began publishing free printable conversation starters on our website. I post a new set every three of four weeks (and plan to continue doing so).
But it takes a little work to print out the questions, cut them apart, put them in a jar for safe keeping, and draw one out every night over dinner. So I thought some of my readers might prefer the simplicity of cracking open a book and reading the day’s selection from the appropriate list. Which is how my newest book, Table Talk, came into existence.
It contains 365 discussion prompts for families. And you aren’t just limited to using them at mealtime. You can keep the book in the car to foster good conversations as you drive about town or take lengthy road trips. Or keep it in the living room to draw out your children as they gather together after a long day at school or work. However you choose to use it, I hope it will help you connect with one another. In our increasingly fragmented and isolated society, fostering such family ties is more important than ever.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a classic we’ve read too many times to count. But it has been a few years since I’ve read it aloud to my kids, so we revisited that tradition this past Christmas and included the grandkids, as well.
It is short enough to read in one long sitting. We finished ours on a car trip to San Antonio.
The author does a delightful job telling the story of the unruly Herdman kids and how they took over the church Christmas pageant one year. The entire congregation seemed scandalized by the prospect, but in the end, the Herdmans helped everybody see the old, familiar Christmas account in an entirely new and deeply meaningful way.
This book never fails to make me laugh — and cry. If you’ve never read it before, I hope you’ll add it to your list. You’ll be glad you did.
God Is in the Manger by Deitrich Bonhoeffer
Our church read through this book as a congregation last month.
As an advent devotional, the readings were meant to be spread out over five weeks. But I bought the audio version, so I finished it in a matter of days, not weeks.
I don’t really recommend doing it that way, though. For one thing, the book pulls quotes from lots of different sources, and it was often hard for us to keep straight who was writing without seeing the visual clues of commas, quotation marks, and indentations. On several occasions, I thought the passage being read was by Bonhoeffer, only to hear some modern day reference and realize somebody else was being quoted.
That part was a little confusing, but the print version of God Is in the Manger would clear that problem right up. And the print version offers the additional benefit of focusing your thoughts and attention on Christ during the Christmas
Sudoku: Exercise Your Mind in Minutes by Brain Games
I keep a Sudoku book going at all times and try to complete a puzzle or two a day. I’m hoping that between solving number puzzles and brushing my teeth left-handed, I’ll be able to ward off Alzheimer’s.
Over the years, I’ve completed quite a few Sudoku books. I usually start with the first puzzle and work them all, one-by-one, in order to the very end. But of all the different kinds of sudoku puzzle books I’ve tried, this series by Brain Games are my absolute favorite.
I love the fact the spiral binding allows the pages to lie flat as I work them. And the large print means I’m able to see the numbers, even without my reading glasses!
Clutter Free by Kathi Lipp
Subtitled Quick and Easy Steps for Simplifying Your Space, Clutter Free is chock full of practical suggestions for organizing your home, your schedule, and your life. Even better, Lipp delves into why our spaces get cluttered in the first place and how to stem the tide.
Whenever I tackle a big organizational challenge (current projects: the desk in my closet and the file cabinet in my garage), I read a decluttering book for inspiration. It keeps me going when I start to lose steam. So this time, I multitasked by listening to the audio version of Clutter Free even as I sorted through files and drawers.
The Holy Bible (NASB Translation
If you have very limited time for reading, I’d recommend you spend it reading God’s Word.
For years, I’ve made a practice of reading through the Bible cover-to-cover once a year. You can learn more about the particular reading plan I use by following this link: Read through the Bible in a Year.
The Bible I normally carry is a leather-bound New American Standard Bible. But I often read online using BibleHub. That allows me to see each verse in multiple translations and makes looking up cross-references a breeze.
That does it for my December reads. For more book reviews, follow this link: Flanders Family’s Recent Reads
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