Tag Archives: reading

Book Club: I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #6 in the Finding Delight Book Club. I’ve been a reading machine in 2019 (wow, I like the sound of those rhymes), but I figured it was about time I posted another book club selection. If you’re new to this series, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. The current pick is I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight by Margaret Cho.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“Haven’t we heard enough from these ancient white guys?”

Synopsis

With all her notorious, righteous comic rage, Margaret Cho lays out in no uncertain terms what’s wrong, what’s right, and what’s definitely worth fighting for.

From gay rights to racial equality to the right to choose, nothing is off limits for the comedian. She encourages her readers and army of loyal fans to stand up and speak out against those who want to keep free thinking liberals from ruining their “picture perfect” world.

Brutal, honest, and funny, I Have Chosen To Stay And Fight is everything you’d expect from one of the most woke comics of all time.

“My attitude toward peace does not depend on which war we are discussing. I think that words should do the work of bombs.”

Initial Thoughts

Ok, I’ll be honest. This is a book I slapped into this reading list without doing any research whatsoever. I was listening to old episodes of Jonathan Van Ness’s podcast and came across one with Margaret Cho. She just seemed so smart and witty and like someone who’d been fighting the good fight forever but had no plans of backing down any time soon. I knew I had to read something she’d written.

I hopped on Google, found this book, and typed it into my phone notes where I was storing a list of books to blog about. Next thing I knew this book was next up and I grabbed it off the shelves of the library. I flipped through it on the walk home —

I had no idea it came out in 2005. In fact, in bold on the inside of the jacket cover it says, “A survival guide to making it through to 2008 and a hilarious, kick-ass call-to-arms.” Wow, I thought, that’s a throw back.

But weirdly, it feels so familiar for our current political landscape. I hate to call it deja vu or a regression. Even though many of the themes Cho speaks out against in the book still linger. Instead, I found her words comforting. “I have chosen to stay and fight.” And keep fighting…

I also had no idea the book was arranged as a collection of essays. Which was a fun surprise. Most of the time they read more like slam poetry than article…which seems oddly appropriate for 2005 (at least that’s what I was into in 2005, lol). But while the writing is crass and honest and in-your-face, I wouldn’t necessarily call it “funny.” Not a disappointment, just unexpected. A choice for this particular book given the subject matter?

Maybe we’ll get to the bottom of that in our next post, when we discuss the author!

“In the darkest reaches of my imagination, it occurs to me that we are the heirs to the aftermath. We are the scavenger minority, picking at the carcass of civil rights, trying to get our measly share, so very far removed from the idea of fair …”

Read this is if you’re interested in: politics, comedians, things that haven’t changed since the early double aughts (😂).

Read this if you loved: I’m the One That I Want by Margaret Cho, I Am Not Your Final Girl by Claire C. Holland, Tragedy Queens edited by Leza Cantoral.

Keep a lookout for Part 2! I’ll be posting it soon.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

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Book Club: The True Memoirs of Little K Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #5 in the Finding Delight Book Club. Can you believe we’re already this far into the year?! If you’re new to this series, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. This month’s pick is The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrienne Sharp.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“So whatever you think of me, don’t pity me. I had a beautiful life. I was loved, admired, feted, copied, mocked, treasured, and feared. I am one hundred years old and I am no longer afraid of anything.” 

Synopsis

The year is 1971 in Paris, France and ninety-nine year old Mathilde Kschessinska begins to recant the story of her life. In what feels like a different world, she was the self-centered, flirtatious, determined “prima ballerina assoluta” of the Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. She remembers a time when the Russian court was inextricably linked to the ballet. And vice versa.

As she carefully reconstructs each chapter of her life, her conquests and failures, we are given box seats to view the very stories that would change the course of history, both for Russia and the world. We witness how Russia evolves as she progresses from girlhood to “tsar-crossed lover” to old woman.

Expertly researched, The True Memoirs of Little K is based on real events and real people. But it reads like a fairy-tale narrated by a woman who has seen it all: the greatest love, heart-breaking loss, and the crumbling of the Romanov empire she so desperately wanted to belong to.

Initial thoughts 

Determined to a fault, Mathilde Kschessinska jetés her way out of the wings and finds herself smack-dab in the middle of the Romanov stage. As a popular ballerina she steals the hearts of THREE members of the imperial family, including the future Tsar himself, Nicholas II. Her life, written as a dictated memoir, opens with the splendor of imperial life as seen through the eyes of someone close enough to taste it. A famous ballerina. As years pass, she sees Russia go from full of lavish traditions to full of upheaval.

I’ve been going through quite the historical fiction phase as of late, so I’m finding Sharp’s novel fascinating and powerful. The portrayal of Mathilde as a woman whose links to “scandal” will forever overshadow her abilities as a dancer is one too easily recognized in our society. I’m excited to see how her character evolves as the book unfolds and the imperial court deteriorates.

While I do think the style is very effective (and makes me truly believe Kschessinska was speaking!), the book’s lack of dialogue could be annoying for some. This absence doesn’t upset me, but I do sort of miss it as a way to build out details within the narrative. Without it, the narrator relies a lot on introspection and long-winded asides to explain historical detail. However, the latter is where Sharp’s research really shines through!

I feel like I’m learning a HUGE chunk of Russian history, but the medicine is going down with a spoonful of sugar because I also get a ballerina’s love story.

Read this if you’re interested in: Russian history, ballet and the lives of Russian prima ballerinas, the Romanovs

Read this if you loved: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, The Romanovs by Robert K. Massie, Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

Book Club: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace Pt. 4

Hi friends! I’ve been super busy the last few weeks and the blog has definitely taken a back seat…but don’t worry — reading has not!

For consistency’s sake, I wanted to have a part 4 on this book. Butttttt I just don’t have time to write up a full-on reflection. SO! I shall direct you to Parts 1 – 3 on Last Night I Dreamed of Peace — here, here and here. I’d love if you’d check them out!

Also, since reading this book club book, I’ve also devoured Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook. Either would make for an awesome summer read if historical fiction is your jam!

I’d also like to announce that the next book I’ll be discussing in this series is *drumroll please* THE TRUE MEMOIRS OF LITTLE K by Adrienne Sharp. Nab a copy and follow along, why dontcha?! It’s a fictionalized account of the real life Russian ballerina who was the mistress of the future Tsar Nicholas II.

Want the full Finding Delight Book Club reading list?  CLICK HERE.

Book Club: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #4 in the Finding Delight Book Club. My how time flies! If you’re new to this series, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. This month, Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram translated by Andrew X. Pham.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“Come to me, squeeze my hand, know my loneliness,
and give me the love,  the strength to prevail
on the perilous road before me.” 

Synopsis

Amidst the deadliest portion of the Vietnam War, a young woman, Dang Thuy Tram, leaves her family behind in Hanoi and sets off to work in a field hospital. As a recently trained doctor she is tasked with treating civilians and soldiers alike as fierce guerrilla battles occur day in and day out within the foliage nearby.

For comfort, she writes in her diary. She records her patient encounters, friends who have been killed in the fighting, her longing for a man she calls M., and her dreams.

These wartime recollections were rescued when, at war’s end, American soldiers were burning documents. A Vietnamese translator got hold of Thuy’s diary and proclaimed, “Don’t burn this one, it has fire in it already.” 

Breaking protocol, an American officer preserved the diary and kept it for 35 years, eventually delivering it into the hands of Thuy’s mother. It was later published in Vietnam and then translated into English by Andrew X. Pham.

Last Night I Dreamed of Peace is the parting gift from an unlikely heroine, killed at 27. Her voice lives on to help generations to come remember that compassion and dignity can persist in the face of the atrocities of war.

“Half of  our heart is filled with red blood, half with black. In our mind there is also a balance between the bright, intelligent and beautiful facets and the dark, negative, and cowardly parts. If I can grasp that in its entirety, then I can achieve tranquility and stability in this life.”

Initial thoughts 

First off, don’t skip the introduction! This bit of text penned by Frances Fitzgerald (author of Fire in the Lake) is excellent and offers insightful observations about the book’s meaning, history and origins. I don’t know a ton about the Vietnam War and the introduction helped to place Thuy’s writing into the larger narrative of world conflicts.

The fact that the book is a diary, the interior monologue of a young woman enduring the realities of war, is what drew me to it. (Anyone else read Anne Frank as a kid and become obsessed with the war diary genre?) And a new doctor, no less! Throughout the book she talks of caring for wounded Viet Cong soldiers below the 17th parallel that divided Vietnam into North and South. Her life is often in danger as the American “enemy” and guerrillas wage war mere paces from her makeshift field hospitals.

There’s also an element of romance to her life’s tale as she followed a man from back home into this service. She talks of “M.” frequently in the pages of the diary. Unfortunately, they have both become so committed to their duties that striking things back up seems nearly impossible. Thuy mourns the loss of what could have been.

Given her proximity to the violent, bloody, gory scenes of war, it’s interesting to note that descriptions of such things are limited. But of course, Thuy is a physician, not a soldier. This means grappling with the aftermath, putting the pieces back together that war tore apart.

In translation, her writing is extremely lyrical. Less an account of what’s happening and more poetic perceptions and ponderings — about the damages of war, firm communist beliefs, relationships with the people she meets in the clinic, and sometimes their deaths too. This style, along with the repetitiveness of Thuy’s thoughts, could definitely be off-putting to some. But at the end of the day, she’s a woman in her 20’s who can’t figure out which dude she’s in love with! She’s the epitome of “in her feelings.” Add war to that emotional hotbox and I think I can excuse the fact that she often wants to discuss pining for men rather than the AK-47 wounds she sewed up earlier that day.

Finally, reading Thuy’s wartime recollections as an American is a thought-provoking exercise in seeing the “enemy” as human. It’s easy to relate to a person when they lay their hopes and fears bare on a page. Reading that she dreamed of peace hopefully serves as a reminder, that death as a result of war is always a tragedy, regardless of sides.

Read this if you’re interested in: the Vietnam War, medical history, women physicians, wartime diaries

Read this if you loved: Home Front Girl by Joan Whelen Morrison, The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh, and When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip

Other works mentioned: Fire in the Lake by Frances Fitzgerald

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

Book Club: The Truths We Hold Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #3 in the Finding Delight Book Club. If you haven’t heard, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. This month, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

“Democracy just cannot flourish amid fear. Liberty cannot bloom amid hate. Justice cannot take root amid rage. America must get to work. . . . We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred, and the mistrust.” 

Synopsis

Senator Kamala Harris’s book walks readers through the events of her childhood and early career which have shaped her views and informed her political prowess. First, she is the daughter of immigrants. Her father, an economist, is from Jamaica and her mother, a scientist, hailed from India. They met at UC-Berkeley where they would often attend civil rights events. Later, they would bring young Kamala in a stroller to marches.

This early involvement in activism continued throughout Harris’s young life, leading to law school, and a passion for justice that would establish her as an innovative change agent in law enforcement — first, as a prosecutor, and then through her role as deputy district attorney. From there, she quickly advanced to the elected position of District Attorney for San Francisco, followed by chief law enforcement officer for the entire state of California.

The book highlights key ways Harris provided a voice for the voiceless in these important roles — including a battle with the banks during the height of the foreclosure crisis. It also showcases how important people in her life have impacted her political approach. Most notably, the daughter of a cancer researcher, it is clear how her mother’s science background informs Harris’s emphasis on data-informed decision making.

Now a United States Senator, Harris walks readers through a variety of issues that are affecting her state, as well as our whole country, including; health care, national security, mass incarceration, immigration, the opioid crisis, and inequality. The story of her life and career create the framework for discussing the issues but Harris doesn’t stop there. She offers insight on the work that is still to be done and provides a vision for how we can face these things together — by seeing ourselves in each other. In doing so, we can kickstart a shared effort to create positive change in America.

“In the years to come, what matters most is that we see ourselves in one another’s struggles.”

Initial thoughts 

When I added The Truths We Hold to my 2019 book club list it was because I was interested in what Kamala Harris was doing as a junior United States Senator. I had recently heard her give a few interviews where she discussed her background and I was interested to learn more. Now, Harris has thrown her hat in the ring for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and this book has taken on a completely different meaning. Whereas before the choice felt driven by “What has she done?” now I find myself wondering, “What could she do?”

While the publication date of her autobiography does feel very convenient, I won’t fault her for that. (Obama pulled the same move, you’ll recall… and many of the 2020 hopefuls have followed suit.) The book does a great job in laying out her political platform. It’s a super engaging read and felt authentic in a way that many political memoirs don’t. If you’ve ever watched Harris speak or heard her interviewed, you’ll note that her books “sounds” like her.

Learning more about Harris’s early life was a lot of fun. Her background feels really unique (maybe because she’s not another joe-blow, white dude politician??) but at the same time super relatable. (Similarities with mine include: daughter of an economist, lived outside the U.S. for a bit as a kid, and college debater!) The biographical information weaved through most politician’s books are why I like them so much. It really gives you a window into what issues matter most to them and which they’ll be willing to fight hardest for. I recognize parts of these narratives are blown up a bit for the sake of the optics — but I feel like I have a pretty good bullshit meter and can suss out which ones are genuine and which are a stretch. None of the personal links within the pages of The Truths We Hold felt disingenuous. 

It was also interesting to note how quickly Harris’s career progressed from assistant prosecutor to U.S. Senator. I found myself deeply respecting her hustle and the hard work she’s invested in her career but also on behalf of her constituents, for whom it feels like she has a genuine care for.

Altogether, I believe The Truths We Hold will serve as an effective foundation for this 2020 hopeful and magnetic candidate. However, no matter who you’re backing for this upcoming race, Harris’s book paints an inspiring portrait of what leadership looks like in challenging times. So, if you’re wondering if you should add this memoir to your reading list, I VOTE YES!

Read this if you’re interested in: Politics, U.S. government, recent California history, successful women, leadership, current events

Read this if you loved: United by Cory Booker, This Fight Is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren, and Off the Sidelines by Kirsten Gillibrand. (You could just do a who’s-who of democratic hopefuls by way of Amazon shoppin’.)

Follow Kamala: Twitter and Instagram

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

Book Club: Woman Code Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #2 in the Finding Delight Book Club. If you haven’t heard, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. For this book, the posts are going to look something like this — 1) about the book, 2) extended reading/listening/watching, 3) extended eating, and 4) final takeaways. So, let’s dive in for more on WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source by Alisa Vitti, HHC.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“Hormones affect everything. Have you ever struggled with acne, oily hair, dandruff, dry skin, cramps, headaches, irritability, exhaustion, constipation, irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, clotting, shedding hair, weight gain, anxiety, insomnia, infertility, lowered sex drive, or bizarre food cravings and felt like your body was just irrational? It’s not; it’s hormonal.” 

Synopsis

As a holistic health counselor, Alisa Vitti helps women. She founded the FLO Living Center in Manhattan because, after experiencing symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome for years, she was able to turn her health around through the power of foods and lifestyle changes and thought other women could benefit from what she found to be so life-changing.

Now, in WomanCode, Vitti shares the prescriptive program she used on herself and later with her countless clients. The book explains this proven set of guidelines that has helped thousands of women solve issues related to their cycle, skin, thyroid, mood, and fertility.

The program consists of five steps. Each step is mapped out in easy-to-understand detail so that readers can make changes as soon as they set down the book. Working through the program promises to help you:

  • Live in tune with your cycle
  • Learn how to reduce the impact of harmful ingredients found in your environment, food, and products
  • Lovingly support the function of your blood sugar, adrenals, systems of elimination, and reproductive organs
  • Use the power of your feminine energy

The information in WomanCode gives women a greater understanding of hormone health so they can naturally eliminate period problems, tap into the benefits of living cyclically, and feel great!

***

“Most women know very little about our hormonal biochemistry, and as a result,
we’re making choices about our menstrual care, fertility, and libido
that have long-term negative repercussions.” 

Initial Thoughts

I was first introduced to Alisa Vitti, and the idea of cycle syncing, when she was a guest on a podcast I listen to. The host of the podcast had recently adopted many of the changes outlined in WomanCode and wanted her audience to hear from the source. I’ll be honest, Vitti’s perspective really resonated with me. She discussed the hormonal peaks and valleys that occur throughout women’s cycles. How inherently cyclical we are.  While all the while, society so often asks us to exist in a linear fashion. What would happen if, instead, we tapped into that cyclicality? Or better yet–optimized it?

This optimization is what fascinated me most. Vitti went on to explain how she recommends different foods for each phase of a woman’s cycle. I’ve long believed in the idea of food as medicine. So this made a lot of sense. Why wouldn’t you choose foods that provide the nourishment your need at each point in your cycle? For example, foods rich in B vitamins are great for the Luteal Phase, while seafood and sea-based veggies during menstruation can help remineralize your body with iron and zinc. Sounds pretty interesting, right? And I love anything with the potential for meal plan creation…so her book went straight on my list.

That was several years ago, and in the interim I found (and became low-key obsessed with) another period coach. Claire’s Instagram stories really solidified WomanCode’s place on this book club’s reading list. How? She often shares cycle updates and talks about the different ways she adapts her self-care, business strategies, social life, and exercise to that specific cycle day. Honestly, mind blown! I knew that Vitti’s book would break down the science behind this type of holistic cycle syncing. So, here we are!

As you can probably tell, I’m deeply interested in alternative medicine, nutrition, and women’s health. WomanCode does not disappoint in these areas. I feel like it’s unlocking a whole new approach to my health & wellness and I’m so excited to get stuck in.

Next week, I’ll be sharing some really awesome websites, videos, Instagram accounts and all sorts of other goodies that will hopefully get you fired up about cycle syncing and menstruation! See you then!!

Read this if you’re interested in: Women’s Health, Nutrition, Chinese Medicine, Holistic Healing, Cycle Syncing

Read this if you loved: Moon Time by Lucy Pearce, The Optimized Woman by Miranda Gray, Adore Your Cycle by Claire Baker

Follow Alisa Vitti: Website, Instagram, Pinterest

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

mid-week round-up

What are you up to this week? Yesterday was Mardi Gras and I celebrated with a plate of blueberry pancakes for breakfast and an evening out at our local parade. Even though by the end of the festivities I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes (BRR!), it was the sweetest small town event and I’m so happy we decided to take part. Did you do anything to mark the day? Hope the rest of your work week flies by, and now take a look at the links…

The race to build the world’s best bourbon barrel.

[Related: Take your hot toddy up a notch.]

Teen tells senate why he defied his mom to get vaccinated.

An added bonus to buying books used.

Thinking of picking up this hairbrush. (Thanks to a reader recommendation on this post.)

Could small doses of hallucinogenic drugs have therapeutic benefits?

At the crossroads of comfort tv and comfort food.

[Related: My Comfort Movies]

How DARLING is this pillow?

Alex Honnold breaks down iconic rock climbing scenes.

A study suggests that exposure to large home libraries may have a long-term impact on the mind.

The differences between Britney and Kim K’s houses.

[Related: Britney! Come back to Instagram. I miss you so much!]

Street style from Paris Fashion Week.

Sounds about right.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — In Search of the Comfiest Bra and The Celebrity Instagram Accounts You Should Totally Follow.

If you enjoy my blog content, please consider supporting what I do (and keeping me caffeinated). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Book Club: Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today marks the launch of my new Finding Delight Book Club. I’ll be reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book — 1) about the book, 2) about the author, 3) extended reading/listening/watching, and 4) final thoughts and reflections. I’m kicking off the club with an exploration of Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus for Those Who Don’t Believe by Tom Krattenmaker.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“It is not my aim to reclaim the Christian religion … Nor is it my objective in this book to join the scholars who pursue the historical Jesus–the historically and journalistically accurate Jesus–as important as that quest might be. I am interested, rather, in what we might describe as “face-value Jesus,” the Jesus who says and does things on the pages of the New Testament. I am not worried for now about the factual accuracy of those accounts or the religious assertions that arise from them. His stories and instruction are valuable and ‘true,’ I contend, whether they are journalistically accurate or not.”

Synopsis

When you think about Jesus, what image comes to you mind? A man with piercing blue eyes and flowy hair last seen on the cover of your old Sunday school workbook? A painful expression from a cross at the front of a dim sanctuary? Or perhaps the name alone invokes feelings about religious doctrine or political stances in direct opposition to your own.

Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today columnist, separates Jesus from our preconceived notions and explains how his teachings are exactly what we need to bring reason and sense to the current state of affairs in America — even a SECULAR America.

Krattenmaker asks–
What gives life meaning?
What does it mean to live a good life?

Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower is Krattenmaker’s answer to these long-pondered queries. Surprisingly, as a self-declared secular and non-believer, he turns to Jesus. Fully. Not just as an instructor or someone to be imitated, but as a personal North Star, as it were, directing and guiding all life’s components and quandaries.

To encourage us to adopt a similar conclusion, the book paints a realistic picture of the status quo while detailing the ways turning to Jesus’s teachings can provide a much-needed salve for so many of America’s woes. And no stone is left unturned — politics, racism, sexual exploitation, mass incarceration. Krattenmaker has studied religion for years and, as a journalist, covers the intersection of religion and public life in America. It is through this lens of religious understanding, that he expresses how nonreligious folk can follow Jesus. He walks readers through key teachings, parables, and sermons and extrapolates meaning and guidance that can be applied to a modern life.

This book helps readers discover, or perhaps rediscover, Jesus. A man who, Krattenmaker believes, can help us lead a good and meaningful life. An inspiring read no matter what you believe.

***

“If Jesus had a “shit list,” you wouldn’t find people on it. You’d find attitudes and actions. Not wrong people but wrong ideas, behaviors, and ways of being in the world. He could see the humanity even in the dreaded tax collectors, who were enforcing the severe policies that kept many of Jesus’s people in poverty. He could see the humanity even in the soldiers who were carrying out his execution.”

Initial Thoughts

Can these two truths coexist within one person?
1. Jesus is the answer.
2. I’m not looking for God.

They seem contradictory, right?

I love that this book shows me, as someone who has walked away from organized religion, the ways in which they are not. Krattenmaker does a wonderful job exploring Jesus’s teachings — explaining metaphors (for those of us apprehensive with *pulls thing out of thin air* miracles) and cultural context. This allows for a more holistic application of bible story to current conundrum. A leap that can be hard to make when the subject and setting of these stories feel so far removed from our own.

Wherever I’ve been on my own faith/spiritual journey, I’ve always conceded that Jesus was and is a pretty important dude. Afterall, he was able to split time in two. No small feat! But despite regular church attendance and religion classes throughout my formative years, I still wouldn’t say I have an intimate knowledge of his teachings.

Curiosity about the historical Jesus had me pick up this book last year. Which I would definitely recommend as a way of placing “the man” in time and space. Curiosity about what he taught, however, has me poring over Confessions of a Secular Jesus.

In recent years, I’ve seen some good done in Christ’s name, but a lot more bad. Maybe you feel the same way? For me, in 2019, this is what is hard to grapple with when approaching a book like this one. I found myself proceeding with caution towards the idea that Jesus can be a moral guide for all folks — whether they worship him or not.

Yet, Krattenmaker’s interpretations of the Jesus philosophy is winning me over. His philosophy…

that love is the way,
that responding to war with peace is a powerful counter-strike,
that finding the humanity in all persons is possible and beautiful,
that forgiveness can be subversive.

Perhaps these are the answers we can find in Jesus if we take the time to look.

Read this if you’re interested in: Philosophy, Self-Improvement, Religion + Politics, Literature

Read this if you loved: A Secular Age by Charles Taylor, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, What’s Beyond Mindfulness by Stephen Fulder, What the Qur’an Meant by Gary Wills

Other books by Tom Krattenmaker: The Evangelicals You Don’t Know and Onward Christian Athletes

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

For the love of BOOKS!

What have you been reading lately? While I believe ALL seasons are great for reading, Fall weather feels especially conducive. Don’t you think? There’s something so lovely about curling up on the couch because, hey, it’s already dark outside…but in reality you still have plenty of hours ’til bedtime.

I think Anne, of Green Gables fame, said it best —

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Sad to see October go. But so excited for what books lay ahead in November! If you’re in the same boat, here are some books I’ve read recently that I’d recommend for next month’s evening couch sessions:

Sharp Objects
Delancey
Honeymoon in Purdah
Under the Banner of Heaven
All the Light We Cannot See
The Vacationers
Some Girls
Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

I’m currently reading The Silver Star, which is written by the same person who wrote The Glass Castle. My friend recently recommended Nevada (I added it to my reading list right away), and my mom and sister both LOVED The Electric Woman. Also, I recently saw someone perform an amazing oral interpretation of a story from Her Body and Other Parties, which totally made me want to reread.

So, what are YOU reading? Anything you’ve read in the last few years that you can’t stop recommending to people? Would love to hear!!

P.S. How to make time for books.

5 Great Ways to Save Money on Books

Hey friends! To continue with our week of all things book-related here on Finding Delight, I’ve got a guest post by fellow blogger and book-lover, Cassie

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Books are an amazing, enlightening and empowering force, one that has the possibility to change the world or at least the perspective of their readers. I can’t recommend enough that everyone should be indulging in the secrets of their pages as much as possible.

However, a stark truth that has to be faced is books are often expensive. New and popular releases regularly come with a hefty price tag. Avid readers often find themselves gazing longingly at titles they just can’t afford. These five tips are all great ways to save money when buying books, thus opening you up to a whole range of exciting new titles to explore.

Avoid the Hardback

While hardbacks are a beautiful and tempting product for any book lover—who doesn’t crave their shiny covers and satisfying weightiness when you read them—they are also by far the priciest. In fact, they’re often double the price of their paperback counterparts and can be over ten times more expensive than the e-book version.

While treasuring those beautiful books might seem like an important pursuit, if you remind yourself that you can indulge in numerous alternative literary delights for the same cost, then it will soon become easy to put them back on the shelf and save your pennies! Some people might argue that e-books are just as expensive since you have to add the initial cost of an e-reader, but there are numerous apps that let you download the releases directly onto phones, tablets or laptops that you already own.

Take Advantage of Project Gutenberg

There are so many classic novels that have been produced by influential and pioneering authors all throughout history. Each one of these pieces of literature is a must-read for any bookworm’s list. What’s even better is a large amount of these works can be found and read for absolutely free.

Project Gutenberg is an online resource founded in 1971 to help support the distribution of e-books. It provides readers with a staggering collection of works whose copyrights have expired, books that are in the public domain. The law around copyright varies, but in general, most books find themselves in the public domain so many years after their original author has died. The site currently holds over 50,000 titles, and many of these are famed classics—think Jane Austen, H.G. Wells, Lewis Carroll and hundreds of other timeless authors. 

Use a Virtual Private Network

The internet does wonders for helping us spend less on books. However, what many users fail to realize is the internet is not created equal. Book distribution websites and services often restrict their catalogs depending on region via a process called geo-blocking. In short, this works by identifying the IP address on your Kindle device or computer and only allowing you to view or purchase books available in your region. This means you can often miss out on great titles and deals just because you’re based in a certain country.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a handy piece of software that enables users to choose which country their server appears to be browsing from. The Kindle catalog in particular is notorious for setting up deals based on location, so by installing a VPN you can check that you aren’t missing out on great savings elsewhere. The software also provides an added layer of security to protect your credit card details when buying online. Secure Thoughts is a leading review site if you want to find out more information.

Browse the Discount Sites

As well as Kindle deals, there are many other dedicated sites that can be found online that specialize in providing discounted versions of your favorite novels. Students are probably already familiar with Half.com, as many use it to cut the cost of textbooks, but it’s also a wonderful resource for anyone looking to find great deals on favorite books. 

Powered by eBay, it’s run on the same concept as the main site but specifically caters to book lovers. Sellers can use the platform to clear out secondhand copies of books they’ve read, making it the perfect way to find discounts. As users have to compete to attract buyers to their products, you can often find significant savings if you’re willing to dig deep enough. As most books are secondhand, it’s also worth keeping an eye out for quality.

This trick is one that can be used when buying paperbacks from Amazon, as often titles can be found secondhand from individual sellers for a fraction of the bookshop price. These deals often come up when you do a search, so be sure to check them out before committing to a purchase!

Participate in a Book Swap

Last but not least, and my personal favorite way to save money on books, is the classic book swap. The concept is simple: you can pick up a new (to you) book, and all you have to do is leave another one in exchange. It’s a common practice in hostels, as travelers aren’t able to cart around large quantities of reading material, but it’s also becoming a regular occurrence in neighborhoods.

In England, many public telephone boxes—which are now largely seen as redundant —have been transformed into mini book swap libraries where passers-by can browse, borrow and donate books in return. It’s free of charge and a great way to drum up interest in literature and even engagement in your local community. If you don’t have a handy resource like this available near you, then you can get together with fellow book lovers from your friend circle, each bring a few unwanted titles and have your own mini swap session! 

Money should never be a reason for not getting your fill of reading. There are always new and innovative solutions to your financial problems when it comes to books. These are just five of my most-used tactics, but if you have any more tips and tricks, then I’d love to hear your ideas! Be sure to leave a comment below.


About the Author: Cassie is an entertainment and technology blogger for Culture Coverage. She’s been an avid reader all her life and loves that the internet has made it easier than ever to access the greatest stories out there.

 

(Photo by Galina Kochergina.)