July was a high volume, low stress month for reading. Most of the list is fiction, but I'll blame it on the fact I've no less than three rather lengthy non-fiction books in process right now (One I've been picking at forever, one is written at a PhD level on a complicated subject and one just popped up quickly thanks to a group I'm in). Here we go:
Lincoln's Battle With God: A President's Struggle With Faith, by Stephan Mansfield - Our faith lives are a never ending journey, one complete with lost paths, retracing of steps and long pauses. The Abraham Lincoln during his years in Springfield argued forcefully against the tenets of Christianity - so much so that friends branded him an infidel. How is this the same Lincoln, who, in his second inaugural address would acknowledge that "...the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether..."? Mansfield explores that journey with an eye toward using as much factual, rather than fancied, evidence as possible. I highly recommend this book.
Help for Women Under Stress by Randy Alcorn - I adore Alcorn's writing, as it's humble, full of Scripture and always both practical and uplifting, but boy, does it take forever, even for a quick reader like me, to get through his books. This is an updated version of a book he wrote fifteen years ago or so - an excellent, practical guide to reducing stress. There are study questions at the end of each chapter, making this an excellent choice for a women's small group.
Takedown Twenty and Top Secret Twenty-One, by Janet Evanovich - Alas, I fear reading Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels has deteriorated into a bad habit. The books, while amusing, are no where nearly as fun as the first five or six in the series. The plots are predictable, the characters do not develop or move beyond where they were in the previous book. I think I said this after reading number nineteen, but I don't think I'll keep on with the series.
Love Mercy, by Earlene Fowler - He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 I have to admit to a prejudice here: I've avoided this novel simply because the co-opting of the verse from which the title (and main character's name) is taken by the social gospel people really, really annoys me. But that's a rant for a different day. Fowler's writing just keeps getting better. Unlike the books in her Benny Harper series (all the titles of those books are quilt block names :) ), this is not a mystery, but a straight up novel about family, both biological and chosen. Excellent read.
The Saddlemaker's Wife, by Earlene Fowler - Another of Ms. Fowler's novels I skipped when it was first published. Big mistake. Again, a straight up novel about family. Faith elements run through both this and Love Mercy, though much stronger in that book than this. There is a recently published follow up to this book, which I just downloaded tonight. I've started writing this post on the 29th; it's entirely possible that book, too, will make July's reading list.
Someone Else's Love Story, by Joshilyn Jackson - Jackson is truly a writer in the Southern tradition. SELS is about love, maternal and matrimonial, friendship, secrets and a possibly immaculate conception. I didn't think I'd like Jackson's novels when I first started reading them (gods in Alabama), but her quirky characters and incredible ability to draw the reader into their minds has grown on me