November has been a banner reading month, and wow, it isn’t easy to pick four. So, naturally, I cheated. 😉 The four highlighted here are four that I haven’t written about or reviewed anywhere else.

Best of November Reading by Sarah Reinhard

But before I forget, here are November reads I’ve reviewed elsewhere:

  1. Our Lady of the Lost and Found: A Novel of Mary, Faith, and Friendship, by Diane Schoemperlen (fiction) *Reviewed (along with a few other picks) here
  2. A Postcard from a Volcano: A Novel of Pre-War Germany, by Lucy Beckett (fiction) *Reviewed here
  3. Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick, by Wendy Wood *Reviewed here
  4. Becoming Women of the Word: How to Answer God’s Call with Purpose and Joy, by Sarah Christmyer *Reviewed here

And, if you’re curious, I have my full reading lists going back to 2006 here.

Now, on with the books!

Thought-Provokingish: Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, by Nir Eyal

Yes, that’s a view of the bathtub, which is where I started reading this. Maybe not the most “indistractable” place, but it’s one of my favorite places to dive into a book.

Eyal does a great job of stating what feels, to me, like the obvious. But it needs to be stated, again and again. It seems I’ve been working my way through a number of books that are self-help focused on controlling our distractibility and thus solving all our problems.

I give Eyal credit. That’s not his goal…at least, I don’t think that was his goal. He has pulled together text that’s easy to read and easy to digest. He has a number of free downloads to support this book, and they’re good. If you’ve been struggling with distraction, this may be a book to dip into.

There’s a chapter on family and kids, and it’s a good start. As with most books like this, I find it best to read them as an introduction to a topic. They get me thinking and maybe even trying ⏤ or retrying ⏤ some new things. However, my personal experience as a working (often at home) mom of “many” kids means that I have specific needs that, honestly, won’t be addressed by a professional man who can put up a sign and get his five-year-old to leave him alone.

(I don’t feel like I have a lot of kids, but people inevitably give me that reaction, like I’m running a daycare here).

Don’t read that as a criticism, mind you, because that’s not what I intend. Eyal has done a good thing with this book, which is why I not only include it as one of my reading highlights but also list it at the top. The topic of distraction and of attention is one I think we need to be pondering and exploring, and one way we have that discussion is through popular books.

So, go to your library and see what you think. (That’s what I did.) Or get your own copy.

A New Favorite: The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord, by Anthony Esolen

When I saw that this was a book of poetry, I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly excited. Gaining an appreciation for poetry has been on my to-do list for a few years, but I didn’t really want to start now, with this book.

The Introduction — 40 pages of prose by Esolen — won me over. Esolen is a teacher at heart (and by profession), and he does it well. His love and appreciation for poetry, and his explanation for what he intended and executed in this book was beautifully stated.

And then, then, I started reading his poetry. It’s one long epic poem, broken into sections. He explains the format and the whys, but I skimmed in my rush to get done.

Reading this book was like wading through water of different colors, feeling different tastes on your tongue, and smelling a garden of flowers one by one. Those are imperfect analogies, but I don’t know how to explain the joy and hope and delight this book contained.

I not only intend to reread it, because it’s about Christ’s life and work, but also to pray with it, because there’s something so holy about the way Esolen has made things real and said so much with so little.

Highly recommended!

Another Favorite: Giving Thanks and Letting Go: Reflections on the Gift of Motherhood, by Danielle Bean

I almost read this in one sitting, but I had to go to bed. I finished it in a waiting room, which felt appropriate in so many ways. While there, being a mom in waiting, I read. I didn’t cry or sob. What a gift this book is. As with all of Bean’s writing, it’s genuine and poignant and wrenching, beautiful and poetic and earthy. This book is something I needed and will need again. Highly recommended. Go preorder your copy now, as a gift to yourself, to your best friend, and to that mom at church who needs a smile in her life.

Hilarious and Hooked: Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett

I read Good Omens years ago and it remains one of my most recommended books.* How is it that I haven’t picked up any Terry Pratchett? I’ve read some Neil Gaiman, after all.

*In looking for that link, I just found out that Good Omens is also a TV show! Now I’m going to have to check that out!

Well, that’s been solved. A friend recommended starting Pratchett’s Discworld books with this one, and Moist von Lipwig is a friend of mine now. I may or may not have folded laundry with extra slowness, tried to line up extra ironing, or insisted on doing all the dishes all day long. I had it on for every drive, and oh, I want to actually read it now, too.

Hilarious! Delightful! Clever! I’ve since gone on to read/listen to a second installment. Call me hooked. And wanting to get the actual books so I can highlight because the truth that’s embedded in these books is so wonderful.

What have you been reading? Got anything to recommend?