I miss my reading binges, but with a holiday weekend ahead, I have hope. (It’s pretty much unfounded hope, mind you. I still have an infant and tons of things to catch up on.) Lately, the reading I’ve been doing has been for endorsement (the blurby things on the back covers and inside pages), so they’re not books I’ll write about just yet.

But there are two that are available now and are not only worth sharing, but worth rereading: Crimson Bound and 30 Days with Teresa of Avila.

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Crimson Bound, by Rosamund Hodge

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I was introduced to Hodge’s work when a friend of mine raved about her first novel, Cruel Beauty, which I promptly downloaded to my Kindle and devoured. She writes YA fantasy, which isn’t necessarily my first choice in reading. Then again, it’s fiction. And well done. So who cares what genre?

Crimson Bound is Hodge’s second published novel, and is just as captivating and enchanting as the first. She writes poetically and with a command that hooked me immediately. Her characters are well-rounded and fully formed, and they struggle with human conflicts that each of us can identify with.

This book is a modern take on two different fairy tales: Red Riding Hood meets The Girl with No Hands. (Confession: I had never heard of The Girl with No Hands. So I looked it up. And appreciated this book even more.)

I was captivated by the storyline and found myself fully immersed in the world and the creations of Hodge’s story. What makes it truly a book to share, though, is the fact that, while you can just bask in the good story-ness of it, you can also explore deeper themes. There’s no doubt that this story is about redemption, but, like all good storytellers, Hodge pulls you along and invites you in, planting the seeds and ideas and then leaving them to be watered by the action.

This is the kind of book that becomes my knee-jerk answer when I’m asked “Got any good recommendations?” Yes, it’s that good. So go and enjoy it!

30 Days with Teresa of Avila, by Dan Burke and Anthony Lilles

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This book is designed to be read over the course of 30 days, which is not how I read it (for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that I just enjoyed it.

Each day has a letter from Teresa of Avila, followed by some commentary from Burke and Lilles. They explore what Teresa said, and I found myself learning a lot from their observations.

I also found myself becoming “friends” with Teresa, a saint who’s intimidated me and seemed impossible for a few years. Even though I read The Way of Perfection with the SpiritualDirection.com Book Club and rather enjoyed it, I still held this grudgey sort of intimidated stance.

This book has cured me and I now count Teresa as part of my Saint Posse. She’s a friend in heaven, and one who is salty and wry and holy.

In this book, you’ll find new quotables from Teresa, like my new favorite: “Peace of body will restore peace of soul.” But, beyond that, you’ll find the kind of advice that those of us in the trenches of daily life can put to use.

The interior life is something I’m interested in, but that, if I’m honest with myself, I’m also scared of. It takes work, and not easy work. I’m busy and overwhelmed and in a season of life that is stretching me to what feels beyond my capabilities. Burke and Lilles have selected letters that aren’t in the popular Teresa of Avila canon of quotes and then they’ve expanded on them and pointed out the wisdom that’s underlying.

This is what I need. I need it right now, at this stage of my life. Each day is an investment of maybe five or ten minutes of reading, but it’s the kind of reading that will stick with you and draw you closer to God, if you let it.

Highly, highly recommended.

Note: I used Amazon affiliate links throughout this post. Thanks for supporting this little corner of cyberspace with your purchase. And if you choose not to use my links, that’s okay. These books are awesomesauce and worth being purchased wherever you get them from!