Broaden Your Reading Horizons

bookstore2_squareAre all the books in your To Be Read pile in the same genre or on the same topic? I encourage you to read across a wide range. It’s amazing where we, as writers, find inspiration. At times, we even learn what not to do by reading something that has been published.

As you likely know, I’m eclectically interested. The same holds true of what I like to read.

Currently, I am actively reading a dozen books. (I know, I know . . . I’m kind of crazy that way.)

And speaking of crazy, the first book I’ll mention is Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. We’re reading this for our small group study at church. I was thrilled to find four of Chan’s books on Kindle for the price of one.

What happens when God gets hold of a former gang member and white supremacist? Well, He just may pave the way for said individual to visit the death camps in Germany and the poverty stricken in Africa. Mind-boggling! Is there anything too difficult for the Lord? You can read answers to these and other questions in Michael Bull Roberts’ Beyond the Hate.

I rarely pre-order a book, but this one I did. If you write for the CBA (and even if you don’t), you may recognize some of the contributing authors to Writing Success: among them, Karen Ball, James Scott Bell, Mary DeMuth, Tricia Goyer, and Susan May Warren. This book overflows with invaluable information for novice and experienced writers alike.

With my 2016 fitness goals in mind, I’m working my way through Fit for Faith by Kimberley Payne. Payne includes basic info, workouts, exercise descriptions, charts for the reader to fill out, and more.

Humble, Hungry, Hustle by Brad Lomenick is the most unique leadership book I’ve ever read. I admit when I think of books in this category, I think “dry.” This book blows that preconceived notion out of the water. I’m really enjoying it.

Do I say yes too often. <averts eyes and hums> The Best Yes by Lysa TerKuerst helps readers consider why they say yes when they shouldn’t. It equips them to say no in order to prepare for “the best yes.” The author is authentic and genuine and uses examples from her own life. I love that. I highly recommend this book as well.

Although my worldview is far different from the author’s, I am reading Wild Women, Wild Voices by Judy Reeves for an online book club and it challenges me to consider how to express my individuality on the page. And it’s never a bad thing to learn to respectfully express one’s differences of opinions. If we don’t allow emotion to rule the day, we can gain a lot from an insightful debate.

Andrew Gillmore is the son of longtime family friends. I was thrilled to offer him encouragement about publishing his first book. (It turns out he has it pretty much figured out. His book, The Red Fish Project, is quickly rising through the ranks on Amazon.) This is an honest look at living abroad. If you’re offended by certain topics and the occasional use of “colorful language,” you may not want to read The Red Fish Project. But I’m finding it extremely insightful.

My reading list also includes several novels.

During a recent trip to my local library, I found Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer’s book Between the Lines. It’s unique. It’s fabulous. It’s delightful. Can you tell I like this YA novel about fairy tale characters whose lives are completely different when the book is closed? There’s a second book in the series too. I must add it to my 2016 To Be Read list.

Do you fear the day when gathering with other Christians means you’re breaking the law? When you may be accused of crimes you didn’t commit? When you may be hauled off for interrogation? Sara Davison does a wonderful job in her book The End Begins of revealing what things could be like, all the while offering hope through a spunky protagonist who is not afraid to speak her mind.

Have you ever started watching a movie you didn’t really want to keep watching but you couldn’t help it? Yeah, that’s this book, Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker. It’s as if I’m trapped in the psych ward with the main characters. I feel desperate and claustrophobic just thinking about it. But that’s probably a good thing. Talk about being drawn into the story!

From the beginning I knew The Language of Sparrows by Rachel Phifer was going to be unique. It drew me in. This is one of those books that makes me think, “I wish I had more time to read.” How can a mother help when her daughter doesn’t fit in? When she fears her daughter has inherited her late husband’s mental health issues? When her daughter begins to spend time with a solitary older man?

My 2016 list keeps growing and growing. As the saying goes, “So many books, so little time.”

What’s on your To Be Read list? (That may be a loaded question. It just may make my list far longer.)

Happy Reading

Contributed by Stephanie Nickel, CES writer and editor

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