A February Smorgasbord of Books!

It's that time once, again, for a few book recommendations from my reading in February. I hope you find some new friends in this list. I did. Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman

This is one of those books that I checked out at the library because it has an attractive cover. Based on this picture alone, you may understand why. However, when I began reading, I found a deeply challenging, insightful and convicting book written for women who have grown up in faith or been a Christian for a long time, but still struggle with a heavy yoke of dos and don'ts imposed upon them by society, church and themselves. I found some freedom here and I heartily recommend it.

Swept off Her Feet by Hester Browne

Hester is a delightfully British contemporary author with a vintage flair and wonderfully relatable (at least for me) characters. This story centers around a woman in love with the past and the beauty of old furniture, clothing and ephemera. She has a chance to help sort through some of these things at a Scottish estate and finds some romance and quite a bit of Scottish reeling along the way. This book was a wonderful confection, with some substance, kind of like marzipan.

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo.

I'm excited about going to Heaven and enjoy snatches of what it might be like, especially when it brings Scripture into clearer focus. There was some of that in this book. There were times when I started crying in my car (I listened to it on cd). Some of you may know that whenever I get a stomach ache, I think that my appendix is on the point of rupture, so the fact that this kid had appendicitis and almost didn't make it was a little tough to listen to. However, it's a quick read and what it does offer is very interesting and encouraging. If you're on the fence, give it a try.

Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith

This is a very literary book set in Portland about a woman who shops at thrift stores looking for old pictures, letters and vintage dresses. Like most contemporary literary fiction, it is short. Also like most literary fiction, it peppers the text with profanity. However, I found it a clean, crisp story that has hung in my mind since I read it.

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

I was introduced to this book while I spent about four hours in the Portland airport in November. Did you know that there are three branches of Powell's books in the Portland airport? One outside security, two inside. If you ever have time on your hands, I recommend going to all of them. This is the children's fiction debut of the lead singer of the Decemberists, with illustrations by his wife, Carson Ellis, who also does the art for the band and some other books including the Mysterious Benedict Society. Her art is beautiful and it was perhaps this alone that led me to pick up the book, but when I started reading, the story drew me in. It's got what all the best children's books have: well-defined evil, plucky and likable main characters, an air of mystery and things that are not real. Also, talking animals. Read it, I don't think that you will be disappointed.

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris.

I don't mention this book so that you will read it. This was my introduction to David Sedaris which I chose out of season because it was short. In fact, some of the stories in this book are so dark that I think about them with a visible shudder. However, the first story, and the one that brought him into the limelight, was written about his experiences working at Macy's in New York as an elf during the Christmas season, and I think it is a piece that should be read by everyone who has ever worked in customer service. I literally laughed aloud in my empty house. You have my permission to skip the rest of the book.

I hope you enjoy these suggestions, or at least reading about them! Let me know what you're reading, won't you?