What Should I Read?

Book recommendations for the days ahead

The end of December often brings with it a few days to slow down and unplug.  If you are like me, you look forward to some extra time to sink into a good book.  These slower-paced days provide larger chunks of time that can be dedicated to reading without any concern of neglecting other duties.

The big question is, “What should I read?”  Sometimes a thought-provoking book is just what I need to expand my mind and see things from a new perspective.  Other times, I’m in need of some inspiration to set my mind straight.  And then there are the times I just want a story that is just plain fun – or as I like to call it, “brain candy.”

Book Recommendations from the Centennial Team

In preparation for the downtime ahead, I turned to the team at Centennial to find out what they have read and what they recommend. Rather than keep all these ideas to myself, I thought I’d share them with you.

I tried to organize them into the categories I referred to above, but admittedly, many of them blur the lines…which I think make the best books!  I’m also sharing the commentary that the team members gave me so that you can get a glimpse of why they recommended the book.

Thought-Provoking Books

  • Finding Chika by Mitch Albom.  I read this book to gain better insights into our client that worked in orphan care.  Boy was this moving!  It shared the frustrations felt by families in the international adoption process, the injustices prevalent in countries like Haiti, the unfairness of infertility, and how “parent” can be defined in many different ways.
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I missed this book on its first go-around.  Once again, the focus is on the injustice of someone wrongly accused of a crime and how he persevered and continued to parent his daughter from afar—all told through the eyes of his beloved dog. Get out the tissues!
  • The Rush Revere and the First Patriots by Rush Limbaugh – Time travel adventures with exceptional Americans. Great for learning American history, especially for young people.
  • Across the Color Line by Mark Curnutte.  Curnutte reported for 25 years on “Black Cincinnati” for the Cincinnati Enquirer. From Marge Schott, to race riots, to the everyday challenges of growing up in the Black community, great insights await.
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This one is on the bestseller list.  This great read explores the racial identity of twin sisters that live very different lives.
  • The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas – addresses many issues in a thoughtful novel.
  • The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. A poignant book about Winston Churchill.
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. A story about two Black boys sentenced to a reform school during the Jim Crow era.
  • I’m Not Sick and I Don’t Need Help by Xavier Amador. This book shares how to help someone, who doesn’t know they need help, to deal with mental illness.
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.  A true story about a Harvard graduate who went to the deep south to defend the poor, the incarcerated, and the wrongly condemned.

Inspirational Books

  • Lessons from the School of Suffering:  A Young Priest with Cancer Teaches Us How to Live by Rev. Jim Willig, with Tammy Bundy.  So many great lessons in here!  We are never alone.  God answers us through scripture.  Hope can be found in the darkest days.  God uses suffering to bring us to the hope of the cross.
  • Suffering by Paul Tripp – We all suffer in different ways at different times. This book helps us to know how to deal with suffering God’s way.
  • The Bible – I am just finishing the Book of Daniel. I love Daniel. He helps keep me stay grounded and focused on our Lord when the world is focused on other things and people. Daniel is a great example of a Godly leader.
  • Detours by Tony Evans- Just read this again. We all experience detours in our lives. Tony shares how Joseph (the one with a coat of many colors) dealt with his life’s detours– and he had plenty.
  • The Purpose Promise by John McCarthy – John is a good friend who shares with us “How to find Purpose and Joy in our work and lives”.
  • Memoir of Vietnam, 1967 by Bill Fee- A good friend who died, in 2019, of cancer. Bill shares his personal memoirs of Vietnam in 1967.
  • Jesus Always by Sarah Young – Embracing JOY in His Presence – 365 devotions

Just Plain Fun Books

  • What are the Odds? by Mike Lindell, the founder of “My Pillow”. His life story.
  • The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. An amusing story about the journey of a 100-year-old man that starts with him climbing out of his window at a retirement home in his slippers.
  • News of the World by Paulette Jiles – Historical fiction, set in Texas, in the aftermath of the Civil War. An elderly widower unexpectedly finds himself in charge of an 8-year-old girl. This story shares their 400-mile journey together and the relationship that forms between them.
  • Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell – for Shakespeare fans, this book tells about the heartache and the marriage that led Shakespeare to write Hamlet.
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. A memoir about the author’s experiences along the Pacific Crest Trail. A hike of over a thousand miles and all alone.
  • A Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.  This is a fun adventure for people who love books.
  • The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. A novel that spans five decades and weaves together family, secrets, and memories.
  • The Marriage of Opposites – Awesome.  Really good. About Pissaro and his young life and his mother, who is an incredible character!
  • Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl. The author is a food writer, restaurant critic, and former editor in chief of Gourmet magazine. Track her journey from Berkeley hippie to corporate success in this fun memoir.
  • Seduced by Mrs Robinson by Beverly Gray. Behind the scenes look at the production of the unexpected movie hit, The Graduate, as well as the effect the movie had on the culture.

As you can see from the book recommendations, the Centennial team is a diverse and varied group with just as many reading preferences.  You may thoroughly agree with many of these recommendations but turn your nose at others.  Either way, I hope you find a couple of good ideas to take with you into the last few days of December and on into the new year.

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