31 Days of Great Nonfiction: A Year of Biblical Womanhood

Year of Biblical WomanhoodA Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband by Rachel Held Evans

One of my favorite books from the year, in large part because of how thought-provoking it is. I hesitated to read it, thinking it would be a female version of A.J. Jacob’s The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. That is so not the case.

Evans, unlike Jacobs, is a Christian, and approaching the project as a believer ended up making for a very different feel. (Approaching it as a woman and attempting to address the many many many ideas that there are about “Biblical Womanhood” made it a very different book too, but that I expected.)

I read some really critical reviews of this book, from people who objected strenuously to her theology and some of her actions and claims. While I do agree with some of the criticism, I don’t think that in any way takes away from the value of the book to get the reader thinking through some of the issues raised. In addition, this book isn’t written as a theological treatise, and needs to be read for what it is. (Update: RHE has a recent post on her blog, talking about this very issue. She also has a response to one of the critical reviews that is excellent. Read them both!)

Overall, I found it to be a really compelling. I loved how willing she was to dive into things and try something new (and a little bit crazy or weird). Plus, it’s fun – she’s got a sense of humor and her writing style was very appealing to me.

And, a heads-up – if you’re interested in the book for your Kindle or Kindle app, , grab it soon, because it’s on sale for only $2.99 until the end of the monthA Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband .

Publisher’s Description:
Strong-willed and independent, Rachel Held Evans couldn’t sew a button on a blouse before she embarked on a radical life experiment—a year of biblical womanhood. Intrigued by the traditionalist resurgence that led many of her friends to abandon their careers to assume traditional gender roles in the home, Evans decides to try it for herself, vowing to take all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible for a year.

Pursuing a different virtue each month, Evans learns the hard way that her quest for biblical womanhood requires more than a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). It means growing out her hair, making her own clothes, covering her head, obeying her husband, rising before dawn, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church, and even camping out in the front yard during her period.

See what happens when a thoroughly modern woman starts referring to her husband as “master” and “praises him at the city gate” with a homemade sign. Learn the insights she receives from an ongoing correspondence with an Orthodox Jewish woman, and find out what she discovers from her exchanges with a polygamist wife. Join her as she wrestles with difficult passages of scripture that portray misogyny and violence against women.

With just the right mixture of humor and insight, compassion and incredulity, A Year of Biblical Womanhood is an exercise in scriptural exploration and spiritual contemplation. What does God truly expect of women, and is there really a prescription for biblical womanhood? Come along with Evans as she looks for answers in the rich heritage of biblical heroines, models of grace, and all-around women of valor.

31 Days of Great Nonfiction

Held Evans has also written a more traditional memoir, Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions, which traces her spiritual journey. If you enjoy the “year of” format, try A.J. Jacobs’ The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. It’s surprisingly not-repetitive from this book, because it’s written by a Jewish man (non-practicing, but it still shapes his worldview and the narrative quite a bit). And if you really like the “year of” format, there was quite the publishing trend for awhile of that – you can find what seems like any topic, and someone spent a year doing it (or not doing it), and writing a book about it. Stunt journalism in action!

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction, go to the series page.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

31 Days of Great Nonfiction: Deeply Loved

Deeply LovedDeeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of JesusDeeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus by Keri Wyatt Kent by Keri Wyatt Kent

Often I find devotionals to be a little too light on content, but that was not at all the case with Deeply Loved. Kent’s book is thoughtful and thought-provoking and the action steps that finish each section allow you to go much deeper in application.

While it’s structured to be read in 40 days, the action steps are so worthwhile, and many of them are such that aren’t a one-time thing, it would be easy to use the book as a weekly resource, to then focus on the follow-up action throughout the next week, instead of limiting it to one day. However, if you’re looking for a devotional for Lent, I’d highly recommend this one as the timing works so well.

My only complaint with the book is that the cover and many of the examples make the book seem to be more feminine in focus, and are likely to be off-putting to many males (or at least they would be to the guys I know). It’s a shame, because the content itself isn’t exclusive to women. I don’t reread many books, but this is one that I plan on rereading, because the material is so good.

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Together: Growing Appetites for God by Carrie Ward

I’m taking a mini blog break but instead of having no posts at all, I’m sharing some content that originally ran on another blog I had. I’ve updated the posts, but if you’ve been reading me for a long time, they may still be familiar.

TogetherTogether: Growing Appetites for GodCarrie Ward's Together: Growing Appetites for God | Review by @SheilaRCraig by Carrie Ward.

While the title made me thing the book was more general about “growing appetites for God,” actually it’s very focused on reading the Bible to your children (with a little bit on memorizing scripture with your children.) This isn’t a bad thing, just not what I was expecting!

The short book is extremely encouraging in a “if I can do this, anyone can” way. I loved that she started it while her children were so young still; so many things I read online about teaching your children about God and the Bible seem too advanced for my young kids. But I can definitely read to them, and not just from the kiddie BibleThe Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name we have (as much as I love it).

The appendix lists some useful resources, but as Ward emphasizes, all you have to have is a Bible.

The personal examples included are often humorous, and helped to give ideas of how to implement this in my life, with my children. The chapter on getting through the tough stuff was also helpful as I think ahead to how we’ll handle difficult passages.

Overall, it’s an inspiring and challenging approach to reading the Bible as a family, and the benefits it brings.

Highly recommended.

putting it into practice

I was so encouraged and inspired by the book that before I even finished it, I’d started reading a regular Bible with my children. It’s such a simple idea, but that’s why it works so well.

The first weeks our morning reading had been punctuated by the baby (1 year old) screeching for more to eat and her 3-year-old brother running around in circles, interrupting every other sentence to ask to go outside / go for a walk / play in the playroom / etc., etc., etc.

I have no idea if he is paying the slightest bit of attention.

Then we reach Genesis 3. I get to the part where God is questioning Adam and Eve, after they’ve eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good & evil.

Me: “So the Lord God asked the woman: ‘What is this you have done?'”
G: {stops running around like the wild man he is}
They were in the garden!!!
And they ate … they ate … they ate … THE TREE!
{very long pause}
And that wasn’t nice!

Nothing like a little encouragement that this is a good thing I’m doing, and that I should keep doing it. And I’m sad to admit that we never even finished Genesis – sickness struck and then I never got back to it with the kids. It’s way past time for me to do that.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Christian parents have a responsibility to make sure their children know and love God’s Word. But what if you struggle as a parent to read the Bible yourself. How can you pass a love for God’s Word along to your children if you struggle with it yourself? That was Carrie Ward’s story. Until God gave her a plan to help her develop a consistent time in the Word, right along with her children. Readers will walk together with Carrie Ward, an everyday mama, as she journeys through the Bible with her small children one chapter a day. As her children re-enact the Bible stories readers will be able to see Scripture through the eyes of a child. Parents will learn how to impart God’s truth to their children day by day, and will see its transformative power on their families. Together: Growing Appetites for God is an easy read and includes helpful tools for scripture memorization and charts to follow progress through the Bible.

Title: Together: Growing Appetites for God
Author: Carrie Ward (An Everyday Mama)
Category: Nonfiction / Parenting / Christian Living
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Twitterature: Recent Christian Reads

recent reads, twitterature-style

Ages ago I signed up for various blogger book-review programs. One of the main things I learned from those programs was that, in general, I don’t like reviewing Christian books. I still owe a review for the last book I accepted from one program, and I’ve got a number of other books that I’ve read recently that I never reviewed (all library books or my own, so my procrastination isn’t as bad as with that one.) This latest Twitterature linkup was a perfect goad for me to try and get as many of them off my “to review” list as possible. 🙂

Thought-Provoking and I’m Very Glad I Read
  • The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the BibleScot McKnight's The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight.
    Understandable and thoughtful look at how to read the bible. Loved his specific examples of how everyone picks and chooses what to take literally in their interpretations. If you like Rachel Held Evans, you’ll likely like this one. If you don’t like her, you’re probably already scandalized that I enjoyed this one.
  • Holy Ambition: Turning God-Shaped Dreams Into RealityChip Ingram's Holy Ambition: Turning God-Shaped Dreams Into Reality by Chip Ingram
    Practical, inspiring, motivating. Oh, and he bases his concepts on Nehemiah. Love that. (I read the older edition, but the revised edition I’ve linked to doesn’t seem to have substantive changes).
Worth Reading, but won’t ever read it again
Didn’t Do Much For Me
  • Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary WorldBob Goff's Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff.
    I expected to love this book after “meeting” Goff in Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand YearsA Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story. Instead I feel like the highlights I got from Miller’s book were enough, and Goff’s own book ended up feeling repetitive and tiresome. Maybe I just don’t relate to him? Some of his antics seemed juvenile rather than whimsical, and irresponsible rather than spontaneous. It’s also very Christian-lite, and his subtitle doesn’t match the text. His story isn’t something most people can replicate, unless they also are super wealthy. I’m sure he’d be fun to have coffee with – his stories are amazing. His book though? Disappointing.
  • Your Signature Life: Pursuing God’s Best Every DayDianna Booher's Your Signature Life: Pursuing God's Best Every Day by Dianna Booher.
    Like the premise of it – the importance of giving my best to all the small and seemingly insignificant details of daily life. Not sure why it didn’t engage me more than it did, but I plodded through it.
  • Sabbath: The Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series)Dan Allender's Sabbath: The Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series) by Dan Allender.
    Wanted to like it, but found the writing to be really dull and repetitive.
Never Finished

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

E-book Review: Pain Redeemed

Pain Redeemed: When Our Deepest Sorrows Meet God by Natasha MetzlerPain Redeemed {when our deepest sorrows meet God} by Natasha Metzler.

Ever have a book that you know you’re supposed to read, even when you don’t want to? (Not just talking about school-assigned texts here either.) I had zero desire to read this book. Infertility struggles and the pain and depression that goes along with it? Why would I want to read it when I lived it for years?

Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t just go along with what I thought I wanted. I am so, so glad that I read this book. I found myself grieving again for myself, for Metzler, and for everyone else who has ever gone through the heartbreak of wanting to conceive and have a child, only to see those dreams denied every month.

One of the strongest parts of the book is how well it reflects its title – Metzler really does talk about redeeming the pain, not simply ignoring it, or getting past it. As she puts it,

A miracle is the redemption of pain, not the absolution of it…. It is a reminder of what God is creating out of our ashes.

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Book Review and Giveaway: Touching the Hem

Touching the Hem Elizabeth A JohnsonTouching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical SufferingTouching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical Suffering by Elizabeth A. Johnson, blogger at DogFur and Dandelions by Elizabeth A. Johnson.

Most of my reviews don’t start with a disclaimer, but this one will. Elizabeth has become a good friend, even though we’ve never met. I’ve been cheering her on as she’s worked to get her book published, and am thrilled for her accomplishment. All that is to say, I don’t think I can really be fully objective in reviewing her book, so I want to acknowledge that up front.

I’ve been reading Elizabeth’s blog for over a year, and find her to be thoughtful and thought-provoking in her writing. That’s what I expected from her new book, and that’s how I found it to be. The topic is one that held special interest for me, as I spent years dealing with a health condition that left me unable to walk without braces or crutches, and in severe pain virtually all the time.

Heads-Up!
If you’re interested in the book, the Kindle copy is currently on sale for $2.99Touching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical Suffering. I have no idea how long that price will last, so grab it soon if you want it.

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Book Review: The 7 Experiment

The 7 Experiment / The Seven ExperimentThe 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against ExcessThe 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess / The Seven Experiment by Jen Hatmaker

A companion study to her fantastic book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, this is still an excellent resource whether or not you’ve read 7.

I loved 7, and I love The 7 Experiment. The study helps to make it personal, as you work out what a 7-style experiment looks like in your own life, rather than strictly replicating the specifics of Hatmaker’s challenge.

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Book Review: Evolving in Monkey Town

Book Review: Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held EvansEvolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the QuestionsBook Review: Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans by Rachel Held Evans

I wanted to love this book. Some parts of Held Evans’ background resonated with me and reminded me of my own childhood, but overall I never felt like I completely connected with her in a way that made me enjoy reading her story as much as I wanted to.

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Book Review: FaithGirlz! Whatever

Book Review: FaithGirlz! Whatever - The Deliberate ReaderFaithGirlz! Whatever: Livin’ the True, Noble and Totally Excellent LifeBook by Allia Zobel Nolan

A fantastic devotional for tween girls based on Philippians 4:8.

Why “whatever?” Zobel Nolan explains why in the first day’s devotional: despite it being used so often to express “who cares,” “whatever” was used by Paul in Philippians to emphasize that, well, whatever we use to fill our mind is important to God. And so it does matter, and isn’t a “who cares” thing at all. It matters because “you can change your life by changing your thoughts“.

Nolan’s devotionals are thought-provoking, even to a decidedly non-tween reader. The book is organized to follow the verse, and topics in each section include a wide range that will be applicable to her audience: friends, school, gossip, fashion, family, entertainment, and more.

For each day’s devotion, Zobel Nolan concludes with “food for thought” and “second thoughts,” which give more insight on the topic or related verses, or give a question to ponder, and “divine thoughts” – a brief prayer relating to the day’s topic.

The book is strongly targeted to it’s audience so even though the subject matter might be appropriate for older teens or boys, the language and examples make it a poor choice for any readers other than tween or young teen girls. That’s not meant as a criticism; I’d happily give the book to my tween nieces, but would search out another volume for my tween nephew.

One of the aspects that I most appreciate is the practical steps Zobel Nolan suggests for putting the principles she discusses into action, and I wish she’d included them for every day’s topic.

Recommended.

Publisher’s Description:
Did you know you can totally change your life by changing your thoughts? Well, you can, and WHATEVER can get you started. With examples based on girls just like you, each of these 90 devotionals will show you how to fill your head and your heart with virtues taken straight from Philippians 4:8, helping you grow closer to God and the totally abundant life he intended for you. Girls will learn how to shut out gross, crude, impure, stupid, and just plain dumb “stuff,” that leads to sin and estrangement from God and substitute what’s true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy and excellent. What’s more, this book will help girls look at the word WHATEVER in a fresh, new, and exciting way, so they’ll be able to live the 4:8 life, 24/7!

Book Details

Title: FaithGirlz! Whatever: Livin’ the True, Noble and Totally Excellent Life
Author: Allia Zobel Nolan
Category: Juvenile Nonfiction / Devotional
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Favorite Spiritual Growth Books

DogFur and Dandelions buttonAs part of my “Favorite Books” series that’s been running, I’ve asked some other bloggers to share some of their favorite books. The first guest post is by Elizabeth of DogFur and Dandelions. I “met” Elizabeth this summer and enjoy her thoughtful posts that encourage Christ-centered living.

First, I want to thank Sheila for giving me this opportunity to share with you all. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her over the past few months, and love this new site of hers – in fact, I’ve already read several books recommended during her 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads series.

When she asked me to contribute to this series, I immediately knew which books I wanted to share with you. These are some of my favorites; they have each influenced my relationship with God in tremendous ways. Each of these book has helped me cultivate a greater intimacy with Him by encouraging a more consistent devotional life, instructing me towards better communication with God, and and exhorting me to remain faithful in those things despite the difficulties of life.

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