The Hiding Place – by Corrie Ten Boom

13 12 2018

Having read God’s Smuggler and loved it so much, I felt inclined to continue down the Dutch Christian Missionary Autobiographical route, and was not disappointed!

Corrie is in her 50s for most of the book, and lives in a house in Haarlem in Holland with her sister and father, which has a watch repair shop at the front which they run. They are a Christian family, so technically aren’t at risk from the Nazis during World War Two, that is, until they start helping and hiding Jews who are at great risk indeed.

The book follows their story as they go from helping a little, to adjusting the structure of their home to include a hidden room to use during raids. Unfortunately they do get caught for some of their activity, and so the second half of the book follows Corrie as she is taken from prison to concentration camp with her sister – it’s pretty harrowing, but so important to realise what so many went through. Corrie and Betsie were incredibly faithful though – they managed to smuggle a bible in with them and led daily worship services with all the women they shared rooms with. Betsie’s faith is particularly inspiring and challenging. These are better women than I could even dream of being!

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God’s Smuggler – by Brother Andrew

24 11 2018

Two weeks ago we had a guest speaker at church from Open Doors who talked about their work with the persecuted church around the world. He recommended this book, which has been on my shelf for several years, and so that evening when I finished my previous book, I picked this one up, and I’m so glad I did!

Brother Andrew tells his story from childhood in the Netherlands during WW2, travelling to Indonesia and training as a Commando, returning to Holland and finding work, before training as a missionary and starting to take Bibles out to Eastern Europe and beyond the Iron Curtain.

The thing that stands out most about this book is just how incredibly God meets his needs as he works to spread the Gospel, from meeting his termly costs precisely at just the right time as he trained, to how He made “seeing eyes blind” as he crossed borders with stacks of Bibles in his car and the guards just didn’t see them – it’s amazing!

The book was originally published in the late 60s, but this edition comes with an interview with Brother Andrew from around the turn of the Millennium covering some of the work done since then, with movement into Islamic countries as well as just the growth the organisation has seen in its work.

Really a powerful book, challenging, uplifting, and thoroughly thoroughly worth a read!





Will Grayson, Will Grayson – by John Green and David Levithan

8 11 2018

This has been on my shelves for ages. Having read The Fault In Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns a few years ago I bought a couple more of John Green’s books, but other books beat it to the top of my list more recently.

I enjoyed it more than I thought I would as well. The book is about two guys, both called Will Grayson, who randomly bump into each other one night in Chicago. One is having girl trouble, one is having boy trouble. I don’t want to say too much about the plot as there are twists early on and I don’t want to spoil them. What isn’t a spoiler though is that the book ends with a performance of the “most epic musical ever to grace the high-school stage.”

One of the Will Graysons really beats himself up and has major self confidence issues which I think a lot of us find really relateable (at least I hope it’s not just me!) – I found that a really powerful part of the story. It’s a heavy book in places, but with a lot of fun in it too!

It was a really easy read, took me a little over a week to read the whole thing, I enjoyed it!





The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared – by Jonas Jonasson

31 10 2018

The title really doesn’t give much away beyond the first page! Allan Karlsson doesn’t want to attend his 100th birthday party in the old people’s home, so he runs away – simple! Clearly there’s much more to it.

The book alternates between two stories.

  • Firstly, following on from Allan’s escape, he ends up accidentally involved in some criminal activity with someone he meets, and so they end up on the run. They meet someone else who joins them, the journey continues, and the group gradually grows, along with some other unfortunate mishaps.
  • Secondly, Allan’s life story up until his 100th birthday! It turns out he’s had a most interesting life, has met all sorts of world leaders and of some become their friend, and has influenced way more world events than you could imagine. And amongst all of this, he’s the most optimistic and relaxed person you ever did meet.

Because of the stories of his life, I ended up learning all sorts of 20th Century history – all about the Korean War, Stalin, General Franco, and many more This makes it sound like a serious book, but it also contains a large amount of absurdity, and a passion for vodka wherever he finds himself!

The book was actually originally written in Swedish and translated to English, but you really don’t notice that – it’s been done well.

It took me a while to get into the book, but once I got into it, it really did grip me, wanting to know how both stories would resolve!





The Truth Pixie – by Matt Haig

25 10 2018

Yes it’s a children’s book.
No I didn’t choose it to get my book total up this year, that was just a handy coincidence.

If you’ve followed these posts for a while you’ll know I’m a bit of a Matt Haig fan, so when he said he’d written a book that was a bit like a Reasons to Stay Alive for kids, I thought I had to give it a try.

At a little over 100 pages, but only a couple of lines a page, it’s definitely a one-sitting read, and very easy, but teaches some really important points to kids. I’ve put some of my favourite bits below.

  • “There will be people you love, who can’t stay forever,
    And there will be things you can’t fix, although you are clever.”
  • “As the dark in the sky makes the starts shine brighter,
    You will find the bad stuff has good bits too
    The bad days are the days that make you you.”
  • “You’ll never know happy unless you know sad.”
  • “Yes, the night has dark bits, but it has stars too,
    And you’ll feel when they shine, that they shine just for you.
    You will step outside, and see from the park
    That the light is brighter when it’s next to the dark.”
  • “If everything was perfect, every single day,
    You’d never know the good from the just-about-okay.”

He has a very good way with words – if you enjoy this stuff, please can I recommend his twitter and instagram accounts!





Letter From Birmingham Jail – by Martin Luther King, Jr

5 10 2018

I picked this up last Saturday having seen it for £1 (It’s only 51 pages), and having had a couple of friends recommend it previously.

The book comes in two parts – firstly, a letter MLK wrote from his prison cell to eight white clergymen regarding whether the racial segregation debate should be in the courts or the streets. The second half is a sermon he preached in 1967 called “The three dimensions of a complete life” – inward for ourselves, outward for others, and up for God.

I was worried that although it was short, it might be a bit hard to read, but because one is a letter and one a transcript of a sermon, the style is quite easy to get through. When reading the sermon, you can almost hear him at times.

Some wonderful quotes that you’ve probably heard before (though I’m not sure they’re all originally his!) pop up in this book – here are a few:

  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  • “The question is not where we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?””
  • “Right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”
  • “The good Samaritan came by and he reversed the question Not ‘What will happen to me if I stop to help this man?’ but ‘What will happen to this man if I do not stop to help him?'”
  • “I do not know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.”





Boy, Tales of Childhood – by Roald Dahl

1 10 2018

I read a lot of Roald Dahl’s fiction in 2016, but never got round to Boy or Going Solo. After it popped up in conversation a couple of times lately, I thought it was about time I gave this a go.

He states that it is not an autobiography, but I’m not quite sure why given that that is exactly how I’d describe it! Dahl’s parents were Norwegian though he was born and raised in Wales. The book covers his childhood and teenage years at home and boarding school, up until the age of 20. (When I presume Going Solo must pick up the story).

When he was at boarding school he regularly wrote home to his mother, and she kept everything she ever sent – so in a rather sweet addition, all the writing in the boarding school chapters is interspersed with images of handwritten letters from those times.

It’s funny as you read it, you can see the inspiration for some of his characters and stories as he talks. There was a lady who I’m sure has part of Mrs Twit about her, and then when at school the boys were each sent boxes of chocolate bars to test for Cadbury, which is when he first started thinking about the idea of “inventing rooms” in chocolate factories.

It’s really just a collection of stories from home and school (including an awful incident when he nearly lost his entire nose!), but told in such a warm and I guess child-friendly way. As a Roald Dahl fan I’d definitely recommend this as a way to get to know him better!