Why I Follow Jesus – by Adrian Plass

24 09 2018

After the last book I felt I needed something a little more edifying – and fairly short to help with my reading target for the year… this had been packed for holiday with the other Adrian Plass book so it was still near the top of the pile, and seemed like a good choice!

Definitely more serious than his Sacred Diary, but still with a handful of entertaining anecdotes, this looks beyond the core reason many of us follow Jesus (His death and resurrection to save us from an eternity of separation from God), and at some of the other reasons he continues.

Each chapter title starts with “I follow Jesus because”, and continue with all sorts of things including, “He’s so good at Judo”, “He’s interested in the heart of worship rather than the form”, “He offers hope for the future” and “you’re allowed to even if you’re useless with practical problems, general technology and especially computers.” So you can tell it’s a bit of a mixture of the light and heavy – always light enough to read but heavy enough to make a point.

I will leave you with one of the lighter parts – the “Post Office Queue Game”:

“When the people in front of me in the queue moved forward a yard or so, I pretended not to notice because I was so absorbed by a notice on the wall. There was a lull in the dialogue behind me. I sensed the minor frustration of these two ladies as they willed me to move into the space that had been created, thus allowing them to move forward as well I waited until the queue in front of me had progressed yet another pace before appearing to notice for the first time that a gap had opened up. Then i moved on at last – but only about 12 inches. At this, billowing waves of annoyance began to wash over me from behind. Why hadn’t I moved right up behind the people in front of me, leaving room for the rest of the queue to do the same? I sense that a major component of this frustration was the awareness that no logical complaint was justified because we would all be serve at exactly the same time, regardless of gaps in the queue.”

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How to be a Woman – by Caitlin Moran

16 09 2018

I’ve always enjoyed following Caitlin Moran on Twitter so I picked this up in a charity shop to try out. Essentially it’s her autobiography from puberty onwards, crossed with a book about Feminism.

She writes in a way that’s very easy to read, she’s fun and chatty, though some of her descriptions of puberty got a little graphic in places!

That said, I really disagree with a good chunk of what she’s trying to say – I’m not anti-feminist as such, but on specific topics like abortion and porn, I definitely disagreed.

I’m not looking to start a whole debate on here, but just to pick up on one point – in her chapter on abortion she says the following:

“I cannot understand anti-abortion arguments that centre on the sanctity of life. As a species, we’ve fairly comprehensively demonstrated that we don’t believe in the sanctity of life. The shrugging acceptance of war, famine, epidemic, pain and life-long grinding poverty show us that, whatever we tell ourselves, we’ve made only the most feeble of efforts to really treat human life as sacred.”

That just makes no sense to me – yes we don’t deal with some of those things as we should, but we agree that they’re wrong and bad. They’re all things I’m against, this argument doesn’t line up at all.

Definitely an interesting read to get you thinking, but not one that has earned a permanent spot on my bookshelf.





The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass (aged 37 3/4) – by Adrian Plass

1 09 2018

I’ve been an Adrian Plass fan for a long time, so to have not read possibly his most famous book, seemed ridiculous!

This book is so much fun, I laughed out loud so many times, but it has points to make too. It’s essentially a fictional diary which pokes fun at the things we do in church that are just a little bit odd, while maintaining respect for the things that are important.

I’d recommend this book to every Christian out there for when you need some light relief – at only 156 pages, it’s a very quick and easy read!





The Book Thief – by Markus Zusak

22 08 2018

I nearly gave up on this during the first 100 pages, but it was so worth persevering!

The narrator of the book is Death, and that’s what made the beginning so strange, I got into it once it settled into a more normal narrative, with Death’s thoughts and opinions just popping up from time to time.

We’re in Germany during WW2, Liesel arrives at the home of her new foster parents who are in one of the poorest areas of town, she spends her time helping her Mama collect and deliver laundry, and playing (and a bit of stealing) with Rudy from next door. She’s known as The Book Thief because that’s what she does. For example, at one point there’s a Nazi rally in town, and a bonfire of all sorts of propaganda, but she realises the books at the bottom aren’t burning, so she sneaks in and takes one. At the start, she can’t read, and so with these books and help from her Papa, she learns, but it’s a habit she continues!

I won’t go any further as I don’t want to give spoilers but as I say, once it settled down I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it!





Notes on a Nervous Planet – by Matt Haig

19 07 2018

This is the fourth Matt Haig book I’ve read, but only the second non-fiction. The author describes this book not as a sort of follow on to Reasons to Stay Alive, which was a look at his journey through anxiety and depression, (but is nowhere near as miserable as that sounds!).

This book looks more at the state of our society and all the stress we deal with. But again, it’s not miserable, yes some bits are a bit low, but so much of it is uplifting and helpful. The chapters are very short (one is only about 5 words!) which makes it very easy to read. It’s the only non-fiction I fly through!

Normally when I read Matt Haig’s books, I fold down the corners of pages I want to go back to to put quotes on here, but there just wasn’t any point with this book as I would have folded down most page corners, (like I did in Reasons to Stay Alive) and this blog would be 300 pages long!

All I will say is, please read Reasons to Stay Alive and please read this book, they’re good for you! This has highlighted things I will change to try and help myself!





Anne’s House of Dreams – by L M Montgomery

9 07 2018

This is now book five in the Anne of Green Gables series. **Spoiler Alert (for previous books)** Anne and Gilbert are finally together, and the book begins with their wedding, sends them off to their new home in Four Winds, and spends the first couple of years of married life with them.

As they’ve moved to a new area, most of the characters are new – but of course Marilla pops in from time to time. There’s a house up the road where another couple live, but circumstances are unusual, there’s Captain Jim who runs the lighthouse, and a few others to get to know and love (including Miss Cornelia who every other sentence seems to say “isn’t that just like a man?!”.

The book has its highs and lows, I got close to tears (but didn’t cry!) twice, but mixed with that is plenty of joy and humour. I wouldn’t recommend joining these books mid series, but if you’ve read the four preceding this, definitely carry on and pick this one up!

Again the book is chock full of quoteable bits – here are some of my favourites:

  • “‘Anne was always a romantic, you know,’, ‘Well, married life will most likely cure her of that,'”
  • “It’s rather hard to decided just when people are grown up,”
  • “I saved his life, and when you’ve saved a creature’s life you’re bound to love it. It’s next thing to giving life.”
  • “God sees no difference between the voice of a crow and the voice of a nightingale.”
  • “Job! It was such a rare thing to find a patient man that when one was really discovered they were determined he shouldn’t be forgotten.”
  • “I even enj’y the disagreeable things. It’s great fun thinking they can’t last.”
  • “A woman cannot ever be sure of not being married till she is buried.”
  • “But it ain’t our feelings we have to steer by through life – no, no, we’d make shipwreck might often if we did that. There’s only the one safe compass and we’ve got to set our course by that – what it’s right to do.”
  • “Hair is deceitful and noses and eyes change, and you cannot tell what is going to come of them, but ears is ears from start to finish, and you always know where you are with them.”
  • “Politics is for this world, but religion is for both.”





The Shock of the Fall – by Nathan Filer

8 06 2018

Matthew is about 19 when he tells us this story, at least, I think he is, but it jumps around a lot it gets quite hard to follow.
When he was younger, his brother Simon died on a family holiday – we don’t get many details until later in the book, but it’s done real damage to Matthew. He’s gone between living on his own, being in psychiatric wards, other care places, to be honest it’s quite hard to follow. He also still sees Simon around… and avoids taking his medication to keep seeing him.

There’s a computer available to him in one of the places and he’s writing his story, which in places is what we read – I think that’s what the bits in typewriter font are meant to be, but I’m not sure, it’s quite hard to follow. You’ll notice I’m repeating myself, he does that a lot too, so I quite liked the idea of adding it in here!

The book flashes back to his childhood with his brother, to that holiday, to the time after, all through to the present day, but not always in any given order, and he can jump somewhere for a paragraph then jump back to where he was just before. It’s quite hard to follow.

It’s not a bad book, but I don’t know that I’d rave about it. I’d probably put it at the good end of average, or the average end of good.

That said, there was a line I really liked: “Reading is a bit like hallucinating”. I’d never thought of it that was before!

He also talked about the worst thing about his illness was that it made him selfish. I think that’s something true of a lot of people with mental health issues (me included) – I think sometimes you have to be selfish, in order to look after yourself, but actually that can be one of the hardest adjustments!

A decent book, but probably not one I’ll reread….!