Sunshine & Sustainable Living

A Few OF My Favorite Reads

​A Few Of My Favorite Reads

​I love reading. I have since I was a little kid. As much as I loved college, one thing I really missed was having time to sit down with a good book. Alas, now that I have had a few months out of school and experienced this precious time, I am excited to share some reading recommendations with you all.

Let me know your thoughts, and please share other reading recommendations with me! I’m always up for another good read.

  • Just Mercy

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Possibly my favorite book of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird… Just Mercy has been considered a modern version of the classic. I read Just Mercy for this first time this past spring as part of a senior seminar class. I wrote a couple papers on it and discussed it in class, but it wasn’t until after reading it that I realized the power of the story. I began to see people differently, I began to re-evaluate what justice and mercy meant to me, and I realized how often we (as a society) turned a blind eye to issues like the ones presented in this book. So I read it again. This book is a call for change in our society and I 100% recommend everyone read it.

  • Emma in the Night

 “One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime. “

I am such a sucker for a good thriller and this book did not disappoint. I found Emma in the Night to be so thought provoking, dealing with themes like: relationships, parenting, and societal perceptions. As an older sister, I reflected on my own family dynamic, and my place in it. At the same time, I was sucked into the world of Cass and Emma, and the mysteries around their family. This was a book that I couldn’t put down.

  • Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

This book explores so many themes that weigh heavily on my heart; from art, to adoption, to political correctness, to parenting, and relationships. The author seamlessly explores the hidden dynamics of a presumably “perfect” family, living in a “perfect” town, who encounter a counter-cultural mother and daughter who see the world through a much different lens. This book really did challenge me to see people differently, and to consider for myself what I value in life.  ​

  • Scary Close

From the author of Blue Like Jazz comes a book about the risk involved in choosing to impress fewer people and connect with more, about the freedom that comes when we stop acting and start loving. It is a story about knocking down old walls to create a healthy mind, a strong family, and a satisfying career. And it all feels like a conversation with the best kind of friend: smart, funny, true, important.

I loved Blue Like Jazz, and it is the first book I recommend to anyone when they ask. In Scary Close, the author, Donald Miller really is a different person. He has matured, his writing style is so genuine, and his thoughts are transparent. Going through a transition period myself, this book really spoke to me about considering who I want to be, how I want others to perceive me, and what I want to contribute to the world.

  • Walking on Water

In this classic book, Madeleine L’Engle addresses the questions, What makes art Christian? What does it mean to be a Christian artist? What is the relationship between faith and art? Through L’Engle’s beautiful and insightful essay, readers will find themselves called to what the author views as the prime tasks of an artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation through one’s own art.

This book is a must-read for any creator (which means all of us). I read this book during my senior year of college, and have since turned back to it as a reference and encouragement to my work. I have long struggled with the idea of identifying myself as a Christian Artist. This book gives validity to my feelings and offers a different perspective on the idea of creating.

**Just a quick note, I really wouldn’t recommend any of these reading materials for children. Beyond the adult themes that they explore, some of the content is simply for adults. Little Fires Everywhere, Scary Close, and Walking on Water would be a good read-along for older children though, and could spark some interesting discussion.