Is anyone else following The Great American Read? [Read more…] about My Great American Read Obsession
I usually share books I have been reading in sets of three with a similar theme. This one gets a post all its own because it comes with a free cross stitch pattern.
By: Jamie Wright
“The Very Worst Missionary is a memoir for the frustrated idealist in all of us.”
I don’t remember how I found Jamie Wright, but I remember it happened at just the right time. I keep my faith to myself because I don’t feel like I’m a good enough example of what a Good Christian should be. Jamie showed up and was like, “Eff that shit, be your badass self! Only your genuine self will do any good, so drop the act already!” I’m summarizing here, but it seems like something she would say.
Jamie’s tendency towards swearing is what earned her the title of The Very Worst Missionary (I believe the term was “Jesus shit balls Christ”), so be forewarned if coarse language bothers you. She is very genuine in her writing.
I loved this memoir of Jamie’s experience as a missionary in Costa Rica and her life leading up to it. I was aware of her criticisms of global missions but enjoyed reading the backstory and her personal involvement.
I pre-ordered the book as soon as I heard about it so I missed out on the audio version, but it is narrated by someone else so I don’t mind. I am familiar with Jamie’s voice through interviews and podcasts, so hearing someone else read would have been strange.
Speaking of interviews and podcasts, Jamie doesn’t blog much anymore, but her Facebook and Instagram are fun to follow. My favorite podcast series right now is Called, Not Qualified, which she co-hosts. If I had anything to add to the book it is that I would have liked her to go deeper into her critique of global missions. The book is an excellent memoir about her life in missions and what brought her to it but ends at her return to the United States. The Called, Not Qualified series is the perfect place to pick up after the book and does a very comprehensive job unpacking the problems within global missions.
I share Jamie’s disdain for cute sayings that are supposed to make me feel better. Like “Just do the next thing.” How exactly am I to know that that is?! I like her version much better:
Do the next most practical thing after careful exploration of the facts, so that even if it turns out to be the wrong thing at least you can say you made a solid decision based on sound research, and if after a period of evaluation you find out it wasn’t the right thing, then you can try something else. God will handle the rest.”
She also said it wouldn’t fit on a cross stitch, which of course prompted me to put it on a cross stitch.
It’s a giant cross stitch. This finishes at about 18″ x 9″ without any margins, so mat and frame this and you practically have a piece for above the sofa.
Here’s the symbol chart (Click to enlarge)
And here’s the key (Click to enlarge)
My life is such a hot mess at the moment, I think that stitching this GIGANTIC piece would NOT be the most practical thing to do. But if you get it stitched up, it would pretty much make my life if you sent me a picture.
In summary, read this book. Follow Jamie on social media. If you too are a frustrated idealist and feel like stabbing something a gazillion times, stitch this piece while listening to Called, Not Qualified.
Every few weeks I share a few good reads I have enjoyed lately.
Devil in the Grove
By: Gilbert King
It is not often that a 17-hour audiobook flies by, or that I am riveted by non-fiction. This book is excellent. I recommended it to Mom as, “Kind of like historical fiction because you love the characters and want to keep reading to see what happens next and stuff but absolutely awful because it actually happened.” As a teacher, I am most familiar with Thurgood Marshall in his role in Brown v. Topeka. Devil in the Grove follows him and his defense of a 1949 rape case in Lake County, Florida, but is so much more than that.
I felt stupid reading Devil in the Grove, and I don’t know how to put into words quite why. I think it is because I have had the privilege to be far removed from the terror of racism. I know that lynchings happened, but I didn’t realize they were downright common. And I know that that interracial marriage was discouraged, but I didn’t realize a boy could be pushed off a cliff for sending a girl a holiday card. And I know people in power can be prejudiced, but I didn’t believe they would let the Klan run their city (Or actively participate in Klan activity!). This book is one of the most powerful I have read and it has fueled an urge to learn more.
I enjoyed the audiobook fine, but I think this book is best enjoyed in print. The storyline bounces between Florida, Washington, D.C, and New York; Between the time of the case and backstories on the people involved; and between the perspectives of people involved. It was difficult at times to keep it all straight in my head and I think the visual divide of chapters and the ability to flip back and easily re-read would have helped.
By: Diane Chamberlain
Devil in the Grove left me with a book hangover. Do you ever read something so excellent you are afraid to start something new because it can’t possibly be as good? I went with Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain. It is in the vein of social justice but is a light historical fiction read. Also, Mom promised it had a good ending which I really needed.
Indeed, this book just right. Necessary Lies is a historical fiction novel set in rural North Carolina in the 1960s. The story goes back and forth between Ivy, a 15-year-old girl in desperate poverty, and Jane, a social worker who faces ethical dilemmas with her rural clients and a tumultuous personal life. I was able to guess the twists in the plot line but it still kept my interest throughout. I remember the exact spot I was at on my crocheted potholder when I started bawling when the ending I was hoping for happened. It was just perfect. You’ll see.
I read a few more books by the same author after this, but the characters just weren’t quite as lovable as Ivy, and the plots were a little too guessable. I don’t regret reading them and I finished each one, but they didn’t feed my soul like this book.
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
By: Trevor Noah
I don’t quite remember how Trevor Noah came on my radar- if it was Jon Stewart introducing him as his replacement on The Daily Show or Trevor’s documentary, You Laugh But It’s True. Either way, I find him to be a super interesting person and was excited to find his book.
Born a Crime is a memoir of growing up biracial in Apartheid South Africa. The book manages to be at once heartbreaking and hilarious. But not too hilarious. Although Trevor works as a comedian, the book is very much his personal story with a hint of irony and wit. I would recommend this even to someone who doesn’t enjoy comedy. I know very little about Apartheid or South African history so that element of his story was interesting.
Definitely get the audio of this book. His spot-on impersonations of different accents are what attracted me to him in the first place, and they come out in the book. He also speaks in the languages he refers to in the book, which I would probably just skim over in text.
What good books have you enjoyed lately?
Audiobooks are my favorite “reading” format for getting things done. I love my Hoopla Digital membership which is free from a local library. If a book I’m excited to read isn’t available to free, my favorite platform is Audible. I find the best value is to purchase 24 credits all at once if you read as much as I like to.
For print books, besides the local library, I always check Better World Books before purchasing secondhand through Amazon.