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Another month has gone by, and that means it’s time for my monthly book review (no spoilers)! I finished four books in September, including a nice even mix of fiction and nonfiction. Let’s get started with the stories first…

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

It turns out, you can’t judge a book by its title. Crazy Rich Asians is the first book in a trilogy that’s fun, fascinating, over-the-top, and indulgent. But it runs deeper than you’d expect. I truly felt like I got an inside look at this sprawling family and their motivations and worldviews, because it’s complicated when you have “more money than God” and the relational complexities to prove it.

I was also dazzled by the descriptions of Singapore, a country with the world’s highest concentration of millionaires. But don’t misunderstand, this family is composed of multi-billionaires. This book had the perfect mix of drama, romance, and comedy. The characters were vivid, three-dimensional, and easy to root for (or boo at as needed). If you love to read in order to escape and experience another culture, this one will be perfect for you. It’s truly fun to read; a decadent novel that’s a vacation for the senses.

Rachel ascended the steps and entered the room, her eyes widening a little. Aside from the red velvet brocade sofas, every single object in the cavernous formal living room appeared to be made of gold. The vaulted ceiling was composed of layers upon layers of gold leaf. The baroque console tables were gilt gold. The Venetian mirrors and candelabra lining the walls were gold. The elaborate tassels on the gold damask curtains were yet a deeper shade of gold. Even the tchotchkes scattered around every available surface were golden. Rachel was completely dumbstruck.

 

Tell Me Three Things

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

A contemporary YA novel about grieving, growing up, and learning how to have confidence in yourself. Saying Jessie’s new life is weird would be an understatement—after she loses her mother to cancer, her dad sells their house, moves them across the country to live with the woman he eloped with during a business trip, and enrolls her in an elite private school where everyone makes her feel even more like an outsider. Back home Jessie was comfortable: she had both her parents, a house she loved, and friends. Here she feels lost in a sea of designer clothing, expensive cars, and people who spend their summer vacations in faraway countries. When the teen gets an anonymous email from Somebody/Nobody offering to teach her to navigate this new school’s territory, she registers how strange the situation may be but replies anyway. Who is this mysterious Somebody/Nobody (SN for short)? Will trusting SN lead to success—or make her even more of a target for bullies? Readers will find themselves growing with Jessie as she tries to deal with the passing of her mother and become comfortable in her own skin miles away from everything she thought of as home.

Ah, the teen years. This book captures the awkwardness and typical concerns of a teen, and there’s a grief element to keep things from being too silly. While I did find Tell Me Three Things to be an entertaining and a very easy read, I’m going to tell you three things I didn’t like about it.

  1. This book was very predictable.
  2. I found the discussion of casual sex and use of pot to be inappropriate for the target age group.
  3. This book also felt a bit young for a grown up.

Since it’s stuck in no-mans-land, I can’t say that I’m in love with this book. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t a good read for me. Lots of people disagree, though, and this one is a best-seller!

 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

 

Do you struggle with your creativity? I’d be really surprised if you said no. That’s because there are SO many ways that all of us fight or deny this aspect of ourselves, whether it’s through perfectionism, losing inspiration, being embarrassed by your dreams, or too intimidated to even begin. If you’re relating to these difficulties, do yourself a favor and pick up Big Magic.

I know what you’re thinking–is this a book about writing? I think that Gilbert really tries to broaden her terms of creativity, but she is a writer, and she is writing what she knows. So I do think this book would be especially helpful for writers in particular.

I believe different things than Gilbert does about where creativity comes from. But she’s genuine, motivating, and relatable. It was easy for me to skim over things I didn’t agree with and take the very good away with me.

Some examples of the very good:

“The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. We are all the chosen few. We are all makers by design.”

“Anyhow, the older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me. Just say what you want to say, then, and say it with all your heart.”

And there are plenty more than that.

By the end, I was cheering, especially for her deconstruction of the Tortured Artist persona. Gilbert advocates for health and happiness in our creativity, while arguing that they unburden us to produce our best work.

So, if you’re struggling in any way with creativity, go grab Big Magic!

 

Come To My Table

Come to My Table by Sue Moore Donaldson

 

No matter how experienced you are at hospitality, whether it comes naturally to you to invite others in or not, Come to My Table is a must-read. Sue Moore Donaldson (hi, Sue!) is an encourager who understands the hospitality challenges we face. She makes sure we’re aware of the true definition of hospitality and removes the barriers we have in keeping people away.

Jesus is the great invitation of God. Without Him, there is no invitation. With Him, our thirst is quenched, we see who God is, and at His table, we rest from fear and worry. “Christ is the centerpiece of everything we believe” (Hebrews 3:1, THE MESSAGE).

Through Him, God has said to us to come and drink, come and see, come and rest.

And we are all invited.

Why be hospitable? Because God first invited us to Himself.

Her love for others has me convinced that I don’t have to leave the work of welcoming to the extroverts and the amazing cooks. She soon had me baking a simple but tasty dish and asking an acquaintance over to enjoy it with me.

There’s one thing that’s clear after reading Come to My Table, and that’s that no matter where you’re at in life, hospitality is something every single one of us can and should practice. And you’ll be the one who’s blessed in the end.

If you want to know how I get my books, I wrote a guide to borrowing e-books online. I’m nerdy that way. I just want you to know that you, too, can read free e-books using the free Amazon Kindle app!

What have you been reading lately?

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September Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians, Tell Me Three Things, Big Magic, Come to My Table

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