Adventure of Ascent: Field Notes from a Lifelong Journey by Luci Shaw. Far and away, this was my favourite book of the past few months. Luci Shaw is underappreciated in popular Christian writing circles, I know, but this poet writes some of my favourite prose and memoir. I like to think I can write a sentence now and then but then I read Luci Shaw, who effortlessly drops phrases like “the wide straps of dark clouds” or “silky shawl of air” or “rags of snow” and I just want to bow down. This book chronicles a year of her life in her eighties as she contemplates dying, growing older, and her own faith in those days. Rich material for a rich mind. P.S. She was Madeleine L’Engle’s best friend (for my fellow devoteees).

Longbournย by Jo Baker – a mash-up of Upstairs, Downstairs sensibility using Pride & Prejudice? Take my money, madam! Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. I wouldn’t re-read and regret buying it instead of just grabbing it at the library.

A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor – I go through swings with Flannery O’Connor’s work – I won’t read her for years and then all of a sudden, I can’t stop for a month. That’s how things are right now. This prayer journal is so intimate, so raw. Even seeing her ambitions laid out, right alongside her prayers and her struggles, made me feel less alone. A beautiful book.

Prodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier by David E. Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw. If you’ve grown a bit tired of the rhetoric and unending speculation, if you’re ready to actually begin to live into that new way forward for the community of God, this is a good place to start. It’s practical and accessible. The ten critical signposts in a missional way of life are: post-Christendom, missio Dei, incarnation, witness, scripture, gospel, church, sexuality, justice, pluralism.

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voiceย by Terry Tempest Williams. I know this is an unpopular opinion for me to confess, but I didn’t like this book. I found it ponderous and even inauthentic.

The Gravedigger File: Papers on the Subversion of the Modern Church by Os Guinness. This book is my first completion in our You’ve Got To Read This! challenge. I’ll have a separate post about that soon-ish but I’ll just say that I was underwhelmed and right out of the gate, I disagreed with the premise so that makes it hard to enjoy the whole book. But still – intelligent and worth reading, Brian, I’ll agree.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin. A good novel for the airplane which is exactly where I read it. Made the day go quickly, I couldn’t put it down, and it was an interesting story.


and reading

The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor. I know everyone knows – and bows down before – A Good Man is Hard to Find. Rightfully so. But I still have a soft spot for The Geranium. This woman’s genius knows no bounds and coming back to her work again and again only enriches it. Earthy, real, substantial, satisfying.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Way of the (Modern) World: Or, Why It’s Tempting to Live As If God Doesn’t Exist by Craig M. Gay. (The next book in our challenge for me. Pray for me.)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Eat with Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food by Rachel Marie Stone.

Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life by Phileena Heuertz

New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry

television worth watching

I just finished Series 3 of Sherlock. It wasn’t as good as Series 2 – could anything ever compare to Irene Adler and Moriarity? – but it was still Sherlock, still brilliant, still chilling, still funny, still wonderful. And then the twist in the series finale was just WHOA. Can’t wait to see Series 4. Mary Watson is just my favourite character on television in a while.

Anxiously awaiting Series 3 of Call the Midwife! It debuts on PBS on March 30, so set your VCR. (Wait a minute – what century is this. VCR. Honestly.)

For the first time in our lives, we’re watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. We have been over late-night television for years now (even burning out on The Daily Show and Colbert Report, I’m afraid) but Jimmy Fallon’s new gig as host of this programme has us actually watching it again. It’s hilarious, smart, and earnest all at the same.

I’ve watched a fair few documentaries about food over the past months. I’ve been making a few changes in that area of my life lately due to some health stuff and so it’s been helpful.

Is anyone else missing the Olympics?

movies worth seeing

We went to see The Lego Movie on evening last week. It was funny and smart. Just a wonderful movie for the whole family. We’ll be watching it again. Joe and Anne (who are five and seven) were captivated. (“Everything is awesome! everything is cool!”)

Otherwise….yeah. I don’t really watch movies much these days, I’m afraid.

music worth hearing

Relevant is streaming John Mark McMillan’s new album Borderland here.


How They Blog podcast. A quick 20 minute podcast with interviews and tips for bloggers.

David’s Tea – my current favourites are Cream of Earl Grey and Jessie’s Tea (a rooibos with coconut and lavender)

My elliptical machine and my juicer – I know. It’s like I don’t know who I am anymore. Drinking kale and working out. Honestly.

Benjamin Hole on Instagram. Photos of a working English farm just make me so happy.

Village Books in Fairhaven, Washington. I want to live there.


So, friends, what about you?

Whatโ€™s on your nightstand? What television show or movie or music has captured your imagination?ย 


In which it snows in the morning
In which I don't mind if my tinies see me on the computer
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  • In which I add a bunch of books to my Amazon wishlist…

    I’ve been reading up a storm lately. My favorite this week is Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies”. I also loved Ian Morgan Cron’s memoir. Memoirs are my jam lately.

    Did you like the wedding episode of Sherlock? A bit crazy, but it made me fall in love with Sherlock’s character even more.

    Call the Midwife is FANTASTIC. I just started season 2. And we all loved the Lego movie. Definitely lived up to the hype.

    Music: I’m trying out the new music from The Liturgists.

  • So many books, my friend! Speaking of bowing …

    I am so drawn to Luci Shaw. I have several of her books on my Amazon Wishlist. Can’t wait to start … once I get through my current Rohr and Nouwen.

    Thanks to you, I now love Call the Midwife! Can’t wait for Season 3, once it gets to Netflix. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Chelle

    Awesome list! Hitchhikers is one of my all time favs! Currently i am attempting to read the original Sherlock stories. i am a huge fan of the new series and i am excited to find all the little nuances the used from the books. i am also reading “Restless” by Jennie Allen cuz book club starts tonight!!! If you love “Call the Midwife” i recommend “Miranda”. the actress who plays Chummy is a brilliant comedian and her show is hysterical…we’re talking fits of laughter. The next movies on my list are “The Book Thief” and “Saving Mr. Banks”. the music i am listening to is Austin Stone Worship. i could play “Love Shines” on repeat for hours!

  • I have a “stack” of things to read on my Kindle, but I’m most excited to tackle Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. The title alone makes me think great thoughts, so I really hope that it proves to be as good as it promises.

    Also, I’m listening to all things Bastille. Cannot stop.

  • SarahPinault

    I felt the same about Longbourn, fortunately I did get it from the library, but I was so close to buying it so many times. It made me want to read “Death Comes to Pemberly” again, because that was an Austen sequel well done.

    I bought myself The Jesus Feminist at Christmas and am just now getting tucked into that, having recently finished Restless by Jennie Allen and wondering what I can do with all this Jesus energy surging through me right now! Also reading Jesus The One and Only by Beth Moore as I remember enjoying her, but boy that Southern drawl in her writing is distracting.

  • I need to read more Luci Shaw! I am resolved to do so. I was underwhelmed by Longbourn, too. It had such potential. The Signature of All Things is on deck for me, too. Think I’ll bring it on the plane when I go see Ashleigh. I actually thought Sherlock series 3 was better than 2 but I agree that Mary Watson is the best. Proud of all your juicing and elipticaling!

  • theblahblahblahger

    Is Sherlock the same as Elementary? If so…MIND BLOWN.

  • Amanda Coleburn Stewart

    Sarah, I love these posts. Thank you! My favorite O’Connor story is “The Enduring Chill”. I think we can all find characters to relate to in her stories– Asbury is my mirror (I’m sorry to admit). Enjoy!

  • thisbeautifulmess

    Currently trying to read The Luminaries… About 250 pages in on 840 pgs!!!! Eeeeee! What did I get myself into?
    Also reading Spiritual Rhythms by Ruth Halley Barton and being refreshed greatly. It is the inspiration for many conversations with friends these days.
    Veronica Mars is on the TV… Going through all the seasons again to get ready for the movie in a few weeks. Getting super pumped.
    Listening a lot to Hillsong Young & Free with the kiddies and having many dance parties.

  • Oooh, I might need to pick up that book on the modern world. Let us know if you like it/think it’d be worth the read.

    I have been a reading superstar lately – I’ve just had way more reading time at work than I expected to so I bought some books, and read them in a week, and have bought more as my birthday present, haha, though these are… somewhat different.

    I have winging its way to me two books on cults recommended off Amazon (or, I think they call them “new religious movements” now, officially, for research for writing purposes. And I went ahead and pre-ordered Girl at the End of the World, a memoir about growing up in fundamentalism that I am definitely looking forward to.

    Right now my nose is buried in fiction because I need something I can get through fast at work, nothing too intense or heavy.

  • okay, maybe I need to watch this Call the Midwife business. thus far, I have stayed away, but everyone is loving it! and now I have a thousand more books to read, thanks to you.

    also. that wedding episode in S3 of Sherlock was quite possibly THE BEST episode of all episodes ever.

  • JennaDeWitt

    Books: “Jesus Feminist” currently ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just finished Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy” before that (good but requiring much brain power), so JF seems even more friendly and conversational.
    TV: Big Bang Theory and Downton
    Movies: trying to be patient until Catching Fire DVD comes out at the end of the week. Walter Mitty was good as well. Mainly because it led me to Of Monsters and Men…
    Music: Of Monsters and Men, London Grammar, etc.
    Enjoying: Leigh’s Enneagram series (which led to watching YouTube videos of people talking about the Enneagram)
    Also: going sugar-free so I understand the “who am I?!” sentiments. It was not my choice, but my body has decided to rebel against sugar. ๐Ÿ™

  • Loved the new Sherlock season as well, especially episode 2! I laughed! I cried! I finally got on the “Benedict Cumberbatch is a hottie” bandwagon!

  • Oh, I’m so glad to hear that Call the Midwives will be starting up again soon! It’s been too long.

    Those are my two favourite David’s Tea teas as well. I don’t know if you like your tea anything but plain, but our favourite way to drink the Cream of Earl Grey is as a London Fog. So yummy.

  • Amanda O’Brien McKelvie

    I have a bunch of books that I am reading/planning to read soon including The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller (read it in less than an hour – it is VERY short), Seven by Jen Hatmaker and Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey ๐Ÿ™‚ I just put down Jesus Feminist a few minutes ago – Very interesting! You are a beautiful writer. I am about half way through ๐Ÿ™‚

    As for television, I have been watching Downton Abbey on Netflix and I absolutely love itโ€ฆbut Netflix is a bit slow with getting them up. Only Season one and two are up, and I am pretty sure they are on season four or five on televisionโ€ฆanyways, awesome show!

  • janetb1

    We are waiting for Call The Midwife to start as well. We love it!!
    I am reading The Power Of Right Believing by Joseph Prince.
    We went to see Son Of God on Saturday.
    Not really things I am necessarily ” in to” but just things we are doing.

  • reading and really liking – ‘the golem and the jinni’ by helene wecker.

  • nortoam

    Are you a good influence or a bad one? I just ordered both those teas! And I’m totally adding some of those books to my queue! I have a goal of reading 10 books during Lent and I only had 8 on my list so far!

  • I always look forward to these posts, lots of things to add to the lists I love to make!

    Reading: Me Before You and The Goldfinch. Loving both.
    Listening: to Shovels and Rope, so so good and I get to see them in concert tonight! Woot!
    Watching: Girls, Mad Men (late to the party and seriously obsessed). Also can’t wait for Call the Midwife, my 2 year old calls it “The Baby Show” and I used to watch it while getting her down for a nap, but she’s too into the babies now and won’t fall asleep!
    Loving: my new yoga/workout routine, rare moments of quiet, and too many Girl Scout Cookies (Come on Lent!).

  • Monica

    “The Cloud of Unknowing”, “The Book of Privy,” and “New Seeds of Contemplation.” = Comfort food.

  • A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman
    Almost done so I’m ready to tackle a few more books in March, but this one has been amazing! It came at just the right season for me–uplifting, refreshing, and freeing.

  • I’m out of the loop on the Olympics, too. I love the way you did this post!

  • Kim Bradley

    I loved Longbourn, but, now that you mention it, am not sure I would reread it. I just finished one of Julian Fellowes’s novels, Snobs, last night. I love Downton Abbey, but was really disappointed in this book. He writes brilliantly well but has nothing to say.

    Congrats on becoming a board member at Help One Now. I mean it about going to Haiti with you next year. I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be there.

  • Just added Luci Shaw’s book to my reading list. Thank you for the recommendation.

    I just finished “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini. A moving novel. Difficult to read, but so important.