Book Review: Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman

I was excited to see a memoir written by Fredrik Backman on the new release lists for spring. More commonly known for his lovable curmudgeonly characters overcoming loss and kindling unlikely friendships in entertaining fiction, I was curious to see what a parental letter from the beloved Swedish author might include.

I was not disappointed. With his telltale blend of wry humour and droll wit, Backman tackles all manner of issues and advice to his young son in this heartwarming, comical read.

Whether you agree with all the author’s philosophies on life or not, you are sure to appreciate the authentic and self-deprecating account of the wild and wonderful world of parenthood. (It involves a lot of poop…) Beautiful and amusing anecdotes ooze love for wife and child while sardonic commentary balances the overly sweet.

Ultimately, the author manages to convey his desire for his child to one – be a better person than he is, and two – know he’s loved unconditionally… just like the best of us as parents wish for our children.

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World is a remarkably enjoyable piece of non-fiction. Available for purchase April 30th – would make a fantastic Father’s Day gift for the reader dads you might know!

I received a complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley with thanks to the author. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published by: Simon and Schuster Canada
Publication date: April 30, 2019

Book Review: The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin

For those of you who migrated from my old blog by the same title (hosted elsewhere), to those who followed me even further back, you’ll know I’m a huge believer in hospitality and care, in transparency and connection. I’m also a firm believer in acts of kindness – actions speaking louder than words – and that “lifestyle evangelism” should be the base of every professed Christ-follower’s testimony. Life should be about building relationships and putting people first and love in action is a HUGE thing.

When I read the synopsis provided for blogger-turned-author Shannan Martin’s The Ministry of Ordinary Places, I was hopeful that it would “click” in a very real way and I was not disappointed. Overall, Ms. Martin presented a thought-provoking meandering memoir that felt like sitting down to chat and get real with an old friend.

It was a poignant reminder that there is a whole great big world of people craving connection right in our own backyards. Foreign mission fields and big campaigns aren’t for everyone, but in today’s society with it’s sprawl and heated differences, it can be difficult to “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) Sometimes, we get so much out of being the answer, the solution, the giver, or the one who knows best that we forget that there is experience in blessing in serving others and allowing oneself to be served. There are blessings and opportunities in all the ins and outs of our boring, everyday lives.

There is so much beautiful reflection in this book of encouragement and inspiration encouraging us to be neighbours and friends. It is not new information, just a real-life reflection on how the author was uprooted from a comfortable situation and had to find opportunities and connection in a new environment. It was non-fiction that I couldn’t put down – she spoke to my heart in an authentic lyrical way.

My only slight disappoint was that some of the stories reflected upon weren’t very “deep” or “gritty” but I pushed that aside as perhaps they weren’t the author’s stories to tell and she kept them superficial for anonymity purposes. Overall, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of this one if you want to expand your fences, listen carefully, and learn to see opportunities in the ordinary and mundane.

Published by Thomas Nelson. Publication Date: October 9, 2018

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley with thanks to the publisher and/or author. All opinions are my own.

#TheMinistryOfOrdinaryPlaces #NetGalley

Book Review: The Sun Is a Compass by Caroline Van Hemert

Inspiring and Humbling

I am one who finds it fabulous when I get my 10-12 thousand steps in a day. I enjoy a day at the lake with a fishing rod nearby, but most often with a book in hand. Kayaking and canoeing are enjoyable when I’m a few feet from shore and the water is glass without a cloud in the sky. I am not an adventurer and readily admit that I enjoy my comforts and the calm of my home. The rugged Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and even the Yukon are places I like to visit through pages and pictures, but would not want to conquer on my own.

I realise that 2019 is still in its first quarter, and I’ve read some really excellent books so far, but The Sun Is a Compass by Caroline Van Hemert is my most favourite read in a very long time. My poor family members had to listen to me narrate what was happening any time something caught my fancy. It’s not often that a memoir captures my attention and reads better than fiction. It is, as described by the publisher, “the gripping story of a biologist’s human-powered journey from the Pacific Northwest to the Arctic to rediscover her love of birds, nature, and adventure.”

The well written first-person narrative captured my attention from the opening paragraph and kept me in its grip until the very last sentence. A descriptive, relatable text chronicling human nature vs. Mother Nature. It was an incredibly beautiful tale of human endurance and a reminder of how small we are in the vastness of the wilderness. Inspiring and humbling all at once, I cannot recommend this title enough. It was a brilliant blending of insight and observation.

If you are looking for a book to point out that you are quite satisfied in your semi-rural, daily grind existence, this is it. If you enjoy living vicariously through the adventures of other individuals, this is it. If you find courage in tales of human vs. wild, this is it. If you find motivation in accomplishment and beating the odds, this is it. If you want to find yourself lost in a recounting of someone finding themselves in living and travelling by their own power through remote and austere environs, this is it. Colourful, descriptive, and moving. Absolutely brilliant – I have huge respect for the adventurer and her husband and how well she retold their story. I felt a strange sense of pride in their accomplishment.

(P.S. I’m not a huge fan of book to movie renditions, but I could vividly imagine this on the big screen with every new page.)

I was provided with a copy of this title via NetGalley courtesy of the author and/or publisher. All opinions are my own.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: March 19, 2019