Bradley's Book Review
written by: Bradley Jean
What is so special about a good book? And what draws us in to be a reader versus a non-reader?
I did not grow up a reader. My father was an avid reader and read to me often, but I simply didn’t have the discipline. I couldn’t make myself follow through with actually finishing a book.
Fast forward 20 years, today I’m completely obsessed with reading and have lists upon lists of what I’ve read and what I hope to read. I’m a wonderer. I love the idea of taking my mind to new places and exploring all that’s out there. A book can open up a space inside of us that always existed, but seemed to be hiding.
Books open our minds to the great big world around us. We work, we tend to our families, we are good at busy, but what’s beyond us, in imagination and truth, is just as amazing as what’s in front of us.
I’m a dreamer. I want to learn and grow and move forward in new spaces. Luckily, through the telling of a good story, we can be taken into other worlds and get away from the tangles of our day.
Stories can teach us and lead us. Stories can give us new perspective or new direction. They can change our hearts or make us die laughing out loud.
I remember the first time I read a book that truly impacted me. It was post-college and I picked up Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. This is storytelling at its finest, a beautiful descriptive tale of an old fisherman determined to keep his catch. It sounds so simple, but it left me with a lifetime of determination, grit and adventure.
Do you want to dream and grow and get lost in a beautiful place? Read.
Want to find new paths but aren’t sure which ones? Read. You will find them.
Are you doing some soul searching these days and long for more? You’ve got to start somewhere, why not a book?
I’m going to help you out a bit here too. I have my own personal recommendations for you. All very different, but fantastic!
I have three non-fiction books and one fiction. My choice of fiction is written by a local, east Alabama author, Christy Truitt. She is fabulous and her southern, writing skills are polished and personable.
So for readers and non-readers, try these out. You will not be disappointed!
#1 Love Does by Bob Goff
Love Does is juicy and fun! It’s made up of 31 short stories, telling the life of the author Bob Goff.
Love Does is whimsical and wild. Goff lives life with more zest, excitement and joy than anyone I’ve ever met. He is funny, authentic and a great story teller. Goff doesn’t believe love is just a thought or feeling, he believes Love Does.
Goff’s thrill for the little things will light up a fire inside you to do the same. Bob Goff also isn’t scared of the big. He just goes for it and does the next best thing. Goff shares the simple yet vast picture of Jesus, his complete love for all through action.
Bob writes, “Jesus said that unless you know him like a child, you’ll really never know him at all. Kids don’t care about facts, and they certainly don’t study each other. They’re just with each other, they do stuff together. That’s what Jesus had in mind.”
Bob Goff will take you on his adventures around the world, meeting all sorts of people, to inspire you to live very fully in any space. Goff tells stories of thrill and stories of loss. All his stories paint for us a sweet perspective on the doing of love.
He will force you to lose all seriousness and embrace any opportunity.
Want to learn to be secretly incredible? Read Love Does.
Want each day you live to be an adventure? Love Does.
You will finish this book giddy and ready to Do Love!
#2 The First Drop of Rain, by Christy Truitt
This is one of the best fiction books I’ve read in a long time. This book has a great story line, with real and lively characters and is also a thriller. Truitt takes you on a journey of hardship between three very different characters and brings them all together to save each other.
The setting is perfectly southern and the main character is Kenzie. She grew up in an abusive, rural home and works in the city to help others in similar situations. Kenzie just happens to work with a handsome, charismatic lawyer, whom has been in his own space of grief and loss.
Kenzie is strong minded and sassy. She is fierce and determined, but at the end of the day, she’s longing for love and acceptance.
You will meet the characters face to face and want to have dinner with them. Truitt paints a southern picture for us, written well in description and character language. The stories Truitt tells are lively and keep you longing for the next chapter.
My favorite detail of Truitt’s writing is her attention to the subject of domestic violence. We don’t speak much of this topic and we are quick to close the idea and turn a cheek. Awareness of the topic can open our hearts and eyes to others and maybe even persuade us to reach out if we are ever confronted with it.
I’m in awe that Truitt has such talent in a difficult story matter. That she is able to write so well, with laughter and fun but also hurt, is remarkable.
I love Truitt’s book for the life she gives her characters and her consistent, thrilling stories. This book is full of heart and will leave you wanting to read more from this wonderful author.
#3 Eat Cake. Be Brave., by Melissa Radke
I found Melissa Radke just this year on Instagram. She was in the process of releasing this book and I was immediately drawn into her sarcasm and her catchy book title, Eat Cake. Be Brave.
I’ve been in a sure season of brave, so I figured, what’s to lose, might as well read this one. And oh my goodness, I’m so glad I did.
Melissa is real, vibrant and hilarious! I love to laugh, and she hits this one perfectly. She is authentic and lays every bit of her heart on the table. She hides nothing from the truth. Her honesty mixed with comic relief is true icing on the cake.
Melissa was raised in east Texas and later moved to Nashville to pursue a singing career. Her book tells of her journey through life, the fun and the painful.
She gives a lively, detailed account of her 41st birthday. On this day, feeling defeated and lost, she blows out her candles with her little family and makes a wish to spend her next year of life “being brave.” She told herself, that whatever that meant and in any situation, she was simply just going to be brave.
And Melissa has done brave so well! She never set out to be a writer; she simply set out to be herself. She set out to be authentic and real, wherever that took her. Whether she was loud or silent, whether she met a new friend or lost a few, she set her mind on being Melissa. She set out to be brave.
She is a firm believer in listening to our own inner compass and gifts and pushing away the person the world says we are. We absolutely are who God created us and we need to be that person. We need to be ourselves, loud and clear.
I adore Melissa for opening up this mindset for us. She has surely taught me to seek myself and no false sense of me. She has taught me that it’s never too late to pursue personal greatness. Whatever God places in front of me, I am going for it.
Want to laugh, relate and read into a true woman of bravery?
Read Eat Cake. Be Brave. You will love it!
#4 Tattoos on the Heart, The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle
This book has rocked my heart. I have never read anything like it. As soon as I finished this book, I started it right back over. Twice! I read it 3 times in a row. It was that compelling.
The book is about the author, Greg Boyle, also known as “G”. Boyle tells of the time he spent in Los Angeles in the late 80’s and 90’s serving as a priest in a poor part of LA saturated with gang violence; most of its members being young and Latino.
Boyle retells the true stories of the lives of some these people. He tells of all the pain, injustice and horror that go on in these communities, but he also tells, very clearly, the story of a compassionate God.
Boyle writes the story of a young man named Scrappy. Scrappy had once pulled a gun on Boyle, once walked out of one of his funerals and had been in prison for 10 years. After being released, he visits Boyle in his office.
Boyle writes, “where we stand in all our mistakes and imperfections is holy ground. It is where God has chosen to be intimate with us and not in any way but this. Scrappy’s moment of truth was not in recognizing what a disappointment he’s been all these years. It came in realizing that God had been beholding him and smiling for all this time, unable to look anywhere else.”
Boyle talks about the “expansiveness” of God’s heart. It is so vast we cannot even wrap our minds around it. Culturally, we believe some of us are more worthy or honorable of God’s smiling face than others. However, we are all worthy and honorable. No conditions, no restrictions, just vast, real love.
Boyle writes, “behold the one beholding you and smiling…”
I recommend this book to everyone. I hope my children read it one day, and know that all human race is loved by God. All.
It has opened my heart to want to spend time with those I may think have fallen short, for I have fallen short too. How will I learn about his vastness if I’m not in it seeing his vastness? Jesus didn’t talk about helping the poor, he was with the poor.
I left this book humbled in tears. Compassion is the center of our heavenly father, and Greg Boyle gives a real life encounter of that love.
Hope you enjoyed friends!
I get most of my books from Amazon.
I’m doing a give-away soon for all 4 of these reads. Look us up on Instagram and Facebook to find out details soon!