Recent Reads: Evolving in Monkey Town and Bloom

Jen Bradbury
Jan 11 · 5 min read

As a young girl, my favorite Christmas presents were always books. I looked forward to Friday nights because it meant I could stay up and read as late as I wanted to.

Not surprisingly, I still love to read today. On my day off, you can usually find me curled up with a book and my cat. In addition to the worlds with which I get to engage through reading, I also love the ideas sparked by reading and the way some books challenge me, at times even influencing my worldview. Relationally, I love the conversations books can spark.

Like every other book lover I know, I love sharing what I'm reading with others. That's why this year I'm going to chronicle my recent reads here, hoping that perhaps, you, like me, will discover joy in one of these books. This week's recent reads are: 

Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions by Rachel Held Evans

Why I read this book: I'm a fan of Rachel Held Evans who's followed her blog for quite a while. To put it simply, I appreciate her voice in the male-dominated evangelical Christian world. More specifically, I love Rachel's humor and the depth with which she explores so many issues. In 2012, I read her controversial novel, A Year of Biblical Womanhood and loved it. Based on how much I enjoyed that book, I backtracked and read this, her first book.

What the book's about: This book is Rachel's memoir. In it, she explores how her faith evolved from childhood, through her college years at Bryan College in Dayton, TN, into her adulthood.

My favorite quote from the book: "What my generation is learning the hard way is that faith is not about defending conquered ground but about discovering new territory. Faith isn't about being right, or settling down, or refusing to change. Faith is a journey, and every generation contributes its own sketches to the map. I've got miles and miles to go on this journey, but I think I can see Jesus up ahead."

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Thumbs up. Definitely. I loved it's honesty and authenticity, combined with Rachel's willingness to address tough questions of faith.

Who I'd recommend this book for: Small groups whose members are willing to disagree with one another. Warning: Not all Christians will agree with or appreciate Rachel's perspective on faith.

Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected by Kelle Hampton 

Why I read this book: Many of the blogs I read have mentioned Bloom in the last year. The positive chatter made me request it for Christmas. I devoured it shortly thereafter.

What the book's about: Kelle's journey with a daughter diagnosed at birth with Down syndrome.  

What makes this book unique: Though memoir, this book also contains some of the most beautiful photos I've seen. They help illustrate and chronicle Kelle's journey.  

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Two thumbs up. I truly devoured this book, reading it in just a few sittings. I cried with Kelle in the delivery room, in the diagnosis of her daughter, and in her discovery of the beauty found within her daughter Nella. It was captivating, engaging, and beautifully written.

Who I'd recommend this book for: Anyone who likes memoir.