5 New Books for Women to Read Before Summer Ends
BOOK PICKS: Looking for new books to add to your summer stack?
Here are five books that I have read of late that I think you will enjoy, too.
Whisper: Finding God in the Everyday by Danielle Bean (Ascension, 2021)
Wife, mother and author/podcast Danielle Bean offers a timely read, reminding readers that we need to be ever on the lookout for God in the course of daily life.
“Let’s really feel and experience every small thing God has planned for us inside of this day. This day, right here, in our everyday homes, inside of our everyday routines, sharing meals and moments with our everyday friends and family,” Bean writes.
“Even as I go about doing many things, I want to be still inside, seated at the feet of the one who made me,” she admits, also adding, “I want to see God in everything and find him everywhere.”
She is ever the encourager: “The good news is that if we make a habit of paying attention, it gets easier to hear and be faithful to the voice of God in the everyday.”
She explains how “God can speak his will to us through tiny whispers, but he also communicates his will through those things we love, what we are passionate about, and the desires for good things that he places in our hearts.”
She offers examples from her own routine, too: “Before I open my Bible each morning, I ask God to help me hear his voice in what I am about to read. Before I attend a meeting, record a podcast, or call a friend, I ask God to inspire me with the words I should say. I’m not perfectly consistent at it, and for sure I’m not setting world policy in my little work here in my little family in my little home in New Hampshire, but I want to be open. I want to hear every little next right thing God might call me to.”
I also appreciated her shout-out to the Little Flower, who is one of my favorite saints: “I find encouragement in the fact that even a spiritual giant and Doctor of the Church, St. Thérèse, never heard God speak directly. She ‘heard’ him through small inspirations in her everyday life, and she was careful to respond to them.”
May we do so, too.
The most poignant part of the book highlights the beauty of adoration amid COVID times:
“Father walked through the parking lot with the monstrance, pausing at each car to offer a benediction with the Blessed Sacrament. We stayed inside our cars and watched as Father approached with the monstrance. When he paused beside our car, I looked at the tiny white host inside that shining gold monstrance, and I caught my breath. My eyes filled with tears. Here was Jesus. After weeks of not seeing him and not receiving him, after weeks of social isolation and spiritual solitude, here he was. In a chilly parking lot in the middle of a slushy New Hampshire spring. I hadn’t previously fully recognized that I was missing Jesus in the Eucharist, but I knew it now, as I gazed at him through closed windows from the front seat of my car.”
And she also quotes from John 21:12 — one of my favorite verses, too — “Come and have breakfast. What a delightful invitation!”
Overall, Bean highlights how we can find God in the sacraments, suffering, other people, contentment, stillness, joy, inspiration, prayer — all of it. Her book is bolstered by a good prayer appendix and soul-affirming Scripture to reflect upon.
All women will not relate to all shared examples, but all women will appreciate Bean’s encouragement that we can slow down and find God in the everyday.
As Bean writes, “So maybe I can be an everyday mystic. The kind that slows down enough sometimes to see God in other people, in joy, in pain, in contentment, in stillness, in inspiration, and in prayer. Someone who pauses just long enough sometimes to wonder at the power of God’s presence in the sacraments. Someone who recognizes everyday places and everyday experiences where we can see God, hear him, feel him, and know him.”
Graced and Gifted: Biblical Wisdom for the Homemaker’s Heart by Kimberly Hahn (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2021)
Early on in her new book, Kimberly Hahn, wife of theologian Scott Hahn, mother and author/podcaster, writes, “We all need beauty.”
That line gave me pause because it is true, calling to mind a quote I love: “This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair.” Pope St. Paul VI proclaimed that at the end of Vatican II.
Outlining a variety of topics that homemakers will encounter in daily life, from schedules to budgeting and decorating, to caring for children and husbands, Hahn reminds readers, “When things are very difficult, we recall all that the Lord has already done for us and that he does not change even though our circumstances do.”
She includes encouraging Scriptures like “She was full of good works and acts of charity” (Acts 9:36) and, from Lamentations 3:21-24, “The Lord is my portion … I will hope in him.”
Through the trials and travails of the domestic church, Hahn offers a reminder: “We submit our schedule to the Lord.”
She includes a story that shows how God can work through daily disruptions. She recalls a time when her car wouldn’t start, and she was disappointed that she couldn’t get food for an upcoming reunion; but she added that that setback led to unexpected time to clean the house, rather than getting groceries — with time for Mass and lunchtime hospitality and then confirmation there was no urgency in shopping, due to postponed reunion plans: “That’s the will of God!” as one of her sons put it.
I appreciated how she referenced the feminine genius, including my favorite quote from St. John Paul II’s “Letter to Women”: “women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts.”
And she acknowledges that love in action isn’t always about big endeavors: “Saint Therese of Lisieux, Saint Faustina, and Saint Teresa of Calcutta are all renowned for urging us not to focus on doing great things for God as much as small things for God with great love.”
Fans of the Theology of Home series will appreciate, like I did, her references to making a home.
“Whether a woman is single or married, with or without children, regardless of her residence … there is something within her that longs to create a nest, a home.”
She also writes, “However we decorate, we want the beauty of our home to draw our hearts to each other and to the Lord.”
Hahn’s book will be most relatable to readers who are wives and mothers, but she reminds all readers to value the “hidden” life of Mary in the home — and to do likewise.
As she emphasizes, “The greatest sense of peace will come from living our faith well. When the Prince of Peace rules in our hearts, he reigns in our homes.”
Letters to Women: Embracing the Feminine Genius in Everyday Life by Chloe Langr (TAN Books, 2021)
Read my review here.
Letters to Myself From the End of the World by Emily Stimpson Chapman (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2021)
Read my review here.
Worthy of Wearing: How Personal Style Expresses Our Feminine Genius by Nicole Caruso (Sophia Institute Press, 2021)
Read my interview with the author here.