Two books I read in November 2020

This post includes reviews of two e-books, which are also available in other formats.

Songs for a Saviour’s Birth by William Philip

Book cover

I read Songs for a Saviour’s Birth as an ebook, which I received free from the publisher, IVP as a ‘thank you’ for completing a survey. I had great difficulty downloading it and finding an app, which could open it, so was not in the best frame of mind when I began reading it using the EPUB Reader app. It is a short book, with five chapters and a commendation. It is also available as a paperback.

As I continued reading I regained a sense of joy. The book is well-written and brings out the excitement of the story as told by Luke. William Philip is ideally qualified to write about the early chapters of Luke’s gospel – he is a physician turned pastor, whereas Luke was a physician who became an evangelist. The book is written in a way, which encourages believers and explains the story to those, who have not previously had a clear explanation of the story. This is an Advent book I found to be compulsive reading and therefore recommend. (Advent  this year is from Sunday 29 November and to Christmas Eve, 24 December, inclusive.)

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Book cover

The first book I read this year was Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland. When I found another of her books on BorrowBox, I selected it (not having been put off by some strong language in the other book). The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae :Ailsa Rae survived now she needs to learn to live… is set in Edinburgh, a city I visited for a day in 2018. (Coincidentally 2018 was part of the timeline for The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae.)

I could relate to the description of the confusing railway station and some of the other places mentioned. The story of someone, who needed a heart transplant is told as a blog, second-person narrative and email correspondence. There is sadness and humour. The experience of the protagonist seems authentic. (Among my friends and acquaintances there are at least two recipients of vital organs.) I really enjoyed this book, which I read in a few days. It was written before the opt-out legislation for organ donation was introduced in England. In Scotland the law is not changing until 2021.

What I read in July 2019 (Part 2)

The excellent book I am reviewing here is one I received in a package from IVP as I was lucky in a Twitter giveaway before Easter. Perhaps a better title for this post might be “What I finished reading…”

In May I began to read Men and Women in Christ: Fresh light from the biblical texts by Andrew Bartlett. I found that I could only read a few pages at a time, but I did read all the way to the end, including the seven appendices elaborating on particular chapters. Some of the references to scripture were also essential reading, although I have to admit that I skipped others deeming that I am familiar with, for example, the stories in Acts. When I bothered to read the passages I felt blessed.

In Men and Women in Christ all the evidence from the Bible about the roles of men and women in marriage and in the Church is sifted and weighed. The historical views of their roles are also discussed. Where scripture is unclear the author referred to other contemporary sources to compare the use of Greek words or expressions. A list of Bible references is included.

This must be the most painstakingly researched book I have ever read! However, it is written in an accessible style. At the end of each chapter there is a summary of the discoveries made. The final chapter is entitled: Taking stock and moving closer together. The views of egalitarians and complementarians had been set out in the earlier chapters. Andrew Bartlett found points he disagreed with in both parties’ arguments.

This book is well worth the time it takes to read it. Very highly recommended.

The other two books I received were Emma Scrivener’s A New Day and Borderlands by Mark Brickman.

What I read in May 2019 (Part 1) Borderlands

The second of three books I received from IVP UK as a Twitter giveaway is Borderlands Navigating The Adventure Of Spiritual Growth by Mark Brickman. This is a scholarly book, which is very readable. It is particularly suitable for reading during this season between Easter and Pentecost. As well as drawing on the author’s own life experiences there is much about those of others, who have been involved in Christian revival in the past.

Although the beginning of Borderlands requires careful reading, towards the end I found that it was very exciting and easy to read. Most of the Bible references in the book are very well known. The reading I had heard in the service on the Third Sunday of Easter (John 21:1-19) was discussed in the part of the book I read the following day.

There are references to many books and online sources.

Borderlands is primarily about spiritual growth,but what I personally gained from this book is that I should continue praying for revival with more fervour.