Brandon Sanderson

A Few of My Favorite Things: Big Sale on some of my Favorite Books

As most of you know I am a really big reader. When I got in trouble as a child my parents would punish me by not letting me read. It was my nightmare. This year I’ve had more time for leisure reading than in previous years, partly because I live in a city and spend a fair amount of time using public transportation. So far this year I’ve read 57 books. (Remember, I don’t have kids or a TV).

I am a huge believer in physical books and I will never give them up in favor of ebooks, but since I live in Korea right now, it’s just more practical to use a Kindle than to buy a bunch of physical books that are expensive here and that I won’t be able to bring back home with me.

The great thing about Kindle books is that there are lots of flash sales where books can drop to $2 or $3 for a few days. I keep a giant Amazon wish list that I check almost every day to see if anything on my list has gone on sale.

There is a big publisher’s sale going on right now and I noticed that many of my favorite books from this year are on sale so I wanted to share them with you. I don’t usually do posts like this (although I occasionally tweet about a good deal) but I know a lot of you are also big readers who might benefit from these sales. Hope you find something you like!

Note: I’ve just learned that prices may be different if you are visiting Amazon from Ireland or the UK (or perhaps any other non-US country). Although I live in Korea, my Amazon account is registered in the US and the prices I’ve listed are the ones on Amazon’s USA site.  Sorry if the prices are different for your country. 😦


These are mostly creative non-fiction – essays and spiritual memoirs—that I’ve read this year and enjoyed.

bread and wine

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist $1.99: One of my favorite books I’ve read this year (I wrote more about what this book meant to me here) this book is about food and hospitality and about the table as a place for building community. Buy it!




Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist $2.99: This book of essays focuses on change and the bittersweet ways that we grow through challenges and difficulties.





Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett ($3.03). This is a story for tired Christians who need to experience God in the ordinariness of life. It particularly resonates for those of us who grew up evangelical and have always felt burdened by the need to pray more, read more, do more.


QuietQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain ($2.99) I found this book completely fascinating. If you are an introvert or you love an introvert, you must read this. It taught me so much about how I work as a highly sensitive introvert in contrast with my husband who is more strongly introverted, but is not highly sensitive. I also found her exploration of Western culture’s “extrovert ideal” so helpful in understanding the ways in which I’ve trained myself to act more extroverted. This helped me make sense of why I am 100% sure I’m an introvert, but other people sometimes seem surprised by that.

Faith unraveledFaith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions by Rachel Held Evans ($2.99): This is one of my all-time favorite spiritual memoirs and one of the best books I read this year. Evans’ story about coming from a fundamentalist evangelical “it’s us against the world” background and learning to be ok asking questions, even if you don’t find answers right away resonated deeply with me. I love that she actually articulates some of the really hard questions of life and faith in this book and doesn’t try to smooth them over with Bible verses or trite Christian phrases. My biggest takeaway was something Evans said at the very end of the book – that there is a difference between questioning God and questioning what you believe about God.

womanhoodA Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”  by Rachel Held Evans ($2.99): Interesting, funny, thought-provoking, and informative, each month for one year Held undertook one virtue for women mentioned in the Bible and tried to observe it as strictly as possible. She also interviewed women of different faith backgrounds for perspective each month (an orthodox Jew, an Amish woman, a family who practices what they believe to be “biblical marriage” through polygamy). While Held is well-known for being an outspoken feminist, this book is a very honest and gracious exploration of the nebulous concept of biblical womanhood and a very fair consideration of various points of view on the subject.

Notes from a Blue Bike:The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic WorlBlue Biked by Tsh Oxenreider ($2.99): This book is about living simply and creating the life you want to live. In many ways I was inspired by this book to evaluate and define what it is I want out of life. What are my priorities? What are the things that matter most deeply to me? What are the values I want to build my life around? And how do I make those things reality? This book is particularly applicable to people with kids since there are sections that specifically deal with education and parenting, but even being childless, I enjoyed it.


One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp ($2.99). This book has been a NY Times Bestseller since it came out a few years ago and you’ve probably heard of it. I actually read this a few years ago but plan to re-read soon. It is a beautiful, challenging book about living life fully wherever you are by practicing radical gratitude.


Learning to Walk in the Dark

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor ($1.99): Actually I haven’t read this one yet, but I did just buy it because it’s been on my wish list since it came out. Taylor is known for wrestling with difficult topics and writing about the spiritual life in profound ways. This is a book about how God works in the dark seasons of life.


Leaving Church

Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor ($3.99): This book is Taylor’s memoir about her decision to leave her role as an Episcopal priest to become a professor. It talks about how easy it is to lose your soul in the midst of “doing ministry” and how sometimes the best place for our souls is not the place that seems most logical.


Altar in the WorldAn Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor ($1.99): I also just bought this one because it’s been on my wish list for months since I read so many rave reviews. This book is a follow-up to Leaving Church which was about her decision to leave full-time ministry. This book talks about learning to encounter God outside of the church.



Here are a few fiction books I’ve read this year that are on sale now. Just a note – I read fiction like a writer. In other words, a book is good to me if the prose is beautiful, the characters are well-developed and the plot isn’t predictable. I appreciate novels that engage me intellectually and emotionally. When I recommend fiction books it is because I think they are well-written, entertaining, and compelling. I’m not often bothered by language, sexual content, or whether or not I totally agree with the author’s perspective. If you are easily offended by these things bear that in mind when reading my fiction recommendations.


Me Before You by JoJo Moyes ($2.99) Ambitionless twenty-six year old Louise loses her job and takes a temporary position as a caretaker for a 35 year old quadripalegic who challenges her to live life on a grander scale. This is a quick read, but not a particularly light one.  Be warned that you’ll need Kleenex.


Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty ($3.99): This is the fourth book of Moriarty’s I’ve read this year and probably my favorite. I think she’s a great contemporary writer, writing about complex family relationships and suburban drama in a fresh way. Her characters are always interesting and fully-formed. This particularly novel revolves around the death of an elementary school parent at a school function, but who died and how it happened remains a mystery until the very end. It’s a fun, engaging read.

Name of the WindThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss ($4.99): This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you are into fantasy at all, you must read this book. The prose is gorgeous. The world-building is phenomenal, the characters will become dear friends. I really can’t say enough positive things about this book. This is the first-person narrative of a terrifically gifted young man who grows to be the greatest wizard the world has ever seen. This is the first book in an ongoing trilogy called The Kingkiller Chronicle.

Way of Kings

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson ($2.25): This book (and the one below) are the best books I’ve read this year and also possibly the best books I’ve ever read. Definitely high up there. This is a fantasy epic that will appeal even to those who aren’t huge fantasy readers. This is a story about honor and justice and revenge. The characters are fantastic and the world with it’s various people groups and magic system, etc is captivating. If I could recommend just one book from this year’s reading to everyone I know it would be this book. (PS- If you get it, stick with it through the prologue. It’s a weird start to the book but I promise after you get past those first two chapters you’ll be hooked).

Words of

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson($3.75): This is the second book in the Stormlight Archive. It is even better than the first one. The only bad thing is that it was just released in March 2014 which means a long wait before book 3. It will rock your world.


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What I’m Into: April 2014 Edition

Linking up with Leigh Kramer again this month for her What I’m Into series.

What I’m Reading:

I actually finished Words of Radiance this month even though I slipped into last month’s round-up, but now I sort of regret doing that because my book list feels short. So I’m just going to re-mention that I finished Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance this month and it was even better than the first one and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

bread and wineBread and Wine by Shauna Niequist is a book that had been on my digital bookshelf for a few months. This month I finally got around to reading it. Let me tell you, this book was a balm for my soul. Through years of struggling with my “relationship” with food, I have come to believe that there is something deeply significant about what we eat and in the communal aspect of sharing food with others. Niequist’s book made me feel validated in these feelings. It especially helped me to articulate for myself how I feel about food and my consumption choices in a world where more and more people are becoming ardent food-evangelists for a particular way of eating. (I wrote about that here). At it’s core though, this book is about food as an avenue for community and about hospitality, both of which are increasingly important values in my life.

cuttingThe Cutting Season by Attica Locke. I’d seen this book on a lot of bestseller lists and was in the mood for something different. Genre-wise I’d classify it as a literary mystery. The plot is built around a murder, but the book isn’t designed as a classic detective or crime novel. Overall, I thought it was a good book, not a great one, but the basis of its appeal for me was that it’s set in the present day on a plantation in South Louisiana, actually just an hour or so from where I grew up The plantation is kept as a historical site and the main character is in charge of renting it out for events and running tours. I’ve rarely read a book, even one set in Louisiana, that brought me home so completely. This book made me miss Louisiana, which is strange for me since I’ve never felt particularly tied to it

thousand daysThe Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale is a YA fantasy book I decided to read this as a quick and relaxing story while I tried to decide which larger book to get into next.. It served its purpose. No great shakes, but it was mildly entertaining. I’m generally a fan of the retold fairy-tale genre when it’s done well.

I’ve just started reading The Wise Man’s Fear which is the second book in the Name of the Wind series by Patrick Rothfuss. So far it is just as enchanting as the first one was.

What I’m Watching:

Divergent: Jonathan and I saw Divergent in theaters a few days after it came out here in Korea. In his words, “I liked it more than I thought I would.” Having read the books, there are a lot of gaping plot/logic holes to the story which can be irritating if you think about them too much. But if you can put all of that to the side and just go with it, the movie was entertaining and the acting was pretty good. And Shailene Woodley’s hair was absolutely the star of the show.

Noah. I know a lot of people have strong opinions about this movie. Frankly, I don’t understand the people who were getting their panties in a wad disowning it because it isn’t biblical. What did they expect? These are secular filmmakers making a movie they hope will entertain people and make money. Their goal was never to make a biblically accurate story. All of that aside, there were a few things I really liked about the movie – like the way that God speaks to Noah once and then he is left clinging to that, forced to have faith that his encounter with God was real and meaningful. There are times when God doesn’t give us constant amazing displays of his power and presence and sometimes we have to trust God and have faith in our past experience of God even when He is silent. What I didn’t like so much is the portrait of this t God who doesn’t intervene even when Noah gets fixated on the idea that they aren’t meant to survive. I didn’t like how the other characters, even Noah’s family, treated the whole thing like it was Noah’s God who only existed in his head rather than a God that they could also communicate with. I heard many complaints about the strong environmental message, but I didn’t find that problematic personally. I think Christians, more than anyone else even, should be concerned about how we care for the earth and could stand to think about conscientious consumption and what it means not to take and use more than we need. All in all, I didn’t think it was a terrible or offensive movie, but I also didn’t think it was a great movie. I was just like, “Meh.” Though the special effects of the actual flood were kind of cool.

As far as television goes, I can feel summer coming as we reach the season finales of New Girl, Mindy Project, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family.  I’ve continued to be hooked by Nashville and am completely emotionally exhausted after this season of Parenthood. And of course, there was the series finale of How I Met Your Mother which I had conflicting feelings about and which left me feeling like I’d lost some of my best friends. Is that sad? I’m also more than halfway through Call the Midwife which I am both fascinated and repulsed by. During ever labor scene I swear I will never, ever do that and then every time they successfully deliver a baby, I cry at the miracle of life, so I don’t know where that leaves me on the baby thing…


What I’m Listening To:

Ingrid Michaelson’s new album is wonderful (like everything about Ingrid). I also stumbled onto this gem recently and have become completely obsessed with it. This is an unrecorded song that she sings at live shows sometimes with her husband, fellow musician Greg Laswell. I can’t even deal.


What I’m Eating:

I’m still loving the zucchini lasagna, but strawberries being in-season here led me to try a strawberry cream cheese chocolate chunk bread recipe that I cobbled together out of a few recipes I found on Pinterest and then turned into strawberry cream cheese muffins. They were a rousing success. I also turned my love of adding zucchini to things to my baking and tried a lemon zucchini bread. I don’t like using oil in my baking, but there isn’t any applesauce here (which would be my normal substitute) so I used sour cream instead. It made the texture slightly gummier, but it also cut out about 800 calories, so I say worth it.

zucchini bread

Check out my Pinterest boards for the basic versions of these recipes (I always end up changing things). I’m also obsessed with pistachio ice cream right now. I can’t get enough of it. But sadly, I think I bought the last pint from our local grocery store this week. I may be the only person who ever bought it so I’m not confident they will be re-stocking any time soon. So much weeping…

Best thing I’ve read:

One of my favorite writers, Addie Zierman’s, wrote a courageous post about depression.

And Emily Maynard wrote this beautiful, thought-provoking post about God and gender. Parts of this really resonated with me. Parts of this were confusing to me. I wasn’t 100% sure what she wanted us to take away, but i think it’s worth a read. I’m still mulling it over.

Finally, my friend Briana Meade’s post about tricking the YMCA into thinking she works out so that she can take advantage of a few hours of childcare and free coffee cracked me up. I’m obviously not a mom yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing things like that too.


Best thing I’ve written:

My most-read post this month was the one I wrote about the sacramental nature of food and why I don’t really believe in Paleo. The thing I am most proud of is probably my spoken-word poem from the beginning of the month that was a guest post for my friend Briana’s blog. I don’t think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, but it was way out of my comfort zone and I felt good about trying something new.


In other news, we are kicking off May in Korea with a bang. My parents have arrived in Korea for a visit! They’ll be here for the next 10 days and we are off of work on Monday and Tuesday for Children’s Day and Buddha’s Birthday respectively, so we’ll have extra time to gallivant around the country.  And in case you missed them, pictures from our trip to the green tea fields and cherry blossom season are up on Two Sore Thumbs!