Tuesday, January 7, 2020

In Which I Find Comfort in a Book Series * The Bookbag

Welcome to our first 2020 Bookbag, friends!

The Bookbag is the place where I pull together my latest shareworthy reads ... from real life shelves and online venues.  I usually throw in other bookish bits and pieces I've come across that I think you might relish.

A special welcome to all of you from Modern Mrs. Darcy ... and new readers that have subscribed in the last month.   I'm so glad you're here.


Last year was filled with heavy duty non-fiction volumes, the kind of reading that's deeply impactful, thought-provoking, life challenging ... and not always comfortable to wade through.

But right now?

I'm all about comfort reading. 

Amidst grieving 3 deaths in 5 months, encountering unsettling family medical issues, and miscellaneous holiday busyness, I've purposely abandoned the books on theology, politics, American history, and burnout that were waiting for my attention.

I'm just not up for all that, ya' know?

And here's what I've reached for ... Jan Karon's classic Mitford Series.  I'm headed into book 7 even as we speak.  The author has created characters with character, offers up charm with humor, pens entertaining storylines you can easily share with your mother or your granddaughter.

When your proverbial plate is filled to overflowing, the last thing you need are more weighty issues to contend with.  Time spent with Father Tim and Cynthia, Dooley and Barnabas, Esther and Mule and all the gang and their small town adventures just might be your cup of tea.

The author says she writes "to give readers an extended family, and to applaud the extraordinary beauty of ordinary lives."

I'm all in.

Karon's books are ones I've gathered over the years, mostly at library bag sales.  They're like old friends keeping watch on the book shelves in the loft where we nap in the afternoon and hang out at night in front of the TV.  They've been ready and waiting from time to time when I craved some quiet literary companionship that made me smile and didn't make my brain hurt.

Simply delightful.



Earlier this year I started reading the Psalms.  

For comfort.  Consolation.  For hope.

Their familiar cadence spoke peace to my soul.  Reminded me of the majesty and faithfulness of God.  I underlined.  I copied portions in my journal, I meditated on a verse at a time.  Familiar chapters eased into my heart during the night watches when my brain refused to slow down.

I've just finished the book.

I think I'm off to the book of James.  Such a wonderfully practical, hands-on book.  It's been awhile since I read the brother's wise words.  I can't wait for a leisurely re-visit.



Posted just a week before Christmas, my favorite books probably slipped right under your reading radar.  If you missed it, click right here.  These are substantial gems that might be worthy of your attention ...



Anne Bogel

'We've all been there: stuck in a cycle of what-ifs, plagued by indecision, paralyzed by the fear of getting it wrong. Nobody wants to live a life of constant overthinking, but it doesn't feel like something we can choose to stop doing. It feels like something we're wired to do, something we just can't escape. But is it?

Anne Bogel's answer is no. Not only can you overcome negative thought patterns that are repetitive, unhealthy, and unhelpful, you can replace them with positive thought patterns that will bring more peace, joy, and love into your life ... Y
ou'll find actionable strategies that can make an immediate and lasting difference in how you deal with questions both small--Should I buy these flowers?--and large--What am I doing with my life? 

More than a book about making good decisions, Don't Overthink It offers you a framework for making choices you'll be comfortable with, using an appropriate amount of energy, freeing you to focus on all the other stuff that matters in life.'

Anne is offering generous pre-order bonuses that will make you want to grab this book on pre-order even though it won't be published 'til March.  For $11.89 this is a huge deal!  I'm putting a copy in my cart even as we speak.  And as always, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from your qualifying purchases when you use the links on my blog.

Click here to find out how to get these fabulous bonuses with your purchase:
 The free digital Don't Overthink It course

 The free audiobook edition of Don't Overthink It

 The free ebook of I'd Rather Be Reading



How I Read and 2020 Reading Challenges
Lisa Burgess
fascinating, comprehensive tips 
for smart, organized bibliophiles

Blogging About Blogging
Laurie @ Meditations in Motion
mighty fine etiquette on 
commenting & linking up

Barbara @ One Hopeful Year
sometimes we just need to show up,
notebook & pen in hand

107: 8 Books for Soulful Decisions
Emily Freeman
a lovely bounty from my favorite podcaster

The 100-Person Rule: Why You Shouldn't
Try to Help Everyone
Jeff Goins
an 'aha moment' for those
exhausted by the social media treadmill

Best Christian Book Picks for Avid Readers
Sarah Geringer
a wide array of genres, for sure

Christianity Today's
2020 Book Awards
CT's picks for books most likely
to shape evangelical life, thought, & culture

How to make a book page wreath,
and more book art ideas
Modern Mrs. Darcy
oh these are so very pretty
& quite doable

How to Make Time to Read
Laura Vanderkam
hints for re-directing your
precious reading time

Let's talk about your comfort books, the book of the Bible you're reading these days, your favorite bookish links {yes, including your own!}
Read away ~

Please do subscribe before you leave!

Please do spread the word!  Share buttons are quietly located in the gray box below.


visiting Mary & Sam


  1. What? You are encouraging your readers to link to their own books? I would never do that - it's advertising surely.

    Just in case ... here are my Christian books: https://victormoubarak.wixsite.com/victormoubarak/books-co77

    God bless.

    1. Absolutely friend! Each and every Bookbag post, the floor is yours! I'm sending my readers straight to you!

    2. Thank you so much, Linda. My humourous books and blog posts tend to attract new readers who, I hope, eventually get to read my Christian books and hopefully find the Lord.

      God bless you.

    3. Amen. That's the ultimate goal for what we do, isn't it ...

      Beneath that British humor, you're a missions minded man. Bless you, friend.

  2. I love that there are books for every season! I'm glad you found ones that are fitting your needs in this hard season, Linda.

    I'm so looking forward to Anne's book too. I've loved her others, so I know this will be good.

    Thanks for sharing my book post. Now I'm off to check out the other links. You're the best, Linda!

    1. Yes, I think Anne's hit on a topic that many of us relate to in one way or another, Lisa. With her writing style and life experience, I'm guessing it's going to be a huge hit!

      Mine's in my cart at Amazon already!

  3. I'm sorry you're going through so much, Linda. Yes, fiction books can certainly give us a break from all the heavy issues. Great therapy! Anne Bogel's Don't Overthink It sounds like something my over-analyzing self needs. I didn't pre-order it yet, but I did put it on my wish list at Amazon. Love and blessings of strength!
    By the way, I had the pleasure of meeting a mutual online friend, Lois Flowers, in person! I'm reading and reflecting through her book. Even though it's about her infertility journey (she has been through so much), there are so many truths she shares that apply to all of us seeking peace in our journeys of life.

    1. Oh I love Lois! And you got to meet each other in person! Oh, I would have loved to have been there with you two. I'm guessing you truly hit it off. It's so cool when bloggers finally get to meet face to face.

      If not here on earth, Trudy, well ... we'll have our eternal home to mingle together as we praise the One we adore!

    2. Amen! Yes, mingling together to praise the One we adore! Such a comforting thought!

  4. i try to intersperse my reading with variety. A book on issues (Confronting Christianity...my pick for Book of the Year for 2019). I've read Rachel Hollander's book on abuse and read a couple others. I am reading books on small churches (under 250) since I pastor one. There are several of those in my cue. I'm also not done reading on abuse. Glynn Young recommended Jonathan Dunsky novels and I've read those. I enjoyed Martha Orlando's "Glade" series. They were fun and enjoyable and relaxing. The important thing is keep reading. My philosophy is when I quit reading I quit growing.

    1. Bill, you set a great example for pastors and Bible teachers who tend to read only theology or Christian books. To read widely is wise, to understand and engage the culture we live in, to expand our vision, to stimulate our minds.

      Thanks for sharing your best reads. I'm hoping other leaders will take you up on your offerings.

  5. Linda, I know what you mean about picking up some fiction when the heart and mind need a break from the heavy things going on. I've read a few Mitford books, and they are sweet and uplifting stories. I read mostly fiction last year, but a couple nonfictions slipped in here and there. I really liked The Memory House by Rachel Hauck (one of my favorite authors), No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert), Moments We Forget, by Beth Vogt, and the entire Montana Marshall series by Susan May Warren. There were many others, but these books stood out to me. :) I'm going to try to read more nonfiction this year. We'll see how I do. ;)

    1. Jeanne, hi! And thanks for some new-to-me volumes which I will add to my list. I love both fiction and non, for some reason, the non seemed to outweigh the fiction last year.

      I think it's ok to escape into a book or two or seven as long as it's not excessive or obsessive or keeping us in some kind of weird denial.

      Works for me!


  6. I love Jan's books. I've read them several times and listened to the audiobooks last time through. They're like comfort food for the soul. Even though they are easy to read, they deal with deep topics (well, alongside some lighter ones. :-) ) And the psalms always minister to me, too. My first few years as a Christian, when I was the only one in the house, were hard in some ways, and I could connect so much with the psalms.

    I posted the books I read last year (https://barbarah.wordpress.com/2019/12/30/books-read-in-2019/) as well as my top ten of those books (https://barbarah.wordpress.com/2019/12/30/my-top-ten-books-of-2019/).

    I enjoyed several of the links! I'll have to look up Anne's books as I have made a specialty of overthinking.

    1. Barbara, I think you're in very good company with 'a specialty of overthinking' {that's cute how you said it}. I do believe this book is going to be a best seller simply because there's so many whose default mode goes there.

      I'll be recommending it to clients, family members, and friends. But I probably won't share my own personal copy.

      Just because.

      I love how you usually will share your reading lists here. I really appreciate that you do so and hope my readers take you up on your vast wealth of suggestions!

  7. Thanks for introducing me to the Karon books. It looks like my library has them so I'll be checking out the first in the series. The synopsis sort of reminded me of the books written by Miss Read - have you read anything by her? I find them to be so lovely!

    I hate to hear about all of your recent losses and medical scares. I'm glad that you're finding some solace in reading - it's the best medicine for heartache. And I love your Bible picture - thank you for sharing it!

    1. Hey Katie! Welcome! How did you find us here? I'm so glad you did!

      Yep, I have heard of the Miss Read books and I'm guessing if you enjoyed those, that the Mitford series might catch your heart.

      And I agree with you for sure ... reading is a lovely medicene for what ails us.


  8. Too ill to offer more than a haiku, but I hope that it speaks to you.

    The seeds that sleep beneath the snow
    are the gentle parents
    of the spring.

    1. Rest well this evening. It's ok not to write if you're not up to it. Whatever works for you in this season is good enough for all your fans and followers, friend ...

  9. Linda, how I love, love, love the Mitford series, and believe it or not, I am familiar with Miss Read books that Katie referenced. I was going through a horrific time of grief after losing my husband suddenly years ago, and I found great solace in the simplicity and gentle manner of Miss Read.
    And here is a link to my author's web page in case any of your followers would also enjoy some uplifting fiction: www.gladetrilogy.wix.com/theglade
    Blessings, my friend!

    1. I will check out Miss Read, Martha. For sure.

      Oh yes, there is 'great solace' when we're reading books where simplicity and gentleness are the themes, the bywords. Especially when everything around us seems to be spinning out of control.

      And thanks so much for sharing your author page with us! I really appreciate it and will encourage my readers to head over to your place and see what you've written.

  10. Thank you for featuring my post, Linda. I certainly am not an expert but I want to pay back all the bloggers who helped me when I was first starting out.

    Maybe I will begin to read Psalms (again) in the new year. I need to read these beautiful words again.

    1. Honestly, Laurie? I think your post ... and the hefty conversation that followed should be must-reading for every blogger. You covered so many important topics and shared scads of resources. And your friends and fans loved it!

      Maybe especially me!

      P.S. Yes please to the Psalms as a beginning of the year adventure.

  11. Linda, The Mitford Series by Jan Karon are some of my favorites. I have been reading a lot of historical fiction, which some have been quite heavy. It is nice to sit down with Father Tim and Cynthia for a little comfort reading.. I am reading the book of James now and I think I shall begin the Psalms..

    1. How serendipitous that when it comes to Scripture reading, you're starting what I just finished and I'm beginning what you just ended.

      Meanwhile, yes please to historical fiction, Pam. Even though that's not where I'm spending my time these days, it's become a favorite genre!

  12. I am sorry for all your losses Linda. Remembering that grieving shows up in many forms. I found I could give myself grace when just was feeling "off" during a period of many losses. I know you understand these things! I love fiction, and tend to reread classics like all of S. E. Hinton's books at the end of the year. Fiction is my preferred genre although Becoming was a great read, and just purchased The Next Right Thing (I usually only do library books) and pre-purchased Anne Bogel's book. Happy reading!

    1. I want to hug you for saying that 'grieving shows up in many forms.' You're so right, Lynn. Would we all be gracious enough to give each other the grace and space we individually need to work our way through our losses, which come in so very many shapes and sizes.

      And when they come right on top of the other repeatedly, even more so.

      Bless you for your wisdom and sensitivity, friend ...

  13. For light reading, Christian fiction is my go-to books. Susan Meissner, Lisa Samson, Lynn Austin, Lisa Wingate, and Karen Kingsbury write some true to life tales but nothing offensive or hard to process. Relax and read is my fav pastime.

    1. I know your affection for Christian fiction, friend! Please shoot me an email with some of your favorites ... I'm hoping the library will be cooperative!

      Miss ya ...

  14. Thanks for the inspiration as this is one of my goals this year too. I am blogging about this goal next Tuesday and also following Mrs Darcy too. You have encouraged me. Thanks

    1. Oh, I look forward to reading your post, Jean!

      And that you found some encouragement here today and let me know ... well, I can't begin to tell you how, well, encouraging that is!

      Bless you.

  15. Oh, Linda ... the Mitford series. And the Psalms! I love them both, so much. And the thought of "comfort reading" definitely strikes a chord with me about now. Hugs, friend!

    1. It's that time of year isn't it, Lois. Comfort time. Better indulging in comfort reading than in too much comfort food, ya' know?

      Chinese food, I'm talkin' to you!

  16. I'm glad you found books that are bringing you comfort. They can definitely be a good way to switch off and relax at times. Thanks for all the links too. I'm using Tim Keller's book My Rock, My Refuge, which contains short devotions working through all the Psalms over the course of a year. It's been a good way to finish each day.

    1. Lesley, thanks for sharing the little devotional book that's keeping you company in the late evenings. I'm jotting down the title even as we speak!

  17. Also waiting eagerly for Anne's new book.
    And I discovered the Mitford series during a season when our church was between pastors. I remember wishing we could hire Father Tim!

    1. I can't help but think that your wish would make Jan Karon smile! And I'm betting you're not the only one who's prayed for a compassionate shepherd like Father Tim.

  18. I'm a cradle Episcopalian and the Mitford books are favorites of mine. You've made me want to read them again! I enjoy reading your blog Linda!

    1. Gail, thanks for your encouraging words! I can't begin to tell you how that's brightened my day!


  19. condolences on the three deaths and I am so sorry for the health issues. the Mitford books are my comfort reads. Jan Karon infuses so much sound theology without sounding trite or preachy. The characters are fleshed out so realistically while also permeating with hope even in hard circumstances. I finished book 8 and look forward to continuing the series!

    1. P.S. Do you happen to know any good Christian and/or psychology books on working through anger?

    2. Yes, I do! I love The Anger Workbook by Carter and Minirth. I use it with my clients and find it to be biblically based and immensely practical.

      Here's the link to it and 2 other workbooks I highly recommend -

      And here's a link to my post The Anger * Emotional Health Series that you might find helpful -

      Bless you, Elle. I'm praying even as we speak ...

  20. Thanks so much for the mention, Linda! I've gotten more traffic this week, thanks to you. Blessings on your weekend!

  21. Oh how I love the Mitford books! I have been slowly reading them whenever I am needing a comfort read. You explained it so succinctly why comfort books are so essential in certain seasons of overwhelm, such as the present pandemic. I listen to them through Overdrive and the audiobook narrator is John McDonough. He has the perfect voice and I promise if Father Tim was a real person, he'd sound exactly like Mr. McDonough, in my opinion! It's a kind, jovial, elderly voice that is absolute perfection. The only thing is that he reads very slowly so I just speed it up to 1.25- 1.5, lol.

    1. Elena, that's so cool that the narrator sounds just like you imagine Father Tim to sound!

      Too fun ...