Open Book: Book Recs August 2021

Carolyn Astfalk has a first Wednesday of the month book review linkup, shared also at Catholic Mom!


This Month’s Covers

Never Enough: the Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction by Judith Grisel

From Amazon: Judith Grisel was a daily drug user and college dropout when she began to consider that her addiction might have a cure, one that she herself could perhaps discover by studying the brain. Now, after 25 years as a neuroscientist, she shares what she and other scientists have learned about addiction, enriched by captivating glimpses of her personal journey. 

My thoughts: amazing look at the process of addiction from all angles, intellectual/clinical and personal/visceral. Grisel reintroduced me to tachyphylaxis and opponent-process theory , both of which explain so much of how our God-designed minds operate in this fallen world. It’s amazing.  (library book)

Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox, illustrated by Marla Frazee

From Amazon: Harriet doesn’t mean to be pesky. Sometimes she just is. And her mother doesn’t mean to lose her temper. Sometimes she just does. But Harriet and her mother know that even when they do things they wish they hadn’t, they still love each other very much.

My thoughts: This was a very sweet look at how children and the adults they become are never perfect, never have it all together, and sometimes things just happen in spite of all our efforts to keep them from happening. The only thing we can do is love each other through our mistakes. 

The Way of Perfection by Teresa of Avila

From Christian Book Distributors: Although Teresa of Avila lived five centuries ago, her superbly inspiring classic on the practice of prayer is as fresh and meaningful today as it was when she first wrote it. Teresa’s strong desire throughout is to lead readers into a deeper and prevailing life of prayer. She begins with a treatment of the three essentials of the prayer-filled life—fraternal love, detachment from created things, and authentic humility. Building on that foundation, she then teaches on the cherished practices of prayer and contemplation. Finally, she provides a detailed and moving discourse on the Lord’s Prayer. Experience the fervent devotion of St. Teresa, and allow her to help you explore the rewarding discipline of contemplative prayer. 

My thoughts: Still working on it, but I just adore St. Teresa already. She’s so straightforward and downright salty sometimes that I can’t help but hang on her every word. I’m not a big underliner-in-books, but this is making me break my rule.  (Disclaimer: skipped the Rohr-ward) 

The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

From Amazon: (Winner of a Newbery Honor, an exciting ancient Egyptian mystery) Ranofer wants only one thing in the world: to be a master goldsmith like his beloved father was. But how can he when he is all but imprisoned by his evil half brother, Gebu? Ranofer knows the only way he can escape Gebu’s abuse is by changing his destiny. But can a poor boy with no skills survive on the cutthroat streets of ancient Thebes? Then Ranofer finds a priceless golden goblet in Gebu’s room and he knows his luck−and his destiny−are about to change.

My thoughts: We are doing ancient history with Story of Civilization, Volume I this year for sixth grade, and I try to assign literary study that matches our history work as much as possible. The Golden Goblet is a well-told mystery story with a sympathetic, imperfect but integrity-driven main character. It’s boy-heavy, but I think my girl-reader will survive.


Kristin Lavransdatter (still haven’t finished it–I’m honestly not sure I’ve made any progress since last month’s Open Book)

What are you reading?  Don’t forget to link up YOUR #OpenBook reviews over at Carolyn’s!


  1. I have been scared to even come close to picking up St. Teresa of Avila, but that book on prayer sounds really, really good–and maybe even approachable for me! I will have to check it out sometime (I have a friend who is a lay Carmelite, so perhaps she’d be willing to walk me through it sometime). Though come to think of it, I have a book on prayer by Romano Guardini that I bought and still haven’t picked up, so I should probably read that first 😉

    It’s awesome that you are reading Kristin Lavransdatter! I read that about 4-5 years ago, and it was good, though emotionally draining. Now that I’m older (and hopefully wiser) and have gone through healing work in therapy, I think I should re-read it, because I’m sure I’d get a lot more out of it now! I just finished plowing through The Iliad, though, so I think I need some shorter and lighter books (currently reading Severance, by Ling Ma, which apparently tons of people read earlier on in the pandemic since it’s an apocalypse novel).

    1. Don’t be scared of Teresa of Avila! She’s so approachable!

      Aaaaand truth in advertising: I had to put Kristin L away again. I just can’t get past the huge emotional mistakes she’s making, and she’s not even out of Nonneseter (sp) yet. Severance sounds intriguing! Do you recommend?

  2. Thanks for linking up! I’m thinking The Way of Perfection might have been a better choice for me than Interior Castle, which I didn’t find fruitful. The Golden Goblet sounds like something my 8th grader would like, so I’ll look that up for her.

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