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Two Books I Finished This Past Week

Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page.

In the last two weeks, I finished two books and here are my reviews…

Catch Me If You Can

I can’t stop talking about this book! It is the fascinating story of Frank Abagnale who was a daring con man and imposter. I listened to the audiobook and kept having to stop it to share yet another unbelievable story with Jesse of something that he did.

Frank traveled all over the world posing as a pilot, cashed 2.5 million dollars in forged checks, and even worked as an attorney and medical doctor (when he hadn’t gone to school for either!).

If you need a good listen of a story that is almost so crazy that you can’t believe it’s true, I recommend this book. It’s also a good reminded that not everything is like it seems and we shouldn’t take everything at face value! It also was such a telling tale about how money can’t buy happiness.

I’m giving it 5 stars because I couldn’t stop talking about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read it/listened to it.

Note: There is some language and some PG-13 topics in it.

Verdict: 5 stars

You Who?

Y’all, I wanted so badly to like this book. It came highly recommended to me by a number of people. However, the book just missed the mark for me for a lot of reasons.

First off, I didn’t feel like it had a strong outline. It felt like each chapter was just a sort of separate essay and it didn’t really build on one another.

Secondly, it felt like it was written from a place of legalism rather than grace. Much of the content seemed like it would encourage you to set up rules and have a critical spirit toward others for their choices and decisions, instead of pushing you to rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross and to wholeheartedly rejoice in His great love for you.

Almost the entire book felt like the author was tired, worn out, and worn down. Like the Gospel was a heavy burden she was called to bear instead of the greatest love gift ever given. It just seemed to lack joy and life.

Finally, I wholeheartedly disagreed with chapter 20 where she discusses feelings. In fact, in one section, she said, “We Christians need to stop thinking of our feelings as insights. Our feelings are instead something that we need to manage.” She goes on to say, “Christians should be far more inclined to view our feelings like a bunch of monkeys that we are responsible to keep in cages, train, and disregard completely when they are acting up.”

I think we do a great disservice to our emotional health when we don’t see the value that can come by paying attention to our feelings. I believe that feelings are not right or wrong. They are just feelings. It’s how we act on them that is either healthy or unhealthy, sinful or God-glorifying.

To say that we should, in essence, disregard or stuff down our feelings can be so detrimental to our health and well being. I believe we should pay attention to and acknowledge what we are feeling — sadness, anger, joy, frustration, etc. — and then seek God for wisdom as to how to process these feelings and act (or not act!) on these feelings, and ask God to lead us in how we need to heal or deal with those root issues that might cause us to want to act in unhealthy ways as a result of our feelings.

That said, I think probably the author and I would agree on a lot of things if she and I were to have a conversation over coffee (and I kept wishing I could as I read the book). Her method of delivery and the foundation from which she came from just felt very grace-less and legalistic instead of grace-filled and Gospel-centered. However, because I come from a very legalistic background, I tend to be much more sensitive to these things. 🙂

Verdict: 2 stars

What have you read recently? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Lana says:

    I’ve never read the book but the ‘Catch Me If You Can’ movie is one of our all time favorites.

  • Heidi E says:

    I totally, totally agree with you on Catch me if you can! I have read the actual book and then listened to the audiobook at least twice. I loved every detail of Frank’s story. It never gets old hearing it again!!

  • Courtney says:

    I love hearing about what you’ve been reading and seeing your reviews! I’ve added several books to my reading list based off your ratings and my book club has enjoyed your recommendations as well! I will definitely be reading that first one!

  • Bethany says:

    I appreciate your review of You Who? You probably know this, but Rachel Jankovic is Doug Wilson’s daughter and has continued close ties with that church and all it entails. I think she’s really gifted and am saddened by the legalism in her videos/books.

  • Siné says:

    I read “Catch Me If You Can” last year after seeing the musical at a local dinner theatre. It was such a fascinating book, and the musical was a really fun way to be introduced to the story before delving into the book.

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you for your comments regarding feelings/emotions. I totally agree with you and feel we do a great disservice to ourselves and others when we tamp them down. September is National Suicide Prevention Month which makes this topic timely.

    Also, thanks for the audio book recommendation. I love to listen to books when I can’t sit down to read but I often have a hard time finding narrators whose style I can enjoy. I’m looking forward to this one!

  • Ariel says:

    Have you read the other books Rachel Jankovic has written? Would you say they have the same legalistic vibe? I, too, am sensitive to this.

  • MJ says:

    I had the privilege to hear Frank tell parts of his story in person. He was speaking about fraud prevention. It was fascinating and shocking at the same time. To have the gall or confidence to pull it all off….

  • Dannielle says:

    Frank A. was on Focus on the Family years ago when I was a kid. I’ll never forget his story! I’ll have to check out his book.
    Also, I totally agree on your review of You Who! It came highly recommended by a friend and I found it discouraging instead of encouraging. I can be pretty hard on myself and not accept grace. I didn’t know if other people took it the same way that I did or not…

  • Jolene says:

    Did you listen to Catch Me If You Can on Libby? It’s not coming up for me on Libby for some reason.

  • Sandy says:

    Excited to read Catch me if you can! It sounds so fascinating! It’s funny, I read You Who and just loved it! I found that the gospel was so very real and ever lovelier to me. I had not really heard the call to obey the Lord in all things, because I am loved and His child, so it was life-giving to me. That being said, I didn’t grow up in a believing family, and don’t have any history with legalism, so that may be why I loved it and found it so rich and edifying😊

    • I’m so glad that you enjoyed that book and that it was life-giving to you! I wondered what my experience would be with the book if I didn’t come from the perspective I was coming from. There is so much freedom and joy in following the Lord when we understand how much we are loved by Him. That we don’t need to do more, be more, try harder, work harder, or work to earn or attain His favor. We are loved by Him and it is that knowledge that can fuel our desire to live sold-out lives to honor Him!

  • Elisha says:

    I haven’t read either book but I have an experience to share about giving credence to our feelings. Based on a trail in my own life, I agree with the general idea of the statement from the author. We must learn to look at feelings as something totally different from truth. Whenever I read a book, I always measure the author’s statements up to the plumb line of God’s Word. God’s Word addresses feelings a lot, since we all have them. Our family was exposed to toxic black mold in several different homes, the last being a home that had flooded up to the top of the basement steps. The flood happened 25 years ago and there was 25 years worth of hidden mold behind walls. My thoughts and “feelings” while being exposed to those invisible toxins were not in alignment with what I was reading in God’s Word. They were dark, defeating, distracting and down-right scary at times. That led me to an in-depth, distraction free, inductive Bible study on spiritual warfare. It was life changing but it has led to such a deep understanding about “feelings” vs truth. The Lord eventually led us to the truth about the mold (the Bible has a lot to say about mold too) and we have been living out that spiritual battle ever since. My son developed lymphoma, our entire family suffers from chronic health problems, we’ve filled dumpsters with everything we own – more than once. If I had not held my “feelings” up to scripture, we would have had no victory. To many, the way we live now (full time in a travel trailer to recover from the loss of our home, health and finances) doesn’t look like a victory. But for us, the victory has been in the surrender to what the Lord has shown us about true peace, grace, obedience and divine provision. The most wonderful thing about grace is that the grace given on the cross frees us to live the obedient life the Lord requires of us, out of our great love for Him. His grace to overcome sin and evil is so empowering, as He intended. We are so thankful.

    • I so agree that we should hold up our feelings to Scripture, that we acknowledge them, and that we ask the Lord to heal those broken parts in us, and ask Him to help us replace the lies we believe with truth. So often, our feelings can shed light on where we are believing lies and by acknowledging those feelings, it can lead us to more healing and wholeness. I believe it can be very unhealthy and detrimental to stuff down, deny, or pretend like our feelings don’t exist. I’m so grateful that you are resting in the finished work of Christ on the Cross for you… there is so much freedom, peace, and joy there, isn’t there?? It’s a gift!

  • Margaret says:

    I don’t usually comment, but stopping by today because Catch Me If You Can is one of my favorite books! SUCH unbelievable stories of the things he pulled off, and I think it’s extra fascinating for me because I have a fairly shy, trusting personality, so the fact that he could pull off such deception with bravado and extroversion is just like a magician to me. 🙂 And I agree that the book is way better than the movie!

    For the second book, I haven’t read it, but I had to comment on what you said about the “feelings” chapter and how the author says to manage feelings. I can totally see your response perspective, that feelings are just feelings and it’s the actions that cause us to sin or not, but I am working through this issue with my preteen daughter (age 11) right now. Because of immaturity (I’m praying she gets more mature in this area!) she really cannot separate her feelings from what she perceives as truth. When she feels hurt or angry, she sees the other person as “mean” and it’s very hard to help her see that they might have had other intentions. When she receives a consequence from me or my husband, she rages that we don’t love her, because in that moment her feelings drive her perception of reality. We are having lots of talks about ways to calm down, ways to “manage” those feelings, and I’ve been telling her again and again not to trust feelings. When she feels unloved, that doesn’t mean that she is. She sometimes feels like God doesn’t love her, and we talk about the unchanging truth of His word, which supercedes all feelings. Our love for her as parents exists whether she feels it or not. So for her, and I think many adults (just in more subtle ways than my 11yo’s door-slamming fits), she needs to train her brain to retreat to the objective truth and cling to that, while reminding herself that this feeling is not to be trusted. This feeling does not determine truth.

    Thank you for the thoughtful things you write and your commitment to a God-honoring and non-legalistic life! <3

    • Thanks so much for sharing! One of the most life-changing things for me has been to realize how many lies I was believing and how I had believed those lies long enough that they became my truth which then became the label I wore and the lens I viewed life from. It was only by allowing myself to acknowledge what I was feeling (instead of stuffing them down, pretending they didn’t exist, or believing it was wrong to even acknowledge them) that I was able to get to the root of where these lies were coming from and I was able to then replace these lies with truth (over a long process).

      I’ve learned so much by allowing myself to own what I am feeling and then to hold that up to the light of Scripture, ask “where is this coming from?” “Is there truth here?” “Why am I feeling this way?” and seek the Lord for how He would have me to respond in light of what I was feeling. Asking my kids these same questions when they have big feelings has created a huge shift in how they respond and has really deepened our relationships.

      My tendency is to think I should stuff down my feelings or shut my kids down when they are having big feelings, instead of allowing them to express them and us talk about them and dig into the roots of where they are coming from. I know not everyone would agree with this approach, but it has completely transformed my relationship with my kids and helped them to feel seen and heard and then for us to have deep, meaningful conversations.

  • Brittany says:

    Rachel does a podcast with her sister called “What Have You,” where they chat about life, kids, scripture/theology, recipes, etc. It’s one of my favorites! I haven’t read You Who, so I can’t speak to that specifically, but she seems like a very easy-going, joyful person who delights in God’s law. You might consider giving the podcast a listen, as it feels kind of like having coffee with her, and the conversations may give more insight into her worldview than can be portrayed in a book.

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