Welcome to Ryley Writes, a collection of thoughts, stories, and work from deep in the heart of Texas.

The Stack: Winter '16/'17

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Happy Monday, you lovely humans.

Technically, it's a little early for a quarterly Stack post, but I've already got such a good handful of books I just decided to go ahead. I would say I've been reading more because winter is a perfect time to hibernate with a good book or something cozy like that, but I live in Katy, Texas, and there is no winter here. There is only occasionally cool humidity, like if you tried to rig a sauna as a refrigerator on the fly. So it has nothing to do with the season. I'm just a nerd.

Here we go!

Savor, Shauna Niequist. A yearlong daily devotional that I read throughout 2016. In my opinion, Shuana is at her best as an essayist, and this book was absolutely beautiful — 365 short essays and Bible verse to accompany each. (She also sprinkled recipes throughout, most of which I did not try, because I am lazy; but I'm told by friends who have also read it that they're delicious!) It's no supplement for an in-depth Bible study, if that's what you're looking for, but it is truth-rooted and was a really sweet start to my mornings. I was surprised by how often the subject of the essay just perfectly addressed something going on in my life. And, as a total unnecessary plus, it's a really pretty book. I keep it sitting out in my office now and people are always picking it up to flip through!

The Emerald Mile, Kevin Fedarko. A longform (emphasis on long) journalistic account of Kenton Grua's 1983 river speed run of the Grand Canyon and the historic flood that powered it. A classic in the outdoor journalism realm (larger than you might think, okay?) and a fairly amazing combination of scientific and literary. To take such a deep dive into so many small details — dory craftsmanship, the geology of the Grand Canyon, dam hydraulics, conservation politics, etc. — it still managed to tell a compelling enough story to keep me turning the pages. I think engineer-types would probably really appreciate it. I'm not sure, because I'm like, the polar opposite of an engineer type. If you're an engineer and you read it, please report back!

Called Again, Jennifer Pharr Davis. I decided to keep the speed record theme going, I guess? This book is Jennifer Pharr Davis' memoir of setting the overall record on the Appalachian Trail in 2011. It's not a spectacular book writing-wise, but it's a quick read, and if you're interested in the ins and outs of logging 20-40 miles of trail for 46 straight days or so (spoiler alert: it's brutal!), then it's also pretty fascinating. She relates a lot of her journey to her faith and personal life, as well, which I loved. It makes you want to go take a hike. Like a normal one. Not a 46-day one.

Scratch, Manjula Martin. A collection of candid, practical, and often-funny essays and interviews from writers about how they make money. It looked at the topic from just about every angle (and believe me, there are many), offered so much advice and so many ideas to consider. I'd definitely recommend it to any writer.

Wild & Free, Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan. I actually linked to this in my last High-Five Friday post, and I mentioned there that it always takes me a while to pick up popular "Christian living" books — especially women's ministryish ones — because... ??? I don't have a good reason, I'm just stubborn and averse to overly-stereotypically-girly things. But people. This book is so good. I feel like the theme of my life, currently, is finding joy where I am, and this spoke so much into that. It was perfect timing for it — encouraging and empowering. I marked it all up and immediately passed it on to a friend, and bought a few more copies to give to girls I mentor. Good good stuff.

Out of the Silent Planet, C.S. Lewis. The first book in a space trilogy that I had no idea existed until someone recommended it to me a few weeks ago. Should I be embarrassed? Maybe. Anyway, two things: First, I want everyone to notice that this is a fiction book. I read a fiction book! Give me stickers. Second, it feels ludicrous to "review" anything C.S. Lewis writes, even casually. It's good, and even more than that, it's crazy to me that one brain could imagine as much as Lewis's did. And he wrote these before the Chronicles of Narnia. The man wrote three books about another planet, took a quick break, and then was like, "Actually, you know what? I have another world or three in the tank to invent." I can't fathom being that creative.

If you've been reading anything extra good these days, let me know — or share your thoughts if you check out any of these! We'll be like an unofficial book club. Okay? Okay. Have a great week out there.

High-Five Friday: February 24

High-Five Friday: February 17