Books & Songs for Fall 2021

Ladies and gents, we’re back again with this series, books & songs. I honestly thought this was going to be some one time post I did in quarantine, and now books & songs is a series here on the blog, bringing to you songs I’m listening to and books I’ve been reading. It’s a really sweet time marker for me, and it’s just a fun post to write and get creative with, especially after the busy few weeks I’ve been having. These books are a memento of time, and these songs are a clue into my musical taste buds (and to some extent, my emotional state). 

Books for Fall 2021

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Everything else you can live around, but not death. Death you have to live through.”

These books I’ve read are from my ethics, literature, and religion class. I really enjoyed this book by Shamsie. It takes the story of Antigone and translates it into today’s time with Islam. It’s a wonderful novel tackling family relations and what it means to be religious and the cruelty against Muslims. I felt very seen in Isma’s response to Eammon. Listen to Take Me by Aly & Aj and you’ll feel the vibes I’m on. My favorite part was definitely the discussion of grief and what it means to grieve people who are still living. If you’ve been around a little while, you might know that last year, I really wrote on grief A LOT. Maybe too much. This intangible grief, where you aren’t grieving someone who is dead, but grieving a lost relationship or a situation that went completely different than you were hoping. This novel is a beautiful meditation on grief and our responses to it, and how religion plays into how we express who we are. I highly recommend it if you’re looking into thought-provoking fiction.

Moral of the story: Feel the grief. Feel the not-being-seen. Feel the anger. Feel the resentment. You’re human. You’re supposed to feel.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

“A man ain’t a goddamn ax. Chopping, hacking, busting every goddamn minute of the day. Things get to him. Things he can’t chop down because they’re inside.”

Beloved is the novel your high school English teacher tries to get you to read, but then you never do. In my case, I never got a chance to read Beloved, but now I’m convinced that I should read more of Morrison’s work and YOU SHOULD TOO. Beloved details the horror of slavery through a mystery with Sethe and her relationships with Beloved, Paul D, and Denver. The flashbacks weave so well with dialogue, it’s dreamy and captivating. In terms of ethics, Sethe is a complex character in terms of ethics, but this whole novel allows you to root for her and provides a small peek into the decisions of slaves and former slaves. There’s also this element of mysticism in the novel that makes it hard to categorize. It feels like a normal historical fiction novel but there’s something else that lurks under the surface. All in all, I definitely think if you’ve read it before, it deserves another read!

Moral of the story: Hard decisions are still hard decisions made in the name of love.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Two passing temporarinesses developed feelings for one another.

Two puffs of smoke became mutually fond.

I mistook him for a solidity and now must pay.”

Another book, another meditation on grief. I don’t know what it is. I’ve read a good bunch of books this fall, and yet, the ones I favor are tinged with a sadness, explainable or inexplicable. Oh well. Lincoln in the Bardo has tons of critical acclaim but it’s a hard novel to love. There were things I loved about it but it was difficult to get into it (same with Piranesi).  I enjoyed the dialogue, it sort of read like a play. But it was slightly disorienting—trying to figure out what storyline was continuing versus which one was stopping. If you like an unusually structured novel, this one’s for you. The character of the reverend was one I related to. Faith seems so simple, and yet, I think it’s the hardest thing for me to pin down. His character act was absolutely incredible, and you should probably read the novel for him alone. This quote above is how I feel about most things—we all feel like things are more permanent than they actually are. This level of control we think we have is false, and unfortunately, death shows us how fragile it is.

Moral of the story: We all must let go eventually. And that letting go is costly.

And now for the jams I’ve been vibing to lately~

Related Post: Books and songs for summer 2021

Songs for Fall 2021

I am a themed playlist kinda girl!

My Way by Pvris

If I’m on the edge, I’m going over it
Spin around, Russian roulette
Razor-sharp teeth, I bite bullets
I don’t hesitate, just take, take, take the risk

I’m absolutely in love with this song. Lynn Gunn put out a whole bop with this song, and every time I listen to it, I feel a powerful energy of good vibes. Honestly, it’s just a dance and sing type of song. I recommend you listen to it if you need a mood booster because it’s such a GOOD TIME.

You See Me by Jeremy Camp

Sometimes I feel like my heart is half alive
Like all of my dreams are cast aside
But You see me

And I try to find who I am in other’s eyes
I’m hiding behind this frail disguise
The truth will set me free

Jeremy Camp’s album is quality. I always say this to my friends, but I can’t stand really cheesy, cringy Christian music. I just think sometimes Christian music perpetuates this false idea that life is always great and we always have to be happy. A lot of the songs I’ve been listening to lately acknowledge the reality—life can suck really bad. And you are allowed to be sad and mad and angry. This song in particular acknowledges a truth that I am super prone to forgetting: God sees me. And it’s nice to get that revelation from Him, that yes, I am seen by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I am not forgotten. I am His beloved daughter.

The Right Things by Chris Renzema

But I wanna hold on to the right things
And let go of the rest
‘Cause time’s worth more than money
And I’m done buying what won’t last

Whew, this song.

Chris Renzema is the perfect person to listen to if you’re struggling in your faith. He’s got this honesty and yearning for God. His album is so well done. I just can’t even. This song is a prayer of letting go of the things that won’t last. In fact, a Jeremy Camp song has this line – “His love is the only thing that lasts.” Hold onto the things that really matter.

Related Post: Fighting for faith on a winding path

The End of Love by Florence and the Machine

And in a moment of joy and fury I threw myself
From the balcony like my grandmother some years before me
I’ve always been in love with you
Could you tell it from the moment that I met you?

Okay, so I’ve been making quite a few playlists lately and one of them is called sometimes timing is crappy. I kind of fell into this song from bopping onto some tunes on Youtube and I was shocked at how stunning this song is and yet how I didn’t know it. So, if you’re looking for a stunning time, just awash in the brilliance of some incredible art, please do so.

Best Friend by The Staves 

I can see you’re runnin’ now
You can’t see me

Burnin’ in the back now
Coming down
Said you got a new car
Give me a ride home
You could be my best friend 

I found out via Spotify that The Staves had a new album out, and I was listening through it, and this song—it got to me. So here she is. This song drives at nostalgia of when you’re younger and hanging out with your high school friends. Emily, Jessica, and Camilla have stunning voices, that captivate you. The best folksie vibes!

Love Note by Upperroom

Let’s take some time
To sit down in dine
I broke my bread
And poured out my wine
I did what it took
To make you my bride
I’m bringing you back to the garden
Back were it all started

Absolutely. IN LOVE. With this song. It’s from the perspective of God to us, and I just can’t stop singing it. This song is peaceful and sweet and melodious. Just listen.

Mariners Apartment Complex by Lana del Rey

You took my sadness out of context
At the Mariners Apartment Complex
I ain’t no candle in the wind

I’m the bolt, the lightning, the thunder
Kind of girl who’s gonna make you wonder
Who you are and who you’ve been

This might just be my favorite Lana song. I do love National Anthem and Cruel World, but this song is catchy and sonically I just love it! It cements Lana’s capabilities in my mind. Clever and poignant.

Related Post: Yet another questions from the web

Help Me Believe by KJ Scriven

Help me believe
What You say about me
That I have been redeemed
That I have been called Your own

This song is for those who think Christian music can’t be based in hip-hop/R&B. It takes a little bit of digging, but you can find awesome Christian songs if you’re willing to look. As a person of faith who struggles with doubt, I am reminded that I can ask for help to believe when I don’t have enough faith.

Tears on Your Face by Bethany Barnard

But You, Son of Man
Love incarnate
You don’t see from far away
You come, sit with me
And grieve with me
And I see tears on Your face

This song has helped me see Jesus a little differently. It’s based on John 11, the story of Lazarus, and as much as Lazarus being raised from the dead is amazing, what really makes this story is Jesus’ character and how he weeps with those he loves. Jesus is not a far off God who is overseeing our lives from a distance, but he comes in close and he weeps with us in our grief. Love incarnate makes his presence known through his tears. It doesn’t make the hard things less hard but it has a new meaning.

No Stranger by Natalie Grant

You seek me out and find me here
With a love that knows the taste of tears
So I will trust in who you are
You’re no stranger
No stranger to the scar

I grew up on a lot of Christian music playing in the garage as my mother would clean, and Natalie Grant kind of reminds me of that time. This song is just so darn good. It’s a beautiful reminder of where we stand in relation to a powerful, awesome, loving God. The bridge alone and Natalie’s voice—makes this song absolutely incredible. Have a good listen!

Related Post: A reflection guide for your weekend

Bonus Jams

  • Pretty Places by Aly & AJ
    • I’ve kind of fallen into Aly & AJ and I LOVE this song. It’s catchy and pretty and makes me want to twirl around in a pretty dress and take a long drive through the mountains. If you’re in that kind of move, play it!
  • A Still, Small Voice by Johan Glidden
    • Once again I bring to you another Christian song. I went to a concert with Johan a few weeks ago, and it was one of the highlights of my semester. This song just really stuck out to me, and I would recommend it. He has a great voice and this song has a good message.
  • All Too Well (10 minute version) by Taylor Swift
    • And of course, I had to mention, Ms. Swift. I ADORED the film for this song. I definitely think the song still hits but I wasn’t a huge fan of it back when it first came out. I think the 10 minute version has a part that I don’t necessarily love but there are certain lines like I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it and He’s gonna say it’s love, you never called it what it was. If you do anything, at least watch the 10 minute film and feel all the feelings.

Thanks friends for sticking around and enjoying these jams with me during my fall 2021 semester! Let me know if you like any of them or if you want me to make a playlist because I can definitely do that!



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