Book Recommendations: For the Recent Grad

by Katie Lyons in ,

I don’t know about you but for me post graduate life was rough! The plans I thought I had for after college didn’t pan out and I had no plan b. What I thought would just be six months to a year turned into two and a half years of me navigating what I wanted to do for a job, finding and maintaining adult friendships outside of college, and so much more.

I learned so much about what I wanted in life during those couple of years and parts of that I learned from several books that I read. If you have a friend or family member graduating soon or you yourself are a recent grad, I would definitely suggest taking some time to read these books and see if it helps you in your post-college life.

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if you find this letter by Hannah brencher

This book really made an imprint on me. The memoir traces the author’s time right after college in New York City working at a low paying program in the inner city. During her time there, she struggles with finding purpose, connection to others, and God in the fray of it all. After an introspective subway ride she starts leaving love letters around the city for struggling souls, like herself, to find and through that discovers her true passion of encouraging others. It really inspired me to find out what drove me and to think if that motivation could be turned into more. I also felt extremely known as she too struggled with the deep loneliness one can feel after leaving college and losing that accessible community.

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Why work by Dorothy Sayers

I have gleaned so much prospective on what God honoring work means and the type of attitude I strive for when it comes to balancing work and life from this short essay. Written during World War II, Sayers promotes that a society that wishes to prosper economically must strive to see that the work it produces serves God and that the worker serve the work. While some of her thoughts might not be possible unless we lived in a Utopia, her premise of making sure you do good work and produce quality work because it is pleasing to God is applicable regardless and something I strive for in my own work.

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English lessons by Andrea lucado

I can not recommend this book enough - it completely captured my heart. Another memoir, this one follows the author’s time during her graduate program in Oxford, England. Not only is it the first time she is away from home, but it also the first time she is completely surrounded by people outside of her own faith and ideology. She grapples with interpersonal relationships, the evolution of friendships, different ideologies, love, loneliness, and her own belief system. Beyond all of that, she perfectly paints a beautiful description of Oxford, so well that it’s like you don’t even need to visit (who am I kidding, you’re definitely going to want to take a trip across the pond after reading this one).

After reading each of these books, I wished I had read them sooner. I can’t help but wonder if having the lessons and insights from each of these perspectives before I had graduated might have allowed me to avoid some of the same mistakes or pains that the authors shared. But then again, maybe if I didn’t find those commonalities between our stories, the books wouldn’t have captured my attention so well.

I would love to hear from you! Have you read any of these? Did you feel the same way? Any other book recommendations you would give to someone who is a recent graduate?

M.S.L. - Suffering

by Katie Lyons in ,

I haven't done a post for Musings of a Single Lady in a while because I was told by a couple of very trusted people in my life that some of my posts under this heading were more bitter and angry than the funny and sarcastic posts I was going for.  I have since deleted some of my post under M.S.L. and have only kept up the ones that I don't think were written in anger (but if you disagree please let me know!).  Anyways, this post is a little more serious than I would usually write for M.S.L. but it is a recent discovery which I really feel moved to share and explore with those of you who read my blog.  I am in no way an expert at relationships, love, and am not married but would love to hear what you all have to say.  So please comment with any thoughts or ideas on the subject.




"No, I will not let you go on alone; you are not fit to be alone.  You need some one to watch over you, and care for you, and love you, and, if need be, to suffer with you."


"WOW!" was my first thought at reading this sentence: it stopped me dead in my tracks.  The statement above is from one of my favorite books by J.M. Barrie called The Little Minister.  This statement is made by Gavin, the town's minister, to his love, Babbie, the gypsy.  For those of you that have never read the book, you should know that Babbie is a bit foolish because she doesn't really know any better.  She has no clue what real love is because she's never had any examples in her life, but from her base understanding of it, I can tell you that she never would have thought to hear the words "suffer with you" in the same sentence as "love you".  The odd thing though is that I hadn't fully thought about it either.  


I know that Christ, who is the perfecter of our love, suffers along with us when we suffer, and that during a marriage ceremony phrases like "in sickness and in health, till death do us part" are exchanged; but what does suffering with one’s spouse even mean or look like?  I believe that what Gavin is alluding to above is definitely referring to physically suffering with one another, but the author takes it a step farther.  


Babbie is an extremely fallen creature.  Now Gavin is in no way perfect, but the author purposefully sets up this juxtaposition with Gavin as a saint-like figure and Babbie as the wild heathen to emphasize the change that takes place in Babbie's heart.  It is even sweeter that the change in Babbie’s heart comes through Gavin and his unconditional love for her and through it Babbie is finally able to understand what real love actually looks like.  She is explaining this to another character (I'm trying not to give too much away because everyone should read this book!) and their exchange is chilling yet so beautiful.


(Babbie) "No; [Gavin] knows that it was so evil in God's sight that I shall suffer for it always."

(The Earl) “But he has done no wrong, so there is no punishment for him?"

(Babbie): "It is true he has done no wrong, but his punishment will be worse, probably, than mine."

(The Earl) “That,” said the earl, scoffing, "Is not just."

(Babbie) “It is just.  He has accepted responsibility for my sins by marrying me."


Again, WOW!  Do we really accept responsibility for our spouse’s sins?  At first I was hesitant to agree, but remembering that those who marry become one flesh, I soon began to feel the gravity of the situation in a new way.  Some people today think that marriage is all about finding their true love and having the perfect wedding.  Those two desires are not bad but they are far from the whole picture.  I have always been one to take marriage very seriously and I thought that I understood the hard work and effort that goes into a marriage; but the idea of my future husband "suffering with me" and "accepting responsibility for my sins" absolutely shocks, terrifies, and excites me all at once.  It shocks me because I had never thought of my future husband having to suffer because of my past mistakes.  I figured that if they are my mistakes, then I will be the one to deal with the consequences.  However, I soon realized that is naive and that when you are married your consequences are shared and can sometimes be worse for one than other, depending on the situation.  This idea terrifies me because if I truly love my future husband, is it okay for me to allow him into a situation where he would have to suffer? Shouldn't I instead want him to be as far away as possible from a situation like that?  Finally, it excites me because one day I will have someone by my side, for the rest of my life, who wants and has chosen to suffer with me because of how much he loves me.  And even better I will want to do the same for him.  I am not meaning to discount God from that picture; I am fully aware that He already does this daily and has done far more for me than any man ever can.  I am also not saying that a man could ever sacrifice as much as Christ has sacrificed for us. But it is amazing to think that another human being, someone who is not perfect and self-sacrificing like Christ, would willingly put themselves in such a situation. I believe that is true love and thank God we get glimpses of it; even from the pages of an out of print book.

Northern Excursion Part II

by Katie Ann in , ,

This is the last post you will have to endure with pictures of my study abroad trip to England.  In it are more pictures from Ambleside with a ferry ride we took to tour the lake and this beautiful overlook I stumbled upon one gorgeous evening as the sun set.  Then on the way back to Oxford we stopped at Coventry Cathedral for a couple hours.  It was a very beautifully solemn experience since the original cathedral stands in ruins from a bombing in World War 2.  However, the new cathedral built next to the ruins is proof of God's goodness and a gorgeous reminder of beauty that can come through our struggles.  Enjoy.


Group Candid.... lol

Oh you know just someone practicing on the lake, no big deal.

I just love when the camera captures the sun spots! 

Nothing like some evening sailing.

The youth hostel we stayed in.

I was feeling a little introspective one evening and just needed to be alone so I decided to go out exploring and I found Jenkins Crag.  One of the best nights of the trip for me.

Just sitting in the field with some sheep.

I will never forget this view! It is forever etched in my mind.

The little passageway from the path up the hill to the hill and lookout point.  I felt like such an adventurer. 

No cars.  A very quiet evening in Ambleside.

My wish was that I would one day find my way back to Ambleside.

I started A Severe Mercy on the plane ride at the beginning of the trip and I finished it sitting on the patio outside the hostel on that beautiful crisp evening.  A beautiful book to finish in such a beautiful place.


The ruins of the old Cathedral.

This was one of the crosses that was charred when the church was bombed.

Angels and Saints etched into the glass protecting the rebuilt Cathedral

The City on the Hill.

These tablets were in between ever stained glass window in the sanctuary. 

A beautiful prayer chapel with an exquisite wall installation of Michael the Archangel. 

Charred pieces of wood from the ruins of the original cathedral that make up a crown of thorns in the one of the commemorative rooms.

Another one of the crosses that was in the old cathedral when it was bombed.

"Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34

Northern Excursion Part I

by Katie Ann in , ,

It is a year from my arrival back to the States after six weeks of traipsing around the English countryside and it only took me year to get the copious amount of pictures I took on my trip edited.  These last pictures come from the Northern Excursion of our trip where we stayed in a very cute youth hostel on the lake in Ambleside.  The trip also included a day trip and overnight stay at Durham University (which was a castle!), a day trip to the Moors to see the Bronte House & Museum, another day trip to Rydal Mount to see Wordsworth's House and Museum, and ended with an afternoon at Coventry Cathedral before heading back to Oxford.  Now there are over a hundred photos I want to share with you from this portion of my trip so I'm going to split it into two parts.  Hope you enjoy and let me know which ones are your favorite.


This is the cute village that Bronte's house was situated in and I just could not get over how quant and perfect it was!



This was the youth hostel we stayed in and it was right on the water! So cool!


Dr. Ryken has an unhealthy fear of sheep because of a childhood incident so anywhere we found sheep close to us he made it his duty to shoo them away.

This town was so cute! I mean come on, how adorable is this shop!

The little cafe where I ate my lunch by the water... it was so picturesque! 

The gloomy yet peaceful ride back to Ambleside.

Part two will cover more pictures of beautiful Ambleside and pictures of our final trip of the excursion to Coventry Cathedral.  Again I hope you enjoyed the photos and please feel free to comment below.