Between the shopping and the traveling this summer, reading took a bit of a hit. I did squeeze a few in and they were so refreshing to me that if there had to be only a couple, I'm grateful they were these particular books.
The first is, Romey's Place: A Novel. If ever I could write a story, I would like to write one like this. It is full of honesty and the struggles that make up most of our real lives, but it is a "seeing" story that has clean truth to it, the kind that just sits with you and can make you feel at once uncomfortable and sort of peacefully happy at the same time. I love the boys in this story, and their friendship. It is poignant and far from cookie cutter. I love the picture it paints of the good and the hard of relationships with fathers, and the depth and complexity of our love for them and theirs for us. And it talks about churches and community and sometimes the confusing mess they can all get into. Just overall a great story, and wonderful themes within it.
Next was Joni Erickson Tada's A Place of Healing. I continue to appreciate the life and story and writing of Joni so much. I've shared before of how she had such solvent words during the first days of grief when our friend's boy died this past March. This woman knows about a life of suffering. She knows about crying out to God for answers and struggling with the questions we've asked for centuries. And she just glows with the life of Jesus flowing through her. She is so real, and yet so different. I praise God for her because that is all you can do when you see His work in others-- and I believe it must be nothing but His work in her. So this book is another evidence of that-- the chronicle of her continued struggle with pain as she faced a new chapter of suffering in her life. She doesn't mince words or make it sound easy, but she does seek Him and she works and doing what He says-- and she finds grace to help her in her time of need. She sees God healing parts of her that are far more important than her limbs. She lives with a hope that is unfading and grows brighter each passing day. I was challenged, encouraged, and washed with her words as I read.
Ha. I told you the list was short.
I did buy a couple books I'm looking forward to though. Do you want to hear about those?
Madeleine L'Engle's Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.
Heard lots of good things about this book. And it's M.L'Engle, how could it not be good?
Churchill. by Paul Johnson.
An interesting fellow I dare say. I think my mom bought this one for us though.
Give Them Grace. by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson.
I've started this book already and can say it is just what I need to read at this stage in life and parenting. I am being challenged to rethink the way I pursue my children and my own response to and understanding of God's grace towards me and them every single day. I've heard one criticism about the book... that perhaps the examples are a bit unrealistic (as far as being able to spend about ten paragraphs explaining something succinctly to your child, and still find them listening in the end)... and I do think that may be true. However, I am finding it helpful at least to see the "language" and thought process worked out, and then proceed to bumble my own way through fleshing it out. I've stalled with the reading so The Man and I can do it together in a few weeks.
Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman
I feel like a real knitter now! I own Elizabeth Zimmerman!
The Eve Tree by Rachel Devenish Ford
Rae lives in India with her husband and four young children. Several of them have dreads, and they travel the world. She is a blogger and extremely gifted writer. I've followed her at journeymama for a year or so now and knew she was a writing a book, so when she published it this summer- I grabbed a copy. For some reason I have not been able to read it yet. Perhaps now is the time.
Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross, and
Lent and Easter Wisdom by Henri Nouwen
What can I say? This theme excites me. I do love me some Henri Nouwen too.
Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
This is a cookbook. It is gorgeous. I love the photos... if I could be a photographer for real this is what I would love to do. Take pictures of food. Anyway.
I've enjoyed recipes from Heidi's popular 101cookbooks for some time, and this book seems like a lovely compilation. The ingredient lists are for the most part, friendly to me even in China. Fresh vegetables, grains (most of which I can get or substitute something like, say rice for). Give me a recipe with garlic, sea salt, olive oil, broccoli, almonds, feta cheese and grains and girl you have me sold. I did find that all the recipes I was trying were somewhat similar though so time to branch out.
In other parts of this house there is a bit of reading going on as well. Somehow the kids ended up with Moby Dick as their nightly story. Granted, it is a very condensed "young readers" version but still. Listening in as I patter around the house while their dad reads to them, it doesn't sound that much more exciting. But somehow they listen, or sleep. I'm not sure.
The Man just finished Same Kind of Different As Me and really enjoyed it. He's also been working on Peter the Great by Robert K. Massie which he swears is an excellent read about that time period in general. I do believe I will take his word on that. No really though, I'm sure I would enjoy it and so would you.
And thank you all for your kind comments and emails yesterday. They did warm my not-quite-at-home heart over here. I really appreciate hearing from you.