Friday, June 28, 2013

What I'm Into [June 2013]

    June has absolutely flown by, especially since I spent a good ten days of it in recovery from having my wisdom teeth out. I will say without any reserve that the Saturday and Sunday after having my wisdom teeth out (they came out on a Thursday) were officially the worst weekend of my life, since I ended up with a dry socket that I couldn't get packed until Monday. Thankfully it has all been uphill from there, despite going to the oral surgeon's office with more frequency than I've ever been to a doctor's office in my life. The one great part about having surgery? I've finished nine books this month!


This month I finished seven new books, re-read two, and started two that I haven't not yet finished. Here's what I read:

  • The Once and Future King, T.H. White. Based on the epic of King Arthur, this book took me a whopping two months to read. Six-hundred and seventy-seven pages later, I'm so glad I stuck it out and finished it. The Once and Future King is a true epic, and even though I had to return it to the library and re-check it out, I would highly recommend it, although if you're a slow reader it may take you a long time. It was surprising to me how little I knew of the Arthur epic, but this was a great introduction.
  • Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry. This is the book that Anne encouraged me to finish, despite my lack of interest in the first one hundred pages or so, and I am so grateful that I finished. Once I got past the slow beginning, this book got mehook, line and sinker. I was practically sobbing by the end. Thoughtful, beautiful, compelling. The audio book is free on Noisetrade: download it and listen!
  • 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Jen Hatmaker. I read this book in two days while in agony over my teeth, and then I went and cleaned out my closet. This book was witty, funny, and compelling, and it will make you take a second look at the way you live your life. I wrote more about it here.
  • The Penderwicks on Gardam St. & The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, Jeanne Birdsall. The second and third installments of the Penderwicks series, these delightful little books are fun and entertaining. Each lasted me about a day, but I love reading a bit of children's fiction each month. 
  • Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell. Despite the fact that Elizabeth Gaskell died before writing the final chapter of Wives and Daughters it was well worth the read! This book took me a full ten days to read, it was exciting, thoughtful, and engrossing. Imagine Jane Austen + Cinderella (without the ball) + the prodigal son, and you've got a bit of an idea what the general plot is. Highly recommend!
  • The September Society, Charles Finch. Don't waste your time with this one. Although the story was entertaining and I wanted to like the characters, the author seemed more interested in telling the entire history of Oxford than spinning the mystery. He also kept including minute details that had no point whatsoever in the story"so-and-so thought about the cold morning and grabbed his cloak to bring along" when we never needed to know whether he had his cloak with him or not. 

This month I re-read The Sherwood Ring, by Elizabeth Marie Pope (historical  fiction + fantasy and a bit of romance, love, read it) & A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken (the true story of a young couple and their journey towards Christianity with the aid of C.S. Lewis. If you've never read this, and you enjoy C.S. Lewis, take the time to read it. You won't regret it.)

I'm currently in the middle of Tale of Two Cities, Macbeth,  and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (re-read). 

Friday, June 21, 2013

        For a few years Jen Hatmaker's book Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess has been on my to-read list. I heard about it and wrote down the title  near the end of 2011, put it on my list for 2012, and copied it over to my list for 2013. It never worked outthe library didn't have it, I didn't inter-library loan it, and it never seemed to fit with any of my Amazon or Barnes and Noble online purchases.

     About a month ago, I was at our local Christian bookstore browsing without the intention to buy anything, and found it on the clearance rack. Bingo.
     I knew I was supposed to buy it, after all, there it was! so I did. When I got my wisdom teeth out three weeks ago, I had lots of time to read, so I devoured Seven. I hardly put it down. I underlined in it, prayed about it, talked to other people about it (when I was well enough to finally leave the house and have meaningful conversations with people). 
After all of that, this is what I am left with:

 "What does it communicate when half the global population lives on less than $2 a day, and we can't manage a fulfilling life on twenty-five thousand times that amount? Fifty thousand times that amount? 
"It says we have too much and it is ruining us.
"It was certainly ruining me. The day I am unaware of my privileges and unmoved by my greed is the day something has to change."  

     "May my privileges continue to drive me downward to my brothers and sisters without. Greater yet, I'm tired of calling the suffering 'brothers and sisters' when I'd never allow my biological siblings to suffer likewise. That's just hypocrisy veiled in altruism. Until every human receives the dignity I so casually enjoy, I pray my heart aches with tension and my belly rumbles for injustice." 

     "Jesus' kingdom continues in the same manner it was launched; through humility, subversion, love sacrifice; through calling empty religion to reform and behaving like we believe the meek will indeed inherit the earth. We cannot carry the gospel to the poor and lowly while emulating the practices of the rich and powerful. We've been invited into a story that begins with humility and ends with glory; never the other way around. Let's align ourselves correctly, sharing in the humble ministry of Jesus, knowing that one day we'll feast at his table in splendor." 
     ~  ~  ~
     This Saturday I finished Jayber Crow, the book I started in May and was struggling to get through.  After finishing that book and Seven, there was a word building its home inside my heart, nesting there, coming to me again and again.

     After all, Seven is all about moving towards simplicity from our lifestyle of excess; Jayber Crow is about a man who ultimately lived a simple and ordinary life but lived out the struggle of his heart with regards to Christianity. 

     There was one scene in particular that stayed with me after I finished Jayber Crow. 
      As the scene unfolds, Jayber is retiring from his job as a barber and moving to live by the river. He says, "With so many on hand to help, I was embarrassed at having so little to move. Subtracting the few things I was going to leave, and the things not worth keeping that I had kept only because I was used to them and now had thrown away or burned, I really didn't have very much. There was room to spare in Elton's truck."  (301)
     This has been on my mind a lot as I think about moving to California next year. I don't want to be tied down to my things. I don't want them to manage my life. 
If I have so much stuff that my life is ordered around it, I have too much stuff. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Power of [un]Common Courtesy

     I had to go the library the other day because I had quite a few books due, and a few books that were on hold. Before I left I made sure I grabbed all the things I didn't need out any morethe Shakespeare plays I'd finished reading, the assorted Brahms CD's, the book I hadn't finished but was due back. It was quite a stack, I barely made it to the car without dropping anything.
     When I pulled up to the library I managed to get them all in my armsseven or more books and a stack of CD'sand clamber out of the car. It took both arms for me to carry all of it. When I got up the steps to the door, there was a little boy there, waiting for his mother who was coming out the door. He couldn't have been more than eight, but he looked at me and right away he grabbed the door and held it open for me as I went in.
     That little boy made my day. There are very few people who will notice a girl with her arms full of books and open the door for her, but someone taught that boy well and his sweet courtesy made my day a little brighter.


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