I have joined a book club this year, which is a new adventure for me. We are using “On Reading Well” by Karen Swallow Prior as a guide. In her book, Prior discusses virtues using 12 books as a backdrop. I’ve always believed it’s important to read a variety of literature from throughout history, but I’ve never been able to articulate WHY that is so important. Prior answers that question more eloquently than I ever could have. So far, I’ve really been enjoying her book. I’m excited to continue this reading challenge and to discuss some great books with some great friends.Share on Facebook
I recently enjoyed reading “Miracles” by C. S. Lewis. Lewis explains theology in a logical, step-by-step way that I find so helpful. And I love his use of analogies! Simple truths come to life. In this book, he starts by explaining the evidence for a God who created nature. He moves on to give evidence for miracles and how they relate to the laws of nature. I love how he pointed out that miracles are supposed to startle and amaze its audience, and in order for that to happen we have to first know and understand the laws of nature. We have to know and understand science to fully appreciate how awesome and creative our God is. Lewis finishes by looking at the life of Jesus and describing the significance of the miracles he performed.
“If they [miracles] were not known to be contrary to the laws of nature how could they suggest the presence of the supernatural? How could they be surprising unless they were seen to be exceptions to the rules? And how can anything be seen to be an exception till the rules are known? If there ever were men who did not know the laws of nature at all, they would have no idea of a miracle and feel no particular interest in one if it were performed before them. Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary.”
One of my goals this year is to use Goodreads to keep track of the books I read. Honestly, I was a littel bitter when Shelfari was discontinued, especially since my books did not transfer correctly to Goodreads (nerd problems). I’m still not convinced I like it as much as Shelfari, but I’m willing to give it a try. I am excited that there is an app and an easy way to save quotes. Why not try it with me? I’d love to be “friends” with you and see what you’re reading. Click here to see my profile.
Summer reading is drawing to a close. I always look forward to my summer days relaxing on the porch with ice tea and a good book. Here are some of the highlights…
I started off the summer by rereading “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoevsky. When I read it for the first time in high school, I loved it. I enjoyed it even more the second time! I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I just find myself blown away by Dostoevsky’s ability to capture the inner thoughts of characters. The main character embraces the idea of relevant truth and discovers the consequences. The idea that truth is relevant to each individual is still so prevalent today that it makes this book a timeless classic.
Of course I had to read “Brooklyn” by Colm Tolbin before seeing the movie. The book was okay, but I was disappointed with the ending. This is one of the rare times when I would say the movie was better than book.
I’ll be honest. I bought this book because, as a Doctor Who fan, I loved how it looked, but I actually did read it. The stories were cheesy, and I found myself laughing out loud at some of the writing. The figurative language and descriptions were pretty comical at times. But I still love how this book looks on my shelf.
I loved “The Light Between Oceans” by M. L. Stedman. After reading the Doctor Who stories, Stedman’s writing made me want to jump up and yell, “YES! That is how you use a simile!” The book tells about a man and his wife and their desire to have children. Their grief causes them to break the law and become entangled in a hopeless, heartbreaking, and beautifully crafted story.
“Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom was another good summer read!
It wouldn’t be summer without a little Agatha Christie, and now I understand why “Murder on the Orient Express” is one of Christie’s most famous novels. Amazing!
I haven’t finished “Jesus Among Other Gods” by Ravi Zacharias yet, but it is good. I love Zacharias’ perspective and knowledge about Christianity compared to other religions.
“Moby Dick” by Herman Melville…I tried. I read 150 pages of them preparing to set out on their ship. One chapter of Captain Ahab just standing on the deck. And then I gave up.
I read “The Taming of the Shrew” by Shakespeare after seeing it performed this summer. I don’t think I would have appreciated it without seeing it performed first. I loved seeing Shakespeare’s work brought to life! That’s how a play was meant to be enjoyed.
“A Room with a View” by E. M. Forster was pretty good too.
C.S. Lewis is without a doubt one of my favorite authors, so I always get excited when I find copies of his books (even if I already have the books). A few months ago, I found these beautiful copies of Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia at a used bookstore. They may not be first editions or worth much, but I love them! They are early 1960’s editions, but I’m missing The Magician’s Nephew!!! So if anyone finds a copy of The Magician’s Nephew that looks like these, I want it!
When I look back over the books I read this past year, it’s surprisingly easy to pick my top 3 favorites. They are…
1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (historical fiction) I just finished reading this book and was very impressed. There is some language in the book, but otherwise I highly recommend it. Well written, unique narrator, and a beautiful story of a girl in Germany during WWII. I’m excited to see how the movie compares to the book.
2. The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas (romantic era classic)
3. When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert (Christian living)
Of course I already have a long list of books to read in 2014. And I’m also thinking I need to build one of these with all my books…
Happy New Year!
image made at wordle.net
Now that school has started, I guess summer reading is coming to a close. I only made it a fourth way through my reading list…oh well. I still enjoyed many hours sitting on the porch and reading.
My favorite book from the summer is definitely The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas. Simply brilliant! At the beginning, Dumas had me literally squirming in my seat from the heartbreaking gore, but soon I was bursting out laughing at a romance between a young girl and a tulip-obsessed prisoner. It was fun to read a classic that wasn’t inches thick. I think this book would be a great way to get a taste for 1800’s literature or Dumas’ writing without tackling a massive book. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I have to say that my favorite first-kiss scene is in this book.
Surprisingly my least favorite book was Mansfield Park. Usually I like Jane Austen, but in this case the main character, Fanny Price, just didn’t have enough guts for me. She was very timid and terrified of offending people.
Around the World in 80 Days was a fun book to read while actually traveling around the world. I read most of it on the way to China and finished it on the way back. I loved comparing my travels to the journey of even-keel Phileas Fogg and comical Passepartout. When I read the chapter entitled “In which a Slight Glimpse is had of San Francisco,” I had to laugh since a “slight glimpse” is exactly what I got of SF as I rushed through the airport! My 12 hour flight to China may have felt long, but reading this book made me thankful that it didn’t take weeks to get there!
I’m currently reading When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert and Finish the Mission by John Piper. They’re both great books! They cover similar topics (why/how to help others and share the gospel with them) so it’s been good to read them together and see how they compliment each other. I expected to feel guilty and convicted about missions work after reading Piper’s book, but instead it has been very encouraging. Corbett & Fikkert’s book looks at poverty and how there are right and wrong ways to help the poor. I highly recommend this book! So much great stuff in it, and I’m not even halfway through it. Both books explore Christ’s life and God’s sovereignty and encourage the reader to respond to God’s love and Christ’s example. Christ not only spoke the gospel to the people while he was on earth, he helped them by giving them physical healing. Learning more about the significance of Jesus’ ministry has been amazing. What a beautiful example for us to follow!Share on Facebook
While looking through an old journal, I was reminded that God works in mysterious ways. A couple years ago, I took an English class where we were required to read George Orwell’s famous 1984. I can count the number of books I’ve read and hated on one hand. 1984 is definitely one of them. Yet, thanks to God’s irony, it is also one of the most memorable books I’ve read.
image found at images.google.com
“Good afternoon.” My English teacher strode primly into the classroom and set his copy of 1984 on the front desk.
I was so ready to be done with that wretched book. That week we were finishing the readings and discussions. That afternoon we were discussing the part with Room 101 where Winston is tortured with his greatest fear. I couldn’t think of anything cheerier than discussing rats trying to eat your face off.
Our teacher started class with a large group discussion. “Alright, I want you to think about Room 101. What makes it so terrifying to everyone? Why doesn’t anyone want to be sent there?”
Sitting in silence, everyone looked like they were about to be sent to Room 101. Or maybe we were already there.
“It’s a torture room, right?” he asked, answering his own question. “What method do they use to torture people?”
After another moment of silence, someone mumbled, “Fear.”
“Correct! They use each person’s own, possibly illogical fear to get a conversion out of them. What is Winston’s greatest fear?”
“Rats! And in Room 101, these aren’t just any rats. These are giant, ugly, mean, carnivorous rats. They put this cage up to Winston’s face, and these rats are just fighting to attack him! Now, I want you to think for a minute and figure out what your Room 101 would be.”
I inwardly groaned. Did we have to have this discussion?
“What have you got?” Our teacher sat on the front of his desk and folded his arms expectantly.
“Spiders,” grinned one of the girls.
“Spiders! So for you, they’d put you in a room with huge, hairy-legged spiders.”
The girl shivered at the thought.
“Snakes!” declared another girl.
“Anyone else?” asked our teacher.
“Birds,” answered one girl.
“Birds! Why birds?”
“I’m terrified of birds,” she explained, shuddering while also laughing at herself. “I’m scared of having them fly at my head or something.”
“Like that movie, The Birds?”
“Yes! So creepy.”
I noticed the guys were staying out of this discussion.
Shifting on the desk, our teacher grinned. “This is actually fun! What other things are you afraid of? What things would cause you to betray someone?”
He was enjoying himself far too much. Thankfully for me, enough of the class was warming to the discussion so I didn’t feel the need to answer.
What would I say if he decided to call on me? I wasn’t sure what my greatest fear was, but I was hoping it was something deeper than spiders or birds.
While the rest of the class described their ridiculous fears that–according to our teacher–they would do anything to avoid, I tried to figure out my fear in case he called on me.
I glanced anxiously at my watch. Was he really going to drag this discussion out for one and a half hours? Oh how I despised this class.
Suddenly, I had a bizarre thought: Room 101 was similar to Daniel and the lions’ den.
This thought took me by surprise since I didn’t normally draw comparisons between my least favorite book and favorite Bible story. Yet somehow it made sense. In fact, I thought, the lions’ den could have been Daniel’s Room 101–his greatest fear. It was possible that Daniel had a fear of lions beyond the normal fear of powerful, sharp-teethed beasts. Daniel might have had an illogical fear of lions, but he was still willing to face them! My English teacher was wrong! A person’s Room 101 could be successfully endured. Through the strength of God, it was possible!
Once I figured out my Room 101, would I be willing to face it, knowing I had God at my side?
Horrified, I realized God had just used English class for my benefit. How was that possible? I had learned something because of 1984! How mortifying.
Not long after that, God did reveal my fears to me. I was forced to face those fears, but in my weakness I saw God’s strength at work. During that time I had the reminder of Daniel and his Room 101. God works all things–even annoying English classes and George Orwell–for good.
*Random side note: Do not do a google images search for “1984 and Room 101” late at night. Or any time actually. Oh my stars there are some creepy pictures out there!
I FINALLY FINISHED READING LES MISERABLES!!! It only took me 5 months, but it was worth every minute (in my defense, I also read several other books and finish a semester of classes during those 5 months)! It’s a long book, and Hugo tends to go off on semi-related rants, but it’s still beautifully written and filled with wonderfully crafted characters. Hugo’s dramatically romantic style fascinates me–Marius cracks me up with his melodramatic episodes!
By the way, if anyone is interested in reading Les Mis but is feeling overwhelmed by the length, I highly recommend Enriched Classics’ copy. It cuts out some of the long, descriptive passages that don’t affect the storyline as much, causing the story to flow more smoothly and quickly. That’s the version I read several years ago, and I really enjoyed it.
Now that I’ve finished Les Mis, I’m ready to tackle my summer reading list! Looking at the 40+ books I want to read, I think I’ve slightly overestimated my reading abilities. I guess after Les Mis I think I can accomplish anything.
What’s on your reading list this summer?Share on Facebook