Wednesday, February 17, 2010

my summer reading

I've discovered several authors this summer, thanks to my friend Jenny, who presented me with a list of her favourite reads for 2009 at the end of last year.

At the top of my list is Marilynne Robinson. In 18 years she's written 3 glorious books: Housekeeping, a desolate, beautiful book about loss and transience; Gilead, a letter to his young son by an old preacher, in which his attitude to a friend's prodigal son shifts from anger to grace; and Home, the tale of the prodigal's homecoming told from the perspective of his sister, also returned home.

My second favourite new author is Cynthia Voigt. During summer I read 2 of her novels for "young adults" - in other words, for discerning adults. Homecoming is the story of Dicey and her 3 younger siblings and their long journey to find a new home. Dicey's Song is the story of that new home, and of how brave, fierce Dicey learns how to hold on to and let go of those she loves.

I also read two autobiographical books. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is the novelist Haruki Murakami's reflections on why and how he writes and why and how he runs. Julia Andrews' Home: A Memoir of My Early Years is such fun that I can't wait for the sequel, when she finally talks about her experiences in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music!

I also read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books, which a young friend has been bugging me to read for years! Well, they were every adolescent girl's fantasy come true. Not brilliantly written, but unputdownable escapism, with strong characters and great action sequences. Like Romeo and Juliet, I got a little tired of the main characters and their obsessive love. I also read Garden of the Purple Dragon by Carole Wilkinson, which was better quality teen fantasy.

Summer is a good time for dipping into non-fiction. I'm still thoroughly enjoying my slow meanderings through Harold Rabonitz and Rob Kaplan's A Passion for Books, Norman Doidge's The Brain That Changes Itself (fascinating!), and Mark Tredenick's The Little Green Grammar Book. The highlight so far? Umberto Eco's essay "How to justify a private library" and Stuart Brent's "How to get started in the book business" in A Passion for Books.

I read (or started) some Christian books too. I loved Naomi Reed's My Seventh Monsoon: it was great to read about a missionary who seems like an ordinary person, and I was so encouraged by her wise reflections on the seasons of life.

I'm enjoying GK Chesterton's witty and thought-provoking Orthodoxy. Steve and I are reading John Piper's This Momentary Marriage, which is encouraging us to reflect Christ in our marriage. During my quiet times, CJ Mahaney's Living the Cross-Centred Life reminds me to keep the cross central.

Best of all, on my mornings off, I sit in a coffee shop and immerse myself in Paul Tripp's Lost in the Middle: Mid-Life and the Grace of God and Peter Brain's Going the Distance: How to Stay Fit For a Lifetime of Ministry. Profoundly wise and helpful, these books are teaching me what it means to be in for the long haul in the Christian life, without burning out or rusting out.

What's next? Arch Hart's A Woman's Guide to Overcoming Depression; Tim Chester's The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness; a biography of Susannah Wesley; John Donne's Collected Poems; Josh Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye; Margaret Atwood's Surfacing; and too many others to mention.

If that sounds like a lot, just remember I'm a bookworm! One book with my quiet time; one cup-of-coffee book; one book for the loo; one book for bedtime; one book for mornings off: different books suit different times, and I can fit them in any time!

Well, it's time for bed. Novel reading time. Goodnight!

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