Skip to main content

July Reading List

I have three books this month I really enjoyed and two for which I have very mixed feelings, but mostly I didn't like.  Both of those were by the same author.

The first book I really enjoyed was Mountain Top by Robert Whitlow.  So I had apparently read this book before, back in 2007. Usually once I get a ways into a book I start to remember it if I've read it before, but I didn't remember this one at all. I really enjoyed it, though. Robert Whitlow writes about the law scene, but he also has a lot of the supernatural in his books. In this particular book, a pastor who had formerly been a lawyer and who still has his license, takes on the case of an older man who dreams dreams that have meaning. Taking on this case pro bono results in trouble at his church, but becomes a life-changing experience for both him and his wife. It is really a story of renewal and revival.

The second book (and third, but I didn't finish the third one) was The Color Purple and The Temple of My Familiar both by Alice Walker.  is one of those books I've heard a lot about, so when I saw it free on Kindle I decided now was my chance to read it. So, I'm going to go against the flow here and say that I don't understand all the accolades this book gets. On the one hand, Alice Walker is a good writer and she definitely tells a story that needs to be told, a story of abuse and of anger. However, there was so much about the book I was uncomfortable with: too many sex scenes, approval of homosexuality (though you could see how Celie would be uncomfortable in relationships with men), and sleeping around. Those things I could actually understand as a real picture and a story that needs to be told. But the whole pantheistic view of God .... enjoying the color purple in nature is god, etc. I think many reviews I've read point out how Celie found God; but I think you'd have to say she found a god. So, if you read this, be touched by the story, but please don't let it inform your theology! I also tried to read The Temple of My Familiar, but I COULD NOT get into it at all. I almost never don't finish a book, but three chapters in and I was done. I just gave up on it.

The third book was Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace by Jan Johnson.  The Songhai people have a proverb that says, "One foot can't follow two paths". This is the theme in Jan Johnson's book, Abundant Simplicity. She encourages us as believers to have a "single eye". What is my focus in life, my goal, my aim? If that aim is to live a life that is glorifying to God and treasuring a relationship with Him, then we need to live simply so we don't focus on all the stuff we have, on all the junk we need to take care of, on all the ways we are trying to impress or to please others. Though Mrs. Johnson gives suggestions of ways to live simply at the end of each chapter, she also says that how you choose to live simply will differ from how others live simply and will differ at different times of your life. For example, simplicity may involve having only one car. But if only one car means hours of inconvenience for somebody in your family, then maybe having two cars will actually contribute to simplicity. Mrs. Johnson gives a lot to think about and my big take-away from the book was learning to ask myself three questions: What do I want? What do I REALLY want? What am I longing for?  I highly recommend this book, but I'll be the first to say that you need to already be at a certain point emotionally where you are ready to give up clutter, confusion, and chaos. If you thrive on those things, maybe this book isn't for you. 

The other book by Alice Walker I read was Possessing the Secret of JoyPossessing the Secret of Joy came bundled with The Color Purple and The Temple of My Familiar, but I am treating this as a separate review. Again, Alice Walker tells a story that needs to be told: that of female genital mutilation. However, the way the story was told was not appealing to me, mainly because the author was all over the place. Each chapter was told by a different character, which was fine, but I could not figure out where they were or what was happening. The story didn't seem to follow a logical progression. In the end it finally made sense, but it was hard getting there! Ms Walker's pantheistic theology is again seen in this book: "Was woman herself not the tree of life? And was she not crucified? Not in some age no one even remembers, but right now, daily, in many lands on earth?" "Religion is an elaborate excuse for what man has done to women and to the earth." If you want to learn more about FGM, go ahead and read this. Otherwise, I don't really recommend it. (By the way, FGM is practised among some groups in Niger, but not among the Songhai.) Ironically, this book left me depressed, not possessing joy!  In fact, I'm not sure who in this book ever possessed joy.

The final book was Saving Grace. I enjoyed this book. I think it was a bit long and wordy in places and could have been tightened up, but for a first novel published when the author was only 22, I think overall it's outstanding. I'm looking forward to reading more books written by Ms Phillips and I am hopeful that her writing style will get better and better. The story itself was good, but it did take until past the middle of the book for the plot to get to the point where you couldn't put the book down. I do recommend this book! 

Happy reading!


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Practice Hospitality

My mother-in-law, Jean, is an amazing person with many gifts.  One of the first things I noticed about her when I was but a young bride, was her gift of hospitality.  It was nothing for her to invite a large group of people over, make each one feel welcome, cook a big meal,and seemingly do it without stressing herself out.  I don't know if hospitality just came naturally to her or if she learned it.  In this picture you can see Jean throwing a party for a class she taught in Nigeria.  




I believe that for me it has been a learned skill.  My parents were hospitable and it wasn't unusual for us to have guests over (though usually not as many at a time as my mother-in-law would do!).  But when I started living on my own, I had to learn hospitality.  The first time I invited somebody over for a meal, the lid got stuck on the pot of vegetables, I put too much salt or soda or something in the muffins, and I forgot to serve milk and sugar with the hot drinks.  I've gotten much bett…

Meat Roll-ups

Tonight I made meat roll-ups.  And I got to use some ingredients that made food prep much easier than normal!  I did make two batches of rolls so that John could have a lactose-free meal.

The first thing to do is to brown some hamburger.  With the main batch I stirred a tin of mushroom soup into the browned meat.  For John's batch, I stirred in flour, some almond milk, and seasonings just enough to moisten it, but not to make it really runny.  In Niger, I would make it the second way since we don't have tinned soup.

Next I made a batch of biscuit dough using Bisquick.  Of course, in Niger, I have to make the biscuit dough from scratch.  I mixed it up with the almond milk.  Once the dough is rolled out in a strip, spread the meat mixture on it.  Roll it up like you would cinnamon rolls and cut into slices.  Lay the slices on a cookie sheet and cook in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes.



While they're baking, I browned fresh mushrooms in butter (in Niger I would use tinned mushroo…

Happenings in November

Well, here we are, more than half way through December, and I'm just now getting around to telling you about November.  It was a fun, busy, and eventful month.  We were still on vacation and we got in a lot of good family time during the month.

We were still in Ohio with Suz and Theo at the beginning of the month.  Suz and Theo were working hard to get Hezekiah to gain weight.  He kept losing weight for the first few weeks of his life, but he's doing great now.  We tried to spend as much time as possible with Tera so Suzanne could concentrate on adjusting to the new baby ... but mostly just because we wanted to and we enjoy her so much.  





We also tried to get in as many baby snuggles as we could.



Whenever we are in the area, my dad's cousin, Jeanne, invites us for a meal. She is actually closer to me in age than to my dad, so I've always just considered her a cousin and don't try to figure out if she's a second cousin or a first cousin once removed.  Whatever the …