Saturday, February 04, 2017

Reading Update

So far in 2017, I've finished five books.  Here they are, with brief reviews.

Book 1 of 2017 was Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives, from New Growth Press.  This was a devotional book I downloaded last January and finished in the first week of this January.  The daily entries were written by people associated with the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, and the book was overall helpful and worth reading.

Book 2 was The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture, by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.  I had had this on my Kindle for a while, and it seemed to go well with my OLW for the year (ROOTED), so I decided to read it.  I recommend it highly.  As Wilson-Hartgrove puts it in the first sentence of his introduction: "This is a book about staying put and paying attention."  Here's a taste: "Stability is a commitment to trust God not in an ideal world, but in the battered and bruised world we know.  If real life with God can happen anywhere at all, then it can happen here among the people whose troubles are already evident to us."  With my background of multicultural living and frequent moves, this is profoundly against the grain stuff for me some days.  I don't want to invest in people and their lives because they always, always leave.  I want to hide away and protect myself from being hurt again.  If you're like me, read this book.

Book 3 was Sins of the Fathers, by Susan Howatch.  Fans of the Starbridge books will recognize a lot of the same themes in this earlier Howatch book: multiple points of view, deeply broken characters, multi-generational drama.  The Starbridge books, written after Howatch's conversion to Christianity, add the element of deep spiritual understanding and quest.

Book 4 was The Cruelest Month, by Louise Penny.  So far I'm not hugely taken with this series, the Chief Inspector Gamache Mysteries, but I hear Penny hits her stride in book four, so I'll read at least that one before I give up.

Book 5 was The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd.  The last book I read by this author, The Mermaid Chair, did not impress me.  (I must have read it before I started putting everything I read on this blog.)  This one, though, is wonderful.  It's the fictionalized story of the Grimké sisters, growing up in Charleston, South Carolina at the height of slavery.  Sarah Grimké receives a slave girl, Handful, as a gift for her eleventh birthday, and the chapters alternate between Sarah's and Handful's points of view.  While it's at times hard to read, I really appreciated that this book made no effort to romanticize the relationship between the two girls.  Slavery was and is always brutal, and Charleston was a particularly horrifying, dystopic place for African Americans at this time.   Eventually the Grimkés, Sarah and Angelina, became well-known (and notorious) for opposing slavery and for their early feminism.  Highly recommended.

This post is linked to the Saturday Review of Books for February 4th at Semicolon.


Meaghan said...

I say stick with Louise Penney! I didn't really understand all the hype about her for the first few books, but around book 4/5, I was completely hooked! Some later in the series weren't as great for me...but overall I just love the characters and stories they tell!

Janet said...

I may be reading myself into your post, but I think I detect a commitment to read even when you don't have a book you "can't wait to get to." Titles whose authors didn't necessarily thrill you on the first reading, titles that you've had around for awhile... Interesting reviews, but also an interesting post for what it says about your reading "muscles" and seasons.

Ruth said...

OK, Meaghan, thanks for the encouragement. I'll keep going!

Janet, I don't feel like myself when I don't have at least one book that I'm reading. Wish we could get together and talk books! (And other stuff, too!)