Thursday, June 13, 2019

Reading Update

Book #51 of the year was The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More, by Bruce Feller. I liked this book and its cheerful, can-do approach to fixing little things that drive people crazy about their families.

Book #52 was a re-read, Brian D. McLaren's Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words. I wrote about it before here in 2013 and here in 2018.

Book #53 was No Summit Out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits, by Jordan Romero. This is another addition to my reading about mountain climbing; I wrote a bit about that here. Book #54 is yet another: Within Reach: My Everest Story, by Mark Pfetzer.

Book #55 was Lethal White, by Robert Galbraith, another in the Cormoran Strike series. I like this series and I'll definitely read the next one that comes out.

Book #56 was I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron. A friend recommended this to me. While I liked some of the essays in this, I didn't really feel bad about my neck before reading the book, and now I do. So thanks, Nora.

Book #57 was God's Favorite Place on Earth, by Frank Viola. This book is about Bethany, the place where Jesus often stayed with his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Book #58 was An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic, by Daniel Mendelsohn. Amazon kept recommending this for me based on my previous reads, and this time Amazon got it right. I absolutely loved this book. Mendelsohn is a literature professor, and his dad comes one year to his Odyssey seminar. Then the two go on an Odyssey cruise together. In between, the story of their relationship and the dad's childhood are woven together. I'm a sucker for these examinations of how mythology reflects our lives. Here's a taste of the writing: "It was from Fred that I understood that beauty and pleasure are at the center of teaching. For the best teacher is the one who wants you to find meaning in the things that have given him pleasure, too, so that the appreciation of their beauty will outlive him. In this way - because it arises from an acceptance of the inevitability of death - good teaching is like good parenting." Oh, Daniel Mendelsohn, you are speaking my language.

Book #59 was No More Faking Fine: Ending the Pretending, by Esther Fleece Allen.

Some of the same themes in this book were also in book #60, a memoir written by a friend from childhood: The Colors of My Country, by Esther Lee Barron. I recognized many of the people and places in this, and I really appreciated how Esther's vignettes let her past be what it was: she didn't try to prettify the sadness and loss. Sure, God can bring good out of the difficulties we face, but they still hurt; they hurt badly. It took so much courage for her to write about this, and I applaud her. C.S Lewis wrote that one of the reasons we read is so we don't feel alone, and when I read about Esther's cross-cultural meanderings I feel less alone with my own. Great job, Esther!

Book #61 was Pacifica, by Kristen Simmons. This is another in the dystopia/post-apocalyptic genre, about a world drowned by climate change. I had read another book by Kristen Simmons before, but this one was much, much better. It was atmospheric and believable, and I liked the characters. The book reminded me a lot of Paolo Bacigalupi; I wrote about his books here, here, and here.

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