Sunday, December 31, 2023

What I Read in 2023

The last two books I finished in 2023 were book #90, Savor, by Shauna Niequist, and book #91, You Are the Beloved, by Henri Nouwen.

Here's the complete list of the rest of what I read in 2023:

Books #1 - #4

Books #5 - #10 

Books #11 - #14

Books #15 - #20 

Books #22 - #25

Books #26 - #36 

Books #37 - #55

Books #56 - #66 

Books #67 - #73

Books #74 - #77 

Books #78 - #83

Books #84 - #89 

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Reading Update

Book #84 of the year was Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, by C.S. Lewis. I'd read this several times before, and when I wanted to revisit it, I couldn't find a paper copy. My children introduced me to the Gutenberg Project, and the link is to their version, which I read on my screen. It's a good discussion of some aspects of prayer, framed as a series of letters to a friend, Malcolm.

Book #85 was After I Do, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Lauren and Ryan have been married for nine years, and it's not going well. They decide to separate for a year and then figure out what to do. This book is more substantive than that summary makes it sound, and I enjoyed my third book by this author.

Book #86 was a title I've been seeing everywhere: Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age, by Katherine May. I found it didn't fully live up to its hype, but as with Wintering, there were some bits I really loved. 


A taste: “One night I press the button on my electric toothbrush to find it with only the lowest burr of its battery left. The engine inside can barely shift the bristles. I see it clearly for the first time: this is me. I am out of charge. I’ve been leaking out energy for too long, and I don’t know how to get it back again.

Waking in the middle of that night, I remember something I used to do. I pad downstairs to greet the moon, and then sit in a garden chair and kick off my slippers. I let my bare feet make contact with the cold patio tiles, and I feel the tingle of exchange between the earth and me, the instant reciprocity. I close my eyes and let my mind sink downwards. I relieve myself of the duty to search for language. I let myself feel instead.”

Book #87 was If He Had Been With Me, by Laura Nowlin. This reminded me of something written in a hurry by a teenager, right down to the frequent lack of punctuation. But I kept reading, thinking there was going to be a big twist. There really wasn't. 

Book #88 was My Hands Came Away Red, by Lisa McKay. This is the story of a short-term mission trip gone unexpectedly traumatic. I found it very readable and compelling.

Book #89 was Jonathan Martin's The Book of Waiting: Reflections on Advent and Christmas. This is a quick read, at about 85 pages. I like Martin's writing, and while this one wasn't as intense as his others I have read, it was worth reading, and I'll probably revisit it next Christmas.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Poetry Friday: Last Day of School in 2023

I shared Mark Doty's poem twice before on this blog, once in 2011 and once in 2014. It seems perfect for this last day of school until January. 

Messiah (Christmas Portions)
By Mark Doty
A little heat caught
in gleaming rags,
in shrouds of veil,
   torn and sun-shot swaddlings:

   over the Methodist roof,
two clouds propose a Zion
of their own, blazing
   (colors of tarnish on copper)

   against the steely close
of a coastal afternoon, December,
while under the steeple
   the Choral Society

   prepares to perform
Messiah, pouring, in their best
blacks and whites, onto the raked stage.
   Not steep, really,

   but from here,
the first pew, they’re a looming
cloudbank of familiar angels: 
Janice is hosting the roundup today. Head on over and see what everyone else is sharing!

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Reading Update

Book #78 of the year was Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This is a completely absorbing story, told in the format of an oral history. It's the story of an album, and how creativity works, and the mess that substance abuse makes of lives. It's the story of many people behaving badly, and of music being made anyway. I could hardly put it down.

Book #79 was a reread, Inspired, by Rachel Held Evans. I read this when it first came out, and wrote this very unexcited review. I liked it much better this time around. Just as Searching for Sunday was a love letter to the church, this one is a love letter to scripture, and her experience with it. Rachel Held Evans was someone who wasn't afraid to ask questions. I really wish she were still around.

Book #80 was something I read with my book club, The Watchmaker's Daughter: The True Story of World War II Heroine Corrie Ten Boom, by Larry Loftis. Although I already knew many of the details of this story, it was definitely worth reading and discussing.

Book #81 was Underland: A Deep Time Journey, by Robert Macfarlane. I've been reading this book for more than a year. It's not a quick read, and it's not an uplifting one, but it's completely fascinating. A taste: "Philip Larkin famously proposed that what will survive of us is love. Wrong. What will survive of us is plastic, swine bones and lead-207, the stable isotope at the end of the uranium-235 decay chain." 

Book #82 was The High Flyer, by Susan Howatch. I read this trilogy (this is the second one) a long time ago. Frankly it's not her best stuff, and it's not nearly as good as the Starbridge series, but it has its flashes of Howatch. I wish she'd written more books - I've read all of hers. I found this one in a second-hand bookstore recently and decided to reread it.

Book #83 was Robert Galbraith's latest installment of the Cormoran Strike series, The Running Grave. This is a book about a cult. It's really hard reading in places, because it's almost unbearably painful and suspenseful. Not really my kind of book, but I couldn't stop reading it.