6) read voraciously
I tend to do this anyway, so I’m not sure this one really counts. Except that my book count since last June has risen exponentially; I think I’ve got about 30 under my belt now. Part of me would love to expound on all the pros and cons of each book, but then we’d be here forever, so let me give a few of the highlights.
Community and Growth by Jean Vanier The original title in French is much more intriguing: Community: Celebration of Communion and Forgiveness or something like that. I haven’t the faintest idea why the titles are so different. My contact sister (mentor) at Taizé recommended it to me at one of our first meetings, and once she was able to procure the English copy, I read it in whatever spare time I could find, between work and meetings, a few minutes before a meal, waiting for common prayers to start, or before Nina or Svenja turned out the lights. Drawing on his experiences creating and maintaining the L’Arche Communities, Vanier engages the reader’s heart, mind, and soul in an exploration of the purpose and presence of Christian community. I was very happy to receive a copy of this book for Christmas, and I intend to read it again soon, this time with copious note-taking.
Baby by Patrician MacLachlan This slim novel was a purchase I made in Paris during The Week of Being Alone in the City of Love. It’s not that I was longing for romance (though there were offers; no, creepy man who sat down next to me at the Canal Saint-Martin, I don’t want to talk to you and/or drink a beer with you, so I’m going to pretend I only speak Hungarian until you go away; and no, awkward man named Philip in
the Tuileries Jardin, I am not going spend the evening with you, no matter how much you compliment me or my Swedish shoes, because I have a date with the Egyptian mummies in the Louvre). I was longing for conversation. I decided that books would be a good stand-in.
The first night in my hostel, I did an internet search of English bookstores in Paris, put together a list of their addresses, and began a great search. One of the bookstores I visited was a bit hidden down a side street, and its front windows were piled high with used books. The woman working there was an American ex-pat, and I ordered a exorbitantly over-priced cup of rooibos tea and a toasted bagel so that I could sit and talk with her. I also purchased two used, young adult books hidden in the basement of the shop – Baby was one of them. The story, while engaging, is not why I am recommending it to you. It’s because of the way the lyrical language is so seamlessly integrated into the voice of the child narrator. This book could take you just two hours to read. But not if you savor it as it deserves.
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien I read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as The Hobbit, and while I don’t think I could say I have a favorite book within the trilogy, I do have a favorite chapter: “Treebeard.” Its perfect mix of wisdom and whimsy left my soul smiling long after I had put the book down and crawled into my bed. I also enjoyed reading about the wintery landscape of the book while watching the space around me in Ukraine prepare itself for cold.
Longing for Spring by Elaine E. Heath and Scott T. Kisker I received this book for Christmas and read it with butterflies in my stomach about the possibilities for renewal, not in only the church, but within my own denomination of United Methodism. I have a lot more thoughts to share on this, but perhaps not in this venue. Stay tuned for more on that …
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery Between the ages of 11 and 18, I read all 8 books in the Anne of Green Gables series every summer. It had been a long time since I’d visited the imaginative redhead who affirmed my childhood imagination and encouraged me to keep it as a young woman. A re-read of the first book this month proved to be a joyful reminder of my teen-ager-hood and a reunion so much the deeper for the long absence.