Monday, November 7, 2016

October’s Reading

When I looked at my calendar for October, I cringed. How does someone like me, who valiantly attempts to keep overcommitment at bay, get herself into such a pickle? Nevertheless, commitments are commitments, so I bowed to the burden and took one day at a time.

And managed to read a little as I went. Here is this month’s short list of books finished:

1. Sir Gibbie by George MacDonald.

I have been reading this book for six months, listening to the metallic screen reader on my computer to the text. It didn’t hurt the profound messages of this beautiful story. Perhaps this will be my favorite MacDonald book. I finished it early in the month and have been pondering over the meaning of many of his ideas continuously since. When life is busy, it is a gift to have something other than tasks to ponder as I hustle along. Gibbe’s muteness was an especially powerful thought to me, that in silence we can communicate and accomplish extraordinary things in the lives of others, for the kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven. Being so close to some children who have suffered as much in their young lives as Gibbe did, his transcendent life inspired hope for the path marked out for these special children in my own life.

2. Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.

Kerri Forney was surprised I had never read this one and told me that when she was reading it with her high schoolers, she began to invent errands in order to get into the car more often to listen to the audio; then, one day she found herself holding a bag of carrots in the grocery store, staring into space, when the produce worker asked her if she was all right. “Oh, yes, just thinking about a book.” We book lovers know exactly what this experience is like. Naturally, she convinced me to read it. The story of Gettysburg told through the thoughts and wrestlings and prayers and decisions of the men who turned the tides of this battle was gripping. I think this an excellent historical account for teenaged boys particularly, as these real life heroes endurance, honor, and sacrifices for others are worth emulating.

3. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

This was my book club’s choice for this month. I had read it before, and truly one of my favorite scenes in literature occurs in this book (favorite because it is inspiring and suspenseful, but also because it happens in a library), but was gratified with my very diverse group’s reception of the book. Most of them loved it, and I think after our animated discussion, even those who did not appreciate the creepy characters of the carnival that comes to town, acknowledged Bradbury’s skill to use that device to show truth. Some thought it was all about contentment, others good and evil, others fear of the future, or regret for lost opportunities. That’s what a really good book does—provokes us to self-evaluation.

4. The Lost Princess by George MacDonald.

Why not two children’s books by an excellent author in one month? This was the choice for book discussion at the Grace to Build retreat in Asheville, North Carolina last weekend. I didn’t think I would finish before going, but succeeded. I enjoyed the book discussion more than I enjoyed reading the book as insights shared shed light on all the puzzling aspects of this allegorical story. It is a worthwhile book for parents more than children as I think it truly was written for us.

5. The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser.

Of course I have known of this classic work all my life, or at least since college western world literature class, and have read quotes from it. I wanted toexperience it myself, but not until last Christmas was a release of a digital audio version accessible for me. I have been reading it little by little all year. What I am wondering about now is why this is not considered bedtime reading for children? It has all the romance of knights and damsels in distress in short adventures just suited to that time and the Spenserian meter will embed the beauty of rhyme and rhythm into their minds forever. I became so engrossed at points that I forgot it was all written in perfectly measured rhyme. Spenser intended it to be about four times longer than it actually is, but I am glad that some gifted people attempt what cannot be finished and that we have at least this portion of a magnificent work that was meant to represent allegorically the great virtues that make living life’s adventure a true happiness.

For the joy of reading,



  1. Oh Liz, I so resonated with your opening question. How, indeed? My October, too, was a whirlwind of too many commitments--all of them good, but too much of a good thing is still too much. I hope and pray that November brings a bit of relief for you! And, as always, your reading list inspires me. (I'm slowly working through Paradise Lost with a friend; it is challenging and amazing!)

    1. Kimberlee,

      I wish I had had a friend to read that one with. I wonder why we don't
      feel free, when asked to help or do or participate in some good thing,
      "No, I will be reading that day."