Books to Consider: June 2013

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books to consider

To avoid spoilers and make these reviews unique, I will include a short comment about each book, and one or seven of my favorite quotes from the book.  I am the kind of person who doesn't finish books that stink, so I'll be sure to let you know if the book was chucked returned to my library in excellent condition prior to completion.  Check your local library if you're stingy like me, or rather, if you've spent all your grocery money on books for your children instead.

Just in case you were wondering, I'm writing this post from my couch while my kids watch Magic School Bus, and I have to set aside the laptop every few minutes to attend to child emergencies.  A partial solution, for sure.
Also, I have changed the way my comments work, so if you have tried to comment in the past and been foiled, please try again!

The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat, by Thornton W. Burgess
Burgess writes such fun books for kids (and adults).  Unless your kid is weirded out by talking animals; then his books would not be such a good choice for your family. Many of the books are free in ebook form for Kindle devices or the Kindle app.  From The Thornton Burgess Society: 
Over 170 books and 15,000 stories by Burgess chronicle the tales of Peter Rabbit and his animal friends, including Jimmy Skunk, Grandfather Frog, Johnny Chuck, Sammy Jay, Reddy Fox, Hooty Owl and many others. Through these engaging stories, generations of young people have learned about the natural world and have developed an understanding of the importance of conservation of our natural resources.
And a little conversation snippet from the book itself: 
"What are you doing, Grandfather Frog?"
"Watching my toes," replied Grandfather Frog gruffly.
"Watching your toes! Ho, ho, ho!  Watching your toes!  Who ever heard of such a thing?  Are you afraid that they will run away, Grandfather Frog?" shouted Mr. Redwing.

A Field Guide to NOW: Notes on Mindfulness and Life in the Present Tense,
by Christina Rosalie
This is a lovely multi-media book that reads like a personal journal and sketchbook.  By way of introduction, Rosalie writes: "I have always felt like words make a home for my ideas, and that images create a road map for my heart.  In a field guide, both are necessary."  This is the kind of book you digest slowly over time, and inevitably find yourself returning to certain chapters and passages that snag your attention.  Beautiful and inspiring; especially to me, amidst a season of grief.

"Go slowly as you begin the day, with the fragments of things just as they are.  Your un-vacuumed floor, your rumpled sheets, your water glass smudged where your lips touched the rim.  Go slowly and take notice.  Feel the palm of the morning pressed against your cheek and revel in the first new rose of dawn.  Wake up and allow your heart to swell with wonder." 
"And what occurs to me now is this: No one talks about the moments in between.  The moments of treading water, of moving slowly, of waiting to become.  The times in between are eclipsed in the stories we tell, by the triumph and the magnitude of the way things turn out or begin.  But I can feel it - how the slowness of right now is creating the secret yolk of who I will become.  It's a hard thing - maybe one of the hardest things in the world - to just move slowly and give in to the process of becoming."
"Without intending to, we let our most urgent, wild, creative selves grow quiet under layers of accumulated stress and distraction."
"This is the work of finding yourself in the moments that matter in your life; of taking hold of them, and identify them, so that through this activity, you can find sustenance and wonder in your life, even as it is uncertain, or frightening, or limited by circumstance."

Second Touch (A. D. Chronicles, Book 1), by Bodie and Brock Thoene
Book two in the A.D. Chronicles series I mentioned in my last book post.  Still fantastic!  As I read this book, it really hit home that we are not the first generation of believers to wish fervently for a Messiah.  Sometimes people feel like our world today is so full of pain, tragedy, and bald-faced evil that we must be moments away from tipping over that unseen edge into complete destruction.  I guess that's possible, but reading the prayers of the character Lilly in Second Touch reminds me that this world has always been broken, and people who believed in Jehovah have always longed for Him to make Himself know in an unmistakable way.

"Supper passed pleasantly enough.  Yeshua made several remarks about . . . oh, I don't know. . .inconsequential sayings about faith, not judging others, loving your enemies.  The kind of philosophical twaddle that is of no practical value.  not straightforward, like a good set of rules and guidelines."  (Simon the Pharisee) 
"Humans seldom listen.  Not really.  The truth is inconvenient   The rulers have their own agenda.  The common folk don't want to be bothered."  (Mosheh (Moses), in a dream)  
"Everything in Torah foretells something about Messiah." (Mosheh, in a dream)
"Lilly questioned heaven.  'All these, your castaways, heaped together to honor [Deborah] and [her] child.  A bonfire on this forsaken shore.  Lord!  In the shadows of the deep ravine do you hide from us?  Do you watch as we raise our half hands to you?  Our hearts are eaten away by grief, they are gaping wounds where hope has been torn out by the roots of our souls.  Do you hear?'"  (Lilly, a leper)
"Every day Adonai was saying to the people of Israel as they gathered an Omer of manna, "This is My promise to you!  I AM speaking here!  My Word is the true bread from heaven!  My Word will feed your souls as you cross the wilderness of life!  Until the end of time there is a battle raging against you, but I, Yahweh, will win the battle for your souls!  I, Myself will lead you and provide for you, if you will only trust Me!  My Word sent from heaven is your salvation."  (Mosheh, in a dream)

When Motherhood Feels Too Hardby Kelly Crawford
This book is available in ebook version, which costs less than $5, but and it is worth every penny.  Written by a mother of 9, the book includes spiritual and emotional encouragement, and practical ideas for moving away from overwhelm and toward growing peace and purpose in your home.  It's a month long devotional and each entry is just a page or two.

"They don't learn what you tell them you want them to learn; they learn to become WHAT YOU ARE.  Being is the most important thing you'll do as a mother.  Being what you want them to be, being the person you say loves Jesus, being generous to others, being a godly wife, being a kind woman, being genuine. . . And this being. . .it is constant, with no reprieve.  Which is, in fact, the heart of the matter. . . that you are always transferring who you are to your children and so it matters who you are - who you are becoming, far more than it matters what you mean to teach them.
So the answer?  You seek Him and pursue Him hard with a reckless abandon of all else.  You love Him wholly, follow Him completely and make it your only desire in life to become more and more like Him.  You study Him, chase Him until you find yourself becoming more like Him.  Then you will raise children who become what you wish for them to become."

Shakespeare: The World as Stage, by Bill Bryson
My book club decided to read various Shakespeare works during the month of May.  In addition to watching movies of a play or two, I read a Shakespeare biography by Bill Bryson.  The author comes at the task of writing a biography from an unusual angle, telling the reader from the outset that we really don't know much of anything about Shakespeare, but then proceeding to piece a court document here and a letter there together with a description of the historical era generally, and suddenly we actually do get a bit of a picture of Shakespeare the Mysterious.

Mr. Bryson has a particular way of writing that occasionally forces me to distract my husband from his important ESPN research in order to read him a passage of hilarity.  Though this is not as amusing as, say, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir, Shakespeare still caused me to chuckle through a subject not typically considered humorous.

On the very first page, Bryson demonstrates his style with this comment about a man who went bankrupt: "But after inheriting his titles and one of England's great estates, he astonished his associates, and no doubt himself, by managing to lose every penny of his inheritance in just nine years though a series of spectacularly unsound investments."

And towards the end of the book, Bryson comments wittily on one of the prolific Shakespeare-is-not-actually-Shakespeare articles in which the author claims Shakespeare "never owned a book."  Bryson responds: "The statement cannot actually be refuted, for we know nothing about his incidental possessions.  But the writer might just as well have suggested that Shakespeare never owned a pair of shoes or pants.  For all the evidence tells us, he spent his life naked from the waist down, as well as bookless, but it is probable that what is lacking is the evidence, not the apparel or the books."

Even if you are not typically a reader of biographies, you are still likely to find this book entertaining.  Also you will be in possession of all kinds of party-topic-trivia about Shakespeare and the Elizabethan era.


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