I mentally compose posts while running or waiting in line. I find that I start with some story from my past (I have yet to find someone more nostalgic than I am), and then jet back to the present with the meat of the content.
This time though, I’ll spare you the particulars of a book-laden childhood. Jenny and Abby asked me to share book recommendations. So I’ll give a brief run-down of what I’ve read in the past month or so.
Starting with Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. I did not like this book. I’m bringing it up to my mom this weekend to get her opinion. My mother is a book reading beast. She reads anything, and she reads lightning fast. Very gratifying to recommend books to her. Anyways, this was a collection of essays all about appreciating the good things in our daily life as gifts from God. Fine. However, I got really distracted by the fact that her dad was Bill Hybels (of Willowcreek in Chicago) and she worked for years at Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, MI (Rob Bell’s church). It did change how I felt about her because I have weird feelings about megachurches. Also, at one point I started circling first person pronouns. It was kind of exhausting to see so many I’s on the page. Additionally, I also get tired of this current obsession with finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes dirty dishes are just dirty dishes that need to be washed. Does everything have to be a vehicle for redeeming a fallen world? I mean, some days you do the laundry because it needs to be done. And that should be enough. But now I feel like we have all this pressure to not only get the laundry done but feel that we are partaking in a very sacred and holy task. Also, it all felt clichéd. She never knew what it meant to be unselfish until she had a baby. She never loved her body until she had a baby. She lost her job and thought it would be the worst thing in the world until it turned out to be the best thing. Stuff like that. I get snarky when I read stuff like that and end up saying things like, “Good thing Jesus managed to love people unselfishly without getting married and having a baby. There’s hope for the singles out there. We’re not doomed to a life of selfishness.” Take all this with a grain of salt. My small group peeps didn’t hate this book in the same way that I did.
For Christmas my little brother gave me The Hospital by the River. I just really started reading it lately. Dr. Catherin Hamlin and her husband Dr. Reg Hamlin are responsible for treating cases of fistulae in Africa, specifically Ethiopia. I was bubbling over with information after reading a few chapters and described fistulae in graphic detail for Hannah over the phone. Her response was something like “this is the grossest thing you’ve ever shared with me, and you tell me lots of disgusting things.” So I won’t go into details here. Look it up on wikipedia. But seriously, this book has been such a refreshing picture of two dedicated Christians who were prompted by their faith to serve the least of these. The Drs. Hamlin don’t seem to have set out on this grand mission to save these women, but rather over time they were drawn to curing fistulae and treating these women like human beings again instead of social outcasts. Also, I would like to give a shout-out to modern medicine. I have lots of friends who are pro natural childbirth, and I think that is a lovely thing. However, it’s good to remember that we live in a fallen world with bodies that rebel against us. Things go horribly wrong in childbirth all the time. We’re just lucky that we’re within reach of hospitals and doctors. So sometimes the obsession with natural childbirth smacks of first-world privilege when women are literally dying for lack of medical interventions all over the world. I’ll get off the soapbox now.
And lastly, for this installment I guess, I read the book Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. If you can get past the author’s first name, all shall be well. I loved this book. I read it while lying prone on the couch with the dog I was dogsitting lying beside me as snow swirled around the house. I kept thinking that I should put the book down and save part of it for later, but I couldn’t do it. I polished it off in an afternoon. The storyline is pretty simple. An IT guy is tasked with monitoring inter-office emails. The book is set in 1999/2000. Two friends, who work in different departments of the newspaper, constantly send emails to one another. Any snoopy soul probably loves epistolary novels. There’s nothing like reading someone else’s mail. So chapters vary from email exchanges between the two friends and what happens in real time with the life of the IT guy. And there’s romance, of course. But nothing too steamy or inappropriate, so there’s that going for it. I typically do not like modern romance novels because the characters always read as clichés. But in this book all the characters were complex people struggling with real-life problems. Problems that were greater than romances. And it had a strong female friendship holding it together. Not a “let’s talk about men/boyfriends over brunch friendship,” but the kind of friendship that I think most women have with one another and rarely gets written about. It’s also set in Omaha, NE. Nothing like the midwest, you know.
I have so many more books I want to write up, but this is probably enough (or too much) for now. I love, love, love recommending/reviewing/hating/loving books so Jenny and Abby may have created a monster. However, I’ll try to limit myself to three or less per entry. And probably only do this once every other week. But no promises.