Friday, 28 February 2014

Reading in February

It's been a good month overall.

Christian books

Ann Voskamp: A Thousand Gifts
Inspiring and poetic. And sometimes, for this non-native reader of English, a bit hard to understand. Will be going back to it at some point to refresh my memory and get my thoughts together, because I find it very hard to write a short comment on this...

Rachel Marie Stone: Eat With Joy: Redeeming God's Gift of Food

Gary Chapman (ed): Rakkauden tekoja (Love is a Verb)
The Finnish name is "acts of love". In this book, ordinary people tell what happened in their life when they chose to act lovingly. Stories vary, from disagreements between spouses to loving the initially tiresome neighbour next door. Gary Chapman has written a short reflection on each story.
The feeling I got of this book is like reading a collection of articles from Reader's Digest or The Guideposts magazine. Human interest, mostly uplifting, with a moral that often has a practical application for my life, too.

Kim & Krickitt Carpenter: The Vow
Practiced borrowing e-books from our library system and found this gem of a story.
Short version: after an accident and a severe head injury, the newlywed wife does not remember anything about the courtship and marriage. Despite difficulties, the Carpenters stick to their vows, stay married and re-build their relationship. The book is practically all Kim's narration, and I would have loved to hear more from Krickitt's point of view. In any case, the story is an inspirational example of commitment.

Other Non-Fiction

Noreen Riols: The Secret Ministry of Ag. and Fish

Malcom Gladwell: Outliers
An interesting look at factors behind success stories. Circumstances, culture and lucky breaks matter a lot - but you also need a lot of hard work to benefit from them.

Hanna Jensen: 940 päivää isäni muistina
It was a surprise for Hanna Jensen - a successful freelance journalist - when her father was diagnosed with middle-stage Alzheimer's disease. As her parents had divorced many years earlier, Hanna and her brother became the people most involved in their father's care, as the father moved to an assisted living facility. Being a journalist, Hanna Jensen found a natural outlet in writing about her experiences. She has also collected a lot of basic facts about the disease and other issues related to it into the book.

For me, it was poignant that Hanna considered herself lucky after all. As the disease progressed, there were plenty of embarrassing and difficult moments, but her father became more mellow and gentle, not aggressive. Hanna felt she was able to get to know her father in a new way: to see her father's personality as he had been before he became 'hardened' by the competitive business world of his adulthood. They became closer than ever, before the disease rapidly progressed and her father passed away.

Gretchen Rubin: Happier at Home
Another happiness project from Rubin. Some parts resonated with me - for example the thoughts on guarding our children's free time - and other parts not so much.
I understand the desire to try to be a better person, to behave better, to have more self-control in annoying situations etc. Yes, I'm working on the same issues, too.
I just think that the element that really makes a difference there is the grace of God: accepting it for yourself, giving it to others. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; they're all things that Rubin is looking for, and guess what - according to the Bible, they're fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) They're not just personality traits or fruit of our own labours only. We need the Holy Spirit to really get there.


Marilynne Robinson: Gilead
What a beautiful novel. It's slow, it's gentle, it's seeing the earthly life with the appreciation of someone who is going to leave it soon, and it's seeing spiritual truths with the perceptiveness of someone who has lived long enough to learn them. I don't remember when I last finished a novel and thought "this is so good I'll want to read it again, I might even want to buy this."

I'm sure I got this into my reading list from Modern Mrs Darcy's Favourite books of 2013 link-up, but I can't remember whose list it was. Since there are now 106 lists in the link-up, I won't even try to look for the one where I found this... Thank you for the recommendation, whoever you are.

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