Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bookstacks . . .

It's easy to be overwhelmed by all there is to do – and read! Most of us keep stacks of books we'd like to read, books we're reading now, and books we've started but haven't finished – yet . . .
And still we're on the look-out for the next good book! We're curious about what everyone else is reading, curious about whether or not it's something we might be interested in reading – or putting on our own bookstack.
So in the interest of discovering “anything that is at once new and valuable" as Mr. Lincoln said, I asked some of my reading friends, “What are you reading?”
Here's some of what I've heard back:
My friend Megan just finished up Me, Myself and Bob by Phil Vischer. Megan reports that it “tells the story of the rise and fall of VeggieTales founder and creator Phil Vischer,” adding, “I appreciated Phil's honesty in this book. He told his story as he saw it. He did not place blame, and his ending/chapters/lessons learned were inspiring and thought-provoking. For example, 'The impact God has planned for us doesn't occur when we're pursuing impact. It occurs when we're pursuing God.'”
Megan also just finished Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson. She reports, “I enjoyed this book as well. It tells the story of a woman who discovers that the “stuff of earth” (as Rich Mullins would say) does not fill the emptiness – only Jesus does that. This book gave me a lot to think about.”
My friend Lori is reading Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama because, as she says, “I want to see who he is.” She adds, “I am not sure that I like some of his thoughts, though I do admire his tenacity.”
No one else has mentioned a political book, though – at least not yet.
Lori is also reading Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. “I like the writing and the storyline,” she says.
Timothy Egan's book The Worst Hard Time is on Lori's bookstack, too, “because I teach about the Dust Bowl, and this book lays out the cause and effects that led to the disaster, as well as facts I have never come across before.”
Amy is concentrating on “beach reads” even though she is vacationing in the mountains. So far she's read “a book called Night Swimming . . . and a James Patterson book called The Quickie -- more, she says, than she's read in a year!


A lot of you are reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. My friend Kim describes it as a book about “the 30-something woman who, after a divorce travels to India, Bali and Italy to experience their culture and find her true self – it's great so far!”
Kim is not the only one reading that particular book – so is my friend Mary, who observes, “Her writing is excellent, which challenges me as an author. And, her story is compelling, which intrigues me as a woman. I highly recommend it.”
Mary also observes that Eat, Pray, Love is a “spiritual memoir of sorts and her writing is challenging me personally in many ways even though she isn't a Christian in the traditional sense of the word.”
My friend Julie says she, too, has “been trying to get through Eat, Pray, Love but I still have the “Love” to go!” Julie adds that “it's been a slow reader, but with some interesting perspectives!”
Back to Lori, who is also reading World Without End by Ken Follett. She notes, “This is the sequel to one of my all time favorite books, Pillars of the Earth. I do like the story and find the early English history fascinating.”
My book buddy Jane also “really liked” Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. She says, “I learned many things about history that I didn't know, both regarding the builder/priest/royalty relationships and how a cathedral was built. The passionate love scenes weren't too bad either, but I skimmed over the gory details of killings.”
Jane also likes the historical fiction mystery The House at Riverton. She says it's her favorite genre “and this was an excellent book in that genre. The story is from the viewpoint of a former maid at a mansion in England who is now nearly 100 years old. When she was there, one of the family members committed suicide. She tells the story to a young lady who is producing a movie about the house and the death of the prominent family member.”


My friend Jill says “I just finished reading The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks, and I've also been reading Have a New Kid by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman.
Megan is currently reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and says, “I am only in chapter 3 so it is too soon to give feedback . . . although I recently read Kite Runner by the same author which was amazingly written. It is a sad story with a hopeful ending, set in Afghanistan which I know nothing about, so it was great to learn a little about their culture. I love reading because I always gain new perspectives and this book is no exception. I recommend it to anyone.”
And Julie just finished The Jane Austen Book Club, and is “trying to decide between a Maeve Binchy book or Mike Perry's Truck.” By the way, when I mentioned I had glanced at the end of another Mike Perry book Population:485, Julie wrote this: “YOU DRIVE ME NUTS. YOU DON'T READ THE END FIRST. And yes, it's quite a wonderfully written book. One of my all time favorites. “
Kristen is reading Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis. She says, “I'm reading it half-heartedly and so far have yet to be surprised by joy myself . . . he is likeable, but it is wordy and long on British slang and depressing boyhood reminisces – no theological insights yet. We're getting to his Christian conversion.”
Kristen also “grabbed, literally, These High, Green Hills” by Jan Karon en route to the children's section of the library. “Every time we go I feel like one of those contest winners who has a specified time to fill the cart – everything is free but you only have two minutes . . . “
Doesn't that describe the situation perfectly?


Back to Jane – she just read In the Woods by Tara French “because I was considering it as the next book club read I was 'assigned' to find. I like the setting in Ireland, and I liked the psychological foreshadowing. It left me with questions I want to discuss with other women. If I remember right, my big objection is that the detectives fling about the “F” word quite frequently. I've never gotten the purpose of doing that.”
I'm wondering where Jane is finding all this reading time (I know how much else she does!) but she just keeps reading good books, including Full House by Janet Evanovich. Jane says “When I was without a book – oh, my! -- my daughter Janet loaned this to me, which I read while waiting on the plane and finished. It was funny, but totally a mindless read. Ya gotta do that every once in awhile.”
Jane also described the book she's reading now: Jodi Picoult's Change of Heart. Here's how she describes it: “I'm only on page 50 but already a woman was widowed, remarried to a police officer who adopted her little girl, was pregnant, husband got busy and couldn't finish the nursery room, guy with disabilities came to finish it, murdered the husband and kid, got sent to death row, woman had the baby who has a heart problem, murderer wants to donate his heart when he is executed. I'm almost dizzy thinking about it. I'm a little disappointed at the silliness of the plot but I will read on . . . “
Jane also finished Water for Elephants, but “I was disappointed. It was a good book (I sure did learn a lot about circuses) but not the great book I expected. For some reason, the detailed sex scenes in this one really bothered me. It had some really gross parts and someone was always vomitting which I don't like to read about particularly! I did love the way the author worked from a flashback point of view of the main character, and the ending was worth reading the whole book.”
Jane adds “I also bought an old Tony Hillerman mystery which I will read next. I read his books a long time ago, and want to try one again.”
In her spare time.
Well, that's enough for tonight – hope you found something to picque your interest and send you to the library or bookstore!

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