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Little Luxuries?

There is something that annoys me no end. It occurs when I or another book-lover start to talk about books and the person we are conversing with makes some high-handed comment that goes something like this: “I wish I had the luxury of time to read!” This seems to me to be an insult-in-disguise, as if I must be wasting my time if I’m caught reading a book, especially a novel of all things.

If you dig further, you’ll probably find the comment is made out of insecurity. Perhaps I came off sounding too intellectual and they felt inferior.  I hope not, but it could be the case.  Or maybe they used to love to read, but seriously haven’t the time or (more likely) the priority to read and so they feel guilty.

Whatever the case, I am trying to learn to not take it personally. But I started thinking about the whole thing of books and luxuries.  In the area of the world that I live in, we (me included) take books for granted.  We have access to libraries, bookstores, used book sales, interlibrary loan systems, and book selling websites.  School, college, kindles…  Books are even pitched by the hundreds by thrift stores that do not know what to do with all of the ones they receive as donations.  However, in other parts of the world, to own just one book is a pleasure that many people don’t have.  Even being able to read is a luxury and could change a whole family’s life forever if just one child could learn.

Time to read is a luxury as well. I am realizing this as my life changes.  When I was a homeschooled teenager, I read all day for school and then read some more afterwards for ‘fun’.  I’m finding I can’t read as many books in a year as I used to.  Other basic things like cleaning, working, grocery shopping, sleeping, taking time for spiritual growth, etc. take precedence.  However, I have learned to rearrange some things and that has been helping lately.  I’ve found that when I set parameters around certain time-wasters [ie, pinterest!], I can then set reading as a higher priority.

Although I wouldn’t consider reading as essential to life as meal-preparing for example, it vies as a close level category. Why?  Because reading affects quality of life.  When we read, we are open to learning.  When we can learn and grow, we can stretch beyond what was previously possible.  I don’t mean that a person will ‘get rich quick’ if they are able to read.  But the quality of one’s mind and decisions stemming from that will be greatly different than someone who chooses to remain un-self-schooled.  Reading and learning go hand in hand.

I notice this effect in the community in which I live. I don’t abide in a particularly affluent neighborhood.  Along with living here comes stereotypical opinions from others.  It is true, a lot of my neighbors are generally unread, unskilled, and spend their time choosing to engage in unrefined activities.  However, there are a few folks here I’ve come to know who are different in that they are principled, learned (by choice), and their lives have more order and structure.  They may not have a lot of money, yet their quality of life is elevated because of their values (usually honoring God falls into place here), and their determination to be open to learning in the world around them.  Perhaps what is the most mind-blowing is that both of these sets of people have access to a perfectly good library within possible walking distance!

The luxury of time to read? Time may be a luxury depending on what season of life you are in but if one has available access to books, reading should not be a luxury, rather it should be an appreciated necessity!

PS- Many utilize the more trending medium of audiobooks to get more ‘reading’ into their busy schedule.  This is perfectly acceptable, as it still incorporates the power of story and learning into one’s life.  I use the term ‘reading’ in this article to include ‘listening’ as well.

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Posted by on August 30, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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How Biblical is the Fantasy Genre?

Someone recently approached my mom and asked her if she liked fantasy.  Sure, she said; some of it.

What constitutes fantasy that is good as opposed to fantasy that is bad?  Is there a difference?  Is there something about it that should make one hesitant from a Christian perspective, or are they all just good fiction stories?  As Christians, we may sometimes be reserved when approaching the fantasy genre because different reasons.  Too much unreality may not be beneficial, or maybe the magical elements are of a corrupting influence.  Then, I have known other Christians who seem to practice no discernment, and devour anything because none of it is true so what’s the problem?

I first discovered author Gene Edward Veith while helping out in the church library.  I still have yet to read his books, but a growing number of his titles are on my TBR list.  I stumbled upon this article written by him, entitled Good Fantasy & Bad Fantasy.  I thought it was an excellent piece that approached the subject in an well-rounded way.  Though perhaps written a few years ago, it’s content is still classic for today’s audience as well.

What are your thoughts on the fantasy genre?

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Reading Fiction

I loved this article by Caryn Rivadeneira I found on Think Christian. I hope you get a chance to read it (it’s not very long), but basically, it is about the importance for Christians to read fiction as well as non-fiction books.

I confess that I am deeply concerned when I hear Christians say they ‘could care less’ about reading, or that they only read non-fiction. I have made two observations about these sorts of people.  If they don’t read at all, they are usually a person I have a hard time connecting with because I find them narrow minded.  The observation about the people who only read factual books is that they are usually men.  As if ‘real men don’t read fiction’ the way they also don’t eat quiche.  Or quinoa.  (And if they don’t read at all, they probably don’t know how to pronounce them either.)

I don’t care if the Christian reader or care-less non-reader is male or female. There is an important spot in their intellectual, emotional, mental diet for fiction.  They are probably not generally against watching movies, but the difference is that fiction requires more application and imagination.  Yes, it is something to be developed.  It is not a passive activity.  There are different reading levels and one will probably start at the bottom and work their way up if their mind is not used to reading.  But I have known deeply well-read people (even men) who have well-developed minds and emotions.  This must be evidence that not all fiction is fluff.

I don’t believe any book is better than God’s holy Word, the Bible, and I am currently reading a marvelous non-fiction book on the spiritual life by Brennan Manning. But even so I often find that God can use fiction to speak to me in different ways.  Not all books all the time, but recently there have been a few good reads that I believe God has used to draw some things to my attention, that have bothered me until I was forced to think about why.  These books weren’t necessarily Christian or literary.  But when I read fiction, I am put into the place of the characters and their feelings and I experience their lives in a way.  And it reminds me of things in my life past or present, and it brings things to the surface.  Is this scary?  It can be sometimes.  But God is there with me, holding my hand through it.  What a friend we have in Jesus!  He’s even my reading buddy.  🙂

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Christian Fiction for the Summer!

Happy Summer!!

Need a beach read?  The CBD catalog of Christian and Inspirational fiction has been out for a few months and I have a new list of books I’m looking forward to reading.  I was a little disappointed that it seemed thinner than usual (I don’t know why), but at the same time I found more titles for my list than I usually do so it evened out.  🙂  Here they are if you’re looking for some TBR inspiration…

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Posted by on June 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Do you read long books?

Do you read long books? I confess that I tend to shy away from them.  I think it just seems like too big a commitment for me.  I prefer variety or else I get bored, and tackling a 400+ page novel leaves me exhausting just thinking about it.

It’s ironic but I think I had more patience when I was younger (teenage years). I had more time and I attempted just about any classic in the quest to say I’d read them all.  My tastes and goals have changed over the years.  But some of the longer fictional books I have accomplished in the past include “Little Women (age 12); “Ivanhoe” (which I converted into a 75 page play for my sister and myself); and more recently, “Titus Groan,” by Mervyn Peake.  There are a few others on my TBR that I don’t know when I’ll get to.  “The Maid of Sker,” by Richard D. Blackmore, “The Cloister and the Hearth,” by Charles Reade, and “Glastonbury,” by Donna Fletcher Crowe.

I think some of the reasons why I often shy away from the longer tomes these days is because I don’t feel I have the emotional or mental energy to undertake it. A couple of years ago I ordered a book on interlibrary loan, and then promptly sent it back upon seeing how thick the book and how tiny the print was.  I was going through a rough time and needed something lighter and faster paced.  Recently I also passed on an Edward Rutherfurd novel, when 15 years ago I probably would have checked it out.  Another plausible theory could be due to the fact that I have more eyestrain than I used to and it taints my desire for long, involved reads.

When searching out new additions for my TBR on goodreads, I try to thoughtfully evaluate whether I will realistically want to read a particular title or if I would just feel burdened and dread opening the cover. That sounds sort of funny now that I have that typed down.  Why would I want to read anything I’d dread?  Am I such a glutton for self-torture?  I want to read good, meaty, beneficial books.  But the word and page count of a book does not necessarily make it beneficial.  A proverb can be more wisely read than a full assortment of “Grey” romance.

Yet some of the world’s best epics have been told through long-drawn out prose. (Those French and Russian novels for instance…)  But usually their stories are too familiar told through other mediums for me to care to devote so much time to reading.  Maybe one day my interests will change again and I’ll be a reader of “Moby Dick” but I’m not so much a fan of whale blubber right now.

What does constitute me attempting a big fiction book? Just like any other book, it is usually a creative plotline and the adventure that draws me in.  If it has my attention in these areas, I can perhaps forget I’ve spent the last 3 months in this world.  It’s what kept me going through “Titus Groan”, and is what has me interested in someday trying “Shogun,” by James Clavell.

I came to ponder all of this after reading this article entitled “Never Ending Stories.”

What about you? If you’re a reader of long tales, what attracts you to them?

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Reading Habits, Uncategorized

 

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Words & Music: ~Clouds~

I hope everyone has had a profitable day!  I did, but it was also hot and exhausting and a lot of things didn’t go very well.  But nothing a little ice cream didn’t fix, and then I turned on BBC Radio 3’s program “Words and Music” where they did an episode dedicated to the theme of Clouds.  What a relaxing, soothing way to spend an evening!  I really hope you get a chance to listen to it before it expires.  You’ll enjoy music from Ralph Vaughan Williams and Perry Como, and narrators Simon Russell Beale and Adjoa Andoh read pieces (mainly poetry) from Emily Dickinson and Wordsworth.  I particularly enjoyed “Cloudburst,” by Eric Whitacre, Claude Debussy, and a poem called “Clouds,” by William Sharp.  Some parts of this program could bring one to tears, it is so heavenly and featherlight…

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Ocean theme on “Words & Music”

I’ve just finished listening to one of the most enjoyable programs I’ve listened to yet from BBC Radio 3’s “Words & Music” program.  Entitled “Life’s a Wave”, all pieces of poetry, prose, and music have been selected to fit a sea-faring theme.  Although some parts of it are a little dark, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the voices of Lesley Sharp and John Shrapnel (both new discoveries for me).  I loved the quiet sounds Sharp’s voice made of the words no matter their meaning, and Shrapnel had such a burly, deck-scrubbed timbre that he made even “Moby Dick” sound fascinating!

Unfortunately, I waited a bit late to listen to it and pass it on, so there are only a dozen or so remaining days to listen.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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