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Non-fiction Books I’m Liking (Fall 2018)

I’m seeing a Japanese theme here, aren’t you?  Enjoy these Asian-rooted books with me this autumn!

The Four Holy Gospels, illustrated by Makoto Fujimura ~ The first time I heard of Makoto Fujimura was on a late Moody radio program.  ‘A Christian abstract artist?  That just can’t be!’ I thought.  I’m not sure how, but somewhere along the way I picked up the thinking that modern art was completely anti-God, anti-Christian and anything that didn’t at least try to look realistic had its basis in evil worldviews.  Thank goodness God’s mellowed me out since then, and I guess the process is ongoing!  For those who may be struggling with this idea that abstract can be glorifying to God, I recommend Francis Schaeffer’s short work, “Art and the Bible.” In any case, I became curious enough to look up this deeply spiritual Asian-American online to see what his art looked like.  I was astounded.  I don’t pretend to understand high art.  I need those trained in it to help me understand it.  But I appreciated the beauty and emotion he infused with traditional Japanese painting techniques to create beautiful washes of color with veins of metallic running through them.  I heard that he was commissioned to illustrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, rather like the medieval illumination of old.  I’ve always wanted to see it, and I finally got the chance.  I wish there was more explanation accompanying his paintings and why he chose what he did (as a lot of it goes over my head), but I loved looking at it nonetheless.  My favorite piece was the full-page illustration, Prodigal God.  I would like to own my own copy someday. 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo ~ Spring cleaning… in the fall?  I know, that doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it?  But I’ve always felt more like the fall was a second New Year’s for me, a time to hit restart and a chance to attempt more order.  And as alluded to in a recent post, I’ve been feel overwhelmed and stressed out for a long time and my systems aren’t working.  So I need a change.  I found this book at a garage sale and knew that it was a popular, best-selling book.  I’d first heard of the KonMari method of organizing on a youtube video where a woman went through her wardrobe cleaning and sorting according to what she had read in the book.  And then I just started of hearing it everywhere.  Last year I redded [yes, that is a word even though spellcheck says it’s not] my book collection to purge what I didn’t have room for anymore.  I was pleased with the results, but I really needed to read through this cover to cover.  So, I am currently about halfway through and am enjoying this little book.  So much of what the author recommends seems backward to what I was thinking, but once she explains herself it begins to make sense and I am willing to try.  I have already gone through my own clothes closet and am now to attack books again (I acquire new all the time) and papers.  I want to begin to put her principles into my daily living, not just a once a year mad purge.  I know she comes to the table with a very Eastern spiritualistic worldview.  Some readers may feel weird about Kondo’s assigning personalities to things and talking to them, thanking them for their service.  But at the same time, I identify with that because of my struggles with OCD.  So even though I personally don’t believe my Mom’s 34-year old blender that she got as a wedding present and that is now out of commission has a spirit, it is easier to place it in the dumpster after I’ve given it a dignified “thank you for your service” speech.   

 

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2018 in Non-Fiction Books I'm Liking

 

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My 1ST BOOK CLUB! & Book Review: “Sensible Shoes,” by Sharon Garlough Brown

16204594Genre: Christian fiction

Plot Summary: [from goodreads.com:] “Sharon Garlough Brown tells the moving story of four strangers as they embark together on a journey of spiritual formation: Hannah, a pastor who doesn’t realize how exhausted she is. Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past. Mara, a woman who has experienced a lifetime of rejection and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage. Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right. You’re invited to join these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and find themselves drawn out of their separate stories of isolation and struggle and into a collective journey of spiritual practice, mutual support and personal revelation. Along the way, readers will be taken into a new understanding of key spiritual practices and find tangible support for the deeper life with God.”

My Book Review: I first heard of this book on Midday Connection, where it was once recommended for one of their on-air book clubs.  It never really seemed to appeal to me as far as reading genres go.  No excitement, no adventure, intrigue, etc.  But a lady from my church whom I highly respect and who is also in charge of our women’s ministry had an inspired idea to start a women’s book club throughout the summer with this book for discussion.  It turns out, she personally knew the author Sharon Garlough Brown, and contacted her about visiting our church in October around the time the third in the Sensible Shoe trilogy was released.  Well, how could I pass on something this neat?  I signed up for the book club discussions, and got a copy of the book.

The book’s publisher, IVP, is not in the habit of printing fiction books. Their attention is directed toward non fiction (usually in the contemplative genre) that help people grow in their spiritual walk.  But when Brown approached them with her manuscript, they decided to change their rules for once and publish it.  They felt strongly that even though it was fiction, it taught great spiritual disciplines.  Through the emotional medium of fictional characters, biblical truth can be effectively taught in a way non fiction can’t.  This is what has meant so much to fans of the Sensible Shoes club.  Truth climbs in the back door of our heart and helps us see that we truly are God’s beloved and we long to walk more closely with Him, overcoming the walls and barriers that have closed off life for so long.

At first, I had a hard time getting into the story.  It still wasn’t my thing.  It was well written, but just not exciting.  One of the main reasons I had joined was because I knew that the topic of contemplative Christianity would be brought up, and I wanted to learn more about it.  I had come to the right place.  The four female characters in the book—Mara, Charissa, Meg, and Hannah—meet one another at a spiritual retreat center, where a wise spiritual director introduces them to disciplines that help them grow in their walk with the Lord.

a71db3c4fc05f755450487872d6e06fdThere are probably some of you reading this review and already the hackles have gone on the back of your neck. You’ve heard about this strange “pagan form of New Age religion” called contemplative Christianity and you’re scared to death.  I’m glad the author addresses those concerns in her book.  It takes a mind fully bent on discerning truth under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and not someone who gets creeped out because of something new or outside of the comfortable box to embrace this book.

90 women showed up at our church to begin the book club discussions. Even our pastor picked it up to read and got into it.  We split the book up into 3 chapters at a time and got together in smaller groups at a local log cabin retreat center (WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!).  We talked about the characters and how we identified or didn’t identify with them, and also about the spiritual disciplines taught along the way, and what God was teaching us through them.  It was my first time being a part of a book club, and I really enjoyed the conversations.

As far as the story itself went, I finally started to get more into it around 2/3 of the way through. The plot gained some suspense and I wanted to know what happened next.  I would probably say I identified the most with the character Hannah, though not in the way some in my group supposed I did.  I knew God was wanting me to dig through some stuff I kept on wanting to shove under the rug.  I would like to go back through the book again and incorporate the spiritual disciplines into my routine.  It’s definitely something I want to explore more deeply.

004October came and we had our big shebang at the end of the bookclub. when Sharon Garlough Brown came to visit our church. Unfortunately, the even started at 9:00 in the morning.  Um, no.  I don’t do mornings well.  I got myself around the earliest as best I could and arrived an hour and a half late, but was able to sit in on the last half hour of her lecture.  Amazingly, it was exactly at that spot in her speech that I needed to hear.  She was talking on Romans 8:31-39 and it was like it was just for me!  I took lots of notes.

We broke for lunch and reconvened later for music worship and then Sharon came on stage again to talk, mainly about her inspiration and background for writing the book. Then it was Q & A time and giveaway time.  At the end of the afternoon, Sharon sat at a little card table with a flower in a vase and we lined up to get our copies autographed by her.  That was so much fun!  I even got my picture taken with her, but I don’t post my pic on the net.  I’ll just post the one I took of her signing books.

Sharon Brown was a lovely person to meet, and such a regular-body, too. I found a video of her promoting her series, and more can be found on Youtube:

It seems these books are the type of thing you read and pass on to someone else, and they spread and grow among friends. I even recommended it to my uncle!  I lent mine to another friend who appreciated it, but also said she felt like the problems the characters dealt with were gotten over ‘too quickly.’ She has a point– there are usually no quick fixes in life.  But at the same time, a story arch has to fit within a certain page structure.  Then too, there are two more in the series, so who knows what will occur in the next segment of their journey?

This is a highly recommended novel, because of how it causes one to examine their heart with God at the helm. If this scares you, I encourage you to give it a try in small parts anyway.  A book won’t bite, and it gives the brain something to chew on.

Did you love this book? Why or why not?

I would also recommend:

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2018 in Book Reviews

 

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Words & Lists, Lists & Words

Are you a lover of words?  Do you make lists lists lists?  I think you will enjoy this podcast featuring Marilyn McEntyre on Anita Lustrea’s podcast Faith Conversations (Episode 118).  Ms. McEntyre is a skilled user of words, and I enjoyed listening to what she had to say as well as how she said it.  Her voice of has a reflective, gentling effect.  She is the author of “Word by Word” and “Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies.”  I can’t wait to read them both!

I really liked the idea of praying with specific lists, and turning lists into prayers.  For myself, I know I was a list-maker since very young.  I think the reason why I do it is for several reasons.  1) It helps to get the chaos of my mind categorized on paper; 2) it helps me deal with sadness; 3) it helps me feel like I’m taking action toward my goals and problem-solving.

Why do you make lists or not?

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2018 in Journaling Our Journey

 

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Scott Brick videos

Hi, there!  Quick post tonight about one of my favorite audiobook voice over talents: Scott Brick.  The reason why I hold him in high storyteller esteem is because he, Pat Fraley, and Hilary Huber have conjointly perfected many of the techniques behind the creation of audiobooks.  Not only is he easy and interesting to listen to, he just downright knows how to tell a story and do it well.  If you have listened to at least 5 audiobooks, chances are he’s probably narrated at least one of them.  I think his current tally is 600+.

Recently I’ve become addicted to the youtube channel VO Buzz Weekly.  Scott Brick was the featured guest on one of their episodes, which I am sharing here for those interested:

 

 

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More Random Books Finds this Summer

Posting again before I build up too high a stack!  These books were got at library book sales during the month of July.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2017 in Book Shopping

 

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Non-Fiction I’m Liking (Summer 2017)

If you’re still looking forward to taking your summer vacation and searching for inspiration in a non-fiction read, consider one of these as your beach companion!:

“At Home with Madame Chic: Becoming a Connoisseur of Daily Life,” by Jennifer L. Scott~ Wanting a little more French elegance in your everyday life? The second of Jennifer L. Scott’s non-fiction trilogy (so far) was a memorable read for me a couple of years ago.  Of course I wanted to read this after having read her first book, Lessons from Madame Chic.  I so enjoyed reading about creative ways to establish a lively routine at home.  Conversational in style, Jennifer feels like a trusted friend and I also am a devoted follower of her blog and youtube videos.  I really can’t think of anything to nitpick about it and I’m hankering after Book #3 (Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic)!  This book is perfect for stay-at-home mamas, but not relegated only to that stereotype.  All of us can benefit from living more consciously and happily when we’re at home.

“The Creative Habit”: Learn It and Use it For Life,” by Twyla Tharp~ Speaking of creativity, anyone who claims or aspires to be any type of artist will heartily enjoy this book, written by a NYC dance choreographer. At first I was going to pass on by this, but after taking a closer look I realized it had contained within it lots of encouragement for achieving my dreams of becoming a VO artist.  I’m only on Chapter 5 and I’ve already taken pages of notes and there are even interesting exercises for discovering how you are hardwired creatively.  I was afraid that perhaps the content would be too over my head, but I found it to be easy reading and am having a hard time putting it down.  Having a block and don’t know how or if you should continue forward?  I think you will find the author quite reassuring with a lot of good advice.  This book is a must-read for you!

 
 

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Audiobook Review: “A Curious Mind,” by Brian Grazer (Read by Norbert Leo Butz)

22669010Genre: non-fiction; self-help; motivational

Story Review: I picked this audiobook up on a whim while on a trip to my local library.  The very first thing that attracted me to it was the title: A Curious Mind.  I think the word curiosity describes me.  Even when I’m disgusted or repulsed by something, curiosity drives me in further to explore.  I love to learn!  I love anything interesting.

I tend to gravitate toward non fiction when it comes to audiobooks. I don’t have as much time to listen to fiction on audio, I get bored when I do, and I envy the reader because I want to vocally create the story myself.  Non fiction is different.  If it’s interesting it has my attention from the beginning, and I’m an avid note-taker.

I had never heard of the name Brian Grazer (Hollywood film producer and self-called ‘storyteller’) before, but I was surprised that I was familiar with some of his films. Some of them include A Beautiful Mind, 24, and In the Heart of the Sea. I wasn’t really sure what his book would be about, but it turned out to detail Grazer’s technique on how he approaches life.  In a word, with curiosity.  It wouldn’t hurt any of us to take a few tips on staying open to learn new things, taking opportunities as we come across them, and being humble and grateful in this world.  There are so many interesting things to learn and people to meet!  I liked Grazer’s reasoning that curiosity leads to success, and his list of benefits stemming from curiosity.

I probably would have appreciated a little more practical advice on how to apply curiosity to one’s everyday life. Not all of us have the leverage or opportunities to meet the kinds of people Grazer has (which have included Princess Diana, Isaac Asimov, and Fidel Castro).  But I took six pages of notes, so I think I enjoyed the book!

Thoughts on the Narrator: The preface is read by Brian Grazer himself, but the rest of the book is narrated by Norbert Leo Butz.  I’d never heard of him, either, but his reading never lost me or bored me.  His voice was clear-cut and stage-practiced.  Since this was non-fiction, I have no idea how he would do performing fiction with voices and dramatic emotions.  I am very picky when it comes to narrators (another reason why I listen to so few), but his was a presentation I could well tolerate.

I think it would be hard to listen to this without at least a pen and notebook. This is for anyone who desires to achieve goals in life!

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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