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Friends & Books

I recently watched an interesting documentary and wanted to quickly recommend it to you.  But first, a little backstory…

I bumped into someone I knew last Sunday evening and we got to talking on the subject of books.  I had happened to like the past year’s women’s book club our church held this summer; she had not been so enthused over it.  But she told me about a really good book she had finished that had her gushing.  It was called “And Ladies of the Club,” by Helen Hooven Santmyer, a book that had taken the author all of her life to write.  Apparently, it is a fictionalized account of a women’s book club spanning several decades.

Later this week, I decorated our Christmas tree.  This may sound abnormal, but for the last three years I’ve made a tradition of finding time to watch documentaries as I decorate.  It used to be traditional Christmas music, but seeing as how I am very particular and take many hours (or sometimes days) just trim our tree, the music gets annoying very quickly.  So documentaries it is…  While browsing my library’s hoopla (a new resource and worth checking to see if your library has it or something similar), I stumbled across a film simply called, “Book Club.”  It happened to be the true life story of a group of dear women who had formed a book club early on in their young, married lives as a way to improve their minds.  As the years passed, their club continued as new members arrived and others moved on.  But always a core membership remained.

It was such an interesting story, and ironically reminded me of the book my acquaintance told me about (although the two are unrelated, as far as I know).  A few things struck me about the documentary.  I noticed was that when the film showed clips of the women reading passages from their favorite selections they read clearly, smoothly, and comprehendingly.  Not choppy, disjointed, with ignorant pronunciation.  This is because they had lifetimes of practiced skill.  These ladies were well into their 80’s, and admittedly did not read as intellectually deep as they formerly had.  Yet, they were still reading literary fiction, memoirs, and other books of depth.  I believe this is because once their minds were used to quality reading, even at an old age they could not develop a taste for anything as fluffy as “Amish fiction” [yes, I’m ranting again!].  Comment was made on a few members’ determination to read books on self-improvement, though it may not make sense to the world at large why ladies of such an age would be.  But the results were evident in that the women had a large love for life and many interests.  It was not born overnight; their zest was began many years ago when they were still young.  They had felt worn out, underappreciated, maybe a bit isolated at a time when many women did not work, the world was at war, and they had babies and husbands to take care of.  But they deemed friendship and reading in community to be important enough to make the time and effort, and many emphasized that those things meant more to them than the books themselves.

It was interesting to hear of their different backgrounds, perspectives, and education.  Not all of them were the reverent or pious grandmother you may expect, and in a way it was sad some of them obviously did not have the joy of Jesus Christ in their life.  But part of a book club means learning from others that do not hold the same views as ourselves, I am learning.  I hope you will become curious and inspired by watching “Book Club” just as I was!

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Posted by on December 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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~Quote for September 2, 2017~

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2017 in Quotes

 

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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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Movie Review: The Book Thief

d326e3e8deb69479ae2a56a451ab07e8Based on the book by Markus Zusak.

Version: 2013; starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson

Genre: drama, WWII

Plot Summary: Liesel Meminger has been orphaned by the circumstances of WWII and adopted by a new set of parents in a different town.  She is also new at school and ashamed to admit she cannot read.  But Papa helps to educate her as he learns to improve his schooling as well.  Meanwhile, there are other things to be learned while living in Germany during the time of the Third Reich.

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not by comparing it to that novel.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

This was a film that had my interest from the first, but I didn’t have a chance to watch it until a little while ago. The trailer looked so intriguing, and I guess I get my interest in WWII history from my mom.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it included the actor Geoffrey Rush in a major role.  His voice is one of my favorites (he played the voice of Nigel the Pelican on Finding Nemo).

The Book Thief was interesting in that it followed the story of a German civilian (Liesel) throughout the duration of the WWII.  Because of the perspective, it sort of reminded me of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, another film I would recommend.  Liesel is involved with the Hitler Youth and other activities just like many other young people her age.  Her adoptive parents aren’t too particularly anti-Hitler, but aren’t entirely for him, either.  However, they go with the flow as many do and keep the peace.

That is, until a young Jewish man enters their home and they are compelled to hide him in their basement. Liesel doesn’t completely understand what is going on, only that Max is her friend and she wants to protect him.

1ea864bc74e07178ed875aaca980711bI really did enjoy this movie, but I get a sense that the book was probably better. There were parts (mostly at the beginning) that I didn’t understand.  Why was Liesel’s mother taken away?  What exactly happened to her brother?  What was the burgermeister’s reasons for banning Liesel?  What’s the deal with the abstract narrator called Death?  Although the story was called “The Book Thief”, that really wasn’t so much of the plot.  It was hard to suspend disbelief when several years go by, yet Liesel and her girlhood crush Rudy don’t appear to get any older.  But I did get a kick out of the Christmas scene in the basement, where the family smuggles in snow, has a snowball fight and builds a snowman.  “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done!” Rosa states.  😀  I also really liked the scene where Liesel enjoys a good book at the burgermeister’s library.  The colors, mood, and design are something I would like to replicate someday for my own personal library.

Another thing I appreciated is that the end of the story takes a different twist that I did not expect, as real life sometimes does. It was sad, but not altogether so.  There is not really ‘content’ issues.  This film is based on a YA book and I was glad to see it kept age appropriate.  But there is what you would expect in a story that takes place during such a time as 1940’s Germany, and there are beatings, bombings, etc.

I would recommend this, but parents will probably want to watch it with their kids and decide what age it’s appropriate for.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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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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Quote for 04-20-2017~

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Quotes

 

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