The Book Basket...

So little time, so many great books. 

People often ask how or where I find time to read. Normally, I squeeze it in late-night…almost every night, no matter how the evening was spent or how late it is, I read by flashlight before falling asleep. Honestly, it’s my little treat, right up there with morning coffee. 

In case you're looking, here are a few from my recent stack: 

The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Muriel Barbery)

"On the outside, she's covered in quills, a real fortress, but my gut feeling is that on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary--and terribly elegant."

This philosophical piece of fiction, translated (very well) from French was so delightfully fresh and interesting. The beauty of the language was itself worthwhile, and I’m keeping it handy to spur some song ideas. The chapters alternate between the voice of a homely residential concierge and a suicidal 12-year-old resident of her building, both of whom possess far more intellect and sophistication than anyone realizes (which is the way both characters want it). Enter elderly Japanese tenant...This would be a great book club book…if I were in a book club. 

Deep Church (Jim Belcher)

"When we become more humble in our beliefs, we are willing to see that our own denominatins or traditions do not have a corner on all truth..."

My pastor handed this to me to help answer some questions I’ve had concerning the traditional church and the emerging/emergent church movement. The author has spent time in both circles, has real friends in both, and is now pastoring a PCA church in California. He proposes there is a third way, and the possibility of real, peacemaking dialogue between the two camps, and is attempting to shed light on some misunderstandings. Excellent so far. 

Better Than My Dreams (Paula Rinehart)

"The struggle is a door, and inside God waits.  If you are willing to walk through the portal, you find what you could not experience deeply any other way."

My friend brought me an autographed copy of this book by her counselor and friend, Paula Rinehart, who lives here in Raleigh. This book is for every woman who has been disappointment in life and needs to hear how she can meet God in the gap that exists between her ideals and her reality. Very well-written but accessible, easy to read. 

Little Bee (Chris Cleave)

“Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl."

I’m in the middle of this painful, eye-opening story of a Nigerian refugee whose life intersects tragically with that of an upper-middle class British magazine founder/editor. Chapters alternate between the voices of the two, and although the actual events are fictional, it stirs up new awareness of the violence we all know really is out there and prompts examination of our own willingness to sacrifice for others.

*Note: Contains bad language & R-rated situations.  Since writing this post, I've become less enchanted with the book because of an adulterous relationship that has become too much in the foreground.  

Orthodoxy (G.K. Chesterton)

"All denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it."

Not a late-night read…I have to do this one early morning or while traveling. Started this a year or two ago but didn’t have the “bandwidth” for it at the time. Now I’m chewing it slowly , underlining and pondering. It requires a lot of mental attention, but is so provocative. If you’re doing crosswords to stay sharp, maybe try reading a paragraph a day of this book instead. 

Little Dorrit (Charles Dickens)

"Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day."

Like Chesterton, I find Dickens requires more of me than I can typically muster at 11:30pm with a flashlight. But since my little girl gave it to me last year for Mother’s Day, I really want to read it. And Dickens is always worth the effort in the end. I’m not that far into it, but so far so good. 

Love Walked Among Us (Paul E. Miller)

"Being loved gives you the freedom and resources to love."

We have been doing a study based on this (See Jesus) and also attended a seminar with its author, Paul Miller, a couple of weeks ago. It’s so simple and so profound, and gets you to really pay attention to the marvelous way Jesus had with the people he encountered. What we know but haven’t really paid attention to in so much detail is Christ’s intentional “incarnating” with people…seeing, feeling and then acting in a balance of compassion and honesty. In the workshop, we each sat in the “hot seat” and let the group observe our interactions. It’s shocking how unaware we can be of our own failure to balance the two.