Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Reading Round-Up (Several Months Overdue)

I can't remember the last time I did a "reading round-up." I'm fairly certain I didn't do one all summer. Ah well. I'll do my best now to capture a few of the books/authors I've been enjoying, though I suspect I will not recall them all and may need to update as certain books come back to me. (My memory is truly not working well of late...I think I'm too tired!)

Inwardly, I've jokingly referred to one part of my reading list as "Christian radicals." But there's something about that category that actually seems to fit a small group of books I've been reading for the past several weeks. I noted it here when I read Life as I Remember It by Rich Mullins. I actually still have a few reflections in that book to finish. I recently finished Mike Yankoski's Under the Overpass (Multnomah) the true account of a young man's experiences from a period of time when he chose to live on the streets in several U.S. cities, to experience firsthand the life of the homeless and poor. This book sets up some interesting contrasts to another book I'm currently reading, The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne (Zondervan). Shane's radical activism has deeper roots. I confess one reason I wanted to read Shane's book is that we know him, at least a little: in his undergraduate years at Eastern University, our alma mater, Shane was a student worker in the admissions office where my husband supervised student workers, and he also worked on a drama ministry team that D. was still connected to in an advisory capacity. So we've followed Shane's passion and the life of his inner-city community (the Simple Way in Philadelphia) with interest, received their newsletter from just about the very start, and kept him in our prayers (his picture currently resides in our family's "missionary book" which we use at family prayer times).

C.S. Lewis reminds me that it's important to read "old books," not just new; in fact, he recommends that at least every other book we read be an "old" one, so we can try to overcome chronological snobbery (and cultural myopia). It occurs to me that I would do well to turn to some older radicals in the faith. I've yet to find and read a really good biography of St. Francis of Assisi, something I've been meaning to do for years. If anyone has any recommendations...

In the category of children's literature, I've read so much that there's no way I can come close to recounting everything. Probably my best "find" this year has been Elizabeth Enright, a novelist who wrote from the 1930s-1960s. I've enjoyed three of the Melendy books (stories about a family of siblings named Melendy). I think there's a fourth but I'm not sure. This past weekend I hit the jackpot at a used book sale at the library and found all three of the Melendy books I've read bound in one volume; despite some yellowing to the pages and cover, it was in good shape and I suspect will make delightful rainy day reading for the sweet girl one day, so I snapped it up. Mostly recently I finished Enright's Gone-Away Lake, which garnered her a Newbery honor in 1958. I've yet to tackle her 1939 Newbery Medal winning Thimble Summer, but plan to read both that and the sequel to Gone-Away Lake sometime in the coming year.

My James Herriot phase has been a long one this summer. I read Animal Stories and Every Living Thing and all eight of the collected pictures books in his Children's Treasury (this last with my daughter). A couple of weeks ago I started the biography of Herriot written by his son, James Wight: The Real James Herriot. I've also been losing myself in Herriot's lovely travelogue reflections (and even moreso in the pictures) of James Herriot's Yorkshire.

I'm yawning...it's a very rainy afternoon and the sweet girl is napping. I was up way too late last night, working with my class, so I think I will go curl up on the couch for a bit and rest while the rain falls. More soon on other books I've enjoyed!


Erin said...

"Gone-Away Lake" sounds really familiar. I'm fairly sure I haven't read it, but I wonder if I might have it... I have probably about a hundred Newberys that I've collected over the years; one of these days I have to read all the ones I haven't gotten to yet!

I love St. Francis. My favorite of the saints, even more than Patrick... I've never read a book about him though so I can't help you there. I'll keep my eyes peeled!

Beth said...

I think you'd like Gone-Away Lake... I'm thinking of reviewing it for Epinions (might even get to it today or tomorrow, we'll see!) It's a great, dreamy sort of summer book, so you may want to wait till next year -- unless you're feeling desperate for some imagined summer warmth in the midst of winter in Erie in a few months!

I too love Francis. Though I'm also a big fan of Patrick. My class is doing its section on Celtic era of the British church this coming week, and one of the things I usually try to have them do is reflect on St. Patrick's Breastplate. Such a beautiful hymn!