Here's a peek at some of what I've been reading lately.
The sweet girl (aka Jedi Teen...who by the way truly has officially reached her teen years now!) has been busy recommending books to me, deep into her own summer reading. Some of these she's found on her own and some we've ferreted out together via book lists. So far I have really enjoyed Savvy by Ingrid Law and One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, two mid-grade books I might not have read but for the sweet girl's encouragement. I enjoyed Savvy, an interesting mix of fantasy and realism, for its creative story-line and highly creative use of language. One for the Murphys, the debut novel of author Hunt (whose second book Fish in a Tree the sweet girl and I both enjoyed earlier this year) is the story of a young girl in foster care. It reminded me a little bit of Katherine Paterson's The Great Gilly Hopkins, though Gilly had less overt sentiment.
Jedi Teen and I reviewed the graphic novel Smile together, and she's gone on to read two other graphic novels by Raina Telegemeier (I've started Sisters, but haven't had a chance to finish it). We both also read the seventh (and perhaps last, though we're not sure) Clementine book by Sara Pennypacker, Completely Clementine. It's so funny to realize that the sweet girl started reading these when she was about Clementine's age. Clementine has only made it through her third grade year in these seven terrific books, while my daughter has shot past her by years. But we both still love them, almost the way you love to and return to a good Ramona book. And that's saying something.
MysteriesI've needed a lighthearted return to mystery reading this summer, and decided to dive back into my exploration of the books of Patricia Wentworth. I'm not sure quite how many of the Miss Silver mysteries I've read now, but I know I've done three since late spring: She Came Back, The Gazebo, and Out of the Past. All of these were written in the 1950s, I think, and she definitely had her formula down by then. I'm cottoning on to what makes a Wentworth a Wentworth -- I actually managed to guess the murderer in the last one -- and I'm very much enjoying the camaraderie between Miss Silver and Inspector Abbot, who looks upon this school-teacher-ish maiden-aunt woman with both amusement and awe. I love that he trusts her detecting instincts so completely that he'd pretty much follow her blindfolded in a snowstorm. It's a great early example of an amateur and professional partnership.
Non-FictionSo much really good non-fiction on my plate right now...it's sort of an embarrassment of riches. I'm inwardly singing with joy over the beautiful essays in James K.A. Smith's Discipleship in the Present Tense, which seem to be "speaking my theology" in ways I've only felt with a few authors in the past. I'm revisiting a gem of a book I loved years ago and recently rediscovered in a library book sale: Henri Nouwen's Return of the Prodigal -- and I need to hear what he has to say just as much as I did then. It's one of those beautiful gospel-centered books that we all need to revisit from time to time for the good of our hearts. And it's reminding me how much I love the artistry of Rembrandt and his Prodigal painting in particular.
I'm learning a ton of history I never knew from David Garrison's A Wind in the House of Islam, a book that is both challenging and encouraging. It's a carefully researched and well-written account of some of the many amazing things that God had done among Muslim communities in centuries past and is currently doing among Muslims in this century. I was going to call it a book of mission history (which it is) but I'd rather give it the bigger parameter of Christian history or just history (thinking about Justo Gonzalez' reminder that we too often separate the study of missions from the rest of church and world history).
I'm still working my way through N.T. Wright's Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians, which is taking me longer than I expected, mostly because I find myself wanting to chew thoughtfully on his insights. I keep meaning to jot some of the things that are particularly speaking to me -- from Wright, Nouwen, Smith, and Garrison especially -- here on the blog. Maybe I will have a chance to do that soon.