A friend recently asked for suggestions of what might be a good read… I offered a few titles. Yesterday, I glanced over at one of my bookcases, and saw Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River, and thought, “How could I have forgotten that?? I’ll have to tell her about that one tonight. Wait a minute. I’m going to see her at kinship. I can bring it to her! Oh, and that one. And that one.” So, in addition to my guitar, Bible, music stand, and purse, I lugged in a selection of five books from Karen’s Library: Peace Like a River, Pride and Prejudice, The Silver Chalice*, Life of Pi, and The Joke**.
I recommend all to you, too. Peace should definitely be your first read, if you have not yet drunk from its deep draughts of Good Art + Good Message.
This week, I completed Wings of Fire, by the mother and son team whose pen name is Charles Todd. I’m always up for a good, clean, compelling, historical mystery set in England. :) My favorite author of such books, though, is Dorothy L. Sayers, and I can’t help but compare to her, when I’m reading in that genre, and every one comes up lacking. Sorry, Inspector Rutledge. You’re just not Peter Wimsey. Still. I had read a stellar review of the most recent in the eleven-book series, The Red Door, and I decided that, rather than pick it up midstream, I’d begin at the beginning. However, I didn’t do my research right — or something — and put Wings of Fire on hold at my library. It wasn’t until I lent it to my mother, yet unread, that I discovered that the book is the second in the series; A Test of Wills is first. I enjoyed it enough that I will likely, eventually, read the whole series, but I wasn’t so enthralled that it’s on my MUST READ NOW list.
Right now, I’m reading Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom. It’s the “assignment” for a book club I’m in. It is the best book club ever — filled with sharp, insightful, Godly women whom I absolutely adore. We meet every other month. I haven’t read enough of Faith to formulate an opinion on it, one way or another. It’s a true story, in which the author gains respect for the rabbi of his youth and, apparently, a Baptist guy, too… I guess my fear is that the author’s intentions are going to be too politically correct for my taste, a là the stinkin’ “coexist” bumper stickers that makes me want to chuck eggs at the car, every time I see one. (Not really. I’m nicer than that. But, I do roll my eyes and shake my head. I mean, I rather understand the sentiment of being at peace with all men. However, I DO NOT think all religions are equal and that everyone needs to just accept the beliefs of everyone else as valid. I truly believe that Jesus is the only Way.) If nothing else, Faith seems like it’s going to be a well-written, nicely-unfolded story, and maybe I need to learn from it. ;) )
I have also started reading The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief & Healing, edited by Kevin Young. It sounds morbid, and, well, it is, as it’s about dying. However, I heard a fabulous interview on NPR with the compiler, who is a poet in his own right, and felt very compelled to go out and get the book NOW. Indeed, I immediately placed it on my hold list at the library, and was very pleased when it became available. In the interview, Young read a number of the poems, most of which were written in the 20th century. My reaction?? “I laughed! I cried!” all within the seven-minute segment. Most of the poems are, of their nature, somber. But, the ones that he read — and most of the ones I’ve read so far — are intensely beautiful and… poignant, though “poignant” doesn’t seem nearly powerful enough, and impacted me in such a way to make me sharply draw in my breath, or to make my heart beat hard with recognition or… sympathy, though, again, “sympathy” doesn’t seem quite the right word, either. Young mentioned how the best poems capture an emotion, a particular, fleeting moment… I hadn’t really thought of that before, and I think he may have convinced me.
A book which I am THOROUGHLY enjoying is Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers, by Ralph Moody. It is the true account of the author and his four siblings and parents moving to a ranch outside of Denver in 1906 when he was eight years old. Told in a somewhat understated, wry voice, with great honesty and humor, it’s been a while since a book gave me such joy. The book is actually assigned to two of my boys as a read-aloud (meaning, I read it to them) in our homeschool curriculum. However, time is at a premium right now, and a friend recommended getting it as an audio book. Duh. My library did not have it on CD, but it was available for a free download, which they allow patrons to copy to CD. My enjoyment is only heightened by the voice of the reader, Cameron Beierle, who sounds exactly like my Uncle Kevin. My only dilemma in hearing the book is that it makes me rather wistful — or something — because I find myself wishing that my own boys’ approach to life was more akin to young Ralph Moody’s.
Lastly, of note, I have also checked out The Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook. I have only flipped through the thick tome, but it appears to be the most amazing compendium of info and recipes on cooking with natural ingredients. Though it makes no mention of those who can’t eat wheat — which I found surprising, as many natural foods cookbooks do at least acknowledge celiac disease — it does have a section on baking with non-wheat flours, and a great many recipes have no gluten/flour in them at all. In the section on non-wheat flours, it suggested that adding lemon juice to the dough would help it rise better, as the acid breaks down the proteins in the flour. With great hope, I tried that this morning. Alas, no big puffy loaves appeared from my oven — just the gently rounded variety that it appears I’m going to have to accept. Still. The book is giant, and I look forward to both reading it and trying its many recipes.
*Recently re-issued! I have a nice, old hardcover, though, and many are available on Amazon for $0.01 plus shipping. I heart hardcover books. :)
**Originally written in Czech, with several “unauthorized” translations before the 1993 “Definitive Version.” Make sure yours is the 1993 translation.