Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summers off = lots of time to read

As a teacher, I have the summer off.  No shame.  Among other things, I have REALLY enjoyed reading this summer.  I think I'm enjoying it extra because during the school year, reading felt exhausting.  Most nights, I was too tired to think enough to read for more than 5 minutes.  But this summer, I have loved reading again.

The Hobbit
Ben and I make a lot of trips back and forth between Omaha and Chicago (8 hours each way) and I often end up reading out loud while Ben drives.  He was reading the first book of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, so I read part of it out loud to him.  I didn't really know what was going on, but the further I read, the more I felt intrigued.  So, I decided to take a stab at it from the beginning.  (Side note -I'm not usually into any sort of fantasy or even fiction in general, but it's a classic, so what the heck!)  I backed up and read the trilogy's precursor, The Hobbit.   By the middle of the book, I was fascinated by their adventure, and towards the end, I really wanted to know what happened next.  It's a really great story.  So intricate, and descriptive.  I especially liked Tolkien's tone and the character of Bilbo Baggins.  Haven't started the trilogy yet, but it's coming up soon.  Here's a memorable quote (note: Bilbo is a hobbit who has had an unusual adventure and Gandalf is "The great white wizard," always in the right place, rescuing Bilbo, at the right time)

"Then, the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!" said Bilbo. 
"Of course!" said Gandalf. "And why should not they prove true? Surely you don't disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit?  You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!"
"Thank goodness!" said Bilbo laughing.

The Weight of Glory
This is a compilation of sermons from C.S. Lewis, given at various occasions.  The sermons covered a wide range of topics.  In full Lewis fashion, the essays were practical, theologically sound, and challenging!  I love the way he explains things - sometimes broad and confusing, you can't quite tell where it's all going, and then one connecting sentence that makes the whole thought profound.  (a poor explanation of his writing - you're better off reading it yourself.)  While it's not as popularly publicized as say, Mere Christianity, I think The Weight of Glory is one of my favorite Lewis works.

The Film Club
I read this book per recommendation of a friend whose book reviews and suggestions you can read here!  It's about a father-son relationship and how it evolves as the dad gives permission for his son to drop out of high school on the condition that they watch 3 movies per week together.  I was intrigued by the premise of a father tried to give his kid, who was failing in the traditional educational system, a non-traditional educational experience.  It made me want to watch some classic films, and it made me feel grateful for my relationship with my dad.  It's interesting and a quick read, and while I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected, I'd still recommend it.

This book is probably the one I will recommend to everyone, probably to an obnoxious extreme.  It's about  an American man who is captured as a POW by the Japanese military during WW2.  I have  been trying to find the words to describe it without giving a plot-ruiner and I've decided to just say, go read it.  In my opinion, it's a must-read for everyone. One of my top 10 books of all time.

The Hiding Place
The autobiographical experience of Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place tells how Corrie and her sister spread love in the midst of evil, while imprisoned in a concentration camp during WW2.  As she writes in the book, "there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still."  Another must-read.  Another one of my top 10 books of all time.
The Giver
I just finished this book today! A quick read that is often assigned to junior high or high school lit classes, it paints the picture of a futuristic regulated society where people live with very few choices.  (I guess I'm expanding my horizons with 2 fiction books this summer already...)  I really enjoyed it - I like how the author paints a picture of this society as if she is living in it, and yet it is so different from what we experience today.  Well written and thought-provoking.

What are you reading this summer?