What I’m Reading
Since I’m on vacation, I’ve been reading a little more than usual. Here’s an update on what’s gotten my attention recently…
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
This book is one of the best ones I’ve read in a long time. Donald Miller is a young, witty, godly guy who is trying to change the world. The book is all about living a life worth telling stories about – taking risks, embracing uncertainties and fears, challenging ourselves, and being the people we want to be. He uses examples from his own life, explaining that he wasn’t living a very good story and the changes he’s made. It’s inspiring and led me to reevaluate the choices I’m making in my day to day living. I liked it so much that I went to see him when he came to town to talk about the book. It’s the first time I’ve ever gone to an event with an author I liked. It was more than worth it.
Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time but never got around to it. I ended up downloading it onto my iPod for my recent trip home. It is Lewis’ story of how he became an atheist and what led him back to Christ, and it includes a lot of detail about his childhood. Although I don’t understand all of his references to classical literature, I’m really enjoying the book. He gets very personal with the details of his life and important relationships, but he accepts responsibility for the part he played in the challenging things he faced. He also has great wit and humor, which I really enjoy.
High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips
I heard about this book the day it came out earlier this year. There was a lot of sensationalism surrounding it and it caught my attention. I’m really too young to have watched her TV show One Day at a Time, but I was drawn to the story she told. She was raised by an extremely irresponsible, drug-abusing, abusive and neglectful father and had no stability in her life. That led her to become a drug addict and make some terrible mistakes. She was sober for 15 years and then relapsed and was caught in an airport with heroin. She got clean again and now has written about her experiences. While I think the book is her attempt to resurrect her career and help her finances, I also think she has to genuinely want to help those who’ve been through things similar to her or she couldn’t have written it. It’s a terrible story and I learned things I’d have been happy to never know about. At the same time, I think it’s an important story. She doesn’t glamorize the use of drugs, but she explains their power. She explains clearly the horrible things that they do to people. And she takes ownership for the terrible things that she’s done under their influence. It’s a window into a life I had no concept of and still find it hard to imagine. I couldn’t put it down.
The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature by Dr. Leon Kass
I’ve made a commitment to pay much more attention to what I eat, how I eat, why I eat, and how I feel about eating in 2010. I’ve already begun to become a healthier, more attentive eater, and I want to really understand the subject more. That’s why I picked up this book. It’s a philosophical discussion of how eating affects our lives, our relationships, our bodies, our souls, and so forth. I’ve been reading a little at a time, trying to understand it but not forcing myself to get every single word. So far I’ve read the forward, the introduction, and the first chapter. I’m on chapter two and feel like I’ve been reading forever. The subject matter is very new to me. I’m not much of a philosopher. But it’s also interesting and thought-provoking. I’m anticipating that it’ll take me awhile to finish the book, but I’ll keep working on it a little bit at a time.
The Psychology of Small Groups
I’ll have to update this blog later with the author’s name for this book. It’s an out of print textbook that my senior pastor gave me to read and I’ve been learning a lot from it. Any time I have a little down time at work, I’ve been picking up this book and reading as much as I can. It’s not written from a Christian perspective, but it’s all about the way that people in small groups behave and why. From my experience of being in numerous small groups over the years, I find what it’s saying to be true and very helpful in figuring out what’s going on in my groups.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I recently read this book for the second time, but by a different translator. It was originally written in Russian. It’s a novel set in 19th century Russia and is a fascinating description of life during that time and of human nature in general. I’m not sure why I find the book so compelling, but I really love it. The first time I read it, I think I skipped all the political stuff that Tolstoy addresses and read it merely for the romance and action. This time I tried to understand the social and political statements he was making. I can’t say that I was totally successful, but I tried. I have a feeling this is a book I’ll read over and over again and enjoy more with each reading.
The basic plot is that Anna Karenina is a young, beautiful woman who married an older, boring, but successful man whom she didn’t love. She felt obliged to marry him by society. She tries to make her marriage work, but she ends up meeting a handsome, vibrant young man who sweeps her off her feet. She has fun for a while with him, but it leads to a tortured existence of being stuck between her marriage and the child she has with her husband and her lover and the child she has with him. (It’s a morality tale with an unspoken and complex lesson of the shame and torture that we can be spared when we do things the right way.) The story expands to include the family members of the Kareninas, and there is where my favorite characters are found. The love story between Levin and Kitty stirs my heart and captures my imagination. The relationship between Kitty’s sister and Anna’s brother makes me want to scream. I think the value of the book may lie in it’s insight into human relationships, romantic and platonic. It’s a wonderful book.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?