Book Review: The Highly Sensitive Person

HSPThe first time I heard the term “highly sensitive person” as a personality designation, I felt it sounded like me. When I read the chapter on the highly sensitive in Reading People, I knew for sure that was me. On the self test I scored 25 out of 27. I wanted to learn more, so I looked up the book which started it all: The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron.

Actually, people have been writing about this personalty type since Jung, according to Aron, but she is the first to study and write about it in a major way.

A highly sensitive person is not someone who is extra touchy or prickly. The scientific name Aron coined is Sensory-Processing Sensitivity, not to be confused with Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Disorder. SPS or HSP is not a disorder at all, but an innate personality characteristic summarized by the acronym DOES:

D is for depth of processing. Our fundamental characteristic is that we observe and reflect before we act. We process everything more, whether we are conscious of it or not. O is for being easily overstimulated, because if you are going to pay more attention to everything, you are bound to tire sooner. E is for giving emphasis to our emotional reactions and having strong empathy which among other things helps us notice and learn. S is for being sensitive to all the subtleties around us.

HSPs tend to be more aware of subtleties and process information more deeply. As a result they can be easily overstimulated and overwhelmed by things like bright lights, noise, too-busy schedules, too much social interaction. HS is not introversion, though many introverts are highly sensitive.  HSPs are also not neurotic by definition: one difference Aron found was that neurotic people tended to have a troubled childhood, which, combined with their sensitivity, made them more depressed or anxious.

Aron spends a lot of time discussing how higher sensitivity can be negatively perceived by others, especially when an HS companion gets overly aroused. Aron encourages what she calls reframing memories in light of this new information: when someone was impatient with you for being afraid or needing to leave, now you know you had good reason for your reaction.

She also emphasizes the good aspects of being highly sensitive: conscientiousness, being better able to “spot errors and avoid making errors,” “to concentrate deeply,” to process material deeply, being “deeply affected by other people’s moods and emotions, being “especially good at tasks requiring vigilance, accuracy, speed, and the detection of minor differences.”

She likens society to being divided into “warrior kings” and “royal advisors.” The warrior kings are aggressive, conquering, competing. They show initiative, expand territory, crush the competition. The “priest-judge-advisor class” provides balance and “is a more thoughtful group, often acting to check the impulses of the warrior-kings.”

HSPs tend to fill that advisor role. We are the writers, historians, philosophers, judges, artists, researchers, theologians, therapists, teachers, parents, and plain conscientious citizens. What we bring to any of these roles is a tendency to think about all the possible effects of an idea. Often we have to make ourselves unpopular by stopping the majority from rushing ahead. Thus, to perform our role well, we have to feel very good about ourselves. We have to ignore all the messages from the warriors that we are not as good as they are. The warriors have their bold style, which has its value. But we, too, have our style and our own important contribution to make.

Aron goes on to share ways to find balance between avoiding or dealing with over-stimulation yet not becoming a hermit to do so. She also discusses relationships, work, medication’s pluses and minuses, and different types of psychotherapy for those who might be interested in that route.

Personally, though I found much that was helpful, Aron’s style rubbed me the wrong way many times. For instance, she talks about picturing your highly sensitive personality as an infant and learning how to “reparent yourself.” Then she refers to the reader’s “infant/body self” so often the term began to have a fingernails-on-chalkboard effect on me. Some of her approaches are too New-Age-y for my tastes. For instance: “Perhaps the greatest maturity is our ability to conceive the whole universe as our container, our body as a microcosm of that universe, with no boundaries. That is more or less enlightenment.” She suggests an exercise in which the reader is instructed (in more detail) to curl up like a baby, breath from your diaphragm for three minutes, and then “become yourself as a baby.” Another is to imagine “your infant/body self” as a young baby and ask it what it needs. I guess some might find these exercises helpful, but they put me off. I also disagreed with the Jungian concept she describes as an inner helpmate or anima figure or spiritual guide. Discernment is needed in wading through the spiritual aspects of the book.

I disagreed with her about the nature of shyness as well. She says shyness is different from sensitivity, which I agree with. But then she goes on to say “Shyness is the fear others are not going to like us or approve of us. That makes it a response to a situation. It is a certain state, not an always-present trait.” I have been shy all my life, but my reactions weren’t related to fear of not being liked or approved of. When I panicked over being drawn into a conversation, it wasn’t because I feared others wouldn’t like what I had to say: it was because I couldn’t think of anything to say. Probably a lot of that had to do with an introvert’s penchant for being slower to process things. She prefers the term “social discomfort” to shyness, which I could go along with.

The edition I read was updated from the original with new research. Though I would have preferred a more straightforward style, I did benefit from the information and practical tips.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)



Book Review: Gospel Meditations for Mothers

GM4Mothers Gospel Meditations for Mothers by Chris Anderson, Joe Tyrpak, Hannah Anderson, and others, was just published a few weeks ago, in time for Mother’s Day. Like the others in the Gospel Meditations series published by Church Works Media, this booklet contains 31 one-page devotionals relating to various aspects of its topic.

Topics covered include grace, to ourselves and other mothers; love; criticism and commendation; fear; discipline; trusting God for our loved ones. A sample of chapter titles:

How to Raise a Pharisee
Motherhood Is a Marathon
The Source of Your Strength
How to Clothe Yourself With Love
Show the Joys of Mundane Christianity

A couple of quotes that stood out to me:

You can be certain that every trial God puts in your domestic life is there to strengthen, purify, and mature you (Day 22).

Christ’s call to rest is a call to come away from other masters and submit to Him alone. It is a call to come away from following the expectations of other people and our own sense of performance. It is a call to be conformed to nothing but His perfect image, to allow His nature to mold and shape our own. So that as we follow Him, our souls–just like His–will be free from the weight, free from the strain, free from the feeling of being driven like a pack animal (Day 23).

I’ve read several in this series, and this is a great addition, both encouraging and convicting.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

Book Review: A Long Fatal Love Chase

Long Fatal Love ChaseLouisa May Alcott based her Little Women characters to a great degree on her own family. Just as Jo wrote both for a creative outlet and to support her family, so did Louisa. Louisa’s editor asked for a new novel to be published in installments in a magazine, and Louisa came up with A Long Fatal Love Chase. The novel was rejected, however, as being “too sensational.” Two years later Louisa published Little Women, and according to Wikipedia, stayed with children’s stories after that. A Long Fatal Love Chase was set aside and eventually discovered at a rare book dealer’s, bought, edited, and published by Kent Bicknell in 1995.

The story involves teenager Rosamond Vivian, who lives alone with an aloof grandfather. Tired of her boring, confined life and lack of love, she declares, Faust-like, “I often feel as if I’d gladly sell my soul to Satan for a year of freedom.” Right on cue, in walks her father’s old friend Phillip Tempest, who bears a striking resemblance to a portrait of Mephistopheles (why Rosamond’s grandfather has a portrait of Mephistopheles is not explained.)

Eventually Rosamond and Phillip fall in love and marry. She knows he has a past and is not a saint, but he has been nothing but kind to her. She feels love will conquer all. After while, however, she becomes aware of some of Phillip’s shady dealings. Unsettled, she becomes more wary. When she discovers that her marriage is a sham and Phillip already has a wife and son, she flees.

Thus the chase in the title ensues. Louisa wrote this not long after she had toured Europe as a paid companion to an invalid, and her experiences  there inform her novel. Rosamond puts on various disguises, travels to different places, receives help from a variety of people, but somehow Phillip and his spy, Batiste, find her every time until the tragic end alluded to in the title.

I was a little afraid of just how “sensational” this book might be, but it contains nothing explicit or lurid. Phillip is evil, but other classic villains are as bad or worse. Someone quoted on the Wikipedia page suggested perhaps in those times, a woman finding herself in a false marriage would hide away in shame even though the situation was no fault of her own, and the fact that Rosamond did not do that might have shocked some people.

Readers can tell this was originally written for magazine serialization, because every chapter ends with a cliffhanger. Alcott was quite good at writing that way and crafting enough sudden twists and turns to give one whiplash. A few lines border on silly (“She…looked at the vigorous figure before her with genuine womanly admiration for a manly man”[p. 13]. “Tempest…[enjoyed] her innocent companionship with the relish of a man eager for novelty and skillful in the art of playing on that delicate instrument, a woman’s heart” [p. 36].) But, overall, though this kind of novel isn’t my usual cup of tea, it was interesting to see this side of Alcott. The book was certainly exciting and suspenseful. And, though, it wasn’t written to have a moral, it has one nevertheless. Tempest’s love is destructive because it is obsessive and selfish, whereas that of someone Rosamond meets later is completely selfless, giving though he cannot receive her love in return. Though Rosamond is more independent than Little Women’s females, she is of the same character and fiber.

I was glad to win this book in a drawing for last year’s Mount TBR Challenge hosted by Bev at My Reader’s Block and save it for Tarissa’s Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge this month.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

Book Review: The Mountain Between Us

MountainA snow storm and a broken de-icer strands thousands of travelers in the Salt Lake City airport. Dr. Ben Payne, on his way home from a medical conference, checks in with a charter pilot to see if they could beat the storm and get to Denver. Ben invites Ashley Knox, a fellow passenger he just met, to accompany them. Ashley’s on her way to her wedding rehearsal, so she’s eager to go.

But the pilot has a heart attack over the Uinta mountains. The plane crashes, the pilot dies, Ashley and Ben sustain several injuries. Her leg is severely broken; he has a couple of broken ribs and maybe a collapsed lung.

Thankfully Ben has hiking gear with him, brought along for a few excursions in-between conference meetings. His experience as a doctor and hiker and his athleticism from years of running give him an advantage, but he and Ashley have several things against them: their injuries, the remoteness of their location, the terrain, the cold, the fact that their pilot hadn’t filed a flight plan, and they had not let anyone know of their last-minute changes.

As they get well enough to travel, find food, and start off, Ben records messages to his wife, Rachel, on a voice recorder. Ben tells Ashley that he and Rachel are separated, but this recorder tradition started early in their relationship.  Through Ben’s recordings, both Ashley and readers learn of Ben and Rachel’s backstory. Ashley finds herself questioning whether she and her fiance have the kind of love that will last.

My thoughts:

I’m not usually one for plane crash stories. I don’t want them to come to mind when I have to fly. But I had heard good things about The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin. It is a surviving disaster story, but even more than that, it’s about relationships. The fight to survive is suspenseful and intense, and the relationships between Ben and Rachel, and then Ben and Ashley (and even the pilot and his wife) are beautifully unfolded.

The story is marred for me, though, by some crudities (particularly a joke between Ben and Ashley) and some interaction between Ben and his wife that should have remained private.

Martin says in an afterward that he was inspired by Psalm 121:1-2: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” But that’s not reflected in the story. I know that Christian stories are sometimes subtle: in Esther, for instance, God’s name is not mentioned nor are there any practices that acknowledge God beyond a time of prayer and fasting, yet God’s influence and leading are all throughout the book. Maybe that’s how Martin meant this book, but but it comes across as fairly secular. Perhaps he meant it for the general market.

So – mixed emotions. I loved the story itself. I could have done without the crude parts and private moments, and I would have liked the Christian undercurrent, if there is one, fleshed out more.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge


Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge this month. You can find details and prize information here.

I’d like to read at least two books for the challenge.

  • A biography,  Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs
  •  A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa. This was one of her “sensational novels” that she, like Jo in Little Women, wrote for quick money. It was recently rediscovered and printed. It will be interesting to see that side of Alcott.

I may also try to listen to Little Women again. I have read it several times and listened an audiobook of it at least once. I recently watched the new PBS remake, and I know they arranged some parts out of order, but for others I am not sure if I am remembering the book or the 1994 film. At any rate, I am hankering to go through the book again. I am making good time on my Back to the Classics challenge, so I think I have time for a detour. 🙂 But we’ll see.

What’s On Your Nightstand: May 2018

Nightstand82The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand the last Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

I enjoy this monthly opportunity to share what we’re reading.

Since last time I have completed:

Adam Bede by George Eliot, reviewed here. Excellent.

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin, WWII story and mystery, reviewed here. Very good.

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron, reviewed here. Excellent.

Drawing Near to the Heart of God: Encouragement for Your Lifetime Journey by Cynthia Heald, reviewed here. Good.

I’m currently reading:

Heaven Without Her: A Desperate Daughter’s Search for the Heart of Her Mother’s Faith by Kitty Foth-Regner

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron. Mixed emotions about this one.

Villette by Charlotte Bronte

A Small Book About a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience, and Peace by Edward T. Welch

Gospel Meditations for Mothers by Chris Anderson, Joe Tyrpak, Hannah Anderson, and others

Up Next:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

Christian Publishing 101 by Ann Byle

The Song of Sadie Sparrow by Kitty Foth-Regner

Overcoming Your Devotional Obstacles: 25 Keys to Having Memorable Devotions by John O’Malley.

Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge in June. I’d like to read a biography,  Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs, and possibly A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa. The latter was one of her “sensational novels” that she, like Jo in Little Women, wrote for quick money. It was recently rediscovered and printed. It may be too sensational for me – we’ll see.

I also made a list of books I’d like to reread…someday.

Read anything interesting this month? Do you have big reading plans for the summer?

Book Review: The Illusionist’s Apprentice

Illusionist On New Year’s Eve in 1926, a medium in Massachusetts advertises that he will raise a man from the dead.  Though someone does rise from the newly unearthed coffin, he immediately falls down dead. The FBI treat the case as a homicide, and their investigation takes them to other vaudevillian performers, particularly Wren Lockhart. Wren is an illusionist who apprenticed under Harry Houdini. But interest in her goes beyond her stage work: the dead man had the name of Jennifer Charles in his vest pocket, Wren’s real name which she has tried to keep buried. FBI agent Elliot Matthews works with Wren to gain more information helpful to the case, but Wren reveals as little as possible, wary of bringing her past to light.

When Wren and Agent Matthews are chased and shot at in a car, the case expands from the one magic trick gone wrong on New Year’s Eve. Is someone after Wren to gain Houdini’s secrets? Or is someone wreaking revenge for the part Houdini and Wren played in debunking a medium’s claims? Or has someone uncovered Wren’s carefully buried secrets?

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron kept me on the edge of my seat with multiple twists and turns and the revelation of new information along the way. Wren’s history is told in flashbacks which jumped around to different parts of her life. They could have been confusing, but I made it a point to look at the date beginning every chapter to try to keep on track.

Besides the mystery and suspense elements, I loved Wren’s development through the story as she slowly learns to trust Matthews. I also enjoyed that there were several layers to the story. The faith element first shows up in Wren’s insistence that only one man ever raised anyone from the dead and that her profession wasn’t magic but illusion. After that her faith is more undercurrent than overt, but its expression becomes more vivid near the end.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

There cannot be dark without the light that will overcome it. Whatever darkness there is, God’s light shines brighter. It has to. He’s the Hero in every story–especially this one.

Kristy’s first two books were set during WWII, the third one took place in a circus, and now this one centers around illusionists and vaudeville. Though I also enjoy authors who write in particular time eras or niches, I love that Kristy’s subject matter is unexpected and often largely unexplored until now.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday, Carole’s Books You Loved)



Book Review: Adam Bede

Adam Bede Adam Bede is a solid, hardworking, salt-of-the-earth kind of man in the novel that bears his name by George Eliot (aka Mary Ann Evans, sometimes seen as Marian Evans). He lives in a pastoral community known as Hayslope in 1799 England. Adam is a carpenter and lives with his mother and brother, Seth. His closest friends are the Poysers, who run the nearby dairy farm, and Arthur Donnithorne, the young squire just coming of age who will inherit the estate when his grandfather dies. Adam is so well regarded at the carpenter shop that the owner not only wants Adam to take over when the owner retires; he also wants Adam to marry his daughter, Mary.

Adam, however, is in love with Hettie, the Poysers niece who has been living with them since she was orphaned. Sadly, Hettie is not the girl Adam thinks she is. She’s pretty, but she is also shallow, selfish, and vain. She wants out of her boring lifestyle. When Arthur visits the dairy and flirts a little with her, she begins to think that perhaps he will fall in love with her and make her a fine lady one day.

Seth, meanwhile, is in love with Dinah, a niece of Mrs. Poyser. Dinah doesn’t plan to marry, though, because she feels her calling is to preach God’s Word. Dinah and Hettie are set up as opposites. One night in their adjoining rooms, Hettie is trying on earrings and a shawl, parading up and down her room, admiring herself in a mirror, while Dinah is looking out the window, admiring the landscape and then praying. Dinah tries to befriend Hettie, but without success at first.

Brief descriptions of the book hint at a tragedy that occurs as a result of the love triangle, but it’s not the tragedy I was expecting. My jaw literally dropped at what happened. Some descriptions also mention the word “seduction,” which made me a little wary of the book. But I liked Eliot’s Daniel Deronda and Middlemarch so much, I decided to take a chance. I am glad I did. There is not a seduction per se in the novel. It’s more like an unwise falling into temptation. Elliot is quite discreet about it: similar to David and Bathsheba’s sin in the Bible, there are no sordid scenes, just the tragic results.

Arthur, in fact, is kind of a study in a lighthearted, likeable man who drifts into temptation by excuse:

No young man could confess his faults more candidly; candour was one of his favourite virtues; and how can a man’s candour be seen in all its lustre unless he has a few failings to talk of? But he had an agreeable confidence that his faults were all of a generous kind—impetuous, warm-blooded, leonine; never crawling, crafty, reptilian. It was not possible for Arthur Donnithorne to do anything mean, dastardly, or cruel. “No! I’m a devil of a fellow for getting myself into a hobble, but I always take care the load shall fall on my own shoulders.” Unhappily, there is no inherent poetical justice in hobbles, and they will sometimes obstinately refuse to inflict their worst consequences on the prime offender, in spite of his loudly expressed wish.

He could no more believe that he should so fall in his own esteem than that he should break both his legs and go on crutches all the rest of his life. He couldn’t imagine himself in that position; it was too odious, too unlike him.

He was getting in love with Hetty—that was quite plain. He was ready to pitch everything else—no matter where—for the sake of surrendering himself to this delicious feeling which had just disclosed itself. It was no use blinking the fact now—they would get too fond of each other, if he went on taking notice of her—and what would come of it? He should have to go away in a few weeks, and the poor little thing would be miserable. He MUST NOT see her alone again; he must keep out of her way…He wondered if the dear little thing were thinking of him too—twenty to one she was. How beautiful her eyes were with the tear on their lashes! He would like to satisfy his soul for a day with looking at them, and he MUST see her again.

No man’s conduct will bear too close an inspection; and Poyser was not likely to know it; and, after all, what had he done? Gone a little too far, perhaps, in flirtation, but another man in his place would have acted much worse; and no harm would come—no harm should come, for the next time he was alone with Hetty, he would explain to her that she must not think seriously of him or of what had passed. It was necessary to Arthur, you perceive, to be satisfied with himself. Uncomfortable thoughts must be got rid of by good intentions for the future.

It was the last weakness he meant to indulge in; and a man never lies with more delicious languor under the influence of a passion than when he has persuaded himself that he shall subdue it to-morrow.

No man can escape this vitiating effect of an offence against his own sentiment of right, and the effect was the stronger in Arthur because of that very need of self-respect which, while his conscience was still at ease, was one of his best safeguards. Self-accusation was too painful to him—he could not face it. He must persuade himself that he had not been very much to blame; he began even to pity himself.

Though the love triangle forms the main plot and conflict, there are a plethora of other unique characters and subjects that come up during the course of the book.  One subject is the nature of religion. Adam views using one’s gifts to do one’s best at one’s work as an act of worship and a practical display of faith. He preferred the pastor who was not the best preacher, but had a heart for his people, as opposed to a later minister who excelled at “doctrines and notions” without warmth and personal care of his church. It’s sad that Eliot later rejected Christianity: she seemed to have a good understanding of its main points here.

Another major theme is the effect of suffering. A couple of times Adam stoutly rejects the notion that good can come out of bad. But his suffering does soften him from the good but hard and slightly proud man he was to a more kindhearted and sympathetic version.

Eliot’s strength is getting into the minds of her characters and revealing them to us. Even though this was her first novel, she displayed that skill well. I ached along with several of them.

A few favorite quotes:

What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life–to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?

We must learn to accommodate ourselves to the discovery that some of those cunningly-fashioned instruments called human souls have only a very limited range of music, and will not vibrate in the least under a touch that fills others with tremulous rapture or quivering agony.

Her little butterfly soul fluttered incessantly between memory and dubious expectation.

In a mind where no strong sympathies are at work, where there is no supreme sense of right to which the agitated nature can cling and steady itself to quiet endurance, one of the first results of sorrow is a desperate vague clutching after any deed that will change the actual condition. Poor Hetty’s vision of consequences, at no time more than a narrow fantastic calculation of her own probable pleasures and pains, was now quite shut out by reckless irritation under present suffering, and she was ready for one of those convulsive, motiveless actions by which wretched men and women leap from a temporary sorrow into a lifelong misery.

Mrs. Poyser, known for speaking her mind, when asked by the squire why she was leaving his grandson’s birthday party so early:

Oh, Your Honour, it’s all right and proper for gentlefolks to stay up by candlelight—they’ve got no cheese on their minds. We’re late enough as it is, an’ there’s no lettin’ the cows know as they mustn’t want to be milked so early to-morrow mornin’.

In chapter 17, the narrator or author addresses the reader directly on the issue of why one character was not drawn more ideally.

Certainly I could, if I held it the highest vocation of the novelist to represent things as they never have been and never will be. Then, of course, I might refashion life and character entirely after my own liking; I might select the most unexceptionable type of clergyman and put my own admirable opinions into his mouth on all occasions. But it happens, on the contrary, that my strongest effort is to avoid any such arbitrary picture, and to give a faithful account of men and things as they have mirrored themselves in my mind. The mirror is doubtless defective, the outlines will sometimes be disturbed, the reflection faint or confused; but I feel as much bound to tell you as precisely as I can what that reflection is, as if I were in the witness-box, narrating my experience on oath.

She goes on to say that in real life, there are people with whom we have to do who are flawed in major and minor ways, and the novelist does us a disservice by creating an ideal world when what we really need is to better view and interact with our real one:

These fellow-mortals, every one, must be accepted as they are: you can neither straighten their noses, nor brighten their wit, nor rectify their dispositions; and it is these people—amongst whom your life is passed—that it is needful you should tolerate, pity, and love: it is these more or less ugly, stupid, inconsistent people whose movements of goodness you should be able to admire—for whom you should cherish all possible hopes, all possible patience. And I would not, even if I had the choice, be the clever novelist who could create a world so much better than this, in which we get up in the morning to do our daily work, that you would be likely to turn a harder, colder eye on the dusty streets and the common green fields—on the real breathing men and women, who can be chilled by your indifference or injured by your prejudice; who can be cheered and helped onward by your fellow-feeling, your forbearance, your outspoken, brave justice.

I listened to the audiobook wonderfully narrated by Nadia May. If I have a choice of narrators, and May is one, I choose her! I also dipped into the written text online at Project Gutenberg and through a library copy.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday, Carole’s Books You Loved)

Book Review: Drawing Near to the Heart of God

Heart of GodI had read a number of Cynthia Heald‘s Bible studies in my early married days, but I couldn’t remember much about them. So when I came across Drawing Near to the Heart of God: Encouragement for Your Lifetime Journey (previously published as A Woman’s Journey to the Heart of God), I gave it a try not just for the content, but also to reacquaint myself with Heald’s writing.

Heald frames the Christian life as a journey. The first section covers “Essentials for the Journey,” like “Traveling Light” (things to set aside), “Righteous Clothing” (holiness), “The Guidebook” (the Bible), “Fellowship With Our Guide” (abiding in Christ), and others. Section Two focuses on “The Destination: God’s Heart” and spends time on some of His attributes. The last section. “Enjoying the Journey,” covers “Bearing His Fruit,” “Experiencing His Rest,” “Living for the Eternal,” and “Bringing God Glory.”

Heald writes in an easily understood style. She particularly handles Biblical stories well, drawing the reader right in to what the character was probably feeling without a lot of extra-biblical conjecture.

A few of the many quotes that stood out to me:

My journey to the heart of God does not begin tomorrow; the choices I make today determine whether I move towards Him or toward self and the world (p. 20).

[Re the Israelites failure to obey God and go into the promised land the first time] The people decided to focus on the potential risks instead of the promised blessings (p. 47).

My definition of abiding is “consistently sitting at the feet of Jesus and continually depending upon Him by listening to His words with a heart to obey” (p. 68).

When you fear God, you will be freed to listen to His “fear nots” (p. 87).

We cannot expect to make steady progress on our spiritual journey if we insist on taking little side trips away from the highway of holiness (p. 110).

Since we can do nothing to captivate [God’s] love, we can do nothing to lose it (p.136).

God has His time schedule, and He uses what we call delays to produce in us patience and trust and to accomplish His purposes in establishing His kingdom (p. 234).

To understand the difference between living for heaven and demanding that life here on earth be like heaven is an important lesson in learning to live for the eternal (p. 241).

I disagreed with her in a few spots, like when she said the Bible is “one of the best ways to hear God speak” (p. 244). It’s not just one of the best – it is the primary way we hear from God, some would say the only way. She speaks of “hearing God’s voice” in a couple of places, but I don’t think she means it in terms of an audible voice or extra-biblical revelation. This would have concerned me more if she had written anything doctrinally questionable. I also wouldn’t endorse everyone she quotes.

But for the most part, this is a fairly solid explanation of how to grow in the Christian life. Even though I was already familiar with these truths, it was good to go over them again.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books and Literary Musing Monday, Carole’s Books You Loved)

Books I’d Like to Reread

So little time

Over a year ago Cathy shared a list of books she would like to reread. I enjoyed looking at her list and thought I’d make my own some day.

I’ve reread some books multiple times: Little Women and its two sequels by Louisa May Alcott, the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, Jane Eyre, some of Jane Austen’s and Dickens’ books, the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery, Jan Karon’s Mitford series, biographies like Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot, Goforth of China and Climbing by Rosalind Goforth, Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank Houghton, By Searching and In the Arena by Isobel Kuhn, Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose, and others. I wrote here about reasons to reread, but the chief reason is that I glean more from the books each time I read them.

Books I want to read

But there are so many new books I’d love to read, I don’t get to reread the old ones as much as I’d like. Maybe I ought to set a goal to reread at least one a year – at least I’d get to some that way.

So here are some that I’d like to reread some day:

A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot. I love both of these ladies, but I’ve only gotten to this book once.

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. I have read this a couple of times, but there is so much to it, I could probably reread it every year and still learn something new.

Knowing God by J. I. Packer. I just read this for the first time 2 1/2 years ago. Somehow I missed it all the years I heard people raving about it. But I’ve already forgotten so much, I’d like to read it again.

When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada and Stephen Estes is one of the best books on suffering I have read (A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot and Rose From Brier by Amy Carmichael are two more). I’ve read the others 2-3 times but somehow hadn’t gotten back to this one. But I’d love to.

Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I’ve also read this a couple of times, but it has been too long. It deeply impacted me on my first reading.

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin. This one is not as old as the others I have listed, but it was an instant favorite.

The Fruitful Wife: Cultivating a Love Only God Can Produce by Hayley DiMarco. This is also a newish one, discussing the fruit of the Spirit particularly in relation to marriage. But it’s another that I would benefit from rereading regularly.

Mark of the Lion series, Francine Rivers. This fictional trilogy about life just after the time of Christ was riveting.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I first read it nine years ago, and at 1440+ pages, it will be a major undertaking if I ever read it again. But it became one of my top three favorite novels (Jane Eyre and A Tale of Two Cities being the other two).

The Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien. This would be another massive undertaking. But they’re so good.

Janette Oke books. Janette started my love for Christian fiction. It’s been ages since I read these, and I’d love to revisit them and see how they come across to me now.

Now that I’ve gotten the ball rolling mentally, several others are coming to mind. But these would be at the top of the list.

How about you? Are there any books you’d love to reread but haven’t gotten to? Or favorites that you’ve read several times?

Keep the ideas

(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday)