Book Review: Villette

Villette was the last book written by Charlotte Bronte (another was published posthumously but was actually her first book). I had only recently heard of Villette, but since Charlotte penned one of my top three novels, Jane Eyre, I thought I’d give it a try.

Villette is a semi-autobiographical novel based on parts of Charlotte’s life. She and her sister, Emily, had taught for a time in a boarding school in Brussels, Belgium. They both went back to England when their aunt died, and Charlotte returned to the boarding house alone. Villette is a fictional town in France, but based upon Brussels. By the time Charlotte started writing this novel, she was the only remaining sibling of the original five in her family, and she well captures that feeling of being all alone in the world.

The story’s heroine is Lucy Snowe. After some unexplained tragedy in her family, Lucy was left totally alone and needing to make her own way in the world. She heard that some French families hired English-speaking governesses for their children, so she took what money she had and went to France though she knew almost no French and no one in the country. She met a young English girl, Ginevra, on the ship, who went to a French boarding school. After getting lost in Villette, Lucy found herself on the doorstep of the same boarding school run by a Madame Beck. Lucy begged for a job doing anything at the school. She was hired to take care of Madame Beck’s children, but eventually she was asked to teach English at the school.

Lucy on the outside seemed like a quiet, almost mousy person (someone called her a shadow), but inside her feelings ran deep. Charlotte named her Snowe on purpose (she was originally going to go with Frost) to portray how she seemed to other people.

In addition to the ups and downs at the school and encounters with the spoiled Ginevra, Lucy came across her godmother and his son in town, who, unknown to her, had moved to Villette. The son was a teenager at the beginning of the book but became a doctor. Later Lucy encountered a father and daughter she had also met at the beginning, and had several run-ins with an abrasive fellow teacher, M. Paul Emanuel.

One article I read said “Everyone loves Paul Emanuel.” I did not. He constantly criticized Lucy and tended to dominate, not letting her leave for lunch when he wanted to talk to her, locking her up in the attic to learn lines for a school play he was directing. Later he is shown to have several redeeming qualities, but I never got over the initial dislike.

Since France was primarily a Catholic country Lucy stood out as one of the few Protestants. M. Emanuel and a priest took it upon themselves to try to convert her, but Lucy stood firm. Lucy had no use for Catholicism (” the CHURCH strove to bring up her children robust in body, feeble in soul, fat, ruddy, hale, joyous, ignorant, unthinking, unquestioning”), but came to believe that “there are good Romanists.” She and M. Emanuel eventually came to an understanding that they both trusted in “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” and they left each other’s religious affiliations alone after that. The priest, however, thwarted some of her interests later.

Though there are several aspects to the story, it’s primarily a psychological drama of sorts with Lucy’s highs and lows, known mostly just to herself. There are comic moments in Lucy’s asides to herself, especially in her conversations with Ginevra. But Lucy gets so low at one point, when she is left alone at the school during a long break with a mentally disabled student and then falls ill, that she has a breakdown. One passage that’s characteristic is Lucy’s encouraging of herself:

Courage, Lucy Snowe! With self-denial and economy now, and steady exertion by-and-by, an object in life need not fail you. Venture not to complain that such an object is too selfish, too limited, and lacks interest; be content to labour for independence until you have proved, by winning that prize, your right to look higher. But afterwards, is there nothing more for me in life—no true home—nothing to be dearer to me than myself, and by its paramount preciousness, to draw from me better things than I care to culture for myself only? Nothing, at whose feet I can willingly lay down the whole burden of human egotism, and gloriously take up the nobler charge of labouring and living for others? I suppose, Lucy Snowe, the orb of your life is not to be so rounded: for you, the crescent-phase must suffice. Very good. I see a huge mass of my fellow-creatures in no better circumstances. I see that a great many men, and more women, hold their span of life on conditions of denial and privation. I find no reason why I should be of the few favoured. I believe in some blending of hope and sunshine sweetening the worst lots. I believe that this life is not all; neither the beginning nor the end. I believe while I tremble; I trust while I weep.

Some article I read herald the novel’s “feminism” and Lucy’s independence, but here she shows a longing for a “true home,” someone “dearer to me than myself.” I read that she wanted to write a sad and unfulfilled ending, but her father (and I think perhaps others) urged a conventional happier one. The ending is a little ambiguous, so readers can interpret it whichever way they like.

There are several parallels between Villette and Jane Eyre. Both protagonists are women alone; neither would be considered beautiful; each has a rather unconventional romance with an unlikely suitor. There is even a bit of gothic mystery in both: Jane’s Mr. Rochester is found to have a mad wife locked up in an unused part of the house; Villette’s boarding school has a legend of a dead nun who haunts the place, which Lucy encounters a couple of times (though later a logical explanation is found for the appearances).

One downside to Villette is that much of the conversation is written in French with no translation. That posed a problem for me to listen to the audiobook since I know almost no French. Thankfully I found an annotated copy of the novel at the library with translations and other notes, but it was disjointing to have to look up passages later after reading them.

I listened to the audiobook wonderfully read by Davina Porter. Though I enjoyed the novel, Jane Eyre is still my favorite Bronte work.

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

 

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Louisa May Alcott Challenge Wrap-up

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The Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge hosted by Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts this month has ended. I read two books for the challenge:

I watched the recent Masterpiece Theatre remake of Little Women and enjoyed it quite a bit – I think it aired last month. But I enjoyed watching several of the behind-the-scenes videos of the show. I didn’t know the Alcott home, Orchard House, was still preserved today with many of its originals furnishings, Louisa’s desk, and even May’s (Amy’s counterpart) sketchings on the walls. I learned, also, that one of May’s art students sculpted the sitting Lincoln Memorial.

I also listened to several of the podcasts Tarissa linked to for us.

It was fun to spend so much time reading and thinking about Alcott this month. I already have at least one book planned for next year’s challenge.

Thank you for hosting, Tarissa! It was fun!

Book Review: A Small Book About a Big Problem

Anger“Anger lodges in us. It comes home, kicks off its shoes, plants itself in front of the TV, and expects to stay. It doesn’t even look at you when you tell it to leave. But it can be moved. It just takes more than a day” (p. 35).

You wouldn’t think I was an angry person if you observed me much. I don’t generally yell or scream. I might occasionally throw something if I am alone. I tend to seethe rather than explode. Part of that is my upbringing; my father was the only one allowed to express anger. But quiet anger is still anger and still destructive. I experience it enough that when I saw A Small Book About a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience, and Peace by Edward T. Welch, I got it as soon as possible. Ed’s book, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest, was a big help to me with anxiety, so I trusted this book would be just as helpful concerning anger. And it was.

It is indeed a small book. It’s only about four by six inches and 185 pages. It’s divided into 50 chapters, but they average about three pages each. Ed advises reading just one chapter a day and meditating on its main point rather than rushing through the book without absorbing it. And that’s a wise strategy. I confess I did sometimes read two at a time, if one was short or a expressed a truth that was already a part of my thinking. But I tried to move slowly. I went back through the book after finishing it and made a list of main points and quotes from each chapter. That overview over about three days helped bring out some of the recurring themes and connections.

The first need is to acknowledge that anger is a problem.

“To be angry is to destroy…In its commonness we can overlook our anger’s volatile and destructive disposition” (p. 1).

“Anger is known to take a toll on our bodies. It is not healthy” (p. 2).

“Jesus…enlarged the boundary of murder so that it includes all kinds of anger. In order to do this, He links them at the level of the heart, where they share the same lineage of selfish desire. We want something–peace, money, respect–and we aren’t getting it. The only difference is in our choice of weapons” (p. 18).

Sometimes we’re “deaf to [our] anger” because it sounds like what we grew up with; it seems normal (p. 117). Prov. 22:24-25: “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”

Wisdom–learning what God says about anger–and humility are our best aids to diffuse anger.

“Humility might sound like your worst nightmare because it seems to destine you for mistreatment. People can now treat you any way they like, or so you think. In response, you can only meekly turn the other cheek. Humility, however, is not necessarily silent, and it is certainly not passive. Instead, it is the foundation for all wisdom. It has the flexibility to rebuke, overlook offenses, invite, or get help” (pp. 25-26).

“One of your desires is “I WANT AN EASY LIFE. When this is thwarted, you will likely pounce on the offender” (p. 157).

It’s not the incident that made us angry: anger was lurking in the form of desires (James 4:1). Some desires are legitimate, but we elevate them from a desire to a need, and then get angry when they are thwarted.

Anger may not seem to relate to God, but when we don’t get a desire we have deemed important, that “says something very significant about our relationship with God” (p. 43). James 4:4. “We are not thinking about God. We simply want something or someone else, at least temporarily. Our selfishness blinds us to the betrayal. We want what we want, and we don’t want Him” (p. 44).

James 4:13-16 talks about taking the Lord’s will into account in our planning. This is hardest for me in the “little” areas of life, like traffic jams keeping me from getting somewhere on time. But “If we learn this, we no longer live as if we are slaves to the circumstances of life” (p. 108).

The passage in James reminds us our life is but a mist. “We are mere mortals who will die. What makes us so important that life must go according to our plans?” (p. 108) (emphasis mine).

Anger can seem powerful, gives an illusion of control, gets results. But “A man without self-control  is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25). “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32). “Real strength and real power, however, never lash out. Those who are truly strong are composed, while others are not. Real strength is used to rule our spirit rather than rule others” (p. 92).

Other chapters discuss covert forms of anger (grumbling, which reveals our displeasure that God isn’t doing things our way, sarcasm, coldness, and even indifference), the need for forgiveness, taking care of the “log” in our eye before dealing with the “speck” in someone else’s (Matthew 7:1-5). Anger can feel like fear, threat, being misunderstood, fatigue, injustice, depression, guilt, shame. Some even use anger as a shield for their own pain and vulnerability, like a hurt animal. We need to recognize these in ourselves but show mercy and patience when we recognize them in others.

The author looks at anger as shown by God the Father and Jesus and how their anger differs from ours.

“When other people’s welfare was at stake, Jesus was angry. Here is how He is unlike us: He was never angry when He was personally violated” (p. 53). 1 Peter 2:23 – when He was reviled, reviled not again.

“Does this leave you deaf, bind, and mute in the face of personal injustices? No, it leaves you so that you are not mastered by the injustices of others. Anger might feel powerful, but it is not. It renders you a servant of the one who hurt you. The way of Jesus is the way of Spirit-given power. In this power you have a clear mind to consider how and when to act” (p. 54).

“Jesus was confident that His Father was in control; there would be justice in the end” (p. 54).

“Jesus served by blessing His enemies (Luke 6:27-31), which is a good thing, because we ourselves have been His enemies” (p. 54-55).

When the only one who has a right to be angry chooses love and service, when He considers the interests of others more important than His own and chooses humility–He changes everything” (p. 55).

And he encourages us that God loves us and wants to forgive us and help us change.

“When we see our anger clearly, we would expect God to forget about us. Instead, He pursues us with even more zeal, and He gives us even more power to stay faithful to Him” (p. 70).

“He doesn’t forgive us because of our resolve to never be angry again. He forgives us because of His resolve to forgive those who come to Him” (p. 47).

Hebrews 4:15-16 – our high priest (Jesus) sympathizes with our weakness, has been tempted like we are. Draw near to throne of grace for grace to help in time of need.

One chapter that brought me to tears was “Day 22: You Have Been Anger’s Victim.” And later, for those of us who grew up with anger:

“Retrain your ears as you listen” for anger. “Decide that the culture of anger will stop with your generation” (p. 118).

“As a protest against the anger around us, who will you bless with your words today?” (p. 119).

Our example of how to respond when wrong, is of course, Jesus, who “when He was reviled, reviled not again” (1 Peter 2:23). And when we remember how much we have been forgiven, we realize we have no right to withhold forgiveness from others (Matthew 18:27-35). Remember the love and cost to our forgiveness, freely offered (Eph. 1:7-8; 2:4-5). But even beyond forgiveness, God wants us to love and bless those who wrong us.

Forgive me for such a long, quote-heavy post. But there is so much that was so helpful in this book, and I have only shared maybe half of it. Needless to say, I highly recommend it.

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

 

Book Review: Invincible Louisa

AlcottI had not heard of Invincible Louisa, a Newberry medal-winning biography of Louisa May Alcott by Cornelia Meigs, until I saw Tarissa’s review of it last year. I found a Kindle version and saved it for this year’s Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge.Even though the book was written for children in 1933, I found it immensely readable.

Louisa was born the second of four daughters to Bronson and Abigail (called Abba here, Abby in other sources) Alcott. In some ways Bronson was ahead of his time. He was an abolitionist when such a stance was not popular, helped runaway slaves, and even enrolled a black girl in one of his schools, refusing to dismiss her despite protests which led to parents pulling their children out of the school, which led to the school’s closing. He had some forward-thinking practices in his schools, but also some controversial methods. On the other hand, he was more of an impractical thinker/dreamer/philosopher (“He once said that the sort of life which would satisfy him completely was to walk through the world all of his days, stopping to have conversations with people by the way”). He tried to start a Transcendental community with friends, but it failed. He very nearly joined a Shaker community which would have required him to leave his family. “In the first twenty-eight years of Louisa’s life, this household was to achieve the record of twenty-nine moves.” Though he worked hard, he could never manage to support his family very well. One family story tells of a friend giving the family a load of firewood. A poor man with a sick baby and no fuel came to Bronson, who gave the man all he needed and helped him take it home. Abba reminded him of his own baby and the need for fuel in the harsh, cold weather. Then another neighbor, unaware that someone else had helped the Alcotts with fire wood, brought them a load.

Abigail was industrious and practical. She was also more spirited. “Abba was a person of varying moods: excitable, quickly moved, always devoted to them all, but often too harrowingly uneasy concerning the family welfare to be entirely calm.”

The couple had four daughters in all, plus a son who did not live. Anna and Elizabeth were more like their father in temperament; Louisa and May took after their mother. But all the children learned industriousness, frugality, and generosity. “They were all of them generous to the utmost degree, so that it was by Abba Alcott’s consent, as well as by Bronson’s and the three girls’, that they habitually gave away everything that could, or could not, be spared.” “It was one of the Alcott beliefs that no matter how poor a person is he or she always had something which could be given away.”

Because the family’s financial situation was always so precarious, Louisa felt burdened to help as much as she could. She sewed, taught, worked as a governess, and did whatever came to hand. She wrote stories and sold them here and there. Family friends were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, so Louisa grew up under their influence and example. “To Louisa [Emerson] gave the freedom of his library and all that went with such a privilege.” “All their lives the members of this haphazard family were singularly lucky in friends, in people who appreciated and loved them and would do anything in the world for them.”

During the Civil War, Louisa went to Washington to help in a hospital. She sent home letters telling about the hospital itself and stories of the patients she encountered. Some of her letters were published, and people liked them so much that she wrote more and eventually put them into a book called Hospital Sketches, her first real literary success. “Louisa had told of the life with extraordinary effect; for she was not straining after romance now, but had given the truth simply, graphically, and with great spirit.” She caught typhoid fever, had to be taken home, faced a long and grueling recovery, and was never quite fully healthy again.

A publisher asked her for a book for girls. Louisa refused at first, saying she liked boys better and wouldn’t know what to write for girls. The publisher kept asking, however, so Louisa wrote some stories based on her own family. Louisa was Jo, Anna was Meg, Elizabeth was Beth, and May was Amy. The publisher was not terribly impressed, but he gave them to some young girls to read–and they loved them.

Several scenes paralleled the Alcott family. Elizabeth really did die of scarlet fever. Louisa did feel that Elizabeth’s death and Anna’s wedding were the beginning of breaking up the sisterhood. But there was no boy next door on whom Laurie was modeled: Louisa based him on a younger man she met while traveling abroad as a paid companion to an invalid girl. Some sources say there was a romance; this book says Louisa thought he would be better for May and hoped they would meet. Louisa herself never married, saying she would “rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe.”

The success of Little Woman and Louisa’s subsequent books helped the family finally get on a solid financial footing. Although “Louisa never could quite put aside her taste for startling events and her love for writing tales which bordered on the fantastic,” “she had begun to see her work in its proper light; she understood also that [the more realistic] stories were needed for young readers instead of the sentimental and tragic tales with which their minds were usually fed.”

I had known a little bit about Louisa’s life, but I enjoyed learning more through this book.

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

What’s On Your Nightstand: June 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:

Gospel Meditations for Mothers by Chris Anderson, Joe Tyrpak, Hannah Anderson, and others, reviewed here. Very good.

Heaven Without Her: A Desperate Daughter’s Search for the Heart of Her Mother’s Faith by Kitty Foth-Regner, reviewed here. A feminist, agnostic middle-aged daughter is challenged by her mother’s death to investigate whether Christianity’s claims are true. Very good.

The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, reviewed here. The information and practical helps were great: the New-Agey philosophies and exercises, not so much.

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott, reviewed here, for Tarissa’s Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge this month. This was one of Louisa’s “sensational” stories. Not my usual cup of tea, but it was quite suspenseful and interesting to see that side of her.

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin, reviewed here. A lovely story overall, but unfortunately with a few crude spots.

Villette by Charlotte Bronte. Just finished over the weekend; hope to review it soon.

A Small Book About a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience, and Peace by Edward T. Welch. Ditto with this one – I hope to review it this week.

I’ve also dipped into Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal by the editors of Reader’s Digest and The Christian Writer’s Market Guide-2018 edited by Steve Laube, but neither are designed to be read cover to cover.

I’m currently reading:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs, a biography of Louisa May Alcott, also for Tarissa’s challenge.

More Than These: A Woman’s Love for God by June Kimmel

My Father’s House by Rose Chandler Johnson

Up Next:

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

30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents  by Kathy Howard

That about wraps it up for this time. Did you get to read much this month?

Laudable Linkage

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Here’s my latest round-up of noteworthy reads on the Web:

How to Shipwreck Your Theology. ““What is the most brilliant theology good for if it is to be shipwrecked in one’s own house?”

Maybe Women are Some of the Worst Offenders.

9 Things to Know About a Widow’s Grief.

Love Letter to a Lesbian, HT to True Woman, from a former lesbian.

“Let Me Know How I Can Help!” (This Will, Because They Won’t), HT to Linda. Practical ways to ask for or offer help in a time of need.

How Breastfeeding Changed My View of God, HT to True Woman. “God’s love for us is no Hallmark sentiment. This image is not primarily a celebration of our newborn cuteness…Rather, this verse reveals God’s hard-won, self-giving, dogged commitment to our good, a refusal to let us go—however frustrating we become, an insistence on seeing his image in us—and a painful provision for our most desperate need.”

C. S. Lewis’s Wonderful Letters to Children. I love his manner with them.

A Pathway to a Full Life.

This is cool and somewhat mesmerizing to watch: magnetism in slow motion, HT to The Story Warren:

Happy Saturday!

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)

What’s On Your Nightstand: March 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.

March has certainly been a mixed month weather-wise and event-wise. But it’s nice to make time for reading here and there.

Since last time I have completed:

Trust: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback, reviewed here. Excellent.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, reviewed here. This may be my biggest surprise book of the year! It’s quite good, and different from the movies.

Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell, about a modern family with problems going to a “Camp Frontier.” Reviewed here.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, reviewed here. Excellent.

I’m currently reading:

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace

Sins of the Past by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Eason

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel

Up Next:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

He Fell in Love With His Wife by Edward Payson Roe

Going Like Sixty by Richard Armour

Another Way Home by Deborah Raney

How about you? Read any good books lately?

 

Laudable Linkage

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I found a lot of good reads the last week or so:

On Blind Faith and God.

Why You Desperately Need the Holy Spirit , HT to Challies.

The Power of De-Conversion Stories: How Jen Hatmaker is Trying to Change Minds About the Bible, HT to Challies.

Who Is the God of Mormonism?, HT to Challies.“One thing you’ll discover as you’re talking with your Mormon (LDS) friends is that though we use the same terms, we often mean very different things. Mormons have different definitions of Gospel, repentance, salvation, grace, Hell, and nearly every term you’ll be using in your conversation.”

5 Things That People Who Are Dying Want You to Know, by Kerry Egan, HT to Lisa.

How to Choose Worship Songs. Yes, to all the points mentioned here.

My Son, Withhold Judgment, HT to Challies.There are some times we need to act quickly; there are other times to realize we don’t know all the facts and need to wait.

How Do I Fight Pride When Competing in School, Business, and Sports? HT to True Woman.  “If we are better in some subject than someone else, God made us better. And his reasons for doing so are not pride and boasting and elitism. His reason for doing so is that we might use our competencies for the good of others.”

If God Doesn’t Heal You, HT to True Woman. “Although God can heal us, we must never presume that he must.”

The Why of Encouragement.

Why Do I Believe in Credobaptism, HT to Challies.

Why Young Christians Need Old Books, HT to True Woman.

In Defense of Evangelicals Who Support Trump, HT to Proclaim and Defend. Interesting, whichever side you’re on. Not written by an evangelical but by a Jew who acknowledges that “It is usually easier for an outsider to defend a person or a group that is attacked than for the person or group.” As he also says, “Character is a complex issue.” I’m not willing to say it’s not a factor at all – far from it, and I don’t think he’s saying that, either – but it’s true that some people with awful personal lives can be good leaders. But if we acknowledge that on one side of the ballot, we need to concede it for the other as well.

Growing Old Graciously, HT to Challies.”I don’t know everything, but what I do know, I can share.”

The Benefits of Listening to the Elderly, HT to Challies. “Why might the Lord, in his grace, cause the aged to repeat themselves as they do? What is the Lord showing us through it? Rather than rolling our eyes or thinking ‘Here goes Grandma again,’ what can be gained from these times?”

When I Give a Book.

On Writing Books and Getting Published, HT to Challies.

The Incredible “Mehness” Of Social Media, HT to Challies. An aspect we don’t often think of. Even if much of what we do there is harmless or even interesting, how does that impact our everyday lives and responsibilities? Do those things impact those with whom we have to do or take our attention away from them?

Ideas For Things to Do On a Snow Day, HT to Story Warren.

And in the “Seriously?” category: There’s a Reason using a Period In a Text Makes You Sound Angry, HT to Lisa. I never knew this was an issue – and it shouldn’t be. A period is just the end of a sentence, not the end of a conversation or an indicator of anger, disinterest, or insincerity.

Hope you have a fine Saturday!

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What’s On Your Nightstand: January 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.

Here we are a month into 2018, and I feel like I have gotten off to a pretty good start on my reading goals for the year.

Since last time I have completed:

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung, reviewed here. I actually finished this back in December, but after that month’s Nightstand post. It’s a book aiming to help children see the overarching story of the Bible and place individual stores in their place in the bigger picture.

Gospel Meditations for Christmas by Chris Anderson, Joe Tyrpak, and Michael Barrett, reviewed here. Excellent. I read most of it in December but finished up the last couple of pages early in January.

Conscience: What It Is, How To Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ by Andrew David Naselli and J. D. Crowley, reviewed here. Excellent – both Biblically based and very practical.

Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped in His Own Body by Martin Pistorius, reviewed here. Excellent.

Watership Down by Richard Adams, reviewed here. My first time through this classic, and I enjoyed it very much.

The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton, reviewed here. My first Chesterton book, and not at all what I was expecting, but it kept me pondering for a long time after closing it.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, reviewed here. Not my usual cup of teas, but I enjoyed it.

Mozart’s Sister by Nancy Moser, reviewed here. Very good.

I’m currently reading:

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Trust: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

A Spectacle of Glory: God’s Light Shining through Me Every Day by Joni Eareckson Tada. This is a year-long devotional book, so I probably won’t list it every month.

Up Next:

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

Death On the Prairie by Kathleen Ernst for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge beginning here Feb. 1! It’s a modern mystery set around some of the places Laura lived.

The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder, also for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge.

After those – something from my reading plans for the year.

If you are interested in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge taking place next month, there is more information and a book list here.

Have you spent any of these winter days in a cozy book?

(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday)