Here it is March, and spring is already in the air. It was a balmy 78 degrees today here, and my bike ride to a lunch appointment at Via Maestra was pure bliss. (P.S. The gluten-free gnocchi made with ricotta, followed by chocolate hazelnut gelato, wasn't exactly shabby either...)
But I digress. As I said, spring has sprung and I find my daydreams of late include thinking of books I have started to pile up in anticipation of relaxing reading to come. I was even more motivated when I came across this quote yesterday:
Pico Iyer said: "The less conscious one is of being 'a writer,' the better the writing. And though reading is the best school of writing, school is the worst place for reading. Writing should ... be as spontaneous and urgent as a letter to a lover, or a message to a friend who has just lost a parent ... and writing is, in the end, that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger."This manages to captures the allure for me of both reading and writing. Thanks to birthday generosity, I have recently received not one but TWO Amazon gift cards, and purchases have already been made. Here are the goods on my current reading list. Feel free to share yours.
- Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright. I had been told by two people I admire, Howard Snyder and Doug Strong, that this book is one of the best systematic theologies out there. Halfway through, I heartily agree. This is one of those rare books that is both thoughtful and brilliant theology and utterly readable. In fact, it's difficult to put down once you get started! If you want to have your cage rattled and your soul encouraged to consider what it means today to live as a citizen of heaven, run (do not walk) and get this book.
- Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner. Yeah yeah, I jumped on the trendy bandwagon and got this one. I was surprised to see ads for this even in New Yorker magazine, and reviews popped up in all the Christian emails I get every week (Relevant magazine, Christianity Today, blah blah blah). I'm not sure how a woman who probably isn't even 40 years old has managed to write not one but two memoirs, but I have to admit, I love the way she writes (which is exactly the way she speaks, having seen her speak a couple of times). I was deeply impacted both by her first memoir, Girl Meets God (which has some parallels with my own faith journey) and one of my top favorite books in life is her book/devotional titled Mudhouse Sabbath. It's bittersweet to know I'll be reading about her divorce from the man whom she so winsomely describes in the tail end of one of her earlier books (I can't remember which one at the moment). So I come with some skepticism to Still, but I am also looking forward to it.
- Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne. I have fallen in love again with bike riding this year. While I have been a devoted bike commuter since May 2003, but the way my life works now (where I mostly work from home), I have the freedom to easily to ride my bike almost every day -- whether it's to shop at Whole Foods or Trader's, get in some exercise and scenery at Campus Point, read my Bible and pray a bit at the Santa Barbara Mission, meet a client for coffee at Peet's... it's a wonderful life. And it sounds like David Byrne figured that out a few years before I did. I can't wait!
- Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. Let's get it out there -- I am a hopeless biography nerd. There was one summer as a kid (I'm gonna guess 5th grade) where I went to the young readers section and said, "I want to read that entire section this summer." Yep, that's me. The list of biographies I have read in my lifetime would be far, far too long to list, but over the years I have been COMPLETELY enveloped by books about John Steinbeck, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Mother Teresa, Lewis & Clark, John Muir, Lauren Winner (as I said), C.S. Lewis, Lou Gehrig, Anne Lamott, Paul Farmer, Christopher McCandless (Into the Wild), Annie Dillard, Greg Mortensen, John Stott, James McBride... but this one about Roosevelt might take the cake because, yes, I'm admitting here, this is the third in a three-book series, and yessiree, I've read the first two (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Rex). But I'm telling you people, Teddy Roosevelt is one fascinating dude. Check this out from the Amazon review:
Packed with more adventure, variety, drama, humor, and tragedy than a big novel, yet documented down to the smallest fact, it recounts the last decade of perhaps the most amazing life in American history. What other president has written forty books, hunted lions, founded a third political party, survived an assassin’s bullet, and explored an unknown river longer than the Rhine?
I mean, really.
So here's to good reading. Feel free to share the titles you are excited about. As C.S. Lewis said, "We read to know that we are not alone." Amen.