My reading list is as eclectic as ever these days. Â A little contemporary fiction, a little spiritual food for thought, a little comfort reading: I like the variety. Â Here’s what’s been on my nightstand.
On Mother’s Day, Scott very sweetly offered to bring me breakfast in bed. Â And though my pancakes were partially consumed in the company of two very rambunctious boys, who went spelunking in the caverns of the blankets of the bed, Â they eventually left to go eat their own meal and I hunkered down with The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey. Â It’s quite a good read: a retelling of Jane Eyre, set in 1960s Scotland. Â I am such an Eyrehead that I just had to read this book, and it’s enormously fun to see how the author reimagines the characters, the settings, and the plot. Â I’ve read the book so many times (and taught it, too), that I know it like the back of my hand, and I love how Livesey uses small details of the story (such as the bird imagery of the original novel) as motifs. Â Good stuff.
One of the best parts of last summer was discovering Margaret Silf. Â Her book Close to the Heart is an amazing guide to developing a prayer life, so I was thrilled to read her new book The Other Side of Chaos: Breaking Through When Life is Breaking Down.Â In this book, Silf writes about how the messy transitions/losses/uncertainties of our lives can actually be opportunities for tremendous spiritual growth, if we approach them with openness. Â I love her writing because she is wise but never pedantic; her tone is inviting, and she is a genius at offering exactly the right story to illustrate a spiritual concept. Â She looks at well-known Bible stories, like the Flood and the Exodus, and considers them through the lens of a spirituality of transition, with insights that blew me away. Â If you’re going through any kind of transition in your life right now, this book is a fabulous companion. Â And her chapter called “Will You Save Your Life or Spend It?” is truly amazing. Â I wish I could make it required reading for every person I know.
I’m one of those people who loves to re-read books, and the one series I’ve re-read more than any other is, hands-down, the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. Â These fabulous books describe the author’s childhood in small-town Minnesota in the early 1900s; they start when Betsy is a child and end when she is married, and they are the feel-good books to end all feel-good books. Â Betsy is a thoroughly modern heroine (and an aspiring writer, which is one reason I’ve always loved her), and her life in Deep Valley sounds like a heckuva lot of fun. I’ve just finished Betsy was a Junior and Betsy and Joe, which cover her last two Â years in high school, and reading them is like putting on my comfiest pair of Â slippers. They’re great to read right before bed, which is a time when I generally don’t want any angsty images entering into my subconscious. Â The Betsy books fill my mind with thoughts of picnics and high school essay contests and friends and family who support a young woman as she navigates her way into adulthood, and that’s a very pleasant way to end the day.