Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall Into Reading

I've been really lackadaisical when it comes to keeping track of the books I'm reading, so I've decided to participate in Katrina's Fall Into Reading challenge.

The fall months for me are usually incredibly busy, so I've decided to narrow my list of must-read books to two:

1) "Brideshead Revisited," by Evelyn Waugh; and

2) "The Complete Father Brown Stories," by G.K. Chesterton.

The reason I stopped at two is because the Father Brown collection is 797 pages. The good news is that I'm likely to get through most, if not all, of it because they're a collection of short stories.

If I finish both of those books, and there's still plenty of time before the end of the challenge (Dec. 20), I'll add a third book:

3) "Spoken From the Heart" by Laura Bush.

What are you reading this fall?

For more information about the reading challenge, visit Katrina at Callapidder Days. The challenge starts today (Sept. 22) and runs through Dec. 20.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Anne Rice's "Christ The Lord" Series

I have often wondered what life might have been like for Jesus when he was child, or what events he was waiting for before beginning his ministry. Anne Rice gives us one scenario in her "Christ The Lord" series.

Rice, who is most famous for her "Vampire Chronicles" books (including "Interview With The Vampire," which was made in to a movie in the early 1990s), grew up in the Catholic church but eventually strayed from it and became an atheist. She returned to her faith in 1998 and consecrated her work entirely to Christ in 2002. The results so far include "Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt" and "Christ The Lord: The Road to Cana." (She has also published "Angel Time," which I hope to read later.) She uses a mix of both real and fictional characters in her books to connect the different events mentioned in the Bible.

"Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt" is a very enjoyable read and is written from the point of view of a 7-year-old Jesus. We follow him, his mother Mary and foster father Joseph as they (along with a large extended family) make their way back to Nazareth. Jesus doesn't know that he is the begotten son of God, but he notices things happen when he prays. He begins to ask questions, but his family doesn't think he's ready to know the full story of his birth. By the end of the book, Jesus knows all about how his mother was visited by an angel, how shepherds and wise men visited him after his birth and how King Herod in a rage ordered all children under two killed after receiving word that a king had been born.

I was uncomfortable with the thought of Jesus not knowing his divine nature as a child, but this didn't prevent me from enjoying the book immensely. I especially enjoyed the amount of research Rice did about the time period to describe in her book what life might have been like for Jews 2,000 years ago.

I would love to provide more details about how she presents these events and how she describes a child Jesus when he learns of the whole story, but words can't do it justice. All I can say is that I was moved.

"Christ The Lord: The Road to Cana" didn't move me as much as the first book, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. Jesus is now 30 and doing a lot of carpentry work with his extended family. (Note to fellow Catholics: Rice stays true to Catholic belief in Mary's perpetual virginity and describes James as the son of Joseph by a wife who died before Joseph's betrothal to Mary.)

A big portion of the book is a fictional account of the events that lead to the wedding at Cana (I don't want to give away what happens). Rice does an excellent job again of drawing from historical research about that time to create one possible scenario. My favorite part, however, is when Jesus and his extended family make their way to the Jordan River to meet John the Baptist after many years apart (Jesus and John first meet face-to-face in Rice's first book). The scene gave me goosebumps as she describes Jesus getting ready for his ministry to begin.

His temptation by the devil in the desert is also a great scene, and one I plan to read again (along with the Bible) during Lent.

The book ends with the wedding at Cana (the final scene) when Jesus changes water in to wine at the request of his mother, and those who love him realize things will never be the same from that moment.

I think I read somewhere that Rice may not continue on with the series because the Gospels, themselves, are written so well. But if she does continue on, you bet I'll read the books.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

No Greater Love

Mother Teresa had always been someone who had fascinated me. I had always admired how much she willingly gave herself for the love of the poorest of the poor. But it wasn't until I joined a women's Bible study and prayer group in my community that I actually sat down to read some of her teachings. I was blown away.

This particular book, published seven months before her September 1997 death, is filled with wisdom that anyone -- no matter what their faith -- can and should take to heart. I'll just highlight some of the passages that spoke to me:

"Do we know our poor people? Do we know the poor in our house, in our family? Perhaps they are not hungry for a piece of bread. Perhaps our children, husband, wife, are not hungry, or naked, or dispossessed, but are you sure there is no one there who feels unwanted, deprived of affection? Where is your elderly father or mother? Abandonment is an awful poverty." -- p. 101

"Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches. Children have very little time for their parents and parents have very little time for their children and for each other. So the breakdown of peace in the world begins at home." -- p. 129

"Bring prayer to your family, bring it to your little children. Teach them to pray. For a child that prays is a happy child. A family that prays is a united family." -- p. 129-130

"Remember that the passion of Christ ends always in the joy of the resurrection of Christ, so when you feel in your own heart the suffering of Christ, remember the resurrection has to come. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen." p. 137

"At the moment of death, we will not be judged by the amount of work we have done but by the weight of love we have put into our work. This love should flow from self-sacrifice, and it must be felt to the point of hurting." -- p. 140

There is so much more I'd like to highlight, but if I did that I'd be posting the entire contents of this book on this blog, which I'm sure is a no-no.

The bottom line is this book was an incredibly satisfying read for me, especially because I read it during Lent. I'll definitely be looking for other books of hers.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where Did The Time Go?

I realize that the lack of posts on this blog make it appear as if I haven't been reading. The truth is, I have been reading -- a lot of Scripture, as well as some cookbooks. (Apparently, reading Scripture and Bible study books makes a person crave things like lemon bars.)

Anyway, when I finally looked at the calendar I realized that Spring has sprung. Time again for another Spring Reading Thing challenge, hosted by Katrina. Without further ado, here are the books I hope to finish reading by June 20.

1) Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte. I've wanted to read this book since I read (and fell in love with) Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. I just hadn't gotten around to picking up a copy from the library until now.

2) The Tale of Despereaux, Kate Dicamillo. I read this book several years ago, but want to read it again. No, I haven't seen the movie -- yet. Finished reading on 6/6/09. Review to come. And yes, I've also seen the movie now.

3) Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila. (In progress.)

4) Finish reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. (In progress.)

5) No Greater Love, Mother Teresa. Finished reading on 3/27/09.

I may pick up more books if time allows. Interior Castle, I hear, isn't exactly something a person can -- or should -- breeze through. I plan to take my time with that one.

So, what's on your "to read" list?

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Summer Reading List

I've been so preoccupied with posting on my main blog that I almost forgot to type up my summer reading list.

Without further ado, here's what Just Mom intends to finish between now and the end of August:


1) "Shepherds Abiding," Jan Karon. Book 8 of 9 in the Mitford Series. I'm actually almost done with this one. It's on this list just to make me feel good.

2) "Light From Heaven," Jan Karon. Book 9 of 9 in the Mitford Series.

3) "Home to Holly Springs," Jan Karon.


1) "On The Road With Francis of Assisi: A Timeless Journey Through Umbria and Tuscany, and Beyond," Linda Bird Francke.

If I'm able to zip through everything on this list, I plan to start reading "The Shack," by William P. Young.

What do you hope to read this summer?

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reading Challenge: The Mitford Series

I'm having the most splendid time reading the books in Jan Karon's Mitford Series. I've now finished the first four of nine books in the series: "At Home In Mitford," "A Light In The Window," "These High, Green Hills," and "Out to Canaan," thus accomplishing my Spring Reading Challenge goal (WOO-HOO!); but I'm not stopping here. Karon manages to make each new book even better than the previous one.

In my review of "At Home In Mitford," I mentioned that I thought her characters needed to be developed further. I also hoped then that author Jan Karon would take time to flesh out her characters in subsequent books. You know what? She did.

Karon was able to make some initially unlikeable characters into characters I really care about. She's able to weave tension in to every book and leave her readers with a satisfying resolution. But what I'm especially enjoying about her books is the way she so vividly describes the scenery.

Here is an excerpt from "These High, Green Hills," to give you an example:

"Little by little, the sharp intakes of breath and the murmurs and whooping subsided, and they stood there, lined up along the wall, gazing at the wonder of a sunset that blazed across the heavens. Where the sun was sinking, the skies ran with molten crimson that spread above the mountains like watercolor, changing to orange and pink, lavender and gold. A cool fire of platinum rimmed the profile of Gabriel Mountain and the dark, swelling ridges on either side."

I have to admit that I wasn't immediately addicted to the series. At the start of the second book I actually wondered whether I had the stamina to continue reading the series, simply because it started off way too slow for me. In fact, I actually found myself putting the book down several times to read some nonfiction works. But then I decided to give the book another chance, found some quiet time and just read. I've been finding it hard to put her books down ever since.

I'm now off to read the rest of the books in the series, and will post a final review at the end of my journey to Mitford. Check out my progress on my sidebar.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring Reading Challenge

Things have finally settled down enough for me to start checking off all those books I've been wanting to read. To spur me on, I've decided to once again take part in Katrina's reading challenge.

My main focus during this challenge will be reading all the books in Jan Karon's Mitford series. I read the first book, "At Home In Mitford," earlier this year but have been too busy to complete the rest. I found the first book to be an easy -- and enjoyable -- read, so I'm curious about the rest in the series. (You can read my review of "At Home In Mitford" here.) Besides, reading the series is one of my New Year resolutions, so I better follow through.

I doubt I'll be able to finish the entire series of nine Mitford books by June 19 (the day the challenge officially ends), but I do hope to at least finish "A Light in the Window," "These High, Green Hills" and "Out to Canaan." If I have time to read more in her series, I will.

I'm also reading several nonfiction books, which I will keep listing on my sidebar throughout this challenge.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some reading to do. :-D