Out of Sorts is my first read by blogger Sarah Bessey. The book details her efforts to reconcile the different parts of her experiences with church. Though she does not go into detail about the kinds of hurts she has sustained, we gather that there have been some; she also discusses various questions over the years that haven’t been completely answered. As with other reviews lately, this one comes several weeks after reading the book. When I first finished it, I might have felt more…Continue Reading “Reading Musings”

This was an experiment for Gary D. Schmidt: a foray into sci fi. The story concerns Tommy Pepper, his father (an artist), and his sister Patty (a first grader who hasn’t spoken a word since her mother’s death) as they work through grief over the loss of Mrs. Pepper. In the midst of this, a chain arrives from a distant world that carries with it mysterious artistic powers and a snarl of political conflict. I liked the book, with some reservations. First, the earth storyline…Continue Reading “What Came from the Stars”

After enjoying the Wednesday Wars, I forged ahead to Okay for Now, Gary D. Schmidt’s companion book written from the perspective of the Wednesday Wars’ narrator’s classmate. Doug Swieteck is a different kind of narrator than Holling Hoodhood, partly because his home life and social stratum are different. Holling’s dad is an architect, but Doug’s dad is a working class guy with a big chip on his shoulder. While neither narrator’s home life is warm or promising, Doug at least has a mother who cares…Continue Reading “Recent Reads: A Schmidt-fest and a memoir”

The Pursuit of God (A.W. Tozer). This was a clarifying read about the need to seek God personally rather than coast along being a good soldier in church. Tozer argues that evangelicalism promulgates a myth that once you “accept Christ” (an expression not found in the Bible, he points out), you have nothing more to do other than put in time waiting for Heaven. It has been several weeks since I read it, but I enjoyed the astringent quality of Tozer’s writing. He is very…Continue Reading “Recent Reading”

How could I have forgotten — or did I somehow miss it before? — the power and mysterious beauty of Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River? I pulled it off the shelf a few weeks ago to read aloud to my daughters, remembering vaguely that I had liked it when I read it over ten years ago. Had I remembered the plot in detail, I may not have chosen it as a read-aloud. But we would have been much the poorer for it. The book…Continue Reading “Peace Like a River”

We’ve had some cheerful reading around here lately: Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, mentioned in our history textbook. I’ve been reading it aloud to the girls at lunchtime, trying to model how to go about engaging with a not-necessarily-accessible “classic” book. For some reason even I don’t understand, I decided this was not enough dark, spiritually probing Hawthorne, and in my spare time I reread The House of the Seven Gables. These experiences challenge me to think about what it means to “like” a book or…Continue Reading “House of the Seven Gables”

I’ve had different degrees of success in my reading this summer. For example, though their premises were interesting and they were in general pretty good, I fell by the wayside and failed to finish Simplicity Parenting and Sarum. After waiting weeks for The Nest to become available at the library, the opening pages turned me off quickly by presenting me with a sordid encounter. Nevertheless, I’ve had some success. It’s a Beautiful Day, by Renee and Philip Murdoch, details its author’s healing from traumatic brain injury. An American…Continue Reading “Recent Reads”

We are in the midst of a Victorian novel fest around here. Both daughters have been listening to Jane Austen (just a little earlier than the Victorians, but close enough) — Emma and Pride and Prejudice, courtesy of Librivox — and I have been rereading Dickens’ Bleak House, said by many critics to be his finest novel, and one I enjoyed very much the first time. (Great Expectations and David Copperfield are also among my favorites!) The noteworthy points of this tome are many and…Continue Reading “Bleak House”

I’m not sure when I last read Chaim Potok’s My Name is Asher Lev. It is filed under “all time favorites” in my internal library. Thinking it might be an interesting read for one of my children with an artistic talent, I decided to reread it along with her so that we could talk about it. It didn’t captivate her, and I released her. But I kept reading myself, and the journey is different this time than I remember. Once again, I realize what a…Continue Reading “My Name is Asher Lev”

I read Gary D. Schmidt’s new middle grade novel in a day. Learning about the book from Sherry’s review, I was interested — even though she had made it clear that it was not a feel-good story. I’ll let Amazon’s description suffice for plot summary. Orbiting Jupiter tells the shattering story of Joseph, a father at thirteen, who has never seen his daughter, Jupiter. After spending time in a juvenile facility, he’s placed with a foster family on a farm in rural Maine. Here Joseph,…Continue Reading “Orbiting Jupiter”