Thursday, 17 July 2014

In Which I Obsess About Books

Woman Reading on a Settee by William W. Churchill

Can you believe I've actually been reading books again? Wait, you didn't know that I had stopped. It was part of my struggling with anxiety, feeling overwhelmed with life, messing up on time management and never getting through my to do list (if I was organized to actually put it together) a few months ago.

But over the past month and a half I have been slowing down, allowing myself to relax, saying no to the many extra things that suck my time and mental energy, and making time for some of the things I really want to do -like read books. (Whenever my friend R saw me reading a book, she would be so relieved because it meant I was not struggling with anxiety or tense about my pending work.)

So with no further ado, here's a list of some AWESOME books I have been reading.

The Great Divorce by C.S.Lewis

SO good! Two friends promised me that this was an awesome book, it has been lying in my house for months, and I finally added it to my backpack as I left on a two week trip to the Philippines. I also took two other books, and seeing as this one wasn't a novel, and might have involved using my brain, I left it to the last leg of my return journey, the train back to my city. And then I started reading... and oh boy, it was GOOD. I startled my fellow passengers by laughing aloud, muttering "Oh my goodness, YES!" and mm-hmming as I read. (I'm not even kidding.) Read this book, everyone! 

C.S Lewis speaks TRUTH, and in such a subtle and insightful manner that you have to THINK... but in a good way. According to wikipedia, The Great Divorce is a work of theological fantasy by C. S. Lewis, in which he reflects on the Christian conception of Heaven and Hell. But it's so much more- it makes you think about motives, and excuses, and lies that we tell ourselves and start believing, and the evil that we so comfortably live with. AAHHH. Truth!!!

It also very clearly presents how the concept of Hell works with a loving God:
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
“Good beats upon the damned incessantly as sound waves beat on the ears of the deaf, but they cannot receive it. Their fists are clenched, their teeth are clenched, their eyes fast shut. First they will not, in the end they cannot, open their hands for gifts, or their mouth for food, or their eyes to see.”
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I think that when I write my book, I would like to write like this. It's REAL. The characters jump out at you. It makes it so much more obvious what bad writing is, when you read good writing. The main character, Lily is not a character, she's a PERSON. She doesn't do, say or think exactly what you expect her to. She's not just a victim, but a human being with faults and temptations and weaknesses, who does stupid or dishonest or hurtful things sometimes, but also does brave and kind and loving things too. She's honest.

The book is about a 14 year old white girl in the American South in the 60s and how to escape an abusive home, she and her black caregiver moves in with three African-American sisters who keep bees. A lot like To Kill a Mockingbird, and something like The Help.

What's interesting about the book for me is the Catholic influence- they're obsessed with a statue of a black Mary, who seems to be a source of strength for them. In many ways I feel like they explained well how Mary loves and helps her children even though she is not God... until the end when it became a new-agey 'Mary is within you'... YOU are the source of your own strength, or something of that sort.

Anyway, great book- read it!

Searching For and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace by Jacques Philippe

As soon as I started reading this tiny book, I wanted to buy a hundred copies and give them to everyone I know. (Wait, I know more than a hundred people.) I feel like this book answers a question that most Christians don't even know they have. I know SO MANY Christians who struggle with anxiety and fear, and think that that is normal. It isn't! God does not want us to be anxious! He GIVES us peace, and asks that we receive it.

There are so many little lies we believe that keep us from accepting that peace: "If this or that circumstance of my life changed, THEN I could be peaceful", "If only I stopped falling into sin", "If only that person wouldn't aggravate me", "Someone I love is suffering so of course I should be troubled"...

But they are lies. And Jacques Philippe explains why, simple and concisely. Tiny book, big impact. Get it- I promise you won't regret it. Everyone whom I've passed it on to has had exactly the same reaction.
"If I am still not able to remain at peace when faced with difficult situations, then it is better that I should begin to strive to keep this peace in the easier situations of everyday life: to quietly and without irritability do my daily chores, to commit myself to doing each thing well in the present moment without preoccupying myself with what follows, to speak peacefully and with gentleness to those around me, to avoid excessive hurry in my gestures and in the way I climb the stairs!"
Okay, that's enough for now. Go read a book!

Have any of you read any of these books? What did you think of them?


  1. I want to read 'The Secret Lives of Bees'. Do you have it?

  2. Yes.. well, it's my sister's, and my mother is reading it atm, but basically I do have it...