Tag Archives: books

A box of new books

I am a library rat. I love the library. I like the smell of the books, the relative quiet of the cool space. If I had to choose one place to be “stranded” for days on end, I would choose the library.

I live in a small town. Our library is not much to brag on, volume wise. But the librarians are wonderful: friendly, helpful, they call me by name when I walk in and ask how I liked a book that they recommended a few weeks before. Problem is, I’ve pretty much read everything in stock and have to go to other local county outposts to find selections. And I do.

Sometimes, I splurge and buy books, books I really want to try to keep in my personal library, or try again, I am notorious for giving it away. I bought five new books this week, books I cannot find in my county’s library system because of the newness of the publication or the obscurity. A big brown box of books arrived on my front porch, Monday. Christmas in July indeed!

I have read three of the five and a library book that I had started. I really like to read. It s a great vacation reward and a necessary jump-start to my mind. Reading about the diverse topics of these new books helps me in my endeavor  to creatively impart knowledge and, more importantly, its pursuit to young people. I have been made angry ( nearly to tears) by the stories and conditions espoused in some of the books that I have just read. I have been encouraged and exhorted to continue to grow by others. I have found friends in the authors and those who assisted them. I have seen worlds unknown to me  and relived circumstances all too familiar.  I have been stretched, confronted and challenged to change and bring change in my wake.

And I read a little mystery just for fun.

If you have a hard time finding a good book, contact me. I have an uncanny knack for finding really good ones. And, at this very moment, I still have a decent library.

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a time out to read

I took time out to read this weekend. I had been riding around with Pat Conroy’s newest book, South of Broad, in my car for a week. It’s due back at the library, overdue in fact. I never got around to reading it. That makes me angry since I made a special trip to check it out. Instead of taking it back, I chalked the extra 50 cents in fees up in “good investment” and made myself take the time out. It’s about 500 pages. I knew it would take me all the reading time I could squeeze out of the weekend.

I love Pat Conroy. His words are so beautiful that they make me hurt. He can tell the ridiculous, true tales of the South and the deep, dark pains of the human psyche with the most lyrical of words. His stories are usually about the cult of class, both the moralism and ignominy of Catholicism, and all the fractures of human spirit which lie almost imperceivable, like hair- breadth cracks in fine China.

What he does best, is characters. His stick. They get under my ribs, under my nails; they cling. They seem more real than those breathing actual air around me. Because I can see inside them: their thoughts, their fearful vacillations, their justifications, they seem more real.

It always takes me a day or two to truly return from reading great writing, the kind that leaves me in some kind of juxtaposition and in a place where there are only questions. Good writing leaves me at once in tension and free-fall… sort of suspended in a post traumatic shock – a place where my mind disavows and my body seeks to right its disrupted systems.

All the foibles and secret distresses of those I just met through story will plague me a good while yet. I deeply consider and characterize them. I ache alongside them and silently plea their case before God, whom they cannot seem to find. I stretch and reach and wrap my mind around their predicament, work words to my lips to warm them and to awaken them from their wounding.

But, I will sit and gaze dreamily on so many who are not ten feet from my inhalations.  I will shade my eyes from hands grasping at sunlight,  I will cover my ears from silent cries toward me. Why is this so?

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I am reading…reading…reading.

Sometimes I do not let myself read…because it becomes all that I want to do. I stop eating, I stop sleeping – of course I stop doing laundry and other necessary things. So I only allow it for a day or two at a time.

At one time, before the kids, I did research for a ministry – I pretty much read things that others did not have the desire, nor will, nor stomach to read. I read and summarized and drew comparisons and developed corollaries.  I’m pretty good at it. Maybe when I am older, or better, when my children are, I can again do more of that work.

I do not like the culture of ignorance. The attitude that it is better to not know, to not seek out truth, but to just decide some position in order to have an identity or a sense of belonging. I have never been so aware of this stagnancy, this static orientation of truth in our culture. I am most concerned.

I am tired of those who position themselves and try to make others do so – for ratings or dollars or ego. I am tired of people no longer discussing things to find solution, but rather to be heard. I am truly tired of it.

Sometimes I want to scream  when people make arrogant, asinine comments about subjects they couldn’t spell much less explain. Some unknowingly bait me…looking for my unquestioned agreement as a believer…I have to walk away… I do not trust my words nor my (pharisaical) training to slay fiercely and quickly unprepared challengers…So great is my anger…I fear my flesh.  So I walk away and let God cool my mind, slow my heart…and ask. “What, LOrd, is mine to do here?”

I have perhaps unfairly, almost altogether given up on my generation. So I look to the precious, still tender hearts and minds that come behind. I do not waste what God has mercifully offered my sincere heart to understand. I do not pour it out in vain to be trampled upon. I store, ration and bottle and then try to put into the hands of  the next generation the questions of the man who would find God and walk in His ways.

It’s all I know to do. It’s all that keeps me sane.

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