Books, Kindle

On Reading

Early last year I took up the challenge, from Alex at Beso Mami, of keeping track of the books I read in 2008. I agreed with her premise that people seem to be reading less. I know that between knitting and spending time on the Internet, my reading had declined. I started recording the books on my previous blog and moved the reviews over here in April.

I had hoped to get to 60 books this year, and only made it to 59, but compared to the statistics that most women in this country read 9, that feels pretty good. 21 I read on my Kindle, a birthday gift from Pure Luck last May when it became apparent that pain in my wrists and hands made it difficult to hold a book of any size for enough time to get anywhere. Thanks, honey!

Many people have asked along the way about my level of satisfaction with the Kindle. I continue to feel it is great as a piece of adaptive equipment, but if I could hold a book, I would rather do that. There are many books I cannot get on Kindle, and I will continue to read those of reasonable size the old-fashioned way. Really big books? I probably will not be able to read them unless I come up with a different scheme. But my usual style of reading is carrying a book everywhere I go around the house and the Kindle is good for that, as long as I don't take it to a bubble bath, which would pose an unnecessary risk to the Kindle (says Pure Luck, who replaced the one I broke when I fell a few months ago).

I've decided to do the same thing in 2009. How about you?

The last three books I read in 2008 were:

#57-"The First Christmas" by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan–I like their mindset, and they supplied historic details I did not know, but they didn't have to convince me of anything.

#58-"Dreams from My Father" by Barack Obama–This is a good book and what a fascinating thing to have a President write a memoir BEFORE becoming well-known!

#59-"No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith–I'm the last one to read this, right? Loved it. I started reading it immediately after finising the Obama book, so I went from his visit to Kenya directly to Botswana. I'm sure I'll be reading more of this series in 2009!

And, my first book of 2009~~~

#1-"The Magnificent Ambersons" by Booth Tarkington–This has been sitting on my Kindle for months after I saw a mention of it on KathyR's blog. I really enjoyed reading it. Tarkington's reflections on the way automobiles and coal changed the life of a city feel timely 100 years after the era he describes.

(P.S. I'm retiring the 2008 book list to my "About" page.)

Advent, Books, Christmas

Words That Help–Books 55 and 56

I like to pick up a new picture book at Christmas time, and this year I happened to see Room for a Little One (Book #55, by Martin Waddell) at a denominational office. It's charming and vivid and simple and short, a story about the cow inviting animals into the barn, and ultimately Mary and Joseph. I used it with the children last Sunday, after which we sang "Jesus, Our Brother, Strong and Good," an absolute favorite of mine. My friend, RevFun, wrote a verse about Molly two Christmases ago. She came to church last Sunday, and we added her verse to the carol.

"I," said the dog, brown, black and white,
I guarded his family all through the night.
I kept them safe till the morning light.
I," said the dog, brown, black and white.

Molly seemed to enjoy it. I know I did.

Throughout Advent, I've appreciated Run, Shepherds, Run: Poems for Advent and Christmas (Book #56, edited by L. WIlliam Countryman). Just tonight I read a poem that touched a tender place for me.

In Memoriam XVIII ~ Alfred Tennyson

The time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.

Four voices of four hamlets round,
From far and near, on mead and moor,
Swell out and fail, as if a door
Were shut between me and the sound:

Each voice four changes on the wind,
That now dilate, and now decrease,
Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.

This year I slept and woke with pain,
I almost wish’d no more to wake,
And that my hold on life would break
Before I heard those bells again:

But they my troubled spirit rule,
For they controll’d me when a boy;
They bring me sorrow touch’d with joy,
The merry merry bells of Yule.

I'm grateful to writers this year, writers who have amused me, made the time go by when I couldn't do much with my free time due to ill health, writers who shared their experiences, in fact and in fiction. Tennyson's pain may not be like mine, unless it is since I have been grieving for the life I believed I would have before the RA diagnosis. Now, many months later, I still don't really know what the new life will be like, but I am hearing the bells, too, and finding different joys in them.

Books, Kindle

Book #54–“Death in Holy Orders”

I seem to be slowing down on the reading front, and I can't imagine Advent and Christmas will improve things, but I did finish P.D. James' (NOT James's) Death in Holy Orders, which I read on the Kindle. I've been enjoying mysteries on the Kindle, as they are usually too heavy to hold and don't have nifty graphics you must see in the printed form.

To be sure, I prefer a book, the feel of the paper, the way the words look on the page. But I just can't hold them, not if they are of significant size. I'm grateful to Pure Luck, who gave me the Kindle for my birthday, and who gave it to me again after I fell and broke the first one. It's not that I wasn't careful before, the fall was unavoidable, but I am really, really, really careful now.

I find my goal of 60 books a dubious likelihood, but maybe I'll get there when I travel after Christmas. I have lots of good books on the Kindle, including another James, the first Alexander McCall Smith and the new Marilynne Robinson. And a few more I cannot remember just now.

How about you? Can you do any reading at this time of year? In college, I remember reading novels when I should have been studying for finals. I liked romance then, Jane Austen now for times of great stress, when I need to vanish into another world entirely. Do you do "avoidance" or "escape" reading?


Quick Reading Update

Book # 52: Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. I shared some thoughts about this one over at RevGalBlogPals, where it was the October discussion book. I guess I'm not as certain that no good can come of being American as the authors are, though I think their radical point of view is a needed corrective to our smug civil religion. One complaint: I am not excited by artfully laid out books that hurt my eyes by putting odd colored type on pages that make it difficult to read. If that makes me an old fogey, so be it.

Book #53: I Asked for Intimacy by Renita J. Weems. This book has been on my shelf for years, and it jumped into my hands the other day. It speaks to all kinds of intimacy, the way we want it and the way we resist it. I love Weems' writing. She declares herself as writing for African-American women, but she's speaking to me whether or not she knows it. Did you know she has a blog? You can find her writing at Something Within.

I'm reading a P.D. James on my Kindle, but I've been going to bed too sleepy to read much in it. I'm also trying to finish a Christmas project or two on the knitting needles, which can cut into the reading time.

I didn't set out to read a particular number of books this year, but at this point I guess I'm aiming for 60. I've already read more than one per week, which feels like a big improvement over last year. I'll reflect more on what I read when I get to the end of the year!

Books, Kindle

I Swear, I’m Still Reading

Really, I'm still reading. I had to give up on Rita Nakashima Brock's and Rebecca Ann Parker's Saving Paradise, as I couldn't hold it with my bum hands. It's heavy!

Meanwhile, I've gotten back on the fiction pony. Book #49 was P.D. James' The Lighthouse, which I picked up at Borders in Traverse City while visiting Snowman, after the Great Kindle Smash-Up of 2008. I haven't read James since Devices and Desires, and I really enjoyed it. I've always liked Adam Dalgliesh, one of those irresistible detectives (he writes poetry, is a preacher's kid and solves crimes, too!). I'm dipping back into her other titles now, and they all seem to be available for the Kindle.

Book #50, after the refurbished Kindle arrived and I could reload my previous books, was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Really, really beautiful writing. It felt risky; I love dogs, but books about dogs always make me cry. It turned out to be much more than a book about dogs, though it really IS about dogs in a major way, and I loved it.

Book #51, also on the Kindle, took me back to another beloved detective, Lord Peter Wimsey. I downloaded one of the early Wimsey books by Dorothy L. Sayers, Whose Body? Sayers' books are a delight, and although my favorites are those with Harriet Vane, this had the advantage of costing exactly $1.59.

I must admit to feeling some paranoia when handling the Kindle, or more precisely, when transporting it. I certainly was not engaged in careless activity when I fell while holding it. It's good to have the refurbished model, which looks like new. I've had a rough week where the wrists and fingers are concerned, so I am particularly appreciative of the way it keeps me reading.

What are you reading these days?


Books #46, 47, 48

I've had two busy days, so here's an update on my reading, which frankly has been at a standstill since vacation.

Book #46 — I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church, by Paul Nixon — This is a great little book. I picked it up at the New Church Leadership Institute. The author is a Methodist pastor, and he is the coach for my favorite neighbors, a couple who are both Methodist pastors and planting a new church here in City By the Sea. You don't have to be a new church planter to benefit from Nixon's book, it has great ideas for revitalizing, too. I highly recommend it. (I loaned my copy to someone, or I would be more specific about the contents.)

Book #47 — The Friendship of Women, by Joan Chittister — This was the August read for RevGalBlogPals. I am afraid I didn't like it very much. Chittister uses women in the Bible as archetypes for female friendship, but I didn't really share her perspective on particular Biblical figures and did not like some of the gender stereotyping she used.

Book #48 — Illness as Metaphor, by Susan Sontag — good stuff, thanks to Phantom for suggesting I read it; I knew about it and had read some of it a million years ago in college, but this was helpful in my current situation. (By the time I finished the first half, I was worn out with reading about illness, so I did not go on to the second book in the volume, AIDS and its Metaphors.)

I really enjoyed reading fiction this summer, but I seem to be out of energy at the end of the day now that the fall schedule has begun. I have "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" on my Kindle and I'm finally getting into "Saving Paradise" in hardcover. The other books I'm reading as part of new church thinking, which I have to admit is on hold until I get fall stuff under control.

Does your reading change with the seasons?