book stack love

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We have reached the end of this series celebrating books.

I must admit, I have talked and written more about books than

I thought possible.

This series will forever hold a sweet spot in my heart when I reflect on

interviewing my children, my mom sharing her words of wisdom

and continuing the conversation on Facebook.

No matter how much technology changes,

you simply must give your whole attention to reading a book.

Whether you like to fold back the cover of a paperback or touch

a screen to turn a page, you can’t read a book and do another activity

simultaneously, at least not very well.

If I could open my front door and welcome each one of you inside.

I would.

If we could sit in the living room warmed by a fireplace

filled with flames of gold and coals glowing orange.

We would.

We would sit with a stack of literature between us and one

by one I would offer you the gift of a good book.

Oh how I wish we could.

Sometimes magic only resides in books, so the next best thing

is to offer you my virtual book stack.

Welcome.

Grab a seat and pretend there is a roaring fire in your midst

and I will attempt to share the contents of my towering book stack*.

Some of the best books come in small packages:

The Nutshell Library
Any book by Joan Walsh Anglund

If you ever dreamed of being Harriet the Spy,
Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown:

The Flavia de Luce Mysteries

When you need to believe in magic:

The Night Circus

When a tear-jerker is good for the soul:

Me Before You
Tell the Wolves I’m Home
The Book Thief
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
Ellen Foster
The End of Your Life Book Club
The Year of Magical Thinking

When you want a book to tell
the truth about life, the joys,
sorrows, doubts and hopes:

Cold Tangerines
Bittersweet
Still

Run don’t walk to get these books:

The Gifts of Imperfection
Daring Greatly

When you need to read something honest
about addiction for yourself or someone
you love:

Sober Mercies

When you want to learn from monks
without escaping to a monastery:

The Hawk and Dove trilogy

When you are afraid:

Hinds Feet on High Places

When church makes you feel like
Stretch Armstrong:

Introverts in the Church

When you need solid timeless wisdom:

Keep A Quiet Heart

When you desire discipline to 
produce freedom:

Celebration of Discipline

When your soul cries out for rest
and you don’t know how:

The Rest of God

When you want a book combining
countless genres and is inspired
by the Creator. I give you the 
Book of all Books:

The Bible


What book would you offer me from your  book stack?

*It has taken me several days to finish this post,
mainly because I put too much pressure on myself to 
include EVERY book. This list represents what has 
crossed my mind or hasn’t been mentioned in a 
previous post during this series.
There are more books to read and many books I will
recall moments after pressing publish. Grrr.
But for now, this is the stack of books given to
you as possibilities to behold along life’s journey.

 

This post is part of the 31 days…yet again series.
You can find all the other posts at the top of the blog
by pressing the circle with 3 lines button or here.

 

 

a room of her own

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The last week of a month-long challenge is always the most difficult. I am thrilled that my
mom is making the final days of October easier by graciously agreeing to share
a reflection about one of her favorite books.
My mother is one of the finest people I know. She is gracious, generous, intelligent
beyond measure, a gorgeous soprano, my first piano teacher and she loves people
deeply and genuinely. She married the first man I ever loved, isn’t that grand?
She had a varied career at Washington State University where she was an Associate
Director of International Education for many years. She has a passion for conflict
resolution and mediation. She finished her tenure at WSU as the Associate Vice
Provost for Equity and Diversity.
She is now enjoying the sweet spot of retirement.
I am so blessed to have her as my mom, mentor and friend.

 Welcome Felicia Gaskins, my mom.

**********

I have always loved to read and I started reading at an early age.
It is difficult to choose just one book.
However, I hope to read all my life so the book I have chosen is one that has influenced how I am living my life in retirement.
The book is A Room of Her Own: Women’s Personal Spaces
written by designer Chris Casson Madden.
The title reminds us of Virginia Woolf’s essay, “A Room of One’s Own.”
So what does a design book have to do with spiritual discipline?

Initially, I bought this book because I admire Chris Madden’s design.
Over the years that I have owned the book, I have begun to think about how the women’s spaces portrayed in the book influence their lives.
I began to think about how little time I spend on caring for myself.
By caring for myself, I mean physically, mentally and spiritually.
So I have had my own room in our home since I retired.
Having a place to go every morning to read my devotional books and Bible has made me more disciplined about starting my day in a positive way.
At night I read a book called
Blessings for the Evening: Finding Peace in God’s Presence.

The space that one creates does not have to be a big, fancy space.
Madden’s book describes women with elaborate spaces and women who only have their bed or a table in an out-of-the-way space.
In every case the space symbolizes the place where one can go to be alone with oneself and God.
If you have not tried being alone on a regular basis, it may be difficult at first.
I have come to look forward to my quiet time every day
and try not to skip this special time away.

Do you have a room or a space of your own?

This post is part of the 31 days…yet again series.
You can find all the other posts at the top of the blog
by pressing the circle with 3 lines button or here.

spiritual teachers

 

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During our conversation, it became apparent my daughters differ in their preference of

reading the same book repeatedly.

I was reminded of the books I have read daily or year after year.

The stack above is a collection of books that have accompanied

me during the morning hours and remained steadfast through

the ever-changing landscape of life.

Just like a faithful friend, they encourage, remind and provide

a foundation of strength to keep standing.

There are several more I could place on the honorable mention

list, some might even be your favorites but besides

my Bibles, these have been my truest guides.

(A tiny sliver of me feels so vulnerable sharing these
books. Perhaps because they are a window to this delicate
and fierce walk of faith.)

Daily Light: A common thread of scriptures for the morning and the evening.
One of two devotional I have given the most to loved ones.

Jesus Calling: This is my number two gift devotional. I started reading
this devotional a long time before it became so popular. I loved that it
always seemed to express what I needed to read.
(If you are curious to know my #3 gift, it would be Blessing for the Evening.
It would make my stack, but I don’t own it. Isn’t that wild?) 🙂

Let Go: This might be a strange choice, how a slim book of letters
written by a 17th century French Archbishop would find its way
into my hands but I am thankful it did. This book is tough and
tender. It has this beautiful sunset on the cover but don’t be fooled.
Sometimes we need our teachers to be gentle, sometimes we
need a little shaking. It’s all about surrender.

My Utmost For His Highest: I started reading this devotional
in high school. A friend raved about it so I eventually bought
a copy of the original version and I couldn’t understand it.
Later in college, they came out with a contemporary version
and it was much more to my comprehension. This probably
explains why my friend went on to become an emergency
room doctor and I did not. I do read the original from time to
time and understand it more, it only takes me two readings now 😉
Timeless wisdom.

Seeking God’s Face: This one makes me sigh. For years,
I have wanted to follow a lectionary or a listing of daily scriptures
to read based on the church calendar. No matter which one
I would choose, I was confused. I never knew if I was
reading in the correct place. It drove my perfectionist heart
crazy. Enter this wonderful book made for non-emergency
room doctors tee hee. Here’s a picture.

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See the box? For the next 12 years (heh) I will know my place!
That’s a very good thing.

31 Days of Praise/Prayer: There are times in life when words are distant,
prayer seems futile and difficult. I alternated between these two volumes as
they taught me how to prayer through the scriptures and to keep clinging
to His promises.

How To Study The Bible For Yourself: The pages of this book are yellowed
by age. There is so much wisdom in this small book. I return to it time
and again to be reminded of the many ways to study the Word of God.

Venite: I have written about this book several times. It is now out of print
but used copies can be found. I was raised in church and over my 50 years,
have been apart of so many church traditions and experiences.I am so
grateful for this fact. I also know that I love tradition.
The pastor of the church we now attend always says we are a storied
people steeped in the story of God. I adore this and it is the very reason
I reached back to grasp the old ways. This prayer
book helped me rediscover parts of my church upbringing I had abandoned.
I found it at a time when I was very much in a wilderness and physically
stopping to pray throughout my day and night changed my life.
It changed my heart and drenched me with peace and hope.
I know it sounds trite or cliché but truly I felt my soul fly home
when I began to pray the hours.
There is something so sacred about uttering words that have been
said by countless seekers over centuries.

I wrote Robert Benson who
compiled this book to thank him and to share how
unaware my soul was missing
something until I started praying the hours.
(His letter response is a very cherished possession.)
I wish I always stopped my busyness to pray throughout
the day but when I remember
to pause, I am remade breath by breath.

Whispers of Hope: I bought this book in 2005 at a Beth Moore
conference in Spokane, Washington. I am so happy that she has
updated and recently re-released it.
(Although for those of us with large handwriting, I wish
they had kept the book the same size…oh well.)
Each day is a scripture reading,some thoughts from Beth
and spaces to write out prayers.
I can fan through the pages and see the multitude of prayers
required during that time frame. Some answered and
some remain. I wonder if all of them had been answered would
I still have the need to pray. As I let my eyes roam over those
needs still not resolved, I can’t ignore the reality of seeing His hand.
I know that He has drawn me closer to Himself.
I have changed in the midst of each hardship.
It is more than hindsight allowing me to see more clearly.
It is the prayers of 2005 and the God who was more than equal to
those cries, He is the same God who walked me through
the aching years that would follow.
He knew when I poured my ink prayers onto paper
that more hardship would come and He would remain.
He still remains.

What books bring you comfort?

This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

 

 

a weekend thought

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I didn’t mean to disappear last week.

I will finish up this series next week.

It should come as no surprise that we have

books all over our house.

At times it gets a bit ridiculous especially

when I bring home a small stack from the library

to add to the piles.

I read the most interesting article this week.

At first it made me shudder but it also made

me think so differently about the books I house

on my shelves.

I haven’t formulated my final opinion but i might

implement some of the actions.

Over the weekend, I hope you get a chance to read

a good book, sip on the hot beverage of your choice

and if you have a moment, read this piece on

book sentimentality.

I would love to know your thoughts.

Breaking the Sentimental Attachment to Books

Books I am reading this weekend:

The Secret Zoo (for boys book club)

The True Secret of Writing

The Skinnytaste Cookbook
(one of my favorite food blogs finally
has all the goodness in hardcover.

Happy Reading!

 This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

chatting books with my girls (part two)

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This is part two of my book discussion with my daughters Carlen and Courtney.
You can read part one here.
With a week between conversations, the girls added a few books they had forgotten and
we had an equally grand time. It bolstered my estimation of the books read during their
childhood. I found their reading history wide and varied.
Parenting can be all-consuming and
often we only see the faintest brushstrokes of the life canvas our children are painting
but some days we catch the briefest of glimpses of how the portrait is taking shape.
In an instant we are reminded of when we first laid eyes on them and believed
they were a masterpiece.
Now all these years later, the truth remains but the visual is more
breathtaking than imagined.
I adored this time with my girls.
As to not be outdone  by their brother, they chose to display their selfie love
with Caleb-like photo antics.
Enjoy.

Me: Okay girls, let’s get right down to business. 
What did you forget to mention from the last conversation?

Carlen: Favorite all-time read aloud: The Search for Delicious.

Court: The Wind in the Willows.

Me: The Wind in the Willows was great but it took such a long time to read.

Carlen: It was a fun read aloud because you didn’t do any accents.

Me: Hey, watch it!

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Me: Middle school is a period of time when many people start to not 
enjoy reading.
What is it about middle school and what were some of those
books that you were required to read?

Court: I remember reading A Day No Pig Would Die and it was quite graphic.
It was good but still a bit much.
I think it depended on your teacher and their preferences. In sixth grade,
I remember reading Huckleberry Finn which had a lot of language in it.
I also read To Kill A Mockingbird around that same time as well.
I seem to remember reading a lot of Steinbeck.

Carlen: Speak, A Place to Stand and The Kite Runner.
Into the Wild and Breaking Free were memorable.

Court: It definitely was teacher dependent.
Carlen read Persepolis in middle school,
I didn’t read it until high school.

Carlen: By the time I got to high school, I was really burnt out on reading. Especially after
my freshman year, we read so many books with such intensely hard racial issues.
It was difficult to be the only person of color in class.

Court: Oh yeah. It gets kind of old being the voice for your race.

Me: Yes, all eyes on you.

Court: Freshman year, we spent a lot of time reading Eye on the Prize and watching the film. We also read a book from a young local author The Girl Who Fell From the Sky and
The Secret Life of Bees.
Oh and we read Fences.

Carlen: I loved my freshman English teacher she was very passionate about reading
books about different cultures. We read The Color Purple, The House on Mango Street,
When the Emperor Was Divine and Night.
After awhile I asked her if I could read some other types of
non-fiction.
It was not until my senior year when we could read books of our own choosing
as long as they were varied in genre.
That’s when I began to enjoy reading again.
Before senior year, I went into a long phase of reading comic books. Ha.
I just needed a break.
I wore out my copies of Calvin and Hobbes.

Me: Depending on your life experience or season of life, books can be powerful
but also emotionally exhausting if they don’t arrive at the right time..
Tell me some of your favorite books over the years.

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Carlen: The Catcher in the Rye.

Court: I know you are supposed to love that book, but I hated it.

Carlen: I think it is one of those books you love or hate. It’s okay.

Carlen: I loved Of Mice and Men, Bridge to Terabithia, Regarding
The Fountain, How to Win Friends and Influence People, My Sister’s Keeper,
The Hunger Games, any book by John Maxwell, Holes or any book by
Louis SacharJerry Spinelli or Shel Silverstein.
I also loved authors Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Court: For me I would say, A Corner of the Universe, A Series of Unfortunate Events,
The Mysterious Benedict Society, Gone Girl, A Change of Heart, Among
The Hidden, Beastly (totally boycotted the movie). Room was a book where
I really didn’t like some of the characters but it still was really good.

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Me: I couldn’t wait to share Nancy Drew with the two of you. 
Why wouldn’t you give her a chance?

Court: I had Nate the Great, that was enough for me.

Carlen: Okay, The Box Car Children was pushing it with me.
I think I read about 5 of those books.Those books were so old.
I just was never into  mystery as a genre.
I liked playing Clue but that was about all.

(Laughter)

Carlen: OH! Columbine by Dave Cullen, Courtney and I
both read that book a few summers ago.
It completely changed my whole view of the media.
We never know the whole story.

Court: The book is laid out so well and is divided into different
categories. It was of course really sad but very good at the same
time.

Carlen: I bawled all the way through the book.

Me: Do you ever read books over again?

Court: I don’t usually read books again.
The only books I have read repeatedly are A Corner in the Universe
and Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl.

Carlen: I think I read Holes about 7 times and even listened to the audio tape.
I read Regarding the Fountain a lot, it is so funny.
Calvin and Hobbes: Something Under the Bed Is Drooling, I read it to pieces.

I read Out of the Dust several times. Karen Hesse writes amazing poetry.

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Me: Let the battle begin: Book or movie first?

Court: (stands up) Read the book first! I like to go into a book with anticipation.
I like not knowing  what is going to happen. There are more details in the book.
Even if changes are made in the movie, it makes more sense because you
have the book as the explanation. A movie may have plot holes which do
not make sense unless you have read the book. Reading the book after seeing
the movie, I doubt I would pay as much attention to details because I have already
seen a visual outline of the book.
POW!

Carlen: Watch the movie first. When I read My Sister’s Keeper first,
I was devastated when I saw how they changed the book and the ending.
Now, I see the movie and I can enjoy it for what it is. I know I
will probably enjoy the book more but reading it after the fact, makes
the movie experience fuller.
I am more of a movie buff anyway.

Court: Yeah, I am the book lover.
So this makes sense.

Caleb: Can you tell if a book is good by looking at it?

Carlen: Absolutely not. One of my favorite books, has the most
terrible cover.

Courtney: No, I remember when we had a book club and all of us
wanted to read this 101 Dalmatian chapter book based on the cover.
The book was horrible. All the moms made us read it anyway.

Me: I think it was probably because we secretly didn’t want you girls
to pick the book in the first place. I admit, we were mean.

Me: Court, you have an uncanny way of reading books sometimes
years before they become huge hits. I had a great track record
of finding children books before the masses when you both were
growing up.
What’s your secret?

Court: I don’t know. I am always on the look out.
I read book lists. I search the library’s new books.
I read anything that has a book list and see what strikes
my interest.

Me: Last questions, what are reading now and what have you
been meaning to read?

Court: I am reading The Stand, House of Leaves,
Songs of the Humpback Whale, High Rise and 11/22/63.

It’s crazy but I wanna finish East of Eden.
I have like 20 pages left.

Me: Court, that was like 2 summers ago.
Finish it already.

Court: I know, I know.

Carlen: I am reading Gone Girl and Outliers.

I want to read White Oleander and Anna Karenina.

Me: Girls, it has been the most fun to talk to you
about books.
It was my hope that you would love books as much as 
I do.
Let’s keep the conversation going.

Carlen: Next time we should talk about movies.

Court: Oooo, that would be fun.

Me: Or maybe debate whether book covers should
be changed to the movie poster?
I vote an emphatic no!

Carlen: Yes, in most cases.

Court:No, no, no, definitely not!
I didn’t like it when they changed the cover of
Holes or The Hunger Games.

Me: On opposite sides again, I see.
Until next time.
Now I have the task of turning
all these sheets of notes into a blog post
and adding dozens of links.
Wow, you have read a lot of books
and I know I won’t be able to add them all.
(I didn’t…aren’t you glad?!

I love you, my sweets.

Carlen: I love you Mom.

Court: I love you Mama.
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This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.