Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Need Your Help

girl with bookImage by Tom (hmm a rosa tint) via Flickr

A few months ago I wrote a post about feeling overwhelmed by the amount of books and written materials that I have at my disposal and the thought that maybe I need to start a practice to address how distracted I have become in regards to all of those book possibilities. Here is a reprint of part of that post:

As a reader and as a lover of books, I feel like a buzzing bee that stops and takes a sweet sip from this flower or that flower, always with an eye on the horizon and the next tempting taste. But what I really want to do is to sink deep down into the middle of those fragrant petals and take a long, slow drink of the beauty and wonder of words. And I know that I cannot do that in the midst of a meadow bursting with blooms. I am envisioning a sunny pasture with a just a few brilliant blossoms dotting the green grass. A manageable number to which I can give my undivided and loving attention.

And so I am pondering, thinking about, praying over setting a discipline in my life in which I don’t bring any new written material into my life. I will set a moratorium on more words. I get a slightly panicked feeling just thinking about it. I’m like a book junkie who knows that it’s time for a stay in rehab but want to just get my last few fixes before the door closes behind me. Will I be able to do this? Do I really want to? How long should I keep it in place? 3 months? 6 months? A year? (I know with absolute clarity that it should be a year, but the prospect is terrifying!)

Here’s my plan:

I will keep my current magazine subscriptions but not subscribe to any new ones. (Maybe I should subscribe to The Sun and Shambala Sun before I start because I really, really love them. Angst!)

I will not buy any new books except for my book club selections and I will attempt to get those from the library.

I will not check out books from the library.

I will accept books that are gifts.

I have set my date: January 1, 2010. But means that I have one more month to collect any books that I may want to spend this next year with! So, I am asking for your input. Tell me about the books in your life that you just couldn’t live without. What have you read lately that you just love? Are there any novels that you would recommend? What about spiritual reading? What are the things that are really speaking to you right now? So go check your book shelves or just your memory banks and let me know!

And for those of you who are lurking out there and don’t post or are unable to do so, please consider trying it this time or send me an email. I am really excited about hearing from all of you.

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16 comments:

Nichol said...

Well i think this is awesome. Great idea Rebecca. With that said...nope, my lips are seeled! You would not want to read the books I am reading/have read. You and I could sit and talk for hours (as we have done many times) We've found so many similarities in our time together...but our common ground seems to part when it comes to reading!(Well we do meet in the middle over Harry...sigh) But I'm a fluff lover! :0)
love you!

Sulwyn said...

I would recommend any of the spiritual books by Madeleine L'Engle, I return to them quite often and even chose a reading from one as a reading at my wedding! It's a fairly extensive list but: The Crosswicks Journals (A Circle of Quiet, The Summer of the Great Grandmother, Two-Part Invention, and The Irrational Season), the Genesis Trilogy (A Stone for a Pillow, And It Was Good, and Sold into Egypt), The Rock that is Higher, Walking on Water, Bright Evening Star, or Penguins and Golden Calves. A simple way to sample these is to look for a book called Glimpses of Grace by L'Engle - it is in a yearlong devotional form with snippets for each day. Actually, when I saw the title of your blog I thought you were a fan since one of her young adult books, A Ring of Endless Light, centers around a quote that includes a line about a deep and dazzling darkness!

This has been a long comment, but I love these books so much that I couldn't help but share. They have had a huge impact on my spiritual life.

Jillian said...

I was looking for images & Truth brought me to your site. Have you ever read Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard? It's one of my all time favorites I've come back to many times over the decades.

Another significant milestone for me was The Crucified Ones by Charles Newbold. You can download it free at: http://www.agapao.de/download/books/newbold_crucified_ones.pdf

George H. Warnock also has several enlightening books that can be read online free. http://www.georgewarnock.com/

Anything at this site is great!
http://www.openheaven.com/networking/webrings/

Enjoy the Northern Lights for me please!

Ahav, Jillian

SUNRISE SISTER said...

HI Rebecca, I am just off to bed but decided I needed to check in for the day with my blog pals and here you are asking for help. Nope, I don't think I'm your person. I just received a Kindle for my birthday and have downloaded Anam Cara/O'Donohue and Kathleen Norris' Acedia and Me and as if those weren't enough, I'm into a Richard Rohr book (which I love but I can't remember the name at this moment) and one of my daughters sent me a fat fiction - Outlander- for my birthday + my advent book, which can't really count because it's only a page or two a day.....if you need any consolation in the word game, I read a fascinating article by someone named Martha Beck in the November Oprah re how reading several books at a time is good to develop one's creative side of the brain:))) so, you may be overloaded but think how creative you're going to be!!! All kidding aside, sounds like a great discipline to begin and I'm NOT selecting to begin it with you. I have given up all magazine subscriptions except Cooking Light and Art in America.

Macrina said...

Good Luck dear heart. About five years ago during Lent I made a resolution not to bring another book into my life until I read at least ten of the unread books on my shelf. And I did it; took me a year and a half. I'm actually needing the discipline to read one book straight through -- I often have as many as 5 books on the go - so my plan is to do exactly that...one spiritual book; one fiction. FINISH IT and then begin another. In the novels I fall in love with the characters and never begin a new novel until at least two weeks after I finish the novel. It seems an insult to the characters in the book. I have tea with them for awhile and then begin a new book, meet new friends....

The Pollinatrix said...

I'm just going to address one of your questions, because this would be way too long if I addressed them all. I don't know if this will help you though, because you've probably already read all of these.

The main books I can't live without are: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard and Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins (although I'm always giving it away, so rarely have a copy on hand). And I think I have to add Anam Cara by John O'Donohue to this list now. Oh, and Wendell Berry's essays and poetry.

Tess said...

I would just make the respectful observation that your plan for your target date sounds a little bit like a dieter eating everything in the house before Monday morning and the start of a new regime... ;-)

That said, I've just finished an enormously powerful novel: Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie. Check it out on Amazon.com and ignore the absurdly romance novel flavour of the cover of the American edition, this is not a lightweight book. It is an emotional, historic and political journey starting in Nagasaki that spans continents and decades. Since I finished it a few days ago I have not been able to stop thinking about it. Incidentally, there's a Washington Post review on the Amazon site as I write this which I consider to be complete simplistic nonsense and which contains several plot-spoilers, so don't read it!!

Rebecca Johnson said...

Nichol, Yes, we will always have Harry! (Double sigh.) But I seem to remember our literary paths crossing at Jane Austin and the Bronte's as well. And I'm sure that there are others out there. There is hope for us yet!

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

Sulwyn, I didn't even realize that L'Engle had written this many books. I have read a Circle of Quiet which I enjoyed very much and tried the Wrinkle in Time series which I must say, I didn't like at all. I will look into these. Very interesting about the Dazzling Darkness. I'm not surprised that she and Mary Oliver have similar thoughts on that subject. Thanks for stopping by with your suggestions!

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

SS, No worries. I'm not trying to recruit anyone to accompany me on this journey. Almost everyone I tell about it looks at me in absolute horror. I try to explain that I have a pretty decent selection of books, but as the date draws near I wonder if it will be "enough". Have fun with your Kindle. It would especially be helpful for those of us who are reading 5 or 6 books at a time. Much easier on the back. (I tend to lug all 5 of them around town with me. Weird, I know.)

Outlander is a yummy indulgence. : ;

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

Macrina, I love your little ritual of honoring the characters in a novel. I have notice that I too, feel "unfaithful" when I put down one novel and pick up the next. It's like shoving those characters in the closet. I don't always "fall in love" . Seems like it's rare these days as a matter of fact. I recently read Olive Kitteridge which won the Pulitzer last year. In many ways she was an unlikeable character, but she was so real and the author subtly showed us her vulnerability and the chinks in her armor, and I found myself feeling such tenderness for her.

Recently Tess (from Anchors and Masts) recommended an English author, Elizabeth Goudge. I picked up two of her books at our library (unfortunately we don't have very many) and I am head over heals in love with her style of writing. VERY graceful and beautiful and classic. Have you read her before?

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

I have never read Pilgrim or the Tom Robbins. I will go check it out. I have read some other Annie Dillard though. Anam Cara is suddenly on EVERYBODY's list (I wonder why? It's been out for a long time) and so I will definitely be reading it. I have his book of blessings "To Bless the Space Between Us" which I use constantly in spiritual direction. Check it out. You will LOVE it.

Love....

Rebecca Johnson said...

Tess, You are very astute and absolutely right. Except, I'm not going to eat everything before January !. I"m going to stash all of my favorite treats!! It's like hiding a year's worth of chocolates. : )

You might have seen above that I am so excited about finding Elizabeth Goudge! I am 1/3 of the way through the Dean's Watch and love, love, love it. It is exactly the kind of writing and story that I most enjoy. I get spiritual reading, a good story and fabulous writing all rolled up in one! She is so insightful and constantly draws the contemplative aspects of life into her characters, no matter what their personality. She helps me look around the world with more grace. Can't thank you enough for the recommendation. I will be sure to check out Burnt Shadows. Sounds like a good book club book.

Have you read "The Elegance of the Hedgehog"?

Love...

The Pollinatrix said...

Would I sound like a complete wacko if I said it seems like John O'Donohue's spirit is deliberately contacting us?

Tess said...

Just catching up with comments, and I'm so happy to see you like Elizabeth Goudge - I never quite know whether people will or not because her writing style seems to me very distinctly English and understated. But it has such grace. The Dean's Watch is one of my favourites of hers, and I also love The White Witch, set during the English civil war. Plus a trilogy following the fortunes of the Eliot family before and after WWII - The Bird in the Tree, The Herb of Grace and The Heart of the Family. Also her autobiography, The Joy of the Snow, is beautiful and a really interesting glimpse of an Edwardian English childhood.

No, haven't read Hedgehog, but just put it on my wish list!

Mary said...

This is perhaps the best book I have ever read. It's so well-crafted. At first I thought the topic would be too depressing, but I am so glad I persevered in reading it. Simply a stunning novel! The book: "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay.