I have a tower on my nightstand. A tower of books.
Perhaps it’s because I have a touch of ADD when it comes to reading. It could be that I’m overly ambitious. Or maybe I’m just a greedy guts who likes to bite off more than she can chew.
I don’t read one book at a time. I read about ten. (I’ve occasionally lost count of how many I’m reading at a time.) It’s a miracle I ever finish one, given the fierce competition on my nightstand. I certainly don’t finish every book I start.
I used to, on principle. Now I don’t, also on principle. Life’s too short to waste time on bad books.
I used to say I loved reading. Now I know myself better. I love reading . . . good books.
Thankfully, there are more good books in the world than I could ever find time to “read, mark, and inwardly digest.”
Hence the tower.
In the interest of full disclosure — you can learn more about someone from a quick glance at their bookshelves than you can from their social media feeds, after all — here’s a sampling of the books I have recently finished, the books I’m reading now, the books I have mostly abandoned but might pick up again sometime soon, and the books I will be reading just as soon as I can find a little extra time. (Right . . . )
This book made me cry for all the right reasons. Who else but Kate DiCamillo could take the story of a stuck up porcelain rabbit and weave it into an epic, deeply spiritual saga of redemption, sanctification, and second chances? I hope to write an entire post about this soon, because it was that good.
This was my first proper foray into the works of G. K. Chesterton, but I will be back. Splendid, rich, puzzling, wonderful stuff to be found there.
On my nightstand.
Yes. This. Always, this.
I’ve written about this gem before. It’s still great.
I was super geeked when I heard South Dakota Historical Society Press was publishing Laura Ingalls Wilder’s early, never-before-published, “grown-up” memoir.
Then I had to wait three months for Amazon to ship my copy, because apparently South Dakota Historical Society Press underestimated the potential market for this book and didn’t print enough. (Rookie mistake.)
Now I finally have the book, and while I still haven’t made it past the hefty introduction, I’m really enjoying it. As a longtime Little House aficionado, I find this unutterably cool.
If you want your own copy, though, good luck. Amazon is currently out of stock. Again.
This. Book. Is. Fascinating. I picked it up on a random browse through the library, and I’m now on my third renewal. (At four hundred plus pages, it’s a beast.)
Judith Flanders takes readers on a guided tour through the Victorian home. (I’m in the drawing room at the moment, having already examined the kitchen and the bedroom.) She pulls together literary evidence, advice manuals from the time (which are a hoot), memoirs, advertisements, and other historical evidence to show how people really lived in Victorian England and why they did the (sometimes kooky) things they did. Such fun.
My sister gave me this one a while back, and after powering my way (pardon the pun) through the first two thirds — and really getting a lot out of it — I’m afraid I’ve stalled out. Temporarily, though, I think. I see no reason not to power through (again, sorry) the last third as well.
On my phone.
(I know, I know. You’re probably surprised that I read book on an electronic device at all, literary luddite that I am. But every night, after I tuck in the littlest one, I sit down in a rocking chair in the darkness, pull out my phone, and read free ebooks until she falls asleep. Some days, it’s the closest thing to “me time” I can finagle.)
This is my third Grace Livingston Hill book this month, after The Enchanted Barn and The Girl from Montana. GLH is an author who, if she were alive today, I might not enjoy as much as I do. Why is this, you ask? It’s because, if she were alive today, she’d probably be writing fluffy inspirational Amish romance novels, and those I cannot abide.
Instead, she wrote fluffy inspirational contemporary romance novels — but since contemporary for her meant “between about 1890 and 1945,” her more than 100(!) books contain a great deal of fascinating real history in amongst their quaintly wholesome charm.
My Grandma Mac first introduced me to GLH, which is as powerful an endorsement as any book or author could hope to get.
I told one of my colleagues this recently. Her response: “I’m pretty sure my grandma used to read Grace Livingston Hill, too.”
I’ve read this before, but now I’m reading it again, because George MacDonald + free ebook + a hero named Curdie = brilliant.
This is another reread — my favorite Dickens novel, now conveniently available on my phone thanks to the magic of free public domain ebooks.
(For those that don’t know, I work for a publisher, which is exactly as incredible as it sounds, and which means that I nearly always have a “work” book or two going in addition to my “home” books.)
I hope I don’t need this Marilyn Chandler McEntyre book for long ages yet, but whenever I do end up needing it, I’m glad it will be here waiting for me. This slim, beautifully written volume of meditations combines scripture snippets, hymns, and prayers with reflections on the real issues and emotions people face as they prepare for death. Morbid? A little, but not really. Beautiful and transcendent? Yes, definitely.
No, I don’t plan on “swimming the Tiber” anytime soon. I’m as Lutheran as ever; ich kann nicht anders. But I will be interviewing the author, Jack Mulder, on Wednesday, and I want to be prepared. Yet even if I didn’t have to read this book, I probably would. It’s accessible, interesting, personal, and answers tons of questions I didn’t even know I had about Catholic faith, doctrine, and lived experience.
My mom loaned me this Zimbabwe-set mystery by Alexander McCall Smith and strongly recommended I add it to my to-read tower. I can’t wait to dive in.
This might sound like a snoozefest at first blush, but I’ve heard some very, very good things about it from people whose opinions I respect. I’m really looking forward to reading it.
The first time I met my then-future-mother-in-law, she asked me if I’d ever read Elizabeth Goudge.
I said I hadn’t, and she went on to wax rhapsodic about what a splendid writer and storyteller Goudge was.
I’m ashamed to say that, twelve years after marrying her son, I still haven’t read any Elizabeth Goudge.
My shame ends soon, though: I recently acquired a copy of The Little White Horse (a favorite book of J. K. Rowling’s growing up, so my mother-in-law is in very good company), and I’ll be starting in on it the next chance I get.
* * *
I think, at last, that’s may be all. Of course, I may have forgotten some. I’m an enthusiastic reader, but not a terribly faithful one.
Enough about me, though: what’s in your tower?