Saturday, February 02, 2008

Reading for Rutabagas

I was clicking through Alice’s links again. I should not do this.

I inevitably compare my blog to the likes of Beth Moore and James MacDonald. Both of whom have fancy-schmancy blogs, and while I know they are famous Christians, I am not sure exactly for what.

I mean, I know books and stuff, but as my reading addiction lends itself to Paul Johnston, Lee Child, and JD Robb bloody/suspense/action/mystery novels, I’ve not personally experienced their literature.

(Except for my underwhelming take on the introduction of 12 Extraordinary Women that prompted my cousin Aaron to cyber-smack me upside the head. View the cyber-smacking here.)

Note: In the process of posting this, I have discovered 12 Extraordinary Women was written by John MacArthur, not James MacDonald, but I think this perfectly demonstrates my ignorance in Christian book writing/reading.

In college, the world’s best Communication Professor, Ms. Billie Sue Thompson (don’t let the down home name fool you. She’s one sharp cookie) told us there are two different kinds of reading. One kind will enrich you, teach you, and make you a better person. The other kind is junk food for your brain. She recommended we develop a strict 90/10 policy when it came to reading in our lives.

It was easy to follow this advice IN college, where reading textbooks is the key to surviving (or cheating, but let’s not go there). But, I have to say post-college; I’ve allowed my brain to gorge itself on the aforementioned books.

My brain is now a sluggish couch potato munching on whodunits like donuts.

My friend Joy is probably unaware of my aversion to all books that make me think about…well someone not mysteriously getting thrown under a car in a dark parking lot. Over the few years we've know each other, she's given me several books in the vein of actually learning something spiritual enriching.

Pre-Joy, I read a book about submission. It was written by a previous feminist who had discovered the joy of being domesticated. Her first name was Bunny. In spite of my love for the lagomorphs, I could not take a woman named Bunny writing a book about submission at all seriously.

I laughed my head off. Seriously. I was home on a semester break, and Mom had to check on me to make sure I wouldn’t swallow my tongue.

However, Pastor’s endless plugging of spiritual-type books from the pulpit (I don't expect him to plug Jack Reacher or anything), and the dawning realization that I have failed to heed my favorite professor’s sage advice, have prompted me to enter the Christian self-help, mucky-muck about spiritual topics, reading hullabaloo!

This is not to say that Angelic and Demonic Influence on the Field of Missions, Especially in Africa Where It Gets Very Dark at Night will be the first book I reach for in that perfect hour I have for reading before bed.

I’ll probably still reach for Odd Thomas or Silent Joe (those are book titles, by the way, and not strange men hanging out in my room at night).

But, I’m giving the old college try to reading books that are not Starburst Jelly Beans (drool, Starburst Jelly Beans!) to my brain.

Thankfully, Joy has given me a book on modesty. (This is not a veiled insult, as I believe Joy thinks I am modest. I think, in all fairness, my puffy coat makes me the most modest person in the world). I already read the first chapter, and to my surprise it was quite good. Several reasons:

a.) The author’s name is not Bunny.
b.) I didn’t not fall asleep while reading (this happened with several tries at reading C.S. Lewis).
c.) I did not drift off into wondering what was on TV.
d.) There was nothing to send me in choking fit of rage or tongue-swallowing laughter (the bad kind).
e.) I understood the author’s point of view and have since felt like she is writing specifically to me.

By comparison, of course, if the book was Bad Luck and Trouble, I would have finished it an hour.

Still, I am looking forward to reading more. This is a promising first step for me!

Over the next few years, perhaps Joy and others who wish my spiritual well-being can throw a few healthy rutabagas in the Snickers salad of my reading life. I’ll welcome your recommendations.

Please don’t recommend anything snore-worthy. Anything with explosions or illustrations would be a good start. I have to start slowly, you know. You can only eat an elephant one piece at a time. (Not that you should EVER actually eat an elephant).

Note: Do not recommend Through Gates of Splendor. I read that book in high school and am still traumatized. Also not on the table are Joshua Harris books. At least not yet. I’m still trying to forgive him for I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

If you have a spiritual book that has touched your life, and after reading this post, think I could read and comprehend (two very different things, my friends). I’d love to hear them.

I’ll plan to post a review of my modesty book when I finish it.

In ten years.


joydriven said...

YOU are hilarious. I'm thoroughly glad you've made it this far in the book!

Just wait till you find out that it's not even that spiritual a book. Really--if that's the one fault I can find with it, it's that she makes this incredibly bang-up case but largely apart from God. She basically makes her points with the thought processes of an economist and logician rather than someone who necessarily has a relationship with the God (and Christ) of the Bible. Not that I think you will like it less if it's "spiritual"...but I think you'll like it primarily because the author has a head on her shoulders and can articulate in a readable and applicable way.

WendyJanelle said...

Ding, ding, ding! You've hit on one of my favorite subjects: books!

You are SO funny! I have to say, I follow a 97/3 philosophy because I just do not have much time to read, and I want it all to count.

First of all, how can you NOT like CS Lewis?? Maybe you are starting too "heavy." Try the Narnia Books. Fred read those to the kids and they all enjoyed it. The Great Divorce is great, too.

Second, I love Beth Moore studies. And you will, too, I'm sure. She is a SMART and godly woman. It's not just feel-good fluff like so many women's studies. Beth gives background history, word studies, and personal illustrations. And her writing is just good.

I would also recommend Becoming the Woman of His Dreams. I'll get back to you on an author. It's not a feminist-turned-housewife book, but rather how to be a godly wife.

And, if you ever even considering having boys, read Dobson's Bringing Up Boys. I think I've read that one four times now.

I'm also currently reading The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin. It is heavy reading, but very interesting.

I'm sure I'll be revisiting this post for additional suggestions and comments!!

Ann-Marie said...

Oh, I've read C.S. Lewis. I even took a course in college on the books of C.S. Lewis.

I...just don't get all the hype. They're good books, and all, but certainly not the BEST BOOKS OF ALL TIME (IMHO).

I should qualify, however, that I am not a lover of the allegory genre. Write what you mean and mean what you write.

(Except, of course for Jesus who talked in parables, and of course THAT was the right thing to do at the time)

In C.S., all the this "thing" actually means "this type of person," confuses the heck outta me.

But this may be a reflection of my refusal to "think while reading." Reading was always fun for me (first) and educational (second). So maybe I SHOULD give ol' Jack as second chance.

I will add your titles to my list! I was actually hoping you'd suggest some - Tob always says you have good recommendations!

Anonymous said...

If, in fact, you have ever sinned or thought that you have never sinned... you should read Beth Moore... Pick a book, I don't care which one. She's a sinner who's been re-born to a life of serving a sinner (no one's perfect until heaven). You can simply read her books... but better yet, I DARE YOU to read and complete her Bible study, "Living Beyond Yourself" (Thanks to Wendy's recommendation I spent the two months after my last baby doing that study).
Personally I like WWII fiction. Bodie Thoene... and now Terri ....Blackstock? Good stuff.
You might try reading Francis Schaeffer for theology type stuff... my Dad always liked him... or what's his name who's stuff we read in that other professor's class... If it comes to me I'll let you know.

WendyJanelle said...

Ann-Marie, you are hilarious!! If you don't want to think and read at the same time, I don't know if I have many suggestions!! ;-)

There are two gardening books that I like: Sunflower Houses and Square Foot Gardening.

For a really interesting read on Mormonism (it's fictional about a murder, but gets into a lot of history, etc), try Under the Banner of Heaven.

And, as October can attest, Beth Moore is incredible. If you lived closer, I could lend you practically any of her books. Praying God's Word is another great one.

I'll be back...mwahaha

Heidi said...

I will probably get you a list of books too. I hated Through Gates of Splendor,as I also had to read it in high school. I did find a rare original of it, so we do own a copy and I may give it another chance.
Terri Blackstock is pretty good. She is fluff though and not a lot of substance. She writes suspense from a Christian perspective.
I will have to check out Under the Banner of Heaven. I did my senior year report on Mormonism and didn't get to that book.

Alice said...

I would recommend "Stepping Heavenward" by Elizabeth Prentiss. Other than the Bible, it's influenced me more than any other book. I can't say enough good things about it. My mom gave it to me, and I try to reread it every six months.

(Also, I recommend pretty much anything by James Macdonald aka "King James" or "Pastor Walk-walk dot com" at our house. My favorite so far is "Lord, Change My Attitude...Before It's Too Late.")

But please PLEASE read "Stepping Heavenward"!

Juliet said...

Dearest Daughter of Mine!!

I just love this blog..You're so funny...please consider writing funny columns for some newspaper. You would bring laughter into many homes.:0)

I, like you just like to read for fun...good mystery good you can't put it down.

For me when it comes to spiritual reading..I enjoy topics or books of the Bible.

Right now I am reading Angels Elect & Evil by C Fred Dickason. Dr Dickson was one of my favorite teachers at Moody. Pastor Williquette said it was the best book ever written about Angels.

But this book is one I read a little at a time. No hurry, just want to soak in the information.

Again thanks for this blog, I loved it!! Love you Mom

Alice said...

Ooh, I took Angelology and Demonology w/ C. Fred Dickason at Moody too! :-)

WendyJanelle said...

*Disclaimer* I just checked out Under the Banner of Heaven. It was recommended to me, in light of my recent post, but I have not actually read it yet. Today my Dad told me that it is rather disturbing. Just wanted to warn you!! You may be used to that with your murder mysteries, but I am not.

Hmmm...Stepping Heavenward...I'll have to get my hands on that and try it out! Thanks for the suggestion, Alice.

Heidi, so you know a lot about Mormonism? I'm having a bit of a volley right now with some Mormons on my site. Who knew that they would read my post?!?! Ann-Marie has managed to stay out of it. ;-) But maybe you could give me some tips. I've done a lot of reading, but I don't personally know anyone Mormon...

More later with suggestions. I told you I'd revisit this post often!!

Heidi said...

What kind of questions do you have, Wendy? Is there a way we can exchange email addresses. I would be happy to help you if I can answer the questions you have.
I don't know many Mormons, but I grew up in a heavily populated area. There is a temple there now.
I chose to do my Senior year research paper on Mormonism. It was quite interesting.

WendyJanelle said...

Heidi, Ann-Marie has my email address so you can get it from her. You could also look at my previous Mormon lady post and read the 30'll see why I have questions.

Ann-Marie, I have another author to suggest: Philip Yancey. I know that some Christians don't much care for him, but I think he is great! He is very honest, open, questioning and exploring. I think you'd enjoy him. Just glean what you can from his books. There's a lot of good stuff.

WendyJanelle said...

And, Alice, I am now reading Stepping Heavenward. Thanks for the suggestion. The book is making me more humble already! ;-)