The latest (actually, that’s probably not true anymore) in popular teen fiction, this was at the top of my list for Christmas reading. Taking it for what it is (pop teen fiction), I was impressed by the questions that it raised. What is courage? Cowardice? Selflessness? What defines who we are? How do we act when the society around us is falling to corruption? It also touched on a number of serious issues facing teens today including suicide and child abuse. And what would a teen novel be without the angst of romance? Kudos to Roth for NOT creating a love triangle. That was a relief. In the end though… not my favorite. I really struggled relating to/connecting with/rooting for our heroine Tris and I predicted everything except one of the final deaths, which I think was a copout. The training of the teens seemed to go on forever and then it finally got interesting and then it ended. That said, we’ve got a trip planned to the library tomorrow so I can pick up the next one; it might change my opinion of the first. Currently, however, between Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and City of Ember, I’m pretty sure I’ve already read this series.
Stunningly beautiful. This was my first real introduction to St. John of the Cross and I’m hooked. I started this book writing down some of the phrases that particularly struck me. Then I just started writing down page numbers. Then I gave up entirely, as I realized what I really wanted to do was just copy the whole book down. The image of God as a lover, who pursues, who gazes, who longs for his beloved became so real reading this. ha, I realize this sounds overdramatic, but it gave me renewed hope for the world. Definitely recommend it.
I started Little Dorrit when I was in Antigua, Guatemala, studying Spanish six hours a day. I read the first page and I literally almost cried. Never before had I had such appreciation for the beauty of the English language and the power that words have to transmit ideas and emotions. This is one of the things that I think lacks most sorely in the popular dystopian literature of today. Just because the characters are starving doesn’t mean the language has to starve too. Anyways. I love Dickens. I can always count on him, not only for sharp social commentary, peppered in humorous sarcasm and pointed caricatures, but also for always having a satisfying (and usually happy) ending. As dark and grimy as the world of Dickens is, it’s a world that still has hope. Also! Little Dorrit has now become one of my favorite heroines. (Heads up, Little Dorrit is a girl! And she was born in a prison!) I’m betting too I’ll find more opportunities in my life to imitate her quiet goodness than save the world from the evil Capital/wizards/Erudites…or w/e.
Not gonna lie, I went into this book expecting to hate it. Sometimes (all the time) I can be a real snob when it comes to books. I was sure that this would be a cheesy, feel good memoir that I would nod politely about when others asked if I liked it. False. It was a incredible account of one woman’s journey in the faith– always an adventure. Campbell naturally wove into her story the lives of the saints and how they had touched her own life, which is exactly what the communion of saints should be. Her vulnerability also touched me, and this time I did find myself crying as she shared the death of her father. In so many ways my life and Cambell’s life have absolutely NOTHING in common, for example, I don’t really plan on ever being a speech writer for the President of the United States. That said, so many of the fundamental questions and desires that I have, she had had them too. It was beautiful to see God’s plan unfolding in her life, and to feel that same assurance when I closed the book that He’s working in my life too.
Jean Vanier is the founder of L’Arche, a (now international) community for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The first home began in 1964, so Vanier has decades of experience living and working in community. I think I picked this book about a month after being in the house at the recommendation of a fellow Missioner. Ah-mazing. Anyone living in community should read this book without question. I would even recommend this to those just in regular family life. It offered so much practical advice for, well, dealing with our fellow man. It was also a very raw book that spoke openly about our human failings and frailty. It’s pretty hard to hide any weaknesses when you’re with people 24/7. That same vulnerability and openness, however, is what makes community so beautiful; it creates a love that’s authentic.
Okay. In case you didn’t catch it, I’m actually talking about three different books here. YOU NEED TO READ THEM ALL. THEY WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I literally view the world differently after reading these books. I love more. I’m more at peace. I’m more patient. More humble. I love Jesus more. The perspective that Fr. Philippe offers… it’s things that you always knew, but the way that he says them– it’s like this stab to the heart as you realize the truth of his words. Every day I picked it up, it was exactly what I needed to hear. It’s funny, there are a few of us in the house reading Fr. Philippe, and sometimes we just talk about how awesome he is and daydream about the idea of him coming to lead a retreat for us. One day….
Possibly one of the hardest books I’ve ever read. But so good that I’ve now read it twice. Fr. Dubay speaks bluntly about the call to Gospel poverty that ALL are called to, not just those in religious life. Poverty, as he explains, does not mean squalor and filth; however, it does mean making uncomfortable sacrifices to help provide for those in need around us. Fr. Dubay lays out what Jesus actually says and why and how we need to respond. He asks hard questions that force us to evaluate if we’re living for this world or the next. A practical guide is provided at the end for different vocations. I’m still very much trying to figure all of this out for myself, but… this book has played a significant part shaping the vision of what I want my future to look like.