Archive for the ‘bookworm’ Category

It is a strange juxtaposition to stand in the whirling rush-hour metro station 10 extra minutes to finish a book I’m reading on my tiny smart phone, especially when the book is about gardens, outdoors, growth, beauty, sunshine… I am standing in an industrial tunnel, swarming with people and smells of burnt rubber and metro exhaust, yet a book can still take me to a different place.

I just finished reading The Secret Garden.  Though I’d seen the movie many times as a child and had even sung a song from the musical, I had never read this charming story.  It is a beautiful story of the redemption that comes from getting outside yourself, opening your eyes to the things around you, and leaving behind the self-pity and cynicism.  Colin and his father both suffer from despair, hopelessness, shame, and dark thoughts that are completely self-centered and poison to the bones.  When their eyes are turned outward and away from themselves, only then can they start to find joy.  The wallowing and navel-gazing just lead them into a deeper pit, but a good shake and turn of perspective are just the medicine to begin a beautiful story of healing. 

The characters and dialogues reminded me so much of my “pen-friend” Marnie, who could write paragraphs about the intrigue of watching a praying mantis mounted on her rose-bush, the bird family with tiny babies in her back yard, and the green sprouts poking up through the dirt at the first of springtime.  The book also made me think of a favorite blogger I follow, who encourages her kiddos to run and play and get dirty (one great idea is this mud run obstacle course!).  Growth and redemption are found in the Secret Garden, through the treatments of sunshine, play, hard work, the company of friends, and laughter.

Simple ideas, but so true.


Read Full Post »

If you’re from Evansville, Indiana, you bond over the heavenly goodness that is white queso from Los Bravos.

If you live in the DC metro area, you bond over not knowing what anyone does for their jobs and the painfulness of long commutes. (and the pride and excitement of living in our nation’s capital!)

If you spend time with old classmates, you bond over the crazy things you once did and wish you could relive just to laugh as hard as you did the first time.

If you meet a new coworker at CEB, you bond over the 10 minute elevator wait and all the pregnant ladies in the building.

So what do you bond over with aunts you rarely see, who are a generation older, live several states away, and have a completely different life than you? 

Books!  I am thankful today for all the bookie friends I have, who can share a nice discussion about literature, themes, favorite reads, perplexing stories, and the enjoyment of a good story.

(photo from Pinterest – would love a room like this one day!)

Thanks to GoodReads – I can now keep track of my booklist in a much more practical way!!

Also thankful for all the signs of summer!

– neighborhood pools finally open

– upcoming trip to see my sis/bro-in-law/adorable niece whom I miss SO much (also means roadside kettle corn and produce stands – it’s become a tradition)

– outdoor concerts, especially picnics and lawn seats at Wolftrap and summer bluegrass at Frying Pan Farm Park (yes, it’s really called that!)

– plenty of opportunities to grill out

– upcoming reunion getaway with college girlfriends

– blueberry picking at a nearby farm, then making tonnns of blueberry goodies afterwards

– hopefully a vacation in there somewhere, but Jon and I will have to get over our inability to plan ahead and make decisions…

What’s on your summer list?

Read Full Post »

1)  Reading Unfashionable, by Tullian Tchividjian – Great summary of how the church should exist in and for our culture – to be different, not because we’re weird fundamentalist separatists, but because of our love, our service, our ability to engage the world around us (all the while being very different from the world) with compelling purpose because of our identity in Christ.  I still think too much about these things and struggle to do them, but I’ll hope for at least more baby steps of change.

2)  Old Office episodes with Michael Scott – I had forgotten what I was missing and then watched this – it’s just not the same without him!  Booze Cruise Dance

3)  5 Year Thankfulness Journal – I got this idea from a friend to write one line of thankfulness each day for 5 years.  Each January 1st, for example, falls on the same page, so in 5 years I’ll be able to see what I was thankful for that same day all the previous years.  This has been especially good for those bad days when I don’t feel very thankful at all; There’s always something to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for this week?

Read Full Post »

1.  Looking back at my 2012 new year’s resolutions and seeing that I have actually done most of them!  We are running another 5k tomorrow morning, we went to the Newseum in DC when my parents visited, I’ve been resting/reading/reflecting more in the evenings, we’ve enjoyed our back deck and grill in this nice spring weather, and we finally had a neighbor over for some delicious mango ice cream the other night!  What can I say, I shot low with my resolutions this year because I rarely ever succeed.  The one I’m clearly missing the mark on, however, is “eat only one serving of dessert per day”….yikes!

2.  Making this awesome Indian butter chicken last night.  We used the boxed spices mix, reduced some of the butter (whoa, this is not a low fat meal), and probably used too few tomatoes, but it was still AMAZING.  I haven’t made that many sound effects while eating in a while.

3.  Enjoying a good, long story, and the sense of accomplishment with finishing such a massive book (and building arm muscles from holding the heavy thing on my commute).  I finished East of Eden this week (thanks to some friends for recommending) and thoroughly enjoyed this very dark story about sins of generations, what the lack of love will drive a person to do, the battle of good and evil, and human nature.  I’ve also loved using Good Reads to track my book list!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Read Full Post »

Good Stuff

A few things worth your time:

1)  Great article on the value of reading slow books – real literature, with plots and characters and themes.  Blogs and news articles won’t do.  Real literature is good for our brains, emotions, memory, health, our society.  Good stuff.

By playing with language, plot structure, and images, literature challenges us cognitively even as it entertains. It invites us to see the world in a different way, demands that we interpret unusual descriptions, and pushes our memories to recall characters and plot details. In fact…neuroscientists have found plenty of proof that reading fiction stimulates all sorts of cognitive areas—not just language regions but also those responsible for coordinating movement and interpreting smells. Because literary books are so mentally invigorating, and require such engagement, they make us smarter than other kinds of reading material…Researchers found that subjects who read Kafka’s “The Country Doctor”—which includes feverish hallucinations from the narrator and surreal elements—performed better on a subsequent learning task than a control group that read a straightforward summary of the story. (They probably enjoyed themselves a lot more while reading, too.)

2)  Josh Garrels, a musical artist Jon and I love and cannot listen to enough, is working on a film documentary about the creation of his music from the ground up (literally – some of the recordings are captured with the musicians sitting on rocks by the waterfront).  Really creative instrumentation, his unique and  enchanting voice, beautiful lyrics full of truth. 

3)  Garage sales.  Weather is getting warmer, and garage sale season has begun.  Look at your local Craigslist postings for this weekend, and see what treasures you can find!  See some of our favorite finds here.

Read Full Post »

1.  The book The Meaning of Marriage, by Tim Keller has brightened my commute this week and reminded me of some of the most important aspects of marriage and loving Jon well.  I highly recommend it to anyone – single, married, young, old – many things in it are applicable to all of our relationships in life and have been very encouraging/convicting to me.  I also met a nice stranger on the metro who saw me reading it and mentioned he also had.  We had a nice conversation about it all!

2.  I was thankful to enjoy the sunset under the cherry blossoms last night with some girlfriends, and we found a nice quiet spot without many tourists (until a whole bus of kids stopped by, but at least their stay was brief). 🙂

3.  I am going to a library book sale tonight!  In the past I’ve gotten a whole stack of books for the price of one new book – and they’re usually in great condition, too!  Do I really need to live in a big city forever, if this is what I’ve been looking forward to on my calendar for weeks?

4.  Jon and I have watched an episode of Downton Abbey almost every night for the past few weeks.  I cannot get enough of this show – incredible character development, social/political/historical commentary, beautiful love stories, dramatic themes…  Jon pretended he didn’t like it at first and was just watching it to be nice, but there’s no denying it now!  Violet Crawley (love this moment) is hands down my favorite character, but Anna and Bates are probably my favorite pair.

How have you been delighted this week?

Read Full Post »

Book List

One major way I have learned to look at the bright side this year is with my 2+ hours of commuting each day; the only positive thing is that I have a lot more time to read!

Some days I can barely hold my head up on the bus (I’m like a baby in a car –that humming noise puts me right to sleep!), but if the book is good enough, I sometimes look forward to my commute to keep reading.  If I cannot get a seat, it’s a bit tough to hold my balance and turn pages, and one day an elderly man was kind enough to offer to turn my page for me – ha!

Here is most of the book list I accomplished in 2011 (I took out a few that weren’t quite is enthralling):

Same Kind of Different As Me Moore, Denver
Return of the Prodigal Son Manning, Brennan
Dual Citizens Stellman, Jason
Spectacular Sins Piper, John
Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor Carson, D.A.
When God Interrupts Barnes, Craig
Why We Love the Church DeYoung, Kevin; Kluck, Ted
Shattered Dreams Crabb, Larry
Love’s Executioner Yalom, Irvin
Understanding People Crabb, Larry
The Poisonwood Bible Kingsolver, Barbara
The Road McCarthy, Cormac
Water for Elephants Guren, Sara
Secret Life of Bees Kidd, Sue Monk
Ender’s Shadow Card, Orson Scott
When Crickets Cry Martin, Charles
Chasing Fireflies Martin, Charles
The Hunger Games Trilogy Collins, Suzanne
Atonement McEwan, Ian
The Hobbit Tolkien, J.R.
Ender’s Game Card, Orson Scott

Here’s what I have on my list thus far for 2012:

King’s Cross Keller, Tim
Sham Pearls for Real Swine Schaeffer, Francis
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy Metaxas, Eric
1984 Orwell, George
Catch-22 Heller, Joseph
Blood Meridian McCarthy, Cormac
The Devil in the White City Larson, Erik
Tandia Courtenay, Bryce
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Tolkien, JRR
Non-fiction Humor  
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Kaling, Mindy

I also have a dream for a delightfully cosy and warmly lit book nook in my house some day:

What’s your favorite book in the whole world?  I’d love more recommendations!

Read Full Post »