My friend Leigh Kramer began hosting a monthly link-up called “What I’m Into” in November. I’m always interested in recommendations from others, so I thought I’d put one together this month and see how you like it.
I managed to read quite a few books this year (don’t miss my list of 9 favorite women-authored books), and this month was no exception.
I read “O Me of Little Faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling” by Jason Boyett in about 3 days. As you can tell by the title, it’s about faith and doubt, but it isn’t a how-to-recover book. It’s his story – and by extension, yours and mine. It’s funny and honest and helpful and comforting all at the same time, and basically now I know that I don’t need to write a book about doubt because Jason has it covered. I’m working on scheduling an interview with Jason about the book, so stay tuned. I hope to have an extended post about this next month. In the meantime, buy the book!
Shawn and Maile Smucker took an incredible four-month cross-country trip early this year. Scott and I got to meet them when they stopped in Nashville for the Killer Tribes conference in March. These two people have a courage that I envy, and they are fantastic writers to boot. I’m reading their book about the trip, How To Use a Runaway Truck Ramp and people. This is some GOOD writing. It’s an adventure story you can picture yourself in. I’ll write a full-length review next month.
I love to fall asleep at night in the middle of a chapter, so I keep my Kindle by my bed for nighttime reading. This month I’ve been working my way through “The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith” by Peter Hitchens. Peter is the brother of famous atheist, the late Christopher Hitchens In this book, Peter talks about his childhood and how the wars changed the spiritual climate of England. It’s a fascinating read, particularly as he analyzes the different ways people responded to the horrors of war, the dogmatism of the church, and modern life.
Since we’re off for the next several days and my freelance work is slow right now, I’m treating myself to a novel: Gone Girl. I let myself indulge in novels once, maybe twice a year, so this is a real treat. I can only do it when I have few other responsibilities because, as my mom used to say, I fall into books. The house could burn down around me and I probably wouldn’t notice. Then there’s the small problem of staying up until 3am because I can’t put the book down.
I have had trouble getting into Christmas music much the last few years. So much of it is too chipper and perky for me. This year I snagged Snow Angels by Over The Rhine after a couple of friends mentioned that it was Christmas music they could stomach. It is. It’s gorgeous. (I especially love the title song, Snow Angel.)
My go-to album these days is Adele “21”. I love her soulful powerful voice and the blend of songs about love lost and love found. I’ve been known to belt out the break up song “Rolling In the Deep” when thinking back on our church experience, so yeah. I love her music.
I have a running playlist to help me stay moving on the rare occasions in which I work out on my own (I prefer to take classes because I work harder when someone else is around to keep up with). I’ve gone out running more lately because my kids’ school schedule doesn’t fit with the class schedule at the gym very well. Tom Petty’s “Running Down the Dream,” Christina Aquilara’s “Fighter,” any Bon Jovi, and Santana’s “Oye Como Va” really get my legs pumping. Sometimes, if it’s a really good day, I get the urge to get all pentecostal and throw my hands up in a victory pose. Maybe one of these days I’ll let go and do it. What music keeps you moving? I’d love to add to my list.
My friend Matthew turned me on to Civilian by Wye Oak while we were in Sri Lanka (he’s also the guy who introduced me to Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars the year before). I’m a sucker for a little rock-and-roll, so I love Wye Oak’s sound.
Movies and TV
I’m a HUGE J.R.R. Tolkien fan (I’ve read the books multiple times since I was a kid), so The Hobbit was a must-see. I have actually seen it in 3D twice, once with my oldest son and once with Scott (that’s unusual, but we agreed that our younger two weren’t ready for it yet. I enjoyed this first part of the three part movie. I especially enjoyed Richard Armitage as Thorin the Dwarf King, and how they fill in much of Thorin’s back story – it makes him a character you can cheer for. And it doesn’t hurt at all that Thorin is mighty fine to look at. Sexy dwarf king – who knew?
I have two criticisms of this first part.
1) They added a story line that I think was unnecessary. I’m a Tolkien purist and think the story he wrote stands on its own just fine. I was a bit disappointed when I learned that the whole pale orc story was fabricated, not pulled from extra material from The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) or Silmarilion.
2) The pace was a little slow because they added so much back-story. I’m a little surprised they did that after the LOTR trilogy – they have experience cutting cutting books down to the essential plot lines for a movie. I don’t think the Radagast bit was necessary at all, adorable oddball wizard though he may be. I’ll be very interested to see part 2 next year, especially where they decide to end it.
Scott and I are working our way through 24 on Netflix. We joke that we’re always five years behind everyone else on TV because we watch so little of it. We’re in the second half of season 3, and I think it’s the best one so far. Season 2 took at least 8 episodes to get going. I don’t know if we will watch all 8 seasons, or if we’ll move on to something else. Scott is trying to talk me into starting The Walking Dead, but I am taking some convincing ever since my friend Caleb, the Funeral Director, said a recent episode disturbed him. I mean, come on! If a funeral director found something creepy, I’m done for! If you’re a fan, tell me why I should give it a try. Or give me some recommendations.
Catching My Eye Online
Posthumous: Jeffrey Eugenides’ Advice To Young Writers on The New Yorker:
To die your whole life. Despite the morbidity, I can’t think of a better definition of the writing life. There’s something about writing that demands a leave-taking, an abandonment of the world, paradoxically, in order to see it clearly. This retreat has to be accomplished without severing the vital connection to the world, and to people, that feeds the imagination. It’s a difficult balance.
It’s Time To Take Back the Blog by Carol Gain:
But I will admit that what I love about blogging, more than anything at all, is the story telling itself and the genuine conversations I have with the people who read me – whether they be two or 20. And meeting them, in person, when ever I can.
And…I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of it being about the numbers.
The Anti-Boring January Project – looks like fun! I might do this. How about you?
On the Blog
I made my podcast debut this month, sitting in for my friend Matthew Paul Turner on a podcast called 9 Thumbs. Three co-hosts, three thumbs-up each, 9 Thumbs. It was fun, though I already have ideas for more what to choose for my next likes if I get invited back.
- Ten Reasons We Need Christmas This Year – for Q Ideas for the Common Good
- How I Face Christmas Without Her – for A Deeper Story
A friend of mine commented after reading this post, Shame Is a Prison and I’m Breaking Out, that she finally understood why I’ve come across so angry and hurt by the church these last 3 years. At over 110 comments and still growing, it’s clear that I’m not the only one who has had such painful experiences. That breaks my heart. Christians, we must do better.
What are you into this month? What do you like or dislike about this monthly blog meme?