Thursday, January 05, 2006

Back in Abilene (and the world of computers) after a three-week hiatus at home (and a long family weekend in Las Vegas)...True to form, ACU Creative Services is behind on the current issue of ACU Today. We never can seem to get things done on time around here. But that means there's plenty of proofreading work for me to do. And I'm not complaining about that.

Over the break I've been reading a LOT - catching up on some of the books I wanted to read during the year, but never did, and discovering some new, delightful ones. Like all avid readers, I love to share my discoveries, so here's a smattering of the authors I've discovered (and the places I've been) during this Christmas break:

I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, brought back the quiet beauty of the English countryside. And Cassandra Mortmain, its spunky author who lives with her family in a ramshackle castle, is quite a kindred spirit. She hides her journal in the castle's empty tower, and writes sitting in the kitchen sink if she has to. I'd like to meet her.

Crime de Cocoa, a delightful three-in-one novel set by JoAnna Carl, took me to the small resort town of Warner Pier, Michigan, where Lee McKinney works as business manager for her aunt's gourmet chocolate shop. Besides motivating me to sneak lots of chocolate drops via its luscious descriptions, this series provides good mystery stories and a cast of endearing small-town characters.

A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis, took me through the stages of grief, as Lewis quietly recorded the painful months after his wife died. Some of his thoughts were so familiar (I had thought them myself the past year) that I had to read them again, just to make sure. He charts grief honestly, and doesn't try to reduce it to a neat set of theological observations.

Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity, by Lauren F. Winner, ends my frenzy of reading everything she has written up to this point. (But only because she hasn't published anything else after it - yet.) She treats chastity more honestly and (I think) more practically than anyone I have yet read. Speaking as one who has been there, she takes readers on a journey of honest reflection. After reading this and her two other books, I feel as if I know her.

Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller, gave me more to chew on than its predecessor, Blue Like Jazz. Miller goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden to make his point about "lifeboat theory" and how living for Jesus can mean we don't have to compare ourselves to everyone else all the time.

The Town in Bloom, also by Dodie Smith, took me to London and the world of theatre work in the 1920s. Mouse, the main character, is a a little more worldly than Cassandra, but still likable, and I enjoyed her story, though it was sad. This was a happenstance find in a used bookstore, and I read it in just one day, but will definitely visit it again.

Finally, An Embarrassment of Mangoes, by Ann Vanderhoof, took me from Toronto to Port of Spain, Grenada, and back again, on a 42-foot sailboat christened Receta. Ann and her husband Steve took two years to make this trip, and it's one of the most delicious travel books I've ever read. (Not to mention the yummy-sounding recipes at the end of each chapter.)

I recommend any and all of these books to fellow readers in my blogosphere. Happy New Year, and happy reading!


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