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Posts Tagged ‘Donald Miller’

Since the end of August got completely squished into September, due to our two-week European adventure, I’m doing a combination books post. Here are my last two months’ worth of reading, including four books read or started on planes, on buses and in hostels:

It’s Not About the Tapas: A Spanish Journey on Two Wheels, Polly Evans
I bought this mostly because we were about to go to Spain, and because I miss riding a bike (though I would NEVER be ambitious enough to cycle around half a country). I enjoyed it, though it did get a bit repetitive towards the end. Evans is witty, observant, self-deprecating, and appreciates a good Spanish wine.

No Children, No Pets, Marion Holland
A re-read of a perennial summer favourite. This book evokes two totally different sets of images for me. The story is set in Florida, so it evokes sand and salt air and palm trees and unexpected hurricanes, and hours playing on the beach. The experience of reading it, though, takes me back to my grandparents’ Missouri farmhouse, lying in the middle bedroom in the afternoon, laughing out loud. (I did this for years, reading this book every summer. Made me laugh every time. Still does.)

Betsy’s Wedding, Maud Hart Lovelace
The last book in the Betsy-Tacy series is definitely one of my faves – and it speaks to me anew as a young married woman and a novice writer, like Betsy. Very old-fashioned, in a sweet way; funny; realistic; and full of charming scenery and characters. I love this whole series. So much.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley
I borrowed Jana’s copy of this book for our long plane ride – and read it in a couple of hours. Flavia de Luce, 11-year-old chemist and detective, is utterly hilarious and charming. And the book’s plot isn’t half bad, either. Intriguing, smart and funny, with interesting characters. I’m ready for the next one in the series.

Where Shall We Go For Dinner?:A Food Romance, Tamasin Day-Lewis
This was a Blackwells purchase, and chronicles the travels of one English food writer and her boyfriend, a fine cheese purveyor from New York. They go all over the place, from Venice to the Pyrenees to Somerset, and it was mouth-watering – and highly entertaining. Highly recommended if you like food, and don’t we all? With recipes (most of which are too gourmet for me, but a few look doable).

Home, Marilynne Robinson
Julie lent me this follow-up to Gilead months ago, and I read it on our return flight to Texas. And ached. And cried. And wanted to walk right into the pages and talk to Jack and Glory Boughton, brother and sister who are dealing with Jack’s return home after 20 years’ absence. This book deserves all the accolades it got. The characters are real, and Robinson’s writing is luminous.

Much Ado About Anne, Heather Vogel Frederick
This was a fun, quick read – second in The Mother-Daughter Book Club series. Makes me want to read the Anne of Green Gables series again, but I also enjoyed the modern-day antics of Megan, Cassidy, Jess, Emma and Becca, set in Concord. Technically YA lit, but so fun.

Two Feet, Four Paws: Walking the Coastline of Britain, Spud Talbot-Ponsonby
This one also came from Blackwells – and gave me quite a new perspective on Britain’s coastal areas, most of which I’ve never seen. The author/narrator walked a distance equivalent to London to Calcutta to raise money for a homeless charity, and had some fascinating adventures along the way. Occasionally she gets a bit preachy, but I did enjoy the story of her journey with her faithful dog, Tess.

Dear Pen Pal, Heather Vogel Frederick
This is the third Mother-Daughter Book Club book (see above). Not quite as good as Much Ado About Anne, but I enjoyed it anyway – it’s full of the perils and drama of eighth grade. Reading books like this makes me glad my own junior-high days are over, but also helps me remember what I loved about them. (Mostly my friends – some of whom are still dear to my heart.)

Forest Born, Shannon Hale
This is the fourth book of Shannon’s Bayern series – following The Goose Girl, Enna Burning and River Secrets. I love, love, love these characters and their stories, so I was thrilled to get my hands on this one. Forest Born features Rin, the younger sister of Razo (who starred in River Secrets). She’s a delight to get to know, and all the old favorite characters are back. I love Shannon’s writing – so smooth, but it has such depth, like a perfectly calm glassy lake. Her characters don’t just fight battles and become queens and fall in love – they grow up, and discover things about themselves – and other people – that they never would have dreamed.

That may sound a little lame, but trust me, the Bayern books are wonderful tales of adventure, with real heart. They’re supposedly young adult, but (as with so many “young adult” books), I loooove them. Read them. You won’t be sorry.

The Actor and the Housewife, Shannon Hale
This is Shannon’s second book for adults, following Austenland (2007). It began as a dream – no, seriously – and reads like a smart, quirky, wonderfully unconventional romantic comedy. Romantic comedies are involved in the plot, actually, since one character is a famous British actor and another is a screenwriter. I don’t know how to categorize this book – it’s not normal chick lit – but it’s funny, and heartbreaking, and fabulous. Just like everything else Shannon has ever written.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller
After hearing Don speak at ACU Summit, my husband bought this book – and wow, is it fabulous. Felicity posted her review here, and I agree with her – it blew me away. I read it in a day and a half, and will definitely be revisiting its principles about stories and dreams.

That’s all for now, folks. Stay tuned for October’s books!

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The database is DONE! At least for the moment…until I have to start working on the photo section of it. I even went above and beyond the call of duty, and catalogued about five years of Horizons magazine (the forerunner to ACU Today). We don’t have details for the photo section yet, so I get a breather for right now. To apply for yet more jobs, and email people, et cetera.

What should I do with myself this coming year? (Besides lie on the beach in Hawaii. Scott keeps telling me that, and I keep telling him to stop tempting me.) Seriously. Any ideas? My resumes are flying all over the place, but none of them have found a place to lodge yet. And this business of applying for jobs, trying to sell oneself in order to make money, is a dull deal. I hate corporate culture.

I did finish Through Painted Deserts today. Makes me want to drive to Oregon, though not in a barely-working Volkswagen van. Maybe we should take our next blogger road trip to someplace exotic. At least more exotic than Early. Anyone in?

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Summer Readin’ – Had me a blast

I don’t usually title my posts, but I couldn’t resist this pun. 🙂 One of my favorite things about summer has always been more time for reading. That’s especially true since I got into college…when the reading during the year isn’t always what I want it to be. I’ll probably post about books periodically all summer (don’t worry, Clint, my blog won’t be all “book reports”). In addition to skimming about 15 years’ worth (so far) of back issues of ACU Today, here are the books I’ve read, finished or started so far this summer:

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, a dark and sad but ultimately hopeful novel set during the Great Plague of 1666
Alec Forbes of Howglen by George MacDonald, a charming love story edited by Michael Phillips and retitled The Maiden’s Bequest
Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss, a no-holds-barred attack on rudeness in today’s society. For those who are familiar with her work, it’s like Eats, Shoots and Leaves for manners!
Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller, a road-trip narrative from the author of Blue Like Jazz (just begun this weekend)
Light from Heaven by Jan Karon, the final novel in the Mitford series (just begun today!)

Mmmmm. I LOVE summer reading. Maybe tonight I’ll take a book or two to a coffee shop. Good books are always better when mixed with yummy smells.

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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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