Monday, April 14, 2014

Books To Nurse By: A Bleary-Eyed Book Review

Books have always been a major part of my life.  My mom likes to recount the hours she spent reading stacks of books to me everyday.  As the oldest (and only child for all of 14 months) there is no doubt I benefited tremendously from the golden hours spent with my mother's collection of Little Golden Books.

Thank you so much, mom!

Mi Madre was also my phonics teacher.  And she did a most thorough job.  Maybe a little too thorough.  I recall the scolding I received when she discovered I was habitually hiding with my books in a tree in order to evade household chores.

Reading is one of the things that makes me feel human.  I could live without a television, VCR and DVD player, reliable internet, a second car, long distance telephone, cell phone, or family nearby as long as I have access to a library.  Which is exactly how I lived for two years in the barren wastelands of the Oklahoma Panhandle.

I read a lot.

A whole lot.

It's hard to calculate how many books I might have read in the past 29 years of existence, 11 years of marriage, 10 years of motherhood and 4 years of homeschooling.  I certainly could never begin to try and recall each and every book.  But, there are 5 books that stand out in my memory.

 5 volumes that I will never forget.

Not necessarily because of gripping plot or deep philosophy.  But because they were the main reasons I willingly got up at 12:15, 1:45, 3:08, 4:29 and 6:19 EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.  These fab five were my nursing companions.  The first book I read after each child was born.  The only thing that kept me sane for the first two tremulous weeks postpartum.

 If you are always on the prowl for a good read, may I recommend my Bleary-Eyed Book Review?

Baby #1
Caledonia: Legend of the Celtic Stone, Michael Phillips

 I perused the Beaver County Public Library, scouring it's shelves for something that I hadn't already read to take to the hospital with me.  This book practically fell off the shelf into my waiting arms.  It's sheer mass gave me pause.  I only had about two weeks left in this library district before we moved across the state.  Would I be able to complete the massive tome in time?  By the time I finished scanning the back cover I was hooked.  This book skillfully weaves current events and hypothetical crimes in the Scottish Freedom Movement with historically fictionalized epochs reaching back to the very beginning of time.  Who might have been Scotland's first settler?  What occasioned the raising of the megaliths?  Why should we remember Glencoe?  And most of all, Where did the Stone of Scone come from and What has happened to it since?  A political thriller, mystery and historical fantasy is bound together in this epic trilogy.  And no, I did not get to finish it before we moved.  It almost gave me literal pain to return it, half unread as we left town.  I spent the next 6 years searching for it.  Of course, now I realize I could have purchased it off Amazon.  But then again, the wait just made completing the tale that much the sweeter.

Baby #2
 To The Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson, Courtney Anderson

Since we were giving our innocent baby boy the unconventional name, Adoniram, I felt it behooved me to know a little more about his namesake.  What a ride!  I had no idea this missionary pioneer had such an exciting life.  Adoniram was the first American to travel overseas to a foreign field.  But, before that incredible adventure could begin, God first had to track the rebellious actor down.  His conversion story still gives me chills.  From his tearful farewell at the dock, to the agony of losing those dearest to him again and again, to the triumph of his first convert, to the horrors of the Burmese Death Prison, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat.  You will visit golden palaces, tropical forests and bamboo huts. You will meet despotic emperors, faithful followers, courageous women and driven men.  Beyond the history and exotic adventure you will find yourself challenged, forced to ask the question, "Are you willing to leave all and follow Him?"   This book goes down on my Life Changer list.

Baby #3
The Gift Of Pain, Dr. Paul Brand

What an odd title!  The bright orange cover caught my eye as I scanned my grandfather's shelf.  I was familiar with Dr. Brand's writing.  He and Phillip Yancy had written Fearfully and Wonderfully Made together.  (a most excellent book as well)  In this book, Dr. Brand draws on his years of service to the lepers of India and the United States to illustrate what a preserving miracle pain is.  If you enjoy science and medicine, or just want a better understanding of God's hidden mercies, hunt this book down

Baby #4
Burnt Shadows, Kamila Shamsie

 Branching out a bit, this book was a departure from my usual, safe, Christian books.  The unusual plot is what grabbed my attention.  This historical fiction begins in Nagasaki, just before The Bomb, extends into Pakistan right before and after the British withdrawal and leads up to September 11th.  It is controversial.  I am not necessarily endorsing any of the viewpoints expressed.  It does open questions.  Questions are not always bad.  It was dark in some ways, hopeful in others.  I read this at an extremely vulnerable time in my life and I find it interesting in retrospection that this preceded my worst bout of depression to date.  So, reader beware. 

Baby #5
He Satisfies My Soul, Dr. Paul Brand

 Dr. Brand is at it again. One of my most refreshing reads to date.  Compiled by Phillip Yancy (disclaimer: I am not specifically endorsing Phillip Yancy or his theology) this book explores some of the body's least extolled functions and draws spiritual parallels from anti-bodies, taste buds, digestion and the chemical laboratory that is our nose.  While I do not agree with all of the author's theology or conclusions, this book was a tremendous blessing to my weary soul.  What a marvelous Creator!  What splendid Creation!  

How about you?  Are there any memorable books you would like to share?  I apologize in advance for the way my comments section is set up.  If you would like to comment publicly, a Google account is currently required.  If there are any digital gurus out there who could tell me how to change to an open comment forum, please leave a comment walking me through the process.

Happy reading!
CCCCcCccAn epic saga of courage and romance in Scotland, linking a parliament member with an ancient heritage. Caledonia book 1. - See more at:
An epic saga of courage and romance in Scotland, linking a parliament member with an ancient heritage. Caledonia book 1. - See more at: