7 Quick Takes: Summer Reading

What I'm Reading

Hello, my name is Jenni, and I am a book addict. I have an embarrassing number of books in progress at any one time, but I really do read them all… eventually. I set a higher than usual reading goal for myself this year. While I am a little behind schedule, I will probably finish up a few of these at around the same time so I will be trucking along nicely. But some of these are SO GOOD, I just had to share.

1. Rising Strong by Brene Brown. This book, guys. This book is a life changer for me. You see, I am an INTJ, otherwise known as the introvertiest introvert that ever introverted. I can get kind of stuck in my own head. I get all logicky, and emotions can freak me out a little bit, which is ironic, because being freaked out is a pretty strong emotion. Anyway, being human, my life can get filled up with lots of BIG EMOTIONS and it’s like someone tossed me a hot potato. I keep trying to pass them back and forth to avoid being burned, but in the mean time I’m thinking, What in the heck do I do with all these big emotions?

This book gives a process. It gives a way to handle the big emotions so that you can work through them and not just keep tossing them in the air or pretending the don’t exist. It isn’t some new age baloney. It doesn’t tell you your feelings are right or wrong. The first step in the process is recognizing that there is a big emotion happening and slowing down long enough to really investigate what is going on. I know I can get swept along for quite a while before I realize that some big emotion threw me over a waterfall and now I’m all mixed up.

That was just the tiniest sip of what this book has in store. I’m super excited about it and my kids want me to stop talking about it.

2. Emma by Jane Austen. This book has given me fits. I love both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, but I’ve had a hard time getting into Emma. I just don’t like her very much. I was about to give up on the book when I stumbled on this post about it. It cleared up what was bugging me and that Emma’s selfishness is really the struggle in the book.

One of the things I love about this is the way people treat each other. Even people who don’t like each other are able to spend time together and have conversations. In our social media saturated world, we are able to confine ourselves to conversations with people we agree with. Not only do the characters in this book have regular conversations with people outside of their personal bubble, but they also have a respect for them as human beings with dignity. Well, most of them do anyway. There are still a few that are self serving jerks. But we are able to see their behavior as unkindness and not a normal way of being.

3. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. I have issues with the parable of the Prodigal Son. This has been a sticking point in my own relationship with God for as long as I can remember. Growing up with a sibling with special needs put me squarely in the shoes of the older brother. And yes, I know what kind of things that says about my attitudes: bad things. Nevertheless, that is where I began.

This is a short book but I am taking it pretty slowly. There is a lot said about each viewpoint in the parable, and it has helped me loosen my death grip on the older son. It’s a work in progress.

4. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is one of my favorite books ever. I don’t know how many times I have read it – I’ve worn out at least two paperback sets, plus I have it on my kindle too. Right now I am listening to it on Audible. I was in the process of listening (again) to Angela’s Ashes when our recent health crisis hit, and I had to stop that one because it was too distressing. I needed something that was like a familiar quilt to snuggle up with.

The Audible version is tolerable. The narrator is good, but he doesn’t do any yelling, and there are just some parts of this book that call for yelling. Like the escape from Moria, the narrator had Gandalf speaking quietly and calmly. Just no. Also, being a person who doesn’t really gel well with poetry, I tend to skip over the songs, poems, and ballads when I read. The audio book reads through – and even sings – Every. Single. Word. Of. Them. It’s tedious and annoying. Other than that the version is fine.

5. Walking with Purpose by Lisa Brenninkmeyer. The Moms’ Bible Study I attend did this book study this summer. I began it but haven’t been able to do much more than the first chapter and section of the study guide. But I have been impressed with what I have seen so far. The first part talked about what sins you find yourself drawn to and how that is a symptom of running low on a particular cardinal virtue. Then it gives practical advice, and then it starts talking about fixing priorities. This is real stuff. This is about getting your heart in the right place to live in relationship with God. I’m excited to read more!

6. Loving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendal. I swore to myself I wasn’t going to buy any books. This one just kept finding its way into my field of vision. I was feeling pretty discontented anyway, and the title was intriguing. So I caved, bought it, and I like it. It’s not deep, at least not all of it. This book is basically a journal of one mom’s challenge to herself to find contentment in her life, and what she has to do to get there. It is structured so that you could follow along and do the same nine month challenge that the author did, but I’m just reading it. It is good support for both Rising Strong and Walking With Purpose.

7. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, translated by Tiina Nunnally. I tried to read this one a long time ago and got a different translation. It was filled with thee’s and thou’s and I just couldn’t plow through. This translator though, brought out the simple language the story was meant to be in. Still, this is over a thousand pages. I got stuck about 75% of the way through, but I finally got past the boring spot and it is interesting again. This is the story of a girl, Kristin, in 11th century Norway. It is such a Catholic book! Kristin has her share of trouble with sin, but she wrestles with it as something that is wrong. She prays, she talks to her priest, she bargains with God. There is plenty of drama and life going on, it is not just about her spirituality, but that is woven beautifully through the story. I’m almost done. I’m going to finish this one if it kills me.

I’m so close to being done on a few of these. Please comment and tell me what you are reading, or give me some suggestions for what to pick up next.

Psst. Some links are affiliate links. Just wanted you to know.

That’s all for me, folks! Go see This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes!

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  1. I’m with you on skipping some/most of the poetry in the Fellowship of the Ring. My son chose to read this for a summer reading homework, and he was struggling. I opened to the page he was at and started reading.(First time for me ever) He’s about to get to the very lively part, so I encouraged him to keep going, and to concentrate on the dialogue between characters. (He finds the long detailed descriptions uninspiring.) I finished it, and I think I do like it better than the movie (sorry to Peter Jackson!), but I think having seen the movie helped me keep straight most of the major characters.. I’ll go back and read the first part now. I can’t find much time to read this summer, mostly because I can’t find anything to interest me. I’ll have to try some on this list!

    • I’m with him on the long detailed descriptions. I almost always find myself skimming through those parts quickly. I know I can always go back and find it again if there is a detail that I missed. I definitely like the book better than the movie, but I do love the movie too.

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