If you’re like me, you’ve got loads of books you’ve never read. Dozens of never-opened books fill my shelves, and while I’ve dipped in now and then to read a few, library books, borrowed titles, or new purchases often grab first for my attention.
My plan for the months ahead is to give these books priority in my reading life. Here are the ones I’ve gotten to first:
A Widow for One Year — John Irving
This is only my second John Irving novel — the first was the magnificent A Prayer for Owen Meany — and I’m definitely hooked. Sure, it was weird (peopled with some strange characters and stranger circumstances) but it was so interesting! Irving definitely is a character-led writer and his books meander as a result, but I like the sort of thing. This one focuses on a Ruth Cole from childhood to middle age. She’s a writer, as are three other characters. A major theme is writing –autobiographically vs. from imagination, what fuels a writer’s work, and art mirroring life / life mirroring art. Good stuff.
Emily of Deep Valley — Maud Hart Lovelace
For years I believed I’d read Maud Hart Lovelace’s books as a girl. It was only recently I discovered I’d read Carolyn Haywood’s books, not Lovelace’s! Emily of Deep Valley centers on Emily Webster, who is nearing her high school graduation. She’s the only one in her crowd not to be going to college (in 1912. This surprised me.) Emily learns not only to make do but to thrive. The story is sweet, something I would have cherished as a girl.
The Secret Life of Bees — Sue Monk Kidd
I “borrowed” this one from my mom maybe ten years ago (meaning she said I could have it if I wanted to keep it — she’s great that way). It’s been sitting on my nightstand for at least three years. I’m not kidding. A good Southern story with a fair dose of heartache and beauty, too. The writing is plain lovely.
Dr. Dredd’s Wagon of Wonders — Bill Brittain
After taking the first chapter of a new novel to my critique group, a member recommended I read Bill Brittain’s Coven Tree books. I realized I’d read The Wish Giver years ago…and had Dr. Dredd sitting on my shelf. The story is about a sinister man who comes to town, about promises made and kept, and how the community responds. It was a good study for me as I dig deeper in my own work.
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions — edited by Arthur Bennett
I’ve been reading through this collection of Puritan prayers for a good number of months. If “Puritan” brings images of a stark and cold religion, don’t let it. These are the most heartfelt, beautiful prayers I’ve ever experienced, a daily reminder of God’s sovereignty and grace.
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