In August, I posted 5 books that I wanted to read this fall in order to have read 10 books by the end of the school year. I’ve now been working on these, and others, 2 months and thought I would share an update on what I’ve read so far and what I’ve thought. I’m trying to branch out a bit with some of my choices, so it seems a perfect time to reflect.

General Non-Fiction: A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte

This is the first book that I finished and I adored it. Upon finishing it and reading reviews on GoodReads, I realized that there are indeed some inaccuracies with regards to his sources (such as misquoting characters from one of Tolkien or Lewis’s books), but overall, I found the premise interesting and enlightening. The first few chapters, in particular, were fascinating in light of current social views on Christianity and morality. The role that industrialization, followed by the first world war, played in changing how individuals and cultures felt about religion was enthralling. I fully intend to re-read this over the summer, taking better notes and doing more research into those topics specifically.

Notable Quotation: “Without an equal growth of Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, Science herself may destroy all that makes life majestic and tolerable. There never was a time when the inherent virtue of human beings required more strong and confident expression in daily life.” (actually Winston Churchill, but I discovered it in this book). 

Christian/Lifestyle Non-Fiction: Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt

I’m about half way through this book so far and am feeling inspired, yet challenged. Hospitality does not come easy for me, so, admittedly, some of the suggestions Jen makes feel a little like a dagger to my heart. However, how she approaches them, by wrapping hospitality in scripture and the character of Jesus, is making me think differently about my own life.

Notable Quotation: “He doesn’t require or expect anything fancy; we put that pressure on ourselves. He delights in the everyday average.” 

Historical Non-Fiction: Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley

I’ve only made it about a chapter into this one so far, so I’ve very little to say. I think it will be incredibly informative once I get going and the writing style definitely makes for a read much easier than your typical history book. I’m slightly concerned that this will be the one that goes unfinished – we shall see!

Notable Quotation: “The gospel writers picture Jesus as retracing the steps of Israel. Reminiscent of Israel, Jesus spent time in Egypt, entered the Jordan (baptism), was tempted in the wilderness, called twelve apostles (like twelve tribes), spoke God’s word like Moses (sermon on the mount), preached five sermons (compare the Pentateuch) in Matthew, performed mighty deeds of deliverance (signs, wonders, and exorcisms), and confronted imperial powers. Where Israel had failed, Jesus had been a faithful Son.” 

General Fiction: The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis

I finished Perelandra and am not quite half way into That Hideous Strength now. Once I struggled past the first 3 chapters or so of Perelandra I found metaphors that were both terrifying and inspiring. I remember reading (in A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and A Great War, no less!) that Lewis was stunned readers did not understand the metaphors in The Space Trilogy – I can now say, I am too! That Hideous Strength is shaping up to be my favorite, thus far, though I have to admit – it’s made me leave the lamp on at night a couple of times! Not horror or even psychological – but frightening nonetheless.

Notable Quotations:

“And how could we endure to live and let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back – if we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation and memory and that these are that day?” (Out of the Silent Planet)

“You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other.” (Perelandra)

“Isn’t it absolutely essential to keep a fierce Left and a fierce Right, both on their toes and each terrified of the other? That’s how we get things done.” (That Hideous Strength)

Classic Literature: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

This turned out to be a shockingly quick read! I wavered back and forth between enjoyment and near-boredom, with descriptions that were at times hard to grasp, but by the end, had fully enjoyed the story. It’s doubtful that this will be a re-read or one that stays with me, but I’m glad to have read it.

Notable Quotation: “He, I know – for the question had been discussed among us long before the Time Machine was made – thought but cheerlessly of the Advancement of Mankind, and saw in the growing pile of civilization only a foolish heaping that must inevitably fall back upon and destroy its makers in the end. If that is so, it remains for us to live as though it were not so. But to me the future is still black and blank – is a vast ignorance, lit at a few casual places by the memory of his  story. And I have by me, for my comfort, two strange white flowers – shrivelled now, and brown and flat and brittle – to witness that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man.”

Additional reads:

Quiet by Susan Cain

I couldn’t help but read this as soon as I saw it on Libby. It echoed a lot of what I read in Introverts in the Church (both authors referenced one another) and made me feel normal. Useful. Like my personality is actually a gift with a purpose.

Notable Quotation: “Soft power is quiet persistence.” 

Devotions by Mary Oliver

Oliver is the best selling American poet. I’m trying to develop an appreciation for poetry, and I think Oliver’s work aided in that. Though we would probably disagree on many things, I found myself very often captivated by her words.

Notable Quotations: “Who knows when supreme patience took hold and the wind’s wandering among its leaves was enough of motion, of travel.”

“Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?”