Categories
Domestic Church Ink Slingers Reading Sarah Reinhard

My Changed Reading Time

MyChangedReadingTime
It’s hard not to marvel at my changed reading time.
 
But wait, first, let me start at the beginning: I read.
 
I’ve accepted this about myself.
 
Surely, I have other hobbies. (Or maybe I just have a family. Does that count?)
 
But really, I read. It’s how I define myself, and it’s truly my favorite of the things I could list. It’s a hobby that has opened vistas for me, and you’ll find proof of it all over my house.
 
In the front room, subdivided into an office, there are overflowing bookshelves. In the office section, there’s another bookshelf, and baskets of books on my table/desk, and piles of books on my other shelf. In the kitchen, there’s a basket of current reads under the cupboards, by the breakfast bar. There are odd books left out (I blame the kids) and baskets of books and toys jumbled together (again, the kids). All of the kids have books in their rooms, in various states of organization (or disarray, as the case may be). And my room has a few books by the bed. And we mustn’t forget the bathrooms, though we don’t view them as much a library as some do. 
 
My purse is host to a whole library, thanks to the technology made available from my phone and my Kindle. That’s saved me from needing a backpack-sized purse for the “blankie book” I need to make sure I have with me at all times. (The book itself changes. The fact that I need one does not.)
 
These things are set. They’ve changed a bit over the years, but not by much.
 
What’s changed in my reading life is my reading time itself. It used to be wedged between nearly everything, and available in long stretches quite often. It used to be largely uninterrupted, unless I wanted it to be interrupted. It used to be about me and what I liked.
 
Now, I find that my reading time is part of a bigger picture. It involves other people in a way it never did before. Sometimes, those other people live in my house and they want me to be part of their reading time. They turn my reading time into a shared experience.
 
Other times, the other people are authors whose work I’m reviewing. They may be friends who have trusted me to read a book they’ve written. They may be strangers who reached out to me. They may be just the name on the cover, sent to me by a publisher or agent.
 
And then there are my reading friends, people who have become part of my reading time by their suggestions and their influence on how (and what) I read.
 
My reading time used to be mostly novels. Then, in grad school, it became mostly multiple assigned textbooks and business books at a time. I moved into reading to learn about things: my faith, some skill, random nonfiction. And then, with children came parenting books and children’s books, intentional middle grade and YA reads and revisiting old favorites.
 
Most recently, my reading time has turned into part of my job. (And, honestly, I never thought that could even be a reality in my life, so we’ll just have a shared jump-up-and-down moment together, shall we?) 
 
There are books I’ve read that I never would have picked up without the circumstances in my life. There are books I never would have enjoyed if I hadn’t grabbed them in desperation to escape the chaos of my home. (It’s a good chaos, mind you. But sometimes, I just want to read.)
 
My reading time has also changed because, well, I have changed. I’m older now, for one thing. I’ve read a lot more, and I’m more likely to just stop reading a book, no matter how good That Person said it would be or how much Certain Human said I should read it. 
 
I’ve been Catholic now for nearly two decades. I’ve been married for 15 and a mother for 14 of those. I’ve learned things beyond my various degrees and my different professional experiences. Life has interrupted my plans and taken me far beyond where I would have gone on my own.
 
And that, my friends, has only made my reading time better. ?
Categories
Books Domestic Church Reading Reviews

Best of My 2018 Reading: Nonfiction Edition with Sarah Reinhard

Best of My 2018 Reading: Nonfiction Edition with Sarah Reinhard

I used to think I was an all-fiction-all-the-time type of reader, but last year proved me wrong. Last year, I found out that I love nonfiction just as much.

I had a stretch of binge reading, and it included some great novels.

But I found something missing. I wanted something that {gasp} wasn’t fiction.

I read a lot of nonfiction anyway, both for paid review and for pleasure. There’s so much to learn. There’s so much that’s good. There’s…just…so…much.

So without any more rambling, here are my favorite nonfictions reads from my 2018 pile!

The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, by Cardinal Robert Sarah with Nicolas Diat. This was a book I couldn’t whip through, and yet one that I savored and couldn’t put down. Reading it felt anything but accidental, that’s for sure. (I wrote about that here.)

To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age, by Robert E. Barron. My first inclination with this was to offer it to a new deacon at our parish, who, as it happens, had already read it. Barron has a way of boiling things down and, yet, also planting seeds that stay with you.

Jesus Approaches: What Contemporary Women Can Learn about Healing, Freedom, and Joy from the Women of the New Testament, by Elizabeth M. Kelly. Water is a recurring theme that Elizabeth Kelly uses throughout this book, and it struck me throughout. It began like a long cold drink on a hot day: refreshing and soothing. It continued like a mug of steaming tea: comforting and snuggly. It traversed the paths of a wet washcloth on a hot forehead, a shared laugh over a glass of iced tea, a moment together over the baptismal font. Kelly’s depth of insight and the reach of her wisdom went right to my heart, in each and every chapter. The book examines eight women from the New Testament, and they may not all be the ones you expect. Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Martha and Mary of Bethany: no surprise there. But a shepherd girl who was there on Christmas night? That caught me…and captured my imagination. Kelly has a way of doing that throughout this book, and it’s a beautiful experience.

Clueless in Galilee: A Fresh Take on the Gospels, by Mac Barron. You’ll laugh, yes. (A lot, if you’re like me.) But you’ll also look differently at those Gospel stories that may be so old hat that you don’t even hear them anymore. I love Barron’s approach to “riffing” on the Gospels, and I also appreciate his innate ability to challenge readers to go beyond.

One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both, by Jennifer Fulwiler. I’ve been following Fulwiler for quite a while, and I’ve enjoyed watching her hard work pay off in success. I read this in a can’t-put-it-down kind of way and laughed so hard, at times, that I was crying. She has a self-deprecating way of writing and sharing her life that makes her approachable. This book also challenges readers to think beyond their constraints — it’s equal parts memoir, humor, guide, and good story.

The Fisherman’s Tomb: The True Story of the Vatican’s Secret Search, by John O’Neill.This reads like an adventure in many ways, and yet it’s true. O’Neill has a way of turning the dry facts into interesting tidbits, and the pictures don’t hurt either. This is a book you can whip through and then find yourself saying, “Wait, what just happened? Was that real?”

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life, by Anne Bogel.I’ve become a late-to-the-game Anne Bogel fangirl. I listened to this, but I think I’ll be getting a hard copy because…truth. She speaks to me and inspires me with her reading.

How Catholic Art Saved the Church: The Triumph of Beauty and Truth in Counter-Reformation Art, by Elizabeth Lev. This book was such a gift to read. I didn’t mean to start reading it, to be honest. I was just leafing through it, looking at it and admiring the pictures. I glanced over the table of contents and the introduction caught my eye. I’ll read just about anything, but this was GOOD. Elizabeth Lev is a master storyteller: She had me flipping to examine pictures, smiling at what I read, and thoroughly enjoying every aspect of this book. Of course, at least part of that was because of the beautiful job Sophia Institute Press did with the actual book: thick, glossy paper and four-color, magazine-quality images. Truly, this is a book that’s an aesthetic delight on many levels.

Lovely: How I Learned to Embrace the Body God Gave Me, by Amanda Martinez Beck. I read this book for the first time this year (it’s a new release, so I couldn’t have read it sooner), and then I reread it. I think, in fact, I’ll be reading it a third time in 2019 with a group of friends. Beck starts strong and finishes stronger. I think every woman probably needs to read and reread this book.

What nonfiction did you read last year? What did you love (or hate)?

Categories
Books Domestic Church Ink Slingers Reading Reviews Sarah Reinhard

Best of My 2018 Reading: Fiction Edition with Sarah Reinhard

BestofMy2018ReadingFictionEditionwithSarahReinhard

While I drink enough coffee to drown a fat pony, I also read enough books to weigh that same pony down. Well, it was a lot for me, and a respectable 100+. When Martina heard that I had written about my favorite reads of 2018, she invited me to share it here. Never one to be outdone in ideas, I offered to do one for fiction and one for nonfiction.

So, let’s dive into my favorite fiction reads from 2018, shall we?


East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. This was a massive novel I intended to read years ago. I started by listening to it, and tried to supplement my listening with reading (because I have the book). I just couldn’t limit my enjoyment of it to the times when I could hear it. The story was huge and long and wonderful in all the ways I love.

Endless Water, Starless Sky, by Rosamund Hodge. This is the sequel to Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. I’m not classically trained, but Hodge is. I know, at some level, that I miss a huge amount of her brilliance because of my own ignorance. And yet, I am hopelessly a fan of hers. Of the books she’s written, I think these two may be my favorites. I’d call this the best writing I read all year, judged on actual writing and on storytelling and on enjoyment level.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1), by Neal Shusterman. I heard this referenced as someone’s favorite book, and that’s sometimes all it takes for me to run after a book. I read and loved Shusterman’s so it stands to reason that I may like his other books. I just…hadn’t gotten around to them. Though this is first in a series, it stands alone. Once again, Shusterman has taken an old trope of a question and carved it into a mind exercise of a book. There’s a plot, but there’s also the exploration of ethics and the great what-if. AI meets immortality meets scandal meets human nature. This is a book not just to read, but to discuss and ponder.

The Eighth Arrow: Odysseus in the Underworld, a Novel, by Augustine Wetta, O.S.B.This book made me want to actually attempt Homer and some other classics. (I’ve read Dante, so I got those references.) And yet, the book made sense without any of that and only a rudimentary knowledge of what I knew were deeper references. The adventure was great, peppered with humor. I couldn’t put it down, and I found myself thinking of it in the times I wasn’t reading, which is, to me, always a sign of a great book.

Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather. I listened to this and found myself wanting to hold it and actually read the words. Cather paints an image of the Southwest that I could see as I listened.

A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron. My teen daughter handed this to me, and I’ll be honest: I was going to quit if it didn’t pick up or something. Cameron has his own style, that’s for sure, and the premise behind the book didn’t make sense to me until I was about a third of the way through. And then…hooked. The storytelling is fabulous, and you’ll never look at a dog the same way again.

The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. This is one of my all-time favorite books. It seems like I’ve read it about even 18 months or so since the first time I read it. Every time I pick it up, I find some passage that was right there for me. The premise: A devil writes letters to his nephew, filled with advice and tips for tempting more effectively. Turn your expectations upside down and prepare to be wowed by Lewis’s wonderful writing.

The Cricket on the Hearth, by Charles Dickens. Another all-time favorite book, and one that inspired my handle for many years. This year, it also inspired me to read some other Dickens. It’s a family story, in many ways, and a glimpse at life many years ago. I never saw the movie (which I heard was horrible), but Dot Peerybingle remains a favorite character of mine.

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery. I listened to this via CraftLit and was then inspired to listen to the rest of the eight-book series. And then, because I couldn’t get enough, I listened to Before Green Gables and Marilla of Green Gables. My girls have both turned their noses up at Anne, but I think I’ll be revisiting her quite often.

What fiction did you read last year? What did you love (or hate)?