I think the title of Jan Karon’s newest Mitford novel, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, encapsulates what I appreciate about the series. For me, being immersed in one of Karon’s books is being somewhere safe. It’s not that bad things don’t happen to people in her books – in this book one character deals with the death of a mother, and a couple deals with a difficult pregnancy, in addition to a variety of other personal struggles large and small. But it is all seen through the lens of Christian faith, in the context of God’s love and grace and sovereign providence.
I read this book because it was recommended in a class I took in September on “The Role of the Supervisor.” Most of my reading lately has been fiction, and it had been a very long time (probably not since I finished my MBA studies in 1996) that I had read a book on organizational behavior. And I was intrigued by the instructor’s brief description of the authors’ viewpoints about organizations as organisms.
I won’t try to sum up the book’s points, because this review does that better than I probably could. If I had enjoyed reading the book, perhaps I would enjoy waxing eloquent about the ideas expressed in it. But frankly, I really struggled to finish the book before I had to return it to the library.
Having enjoyed Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book so much, I decided to listen to the audiobook version of Caleb’s Crossing. It has a lot of features that appeal to me – it’s historical fiction, and it deals with themes related to cross-cultural communication, religious faith, and education.
I was fascinated by the depiction of life in the 1660’s, told by a minister’s daughter named Bethia. The language uses a variety of words unfamiliar to the modern reader, but never difficult to understand in context. This archaic phrasing helps reinforce the sense of the story being solidly set in the past, in a cultural context very different from ours.
I didn’t even know Dean Koontz had written another novel until I found The City on the “new books” shelves at the library. Naturally I grabbed it, knowing it might be a while before it showed up on the shelves again. Besides, I wanted a good book to take along to the Wee Kirk conference my husband and I go to each October.
It’s a good book, and I enjoyed reading it – Koontz is a good storyteller. But I didn’t find it engrossing like other novels I have read by Koontz. I would read it for a while, then lay it aside and pick up another book. Then after a while I’d go back to it.
When I was growing up I rode my bicycle everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. I’m not sure why I didn’t ride it in the younger grades, maybe it wasn’t allowed. By the time I was in middle school, I carried my violin case to and from school every day and that just doesn’t fit in a bicycle basket very well. (There were days I wished I had chosen to play clarinet.)
But I rode it to the library – a trip I made often. I rode to the grocery store, the drugstore, the bookstore (my favorite), and the swimming pool. On summer weekends I went to yard sales (or tag sales, as they’re known in Connecticut where I grew up), trying to get to as many as I could find on a big circuit around town. Sometimes I just biked for the fun of riding, without going anywhere in particular.
This morning I was reading Psalm 62, and I was struck by the word “silence” in the first line.
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
Then again in verse 5,
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence
Yet in verse 8, I read this
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him
So what does it mean to pour out my heart before God while at the same time waiting in silence?
I finished The Columbus Affair a few weeks ago, but decided to put off writing a blog post until today. I was busy, and anyway – today just seemed appropriate. I know, yesterday was October 12, but today is the official government holiday. And being an employee of a community college, I get those holidays off. So I have time to reflect back on what I learned about Columbus from reading this book.
It’s fiction, but it’s fiction that deals directly with mysteries surrounding Christopher Columbus. So there’s a fair amount of history related in the novel, as well as some segments of historical fiction where the events described elsewhere are actually taking place. While I was listening to the audiobook, I was skeptical about how much of it could really be historic fact as opposed to the creative output of author Steve Berry’s imagination.