November 3, 2022
Oh my goodness, what a good reading month it has been. You would think this was a hibernation month, when, in reality, the weather has been fall perfect.
I read thirteen books this month, but who’s counting! People ask me how I manage to read so much. (Is there an implication that my life is dull?) I guess the answer is that I structure reading into my day, beginning with my morning meditation time, which includes reading a book on a spiritual topic. This month I read three books in that category:
- The Art of Gathering, How We Meet and Why It Matters by Prya Parker (2018). I am quite sure this would not be shelved in the spirituality section of a book store, but thinking about how we connect with one another and how we offer hospitality is a totally spiritual topic, I think. Written in a breezy, conversational style, this book has lots of helpful and insightful ideas that can make a difference when you plan a small dinner party or a big work or community event.
- Meditations of the Heart by Howard Thurman (1953). This book had been on my list for a long time, and I read it slowly, savoring one brief meditation at a time. For example, in #10, “In the Moment of Pause, the Vision of God,” he writes, “It is good to make an end of movement, to come to a point of rest, a place of pause. There is some strange magic in activity, in keeping at it, in continuing to be involved in many things that excite the mind and keep the hours swiftly passing. But it is a deadly magic; one is not wise to trust it with too much confidence.” Keep in mind, if you read this, the time period, for the language is sexist, but there are gifts to be found here, and Thurman is one of the greats of the 20th century.
- Trusting Change, Finding Our Way Through Personal and Global Transformation by Karen Hering (2022). One of the first programs I attended at Wisdom Ways when we moved back to St Paul in 2013 was a book launch for Karen Hering’s Writing to Wake the Soul, Opening the Sacred Conversation Within (2013), a book that has inspired my own writing. Since then I have participated in writing retreats and sessions with her. She is a gifted teacher and writer, and this book is packed with insights and inspiration. The book offers ten skills for living on the threshold (actually, I wish the title included the word “threshold”) and deep and creative exercises to do by oneself or with others. I have a feeling I will refer to this book often as I plan for the writing and other groups I lead. Hering is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister who has worked as a literary minister. Isn’t that intriguing?
Along with devoting part of my meditation time to reading, I read during lunch, but I also try to leave my garret desk at about 4 and read before I start fixing dinner, and, of course, I read before going to bed. That time adds up to a bunch of books. I guess I am a fast reader, and sometimes that is not a good thing, for I don’t always retain what I read. That is one reason why I keep a journal of what I read.
Here are my top four October novels:
- The Lioness by Chris Bohjalian (2022). An American movie star invites friends and colleagues to join her and her new husband on a honeymoon safari in Tanzania. The novel is set in the 1960’s when the country was still called Tanganyika. Kidnapping, murder, page-turning suspense. The big question is who survives? The descriptions of the Serengeti and the animals they see are breath-taking, but be still my heart, so is what happens. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I went on to read The Hour of the Witch (2021), which, even though I have never been drawn to books about the days of witch-hunts in the colonies, this book intrigued me, and I am afraid I am going to have to read Bohjalian’s extensive back list.
- Fencing with the King by Diane Abu-Jaber (2022). Amani accompanies her father from the U.S. back to their Jordan homeland where he has been invited to celebrate the birthday of the king by engaging in a fencing match with him. What is more important about the story is Amani’s search to learn about her father’s mother, whom she resembles. Secrets are uncovered in this beautifully told story.
- Landslide by Susan Conley (2021). I almost read this book in one sitting, for the witty and natural dialogue moved the story along so easily. Set in Maine, Kit has a serious fishing accident and Jill needs to cope with their two teenage sons, whom she calls “the wolves.” I loved all the mother-son interactions, reflecting teenage angst, the mother’s typical, but also difficult worries, and all the love needed to survive and move forward.
- The Other Mother by Rachel M. Harper (2022). A complicated story of secrets and trauma related to the secrets. Two women are in a relationship with one another, but one is more committed to the relationship, and she wants a baby. The other woman agrees, but even though she adores the child, does not want to adopt him. Much of the story takes place when the child, Jenry, starts college at Brown University where the man whom he believes is his grandfather is a famous African-American professor. Some secrets are revealed, but others….well, I don’t want to reveal too much. I was intrigued by this book.
I also read five other books, each worth reading or I would have discarded them fairly early on!
- Violeta by Isabel Allende (2022)
- The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams (2021)
- A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie (1993)
- The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg (2010)
- A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (2015)
One more book note. This past weekend our roaming destination was Red Wing, MN, and, of course, we visited the library. I was impressed with the comfortable and set-apart reading room, but also liked some of the hand-outs available to patrons, including this one:
I would love to know what books are read to fulfill this challenge.
What did you read this past month? How are you challenging yourself in your reading life? I would love to know.
I loved this article about one’s personal library. https://psyche.co/guides/how-to-nurture-and-grow-a-personal-library-of-books
6 thoughts on “Book Report: October Round-Up”
Greetings to you sweet woman
I cherish the emails you send, saving them to reread and study and to
add book to my tbr list. Almost every email I think of something I
would want to say to you or respond to a question, but I don’t. Today
is that day! The first book “The Art of Gathering” has been on my list
to buy for years and just 2 weeks ago I ordered it from Amazon. I
haven’t started it yet, a few to finish before I open this beauty! I
literally carry it with me as I move around the house, carrying my ipad,
cell phone and current read…
I enjoy your email, blog, newsletter – whatever the form or name. It
soothes my soul. Thank you!!! I will proof this once and then hit
send before my brain takes over and tells me not to…
In peace and gratitude,
You made my day!!!!! Thank you so much for pushing the “send” button.
Thirteen books in a month, wow! I am behind on my reading goal for this year so far, and I attribute that to picking up my phone way too often instead of a book, and sometimes at night before bed – which is my longest reading time – choosing a magazine instead of a book. I choose magazines more often at night now because I become so immersed in a novel, that I can’t fall asleep, especially if the novel is exciting!
I have a small collection of Chris Bohjalian’s books and some I’ve enjoyed, and others not so much.
I really enjoyed that article about personal libraries.
In October, I read Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout (3 stars) and a memoir – A Place Called Home by David Ambroz (5 stars).
I love reading magazines, too, and always have a pile stacked next to the couch and often browse while watching tv.
Read Native is a wonderful idea!
It’s a bonus to get book ideas here in addition to everything else.
In October I read How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America – by Clint Smith. Eye-opening, and makes me hunger for more.
I also started reading each sentence of this purposefully: How to Sit – by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Clint Smith book is on my list–for sure. I don’t have the Thich Nhat Hanh book you mention, but anything by him deserves purposeful, careful reading. Thanks for sharing.