Books and Daffodils

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Here in central Ohio, the daffodils are blooming, and thanks to a friend on G+, I have this gem of literature to share with you that just so beautifully expresses how I feel about these bits of sunshine growing on stems all around me:

You know me well enough by now, I suspect, to know that being outside is just another excuse for reading time in my world.

And so, this week, I couldn’t resist digging up some daffodilian pictures from the interwebs.

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My to-read list is filled with “get this read by this date” and “be sure to post review by that date.” To paraphrase a good friend, I have books coming out of my…ears!

(These are challenges I savor, by the way. Don’t read this as complaining in any way!)

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Recent Reads

A Garden of Visible Prayer: Creating a Personal Space One Step at a Time, by Margaret Rose Really (Faith Catholic Books, 2011)

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

From the introduction:

This book is a step-by-step approach to help guide you in creating a meaningful sacred space—a place you can step into, close at hand, matched to what brings you, personally, to inner quietness.

It’s not long. It’s not hard to read. If you’re a gardener who’s looking for a way to combine your prayer with plants, it may be just the thing for you.

This book is an opportunity for anyone who takes solace in the outdoors, who longs for dirt therapy, who finds peace in both the doing and the being of gardening. It is a book for those of us who like the work of gardening and seek a refuge outside in nature. It’s a handbook for making your prayer something you can see in the place and plants and setting of a garden area.

Toupeé Mice, by Karl Bjorn Erickson (Rafka Press, 2013, MG fiction)

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A delightful story that you’ll enjoy as much as I’m betting the middle grade reader in your life will, too. You’ll meet a group of rodents who just want to sing in the parish choir. I am, admittedly, NOT a fan of rodents, but this book won me over with its charm and its story.

Recipe for Joy: A Stepmom’s Story of Finding Faith, Following Love, and Feeding a Family, by Robin Davis (Loyola Press, 2013)

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book looked interesting, but I’ll be honest: I almost didn’t read it. There are a number of reasons why, but none of them are as huge as the feeling of “Wow, I’m SO GLAD I read that!” that I felt late on Saturday night, with the whole house asleep, as tears streamed down my face and I closed the back cover. A great read that makes me consider that maybe I do like memoirs when they’re told as expertly and entertainingly and heart-wrenchingly as this one.

Did I mention there are some recipes? That I felt nearly motivated to try?* And that the author is practically my neighbor? (I found out that last bit quite by accident. She doesn’t know I know that yet. Shhhhh…she’s still safe…for a little while longer…)

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Current Reads

Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood, by Ginny Kubitz Moyer (Loyola Press, 2013)

Remember that feeling from college when you had a pile of books all around you, a straggly ponytail and old sweats, and the complete comfort of being with a friend and a big mug of coffee? Yeah, that’s how this book is so far. I’m a big fan of Moyer’s work, and this is no less excellent than her blog or her previous book.

Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st Century, by George Weigel (Basic Books, 2013)

So yeah, I’m stuttering along with this. It’s brilliant. I, however, have books growing like daffodils all around me. And this book is more serious and heavy than the ones that are currently delighting me, more like a big oak tree than a sprightly dancing daffodil. My goal is to read a couple more chapters this week. And I will. The thing is, I’ll enjoy them. It’s written really well (no shocker), it has enticing information and ideas (no surprise there either), and I’m enjoying it. I just am not, strangely, all that motivated to read it.

Save, Send, Delete, by Danusha Goska (John Hunt Publishing, 2012, fiction)

I have mixed feelings about this book, and I sort of love that about it. I think it’s going to get high marks from me in the end, though, again, I’m just not whipping through it the way I expected to.

How To Deliver A TED Talk: Secrets Of The World’s Most Inspiring Presentations, by Jeremy Donovan (Createspace, 2012)

I’m underwhelmed by this book, but I will finish it, if only to say that I did. It’s not a bad book, it’s just not changing my life, you know? Ahhh, well. It’s not rubbish, mind you. Just…okay.

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New to My Review Shelf

Pope Francis, by Matthew E. Bunson, D.Min (Our Sunday Visitor, 2013)

“I don’t remember being so obsessed with biographies when Benedict was elected,” I mentioned to my husband last night. He merely shook his head. I can’t expect the poor guy to keep up with my reading, after all. This one looks good, and I’ll be diving in just as soon as I can catch my eyes up…

When the curtains were drawn and our new Holy Father stepped out into view of the 150,000 people waiting in St. Peter’s Square, it was a humble and gentle man from Argentina who greeted them, not in triumph, but with a gentle wave.

He’s a pope of “firsts” – the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, and the first to choose the name of Italy’s most famous saint.

  • He is the son of an immigrant railway worker, and sibling of four.
  • He was an active, social young man who trained to be a chemist before pursuing a religious vocation.
  • He is a Jesuit priest and beloved spiritual director who even as archbishop of Buenos Aires was referred to as Father Jorge.
  • He is an outspoken leader who experienced firsthand the challenges of a society ravaged by war, economic despair and cultural unrest.

Pope Francis is still new to us, but in this biography you will get to know the man who became pope: A street priest at heart with a deep love for people and a pastor’s touch. He teaches in word and deed the truths of the Church and God’s merciful love.

Get inside access to the entire history-making event, from the startling resignation of Pope Benedict through the gathering of Cardinals for the Conclave and the installation of this Pope of the people.

Examine Pope Francis the man – his background, his ideas, his mission, and his challenges and opportunities as our new pope – including 16 pages of full color photos from Pope Francis’ past and present.

The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, by Daria Sockey (Servant Books, 2013)

I have been waiting on this book for what feels like for-evah! I’ve followed Daria’s writing for quite some time and I expect this book to be no less brilliantightful than everything else Daria pens.

You don’t live in a cloister or a monastery, but you take your prayer life seriously and want to explore ways to pray regularly and better. The Liturgy of the Hours, aka Divine Office,  is one of those ways–and according to the Catholic Church, one of the very best. Long considered the sole territory of priests and religious, the digital revolution has made the Liturgy of the Hours accessible to everyone.  But for those of us who find it a little intimidating, Daria Sockey provides a solid overview to this ancient prayer practice. The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours will answer questions like:

  • What is the history of the Liturgy of the Hours?
  • How can the Liturgy of the Hours fit into a busy schedule?
  • Why is the Liturgy of the Hours relevant today?
  • Print or digital berviaries: Which is better?

There is a rhythm of prayer, not just throughout the day, but throughout the year. Sockey explores the spiritual riches of the seasons, the saints, and special feast days, which add depth and variety to prayer. She also addresses the concept of praying with  the words of  Sacred  Scripture–particularly the psalms– and helps the reader to appreciate the universal beauty of these ancient biblical prayers.

Don’t let concerns about “what page am I supposed to be on?” scare you away. Sockey will be your guide to answer common questions and overcome common fears. Your prayer life will never be the same!

Tweet Inspiration: Faith in 140 Characters (or Less), by Mark Hart (Servant Books, 2013)

Oh! Look! I begin nearly stalking someone and a book arrives for my review shelf. And it’s not just any book by a Catholicebrity I wanna stalk, but a book about my nearly favorite social network. Gush! How will I keep myself from simply devouring it? (I’ll put it on the shelf, that’s how.)

There are lots of ways to spread joy to others, and social media is a creative way to do it. Tweet Inspiration is a compact treasury of inspiration, with a good dose of humor, gathered from Mark Hart’s extensive collection of tweets on faith and life in general. Scattered throughout the book are call-out boxes with Mark’s expanded thoughts and insights on various topics.

How can you be inspired and encouraged in this short format? Here are some examples:

  • The command to “love your enemies” (Lk 6:27) sure would be easier if we weren’t just starting football season. 😉
  • You can usually tell by the look on someone’s face if they woke up counting their problems or their blessings. (James 1:17)
  • Sssshhh. God is speaking. #Listen

Whether you have an active faith that needs to be strengthened, or are seeking to establish contact with God for the first time, you will find something here to help you find the God who is already seeking you.

Get ready to be surprised, inspired, and challenged—in 140 characters or less! #Youwillbeblessed.

What have YOU been reading lately?

*Are you on Goodreads? I’ll see you there!

Curious about what my ratings mean? Here’s an explanation of what the stars mean to me.

Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.

Copyright 2013, Sarah Reinhard

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