Becoming truly literate is a choice. Reading done well is not a passive activity like sitting in front of a screen. It requires a degree of attention, engagement, and active questioning of which most of our children currently have a deficit. The core question is not whether you hold in your hand an old-fashioned paper book or a new electronic book, but rather that even when you read from a screen, you develop the self-discipline to ignore the temptation to check email or scores or social media every few minutes. Reading done well requires a forward-leaning brain. Our culture’s ever-present distractions–the obsessive appeals to immediacy (“What ‘news’ might I be missing?”)–conspire to blunt our curiosity and distract us from sustained thought. The relentless pull of the digital world, with its demands that our kids submit to the shiny and the immediate, threatens to make them not just less literate but also more like subjects than citizens.
Unless you are dead or in the process of withering away in front of your screen the way so many millions of us do, there’s an imperative in your soul to unpack life and its endless mysteries. This is an active, not a passive, pursuit. For people who are alive, really alive, their brains are in motion. On the wall in the primary schooling area in our home hangs this apt observation by Ellen Parr: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”…Curiosity is the mental mortar for building strength and resilience.
Or, as my grandmother said, if you’re bored, you’re boring.
It was another poor sleeping month which means it was a good reading month. 🙂
- You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott
- A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
- Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel – Rachel Khong
- Since We Fell – Dennis Lehane
- A Woman’s Wisdom: How the Book of Proverbs Speaks to Everything – Lydia Brownback
- Perfecting Ourselves to Death: The Pursuit of Excellence and the Perils of Perfectionism – Richard Winter
- Commentaries on Proverbs – Matthew Henry
My favorite this month (and will very likely make my top five for the year) was A Gentleman in Moscow. The other fiction books this month were just meh.
What are you reading & recommending these days?
From Martin Luther, as quoted in Perfecting Ourselves to Death by Richard Winter:
This life, therefore, is not righteousness but growth in righteousness, not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise; we are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished, but it is going on; this is not the end, but it is the road.
From A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles:
‘Tis a funny thing, reflected the Count as he stood ready to abandon his suite. From the earliest age, we must learn to say good-bye to friends and family. We see our parents and siblings off at the station; we visit cousins, attend schools, join the regiment; we marry, or travel abroad. It is part of the human experience that we are constantly gripping a good fellow by the shoulders and wishing him well, taking comfort from the notion that we will hear word of him soon enough.
But experience is less likely to teach us how to bid our dearest possessions adieu. And if it were to? We wouldn’t welcome the education. For eventually, we come to hold our dearest possessions more closely than we hold our friends. We carry them from place to place, often at considerable expense and inconvenience; we dust and polish their surfaces and reprimand children for playing too roughly in their vicinity — all the while, allowing memories to invest them with greater and greater importance. This armoire, we are prone to recall, is the very one in which we hid as a boy; and it was these silver candelabra that lined our table on Christmas Eve; and it was with this handkerchief that she once dried her tears, et cetera, et cetera. until we imagine that these carefully preserved possessions might give us genuine solace in the face of a lost companion.
But, of course, a thing is just a thing.
And so, slipping his sister’s scissors into his pocket, the Count looked once more at what heirlooms remained and then expunged them from his heartache forever.
From Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong:
From A Woman’s Wisdom: How the Book of Proverbs Speaks to Everything by Lydia Brownback:
No matter the specifics of our desires or how we express them, all our longings are indicative of the fact that we aren’t home yet. We are unfinished women living in an unfinished world, and because of that, we aren’t going to find full satisfaction until we get home, until we are perfected in Christ and living with him in heaven. Until then, we are going to remain women who want.
From Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something:
Wisdom is the difference between knowing a world-class biologist who can write your papers for you and studying under a world-class biologist so that you can write the kind of papers he would write. Too many of us want God to be the world-class scholar who will write our papers and live our lives for us, when God wants us to sit at His feet and read His Word so that we can live a life in the image of His Son. God doesn’t tell us the future for this simple, yet profound reason: We become what we behold. God wants us to behold Him in His glory so that we can be transformed into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18). If God figures everything out for us, we wouldn’t need to focus on Him and learn to delight in His glory. God says, “I’m not giving you a crystal ball. I’m giving you My Word. Meditate on it; see Me in it; and become like Me.”
Well, this is unusual: a holiday (day off!) mid-week instead of on a Monday.
This is not unusual: I did not set my alarm but was awake at 4:22 and couldn’t get back to sleep. Stupid shoulder.
Oh, well. I grabbed my laptop, Bible, bullet journal, and books and settled into my favorite chair in the living room. A quiet house (and a clean house!), a cup of coffee. Not bad. Perfection, actually.
No plans for the day ahead other than some rest and relaxation.
Happy Independence Day to you!
June was a month of poor sleep and neck and shoulder pain, but that meant I had a good reading month. (How’s that for half full?!) I finished six books last month, and there were some really good ones in that mix.
- American Wife – Curtis Sittenfield
- My Name Is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
- Boy’s Life – Robert R. McCammon
- Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will – Kevin DeYoung
- Island of the World – Michael D. O’Brien (my second time through this one and it’s still my favorite novel)
- The Magnolia Story – Chip & Joanna Gaines
Boy’s Life was not what I expected and not a genre that I typically read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a good summer read.
Just Do Something is a small yet powerful book packed with wisdom.
Like most folks these days, I’m a fan of Fixer Upper and Chip & Joanna, so I’m not surprised that I enjoyed their book. It would be the perfect book for a plane trip, but I read it at bedtime and lunch.
This month I plan to read some books related to Proverbs as I study that book, and I want to read some fiction from my shelves.
What are you reading these days?