One of the changes I’ve decided to make since our time in Moz is to ignore my book blog, “Over a Steaming Mug of Tea,” for a while. I’m not quite ready to shut it down, but I’m close.
While I was in Mozambique, I realized that for the few months I had been operating my book review blog, I felt under constant pressure to read: to read new books and lots of them. Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies, and I hadn’t expected that opening a book blog would turn one of my favorite hobbies into a chore, but that’s kind of what it did.
I would still like to share what I’m reading, however. I like to talk about books. But I’m kind of like a two-year-old in that I only like to do it when I don’t feel forced.
What I’ve Been Reading since Moz:
The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller
This is a delightful read. If you have an e-reader or are able and willing to read on your computer with a Kindle app, I would highly recommend clicking over to Amazon and purchasing this e-book right now. (It’s $0.99!) I was able to read this book in a couple sittings, and I highlighted a lot of it. Basically, Keller writes from the premise that in our society we are too concerned about our self-esteem. All we need to do is have a healthy self-esteem and life will be peachy. But, when we focus on our self-esteem so much, we’re really just putting it in the place of God. “And, of course, as we are often reminded, if you try to put anything in the middle of the place that was originally made for God, it is going to be too small. It is going to rattle around in there” (Location 134).
Keller writes that the apostle Paul had a different approach: he basked in the freedom of self-forgetfulness. I won’t go into any more detail here, but suffice it to say that Keller’s book really made an impact on how I view myself and on the importance I place on how I view myself. Read it! You’ll love it.
Digging to America by Anne Tyler
I hadn’t read anything by Anne Tyler before, but now I’m convinced that I need to read all her books. This is a story about immigration. And assimilation. And adoption. And having friends who are different from us. I won’t say this is a particularly fast-paced book. Two little girls are adopted from Korea by very different American families. They grow up, their parents become good friends. Their grandparents become good friends. The plot was fun, if not action-packed. But what really jarred me while reading this book was the vibrant and real way that Tyler writes about her characters. I got to know these characters, flaws and quirks and all, and I came to love the characters. This book impacted me in a unique way, in that I found myself quoting a character in conversations like I was quoting a friend, and only later realized I hadn’t been quoting a real person at all. That is the kind of impact that Tyler’s writing has. Mmm. Wonderful.
The Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot
In all honesty, this book took me quite a while to get through. As much as I was inspired by Jim Elliot and his single-minded devotion, I did have a little trouble wading through all his journal entries. However, I did find myself sitting and thinking when I was done reading, and then praying that I would have even half as much devotion and determination in my relationship with God that Jim Elliot had. Even though missionary biographies are not the most exciting to me from a literary standpoint, they sure give me perspective on the small life I lead.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
I learned a ton about Japanese culture, particularly geisha culture, while reading this book. I found it all very fascinating, but the story was a little more risqué than I was expecting. Not sure if it makes my Top 100, but it was still very well written and very interesting. And I liked the book better than the movie. Surprise, surprise.