Over the weekend I spent some time with a fun family that has eight children of varying sizes. One of the almost-grownups, my friend R., had just finished high school and a party was being held in her honor. Since they live three hours' drive West of me, I stayed the night.
One of oldest boys cheerfully gave up his room for me, and D., the mom, thoughtfully chose a collection of great 'browsing' books to arrange on the bedside table, adding a few more during the evening as we talked.
It's true: I was tempted to stay up all night reading! Here's the collection and some of my thoughts:
Wildflowers of Colorado, photography by John Fielder; nice. He has good material to work with!
Bilbo's Last Song, by J.R.R. Tolkien, illustrated by Pauline Baynes. The illustrations sum up the Hobbit's journeys.
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, ed. Arthur Bennett. Not everyone can stomach the Puritans, it's true, but they have much to teach us. This little leather volume provides it in small, deep doses!
Keeper of Springs, by Ingrid Trobisch (who with her husband Walter Trobisch cowrote several well-reputed books on marriage) and Marlee Alex. "Evoking a passion for homekeeping, Keeper of the Springs provides inspiration and motivation for cultivating atmosphere, tradition, and beauty in the midst of your surroundings and hectic family life." Ingrid's reflections on her life and homemaking, illustrated with photos. Not so relevant, perhaps, to someone who lacks 'hectic family life,' but a beautiful gift book, nonetheless!
Honey for a Woman's Heart: Growing your World through Reading Great Books, by Gladys Hunt. Yeah, the title makes me cringe a bit, but the subtitle redeems it! And the contents are great. I'm going to look for a copy of this chatty guide to good reading, for myself. It's also just the thing for my old college roommate - not as much of a reader as she'd like to be - who recently wrote and asked for a list of books or authors I'd recommend to 'strengthen her literary core'! (The author wrote a similar work well-known with the home-school set, Honey for a Child's Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life).
Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine, by Dorothy Sayers, collects a number of Sayers' essays of apologetics and social commentary which appear other places.
Three more were on the pile which are not so much browsing books as serious reads -- all of which I hope to hunt down and peruse properly. One reason they catch my eye is because I would like to do more this kind of writing someday; all three draw inspiration from history for facing the world's challenges today and tell the stories of those who have gone before to inspire and encourage believers now. Doing that kind of extensive research is not only a lot of fun and helpful to others but also a great way to learn things more deeply, myself.
The New Friars: The Emerging Movement Serving the World's Poor, by Scott Bessenecker. The head of InterVarsity's Global Trek program puts it in historic perspective and tells the stories of people changing the world by identifying with those on its fringes. (Includes some material on two of our favorite, lesser-known missions movements, those that took place among the Moravians and the Nestorians.)
Granny Brand: Her Story, by Dorothy Clarke Wilson; you may have heard of her son Paul Brand, also a missionary as well as a doctor, teacher, and author. From what I read of this I get the impression that Granny was NOT the kind of M. that Ingrid (above) and Lilias (below), were - finding beauty wherever she goes and making her home a nest - but more the plain-spoken, tough-as-nails, but with a heart-as-big-as-all-outdoors type. The kind who knows how to spit. We shall see. I think the public library should be able to find me a copy.
A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter, by Miriam Huffman Rockness. This is one of D's favorites. I told her I was trying to figure out which missionary biographies about women to recommend on a 'short list' like this one (which strangely only includes books by and about men). I'm not sure if this one would have as broad an appeal, to both men and women, as the four books Ted lists, but there's got to be something that would. Let me know if anything comes to mind...
And I'd love to hear if any of you have a stack of favorites you'd place beside the bed in your guest room! (Deb and I have a rather rambling shelf-full, mostly for our mothers who come to stay now and then.)