january book eats

I read just over a dozen books last year, and hope to average sat least two per month in 2016.  I almost missed it, but yesterday, as #2 was on a date with Daddy, I brought my second book to the mall and sat in the food court beside the youngest, equipped him with a scoop of death by chocolate and Minecraft (okay not my brightest move as a mother) and flew through the final pages while the oldest danced around the clothing stores as teens are programmed to do.  With a new, shrunken commute, I hope I'll still be able to keep this up.

 

For The Love by Jen Hatmaker

For reasons I can't explain, after following her blog, pvr-ing her Today Show appearances, wishing I had the American HGTV, scouring the podcast world for her talks and interviews for several years (which explains why I say y'all now), this is the first book of hers I have read.  I am officially one of The 4500, the sea of people who applied to be part of her launch team to promote the book, but didn't score a spot.  In applying, though, I got a couple of free chapters to enjoy before it released.  I knew from then that I had to get my hands on this book.  She is a lover of Jesus, her family, cooking and community, is utterly honest and Hi. Lari. Ous.  This book was like a date with your best collection of girlfriends, with generous doses of zoomed in and panned out looks at ourselves, our people, the big-C Church, and the world, wrapped tightly in a blanket of out-loud laughter.

 

Stir by Jessica Fechtor

Once I return it to the library (after exhausting my renewal allowance), I will have to buy my own copy. I loved it so much.  Part memoir, part recipe book, Jessica Fechtor, author of the food blog Sweet Amandine, begins with the morning an aneurysm burst in her brain, and moves through the messy, scary long road that followed.  Multiple surgeries, loss of sight, loss of smell.  Sprinkled across the pages are glimpses into her youth, college years and life in young adulthood, where you meet and quickly grow to love her tribe of friends and family.  Then, as the best bonus ever, almost every one of the 33 chapters ends with the recipe mentioned in the narrative, giving the reader the exact gift they are hoping for by the time they catch on a few chapters in.  And save for the Five-Fold Challah, because I'm a bit lazy for a four-pager, I want to try each of the recipes.  Not in a Julie and Julia mission kind of way, but because they are all amazing and proven unforgettable, obviously.  A word about Jessica's writing, though.  It is beautiful and brilliant.  Okay, that was two words.  The way she paints the scene for her audience, so vividly you start feeling like you're reading fiction, ugh.  See?  I am reduced to grunting just thinking about it, I'm so speechless.

would you, could you, in the dark?

Reluctantly, but for the sake of conversation, my bus driver asked me how I was enjoying the book I was reading.  A Lucky Life Interrupted by Tom Brokaw.  I had already read over 150 pages since cracking the book open yesterday and eager for the home stretch this afternoon.

Released in May, the book is a memoir of his recent journey through multiple myeloma, without shortage of glimpses into the state of the US health care system, anecdotes as a world-class journalist, and reflection on his life, marriage, family and career.

“It’s really good.”

He could barely look at the book in my hand, recalling that I had told him that it was about his cancer journey yesterday morning.  There was a “to each his own” air to his half of the conversation that followed and he repeated that he can’t read that “stuff”.

“But you don’t even know what’s in it.”

It seemed he had been beaten down by family and friends’ illness over the years that the thought of diving into something like this would draw out too much darkness.

I felt like I was in Green Eggs and Ham twilight zone.

“Try it! Try it! You will see!”

After assuring him that I was not immune to the impact of cancer and premature death, I tried to sell him on the idea of adopting an (say it with me) attitude of gratitude and the risk of sticking to what feels safe but is actually fear-based.

And then we reached my stop and got off.

How many times do we let fear stop us from knowing more?  Understanding the world better?  Understanding each other’s hearts better?
Had I taken a peek into the book at the library, saw it was about cancer and said ick, can’t handle that one, I would have missed out on a beautiful piece of writing.

This lesson is serving me as a reminder to be brave enough to find out more.  To ask questions.  To try something different.  To refuse safety and ignorance and allow my faith to maybe take me to the Say, I like...