“Oh, the weather outside is…”

Well, it’s January, and we are sooooo ready for spring!!!

In the past few weeks we’ve hazarded snow, sleet, ice, freezing rain, killer fog, nearly a foot of rain in less than 48 hours (“wet” even by rain forest standards), and county wide flooding.  We’re just waiting for the frogs, flies, and rivers to run red and some guy looking like Charleton Heston to show up.

Flip side is that the weather has made cozying up with some good books all the more attractive.  I (site administrator) usually have three or four titles going at a time.  Here’s what I’ve been reading in the past few weeks and recommend.  In no particular order:

The Last Place on Earth, by Roland Huntford. (Non-fiction)

Fascinating, meticulously researched account of the “race for the South Pole” between Norway and Great Britain in the early 20th century.  Led by myopic, inept and lethally arrogant Capt. Robert F. Scott, the British expedition is under the command of an “expert bungler” and is a disaster from the start.  The Norwegians, led by “the Napolean of polar expedition,” Roald Amundsen, are consummate professionals.  The Norwegians are prepared, practiced, thorough – and brilliant.

The contrast between the two expeditions is stark and enduring – and utterly obliterates the myth of “British invincibility” running rampant at the time.

Home to Holly Springs, by Jan Karon. (Fiction)

I admit it.  I’m hopelessly addicted to Jan Karon novels and her delightful eccentric cast of characters from Mitford.  This novel is “pre-Mitford,” taking readers back to Father Tim’s childhood.  Father Tim decides to return home to Holly Springs for the first time in decades as the result of a cryptic, unsigned note that simply says “come home.”  A terrific story!

Still Me, by Christopher Reeve.  (NF)

It’s true.  I picked up this book, Reeve’s autobiography, as a library discard.  Don’t let that fool you.  This is a gutsy, well-rounded look at the man most people remember as Superman.  But Christopher Reeve was so much more.  This book chronicles his life from early childhood (and the resulting trauma from his parent’s divorce), thru Reeve’s growing up years, early acting gigs, Cornell, Julliard, the silver screen, marriage, and the accident.   It drags at times as Reeve runs through his various acting credits, but remains poignant, powerful and optimistic.  His love for family, friends, acting, and life is evident throughout.  A worthwhile read.

The Shack, by William P. Young (Fiction)

One of the most extraordinary works of Christian fiction I’ve ever read.  Ground-breaking, Bunyanesque, brilliant.  Highly recommended.

Circles of Grace, by Penelope J. Stokes  (Fiction)

I was running late last week and had exactly six and a half minutes to whoosh into the library, tear down the aisles, scan the stacks and make a selection.  I’d just finished The Last Place on Earth (above) and was out of reading material – a fate worse than death!  I literally closed my eyes and grabbed this book off the shelf.  Am I glad I did.

Circles of Grace revolves around the main character, Grace, her three girlfriends from college and the “circle journal” they’ve shared between them for thirty years – with varying degrees of honesty.  Now Grace has been diagnosed with a terminal disease.  Will she “come clean” with the secrets she’s been hiding for decades?  Can she?  Is it too late?

A beautiful, powerful story of enduring female friendships, love, hope, and grace.  Subtle Christian themes and lots of surprises.

For Everything a Season: Simple Musings on Living Well, by Philip Gullery (Non-fiction)

A personal favorite, author Philip Gulley is a master storyteller whose unique blend of quirky characterizations, timeless truths and dry humor is a winning combination.  For Everything a Season is another Gulley “Slam-dunk.”

Drawing from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,former Quaker pastor  Gulley illustrates key phrases in this Old Testament passage with chapters like A Careful Subtraction (A Time to Kill), Concerning Screen Doors and Shaker Chairs (A Time to Build), Sandlot Baseball (A Time to Laugh), The Pastor’s Short Course (A Time to Dance), and On Good Shoes, Old Friends, and Silence.  To name a few.

Probing, thoughtful, hilarious in places and always a delight.  Highly recommended.

***

Up next: A Circle of Sisters (aka: A Community of Sojourners)

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