The first Monday of August has suddenly arrived, so it’s time for me to tell you about the books I read in July. I read a variety of books, including fiction and nonfiction.
Under the Skin, by Vicki Lane
I purchased this book a couple of years ago after reading Vicki Lane’s first four books in her Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries. If you follow my blog, you know I get my books almost exclusively from the public library. Library books keep piling up and causing me to postpone reading the books I own. I bought the paperback edition of Under the Skin at a wonderful independent bookstore in Asheville, NC. I dare you to go into Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe and leave without buying at least one book. It’s a great bookstore, but I digress.
When July came, I decided I was going to read Under the Skin, even if it meant returning a library book unread. In this book, Elizabeth Goodweather is visited by her sister who convinces her to attend séances at a nearby spa. The sister is hoping to make contact with her deceased husband. All sorts of problems pop up as it becomes clear that the sister is being stalked.
Chapters more or less alternate between this present-day tale and a story about two sisters at the same historic spa in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1880s. The present-day story held my interest more than the 19th century tale, but that’s just my personal observation.
My Beautiful Broken Shell, by Carol Hamblet Adams
My Beautiful Broken Shell was recommended to me by my librarian sister. It is a small book about how most seashells get tossed about and broken, but so do we humans. The author encourages us to embrace our brokenness.
I’m broken in many ways and sometimes I’m more than a little rough around the edges.
Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover
This is an entertaining memoir of a woman who was raised by strict Mormon parents in the middle of nowhere in Idaho. Her father is bipolar, and Ms. Westover does an excellent job of getting across to the reader just how unnerving being the child of a person with that malady can be. Tara’s mother reluctantly becomes a midwife at her husband’s insistence. The occupation gradually “grows on her” and she seems to like it.
I don’t want to give away too much of this true story. Suffice it to say that Tara goes from being “no-schooled” at home to attain amazing things in education.
Words We Carry: Essays of Obsession and Self-Esteem, by D.G. Kaye
I referred to this little book in my July 16, 2018 blog post, Words We Carry and White Privilege. That post probably left you with an overall good impression of the book. Although I liked the premise of the book, the latter part of the book came across to me as bordering on being Pollyanna while also being conflicting. The author writes about the importance of being your authentic self while recommending that you just put on some make up and act like everything is just fine.
Her parting message struck me as being akin put a smile on your face and a have positive outlook. That takes an enormous amount of energy for people with a chronic physical illness or depression.
Mysterious Tales of Coastal North Carolina, by Sherman Carmichael
This is a newly-published book from The History Press. I found it in the New Books Section at the public library.
The 170-page book is a collection of ghost stories from the 200-mile coast of the state along with a number of true accounts of ships being torpedoed and sunk by German U-boats during World War II.
I was familiar with a few of the ghost stories but most were new to me. The author did a good job of including just enough historical background about most of the places and stories. Each of the stories is one to three pages, making this a book that’s easy to pick up when you only have a few minutes to read.
I think I’ll purchase a copy to take along with me on my next trip to the coast.
A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community, by John Pavlovitz
Whether or not you agree with John Pavlovitz’s politics or his ideas for how to make church more responsive and Christ-like, I think you’ll find that his writing makes you think outside the box.
That said, Mr. Pavlovitz says a lot of things in his book, A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community, that I needed to hear and ponder. Much of what Mr. Pavlovitz said in this book brought to mind the recent capital campaign at Rocky River Presbyterian Church. That campaign was called “Growing God’s Table.”
We already had a sanctuary. We already had a building housing Sunday School rooms, offices, and an inadequate fellowship hall. What we needed was an expansion of our building that would incorporate more classrooms, an elevator to serve the old building as well as the expansion, and most of all — a much larger fellowship hall.
The new fellowship hall has made it possible for us to have monthly community free meals and other activities to which the public is invited. We’re growing God’s table at Rocky River Presbyterian Church, but we still have a long way to go. We are a work in progress. Mr. Pavlovitz’s book opened my eyes to even more possibilities.
Mr. Pavlovitz calls out Christians who are so busy “doing church” activities that they sometimes forget that forming relationships with people is the most important thing we should be doing. Sometimes we treat one another badly and sometimes we fail to treat strangers with the love and compassion demonstrated by Jesus Christ. We all need to make the table bigger. God’s table is big enough for everyone.
I purchased this ebook several months ago after following the author’s blog for quite some time. His blog, Stuff That Needs To Be Said (https://johnpavlovitz.com/,) is always thought-provoking.
Since my last blog post
I spent some time with long-time friends who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Raleigh, NC. It was good to get away for several days, make some new friends, and reconnect with some people I hadn’t seen in a long time.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. I’m trying to finish reading several books I started in July. You’ll find out in my September 3 blog post how that went.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments
Have you read any good books lately?