I’m still working on ferret out the perfect word to embrace in 2011. I’ve particularly enjoyed these words/posts from others this year: mindful, enough, harmony, and Eucharisteo. Everybody seems to have their act together more than I do. Ah, but I’m not supposed to be comparing.
No word yet, but I do have a saint for 2011, thanks to Jen’s nifty saint name generator. My spiritual mentor for 2011 is none other than Saint Teresa Avila. I know assigning me her was based on some random code, but it seemed fitting. I used one of her prayers to end my book, which, yes, will finally be published sometime in 2011 – probably in the fall. Likewise, when I followed the link from the saint’s name generator to further info about St. Teresa, a lot of what was said about her resonated with me, and I plan on reading more about the Doctor of the Church to help me come up with a word for 2011. Stay tuned.
As I was reading about Saint Teresa, it struck me how cool it is about to have all of these saints to turn to when we’re trying to come up with the right word for the year, a deeper prayer life, or the sense that we’re not the only ones who sometimes need to be hit across the head with a 2×4 to get what God is saying to us. Saints aren’t untouchables or mysterious. They’re often ordinary people we can relate to on some level, and reading about them is so much more satisfying than reading a promissory, prognostic horoscope. I might nod my head to both, thinking, “Wow! This is so true and just what I needed,” but the saints were real people. Their stories aren’t the product of some witty writer who has a knack for writing what seems specific but is really a bunch of vague hooey that fools the reader into feeling like the words were written just for her. But the saints, well, they are just for us.
Speaking of words and the real point of this post, I’ve a read a fair amount of them this year, although my reading habits have definitely been curbed in recent years as a mom, especially as a homeschooling mom. But I still squeeze in a little bit of book reading almost every day.
I asked for a breadmaker for Christmas from my husband, but apparently he’s starting to feel like a big cliche even though I’m the one asking for appliances and refuses to gift me with anymore domestic gadgets. (When he bought me my Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer a few years ago, I was swooning. What a guy.) So this Christmas he gave me a Kindle instead. No complaints here; however, I was very surprised by the gift, not only because I didn’t get a Mr. Breadman, but because my husband and I had had multiple discussions about how we just weren’t sure if a Kindle would do it for us. We’re both avid readers and love the whole experience a book offers – not just how you immerse yourself in the words and sometimes a whole different world – but we love the way a book feels in our hands, the crisp, clean smell of a new book that reminds us of new beginnings, the musky smell of an old book that’s been in one of our families and read by those who came before us and is evidence that words – especially good, wise ones – are not ephemeral, the soft glow of a reading lamp over the pages (no glaring white screen or eye strain), and the satisfaction of closing a book you’ve finished and slipping it back onto the shelf.
My mom has had a Kindle since her back surgery in the summer of 2009. She was always raving about it (and still is) and said she didn’t miss old-fashioned books at all. During my book writing process, I did find the search function on my mom’s Kindle very helpful. There was a quote I loved from Mere Christianity, but I couldn’t find it in my hard copy. It took my mom all of five seconds to track down the words I wanted to use and reference in my book. I remained skeptical though. I’m never the first to jump on the technology bandwagon (I leave that to my husband), and remember scoffing at my new iPhone last spring. That little gadget has quickly become one of my favorite things. I love that I can easily check in email, carry my grocery list with me on it, teach phonics to my daughters, and carry my calendar everywhere. So I guess I’m an easy sell once I take the plunge.
Prior to Christmas, I had recently I started considering the benefits of a Kindle while traveling and the fact that I could read PDFs on it. Over the past year, I’ve had several friends ask me to read/edit their book manuscripts. One of them included a rather lengthy novel. I didn’t want to print out a gazillion pages, but reading the book on my computer screen wasn’t enjoyable to me. It felt artificial. That’s the only word I can come up with to describe reading a book on my computer (I’ve avoided really neat sounding e-books for this reason). Furthermore, I typically reading in the evening; yet, I was trying to limit the amount of time I spent on the computer at night because of how it can affect sleep. Not surprisingly, I kept putting off reading the book. I mentioned aloud to my husband that it might be nice to read e-book PDFs on a Kindle someday, but I also stressed that this seemed like a silly reason to splurge on the gadget. (It reminded me of how my dad decided an iPad might be a good gift for him because he would have a bigger screen for Angry Birds. Lucky man that he is he got his iPad. We all chipped in together to get him one – and he won one in a raffle, too. He’s in Angry Bird heaven.)
Well, Dave decided to go ahead and splurge (to the best of my knowledge, he did not see this, and I have to admit how happy I’ve been with the Kindle. I immediately downloaded Heather King’s Parched (per Betty and Melanie’s recommendation) and Son of Hamaas (per Jen’sParched while we were on the road. It’s portable, and it’s surprised me how much it feels and even looks like a book. And I do love the fact that I can read PDFs on it. Oh, and how great it is that I can download classics like Little Women (Oxford World’s Classics) (one book I don’t happen to have in my personal classics collection that I’ve been wanting to read to my girls) for free. A FREE (quasi) book I don’t have to return! The entire collection of G.K. Chesterton’s greatest works are one buck. One buck! I’m in book heaven. recommendation). Dave also got me a nifty cover for my Kindle that includes a book light, so the other night I was reading
But it’s not a book, of course, and we’ll still have plenty of the real thing on hand in our home. We even have a room in our new house that the previous owner set up as TV room that we call our library. It’s my favorite room in the house. It’s where I sneak way to on early mornings to read and play. It’s where the Madeline sometimes does her narrations for school. It’s where I read stories aloud to the bigger girls while Mary Elizabeth plays with wooden blocks or empties all those lovely books from the shelf. We’ve banned television or electronics (save listening to music or audio books) from the room. There are some puzzles for little hands, decks of cards stowed away in wicker boxes, hand painted saint dolls, and lots of lots of books.
Come to think of it, every single room except our formal dining room has at least a few books in it. We’ve moved several times over the past few years and during each move, I’ve purged. We have too much stuff, but we can never have too many books (that was one area I disagreed with in Simplicity Parenting when the author suggested having only a few books on hand. Pooey to that, I say!) Truth is, no matter how worn, dog-eared, old or stained a book was, it was designated to the “keep” pile. I just couldn’t part with any of our books. We’ve put IKEA bookshelves and now beautiful, built-in bookshelves to good use over the years and have stocked them liberally with literary treasures. Even as a toddlers, our children have a sense that books are special. And since kids are tactile, there’s no way I’m going to toss our books away and rely on the Kindle for all of our reading pleasure. They need to touch and feel books. They need picture books, too. Books where the eye candy is as beautiful as the words. Funny thing is, they don’t seem too interested in my Kindle. It doesn’t seem to hold the same appeal as real books (or my iPhone) for them.
The Kindle is wonderful. It really is. I like it way, way, way more than I ever thought I would, and I’m excited about downloading some audio books from Audible onto it. But I’ll always still need to hold a real book every now and then.
Well, I had every intention of this being a brief, list-inspired post (ha! hope I do a better job at holding myself to my intentions for the New Year), but I guess got a little carried away. I haven’t been in much of a mood to write lately, which is really weird for me, but it felt good to just sling some words out there.
If you’ve actually read this far, congratulations. If not, I understand. Go read a real book or download something new on your Kindle. If you’re looking for ideas, check out my reading list for 2010. The books are listed in no particular order. I wouldn’t strongly endorse every book I read this year, but I haven’t recently read a book that I hated or would tell someone to avoid. I wish I had time to write a review for all of the books, and I’d like to get back to writing more reviews, but I also need to sleep and sleep has been winning lately, which has been a good thing for my family and me.
All in all, it was a good reading year. I also discovered an interesting trend in my reading habits when I perused my list of books (which wasn’t divided into genres as I’ve done here). I used to almost exclusively read fiction, but I seem to be reading more and more nonfiction and memoirs. Not sure what that says about me or my life right now, but it caught my attention.
Please note that some of my 2010 books would fit into several genres, but I tried to place them in the genre that seemed to make the most sense to me. I’ve also read more chapter books aloud to the kids; I realized I didn’t keep track of all of them and when I tried to conjure up more titles, I came up blank.
I have a huge stack of books to read for 2011 as well as several on my wish list that I’ll likely download on my Kindle. I’d love to hear your recommendations. I wish Anne Tyler had a new book coming out; she’s probably one of my favorite fiction authors. If you’ve read anyone who’s Anne Tyler-ish, please do share.
The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison
A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot
Mother Teresa and Me by Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle
Chapter Book Read Alouds with My Kids (most of which I read as a child):
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lingren
UPDATE: Because this post really wasn’t long enough, I have a few more things to add. First, I totally forgot that I also read Rachel Balducci’s wonderful book, How to Tuck in a Superhero, which is geared toward moms of boys but is a good read for any parent. Really, its central theme is letting your children be whom they were created to be and accepting God’s plan for your family. Rachel writes with hit and humor, and her journalism background shows; the book is a conversation, quick read.
I should have mentioned as well that the links to the Kindle books I mentioned are not actually the Kindle versions of the books. You’ll have to search the Kindle storefront to purchase the Kindle books.
Finally, I forgot to link to the Kindle cover my husband got me, which I love. I got mine in blue, and the book light is perfect for reading while nursing a little one in the night or during night drives when you’re the passenger.