Reading What Others Have Written

Both my wife and I are big bedtime readers. We both have a stack of books and magazines on our nightstands at any given time. Sometimes they get so tall they fall over - a good sign that we should purge the pile and relegate the good ones to the "keeper" bookcase, and the average or bad ones to the basement Tupperware tote for later donation to goodwill or Literacy Services of Wisconsin.

At the moment I have four books going in varying stages of completeness. On top of that, I have a Sun Magazine going at work. I read that magazine cover to cover every month. Its stories are fantastic and there are zero ads. All memoir - most of it moving.

The four books include the genres of fiction, young adult fiction, Christian, and self-help. Here's a rundown of what's in them and where I'm at.

Jesus Cow, by Michael Perry

Arguably my favorite contemporary author, this is his second recent stab at fiction and I'm liking it a lot. The story is about a Wisconsin farmer that discovers a calf born to one of his cows has a likeness of Jesus on its side. To make matters worse, it was born on Christmas Eve. I'm not too far into it, but I like the developing plot very much. Small town fun.

Write Within Yourself, by William Kenower

I am only about 30 pages into this This book is referred to as an authors companion, which is a good way to refer to it. It has some incredible insights into the life of a writer. It's not a how-to book, but maybe more of a how-come book. How come we keep writing when it sometimes seems such a drudgery, or like we're faking it. It is one book I am taking in small bits - in a way to motivate me when I need it. Again, it will probably linger around my nightstand for a while like "The Right to Write, by Julia Cameron, did for so long.

Throne of Whelia, by Summer Hanford

I am about 100 pages into book three of the Thrice Born series. I stalled out there when I had to pick up Scavengers, by Michael Perry, and haven't really gotten back to it yet. It is a great read thus far, and I need to get back to it soon. The nice thing about that whole series is it takes me a zillion miles away into a complete fantasy land. The book follows the life of Ari, a prince in-training under the tutelage of Sir Cadwell. It takes you back in time and throws in magical elements that make for a great escape.

Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr

This is a great book, destined for the keeper bookcase. It describes the concept that, fundamentally. we have two phases of life. The first phase is built around the "self" and includes making our way and our mark in the world in a sort of self glorification mode. It includes the importance of institutions and education in the process. It is about the accumulation of things, skills and notoriety in the name of making ourselves.

Phase two is more about the revelation that we are part of a much bigger system and results in a shift in thinking. It's about not sweating the small stuff. It's not tied so much to age, but rather can be triggered by a significant event, tragedy or loss. It goes on to say that some people never get past the first phase of life (and I know a few) but if you're growing and maturing, you'll end up in that second phase by design. I've already finished it, but it is one of those books that I need to read again because each chapter is so packed with good information.

On top of all of these, I have a stack of books by other colleagues that I need to get to as well. I think I need a quiet beach home for a couple weeks.


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