Wednesday, May 18, 2016

These Things Hidden

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf is the author's second book.  I did not relate nor care
much for the characters in the book.  And the story was half-interesting to me.  I only picked it up to read as I was in-between "good" books to read.  I was hoping for more from this book.

The book is the story of a young high school girl, Allison, who was sent to prison for an undisclosed crime.  She is pretty much written off by her family after that.   Allison had a younger sister, Brynn, who was left to deal with the embarrassment each day as she continued school.

Suddenly, Allison was released from prison and sent to a halfway house in her hometown.  She got a part-time job at a local bookstore and continued to attempt to have some communication or contact with her sister, who would have nothing to do with her.  Brynn was part of whatever happened one night that sent Allison to prison. 

As Allison works at the bookstore, things begin to unfold and truths are discovered.

It was an alright read, but not one of my favorites at all.

Follow Your Heart

I have been working on clearing out some of my books, which has been both painful and joyful.  It is hard to not get distracted as I pull each book our and decided "keep or not".
But in going with joy, the weeding out has been quite successful so far.  However, I do  believe it will be a never-ending challenge.

Anyway, as I was working on a section of bookshelves, I came across a thin little book called Follow Your Heart by Susanna Tamaro.  I read the jacket and decided that I needed to read the book again and then make a decision about stay or go for that particular book.

The book came out in English in 1996, so I probably read it about twenty years ago.  It was originally written in Italian and won "the coveted Premio Donna Citta di Roma".

The story grabbed me right elderly Italian woman was writing a letter to her beloved granddaughter, who had gone off to America on an adventure.  The old woman knew that she was nearing death and had no intention of sending the letter as she didn't want her granddaughter to give up her time in America and come back to her.  But she did want to leave her story (the letter) for her granddaughter.

The book covers three generations and is a moving testament to a woman's life, her struggles and her loves.   She shares all this in the letter with the message to her granddaughter that no matter what happens, in the end, follow your heart.

It's a nice simple quick read (I read it in one evening), and a good story.  I'm glad that I reread it, but now I can let it go on to someone else!

More Reading on Spirituality

I have recently finished four books in my daily readings.  I really liked three of them, the fourth not as much. Here they are:

1) Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly.  Yes, I really, really like Matthew Kelly's writing and this
book was no exception.  I wish that I would have used it during Lent and will from now on.  It is divided into forty sections. Each section is only two or three pages, then ends with a page that has Points to Ponder, Verse to Live, Question to Consider, and Prayer. The book is designed to bring the reader closer to Jesus and to learn more about themselves and how they want to live their live.  I found it incredibly moving and useful.

2) The next book that I read was Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.  It is a book recommended by Matthew Kelly for spiritual reading.  The subtitle is The Path to Spiritual Growth. 
I had a bit of a hard time in the beginning of my reading trying to figure out what the author meant by "the disciplines".  It just didn't ring familiar with my Catholic knowledge, so I wasn't sure what exactly her was talking about.  I sometimes (ok, often) tend to think too hard about something and that gets me lost.  That's what I was doing here, I think.  I believe that disciplines are from the author's Quaker background.  That makes sense to me.  Regardless, once I was able to just move past my confusion about "disciplines", I loved the book.  This book was written in 1978...thirty-eight years ago. It is now considered a classic in Spirituality.

The book is divided into three sections.  The first section considers the inward disciplines which are mediation, prayer, fasting and study.  The second section considers simplicity, submission, solitude and service. These are the outward disciplines.  And the third section is about the corporate disciplines of confession, worship, guidance and celebration.

Although the book appears to be written about the Quaker way, the author does a great job incorporating how the subject matter would tie in or work in other faiths.  He incorporates many different spiritual leaders thoughts, such as Thomas Merton, a Benedictine mystic, and St. Francis of Assisi, to name a few. I ended up highlighting what seemed to be half the book.  It is a very good read for studying spirituality.

3) And then I went on to Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody by Allen R. Hunt. This is a
powerful, wonderful, small book of eleven short chapters.  At the end of each chapter is a page that contains Questions for Discussion and Real Life Help. Each chapter tells a story about forgiveness and how working to forgive others frees us.

An example of Real Life Help from one of the chapters:
"Resolve today that you will be a forgiver.  Even if you have no idea how, decide to be a forgiver anyway.  It is much like learning to ride a bike. You only learn to forgive as you begin doing it.  Set your mind and your spirit on forgiveness.  Often, the one thing that most prevents moving forward is not being able to decide, 'I am choosing to be  a forgiver'.  Choose forgiveness today."

4) And most recently, I read Made for More by Curtis Martin.  My take on this book was that the author was trying to prove that Jesus was God.  And a lot of the book
was interesting as he looked at both sides of issues.  I really only enjoyed the very last chapter, which was the author's "personal search for truth". I found the book to be very Catholic oriented, so be fore-warned.