28 February 2017

Books Have Much to Say

Books have much to say, and there is power behind the words written between these covers.

Recently, I have been finishing books that leave me inspired and thoughtful. These are pages I have longed to get back to during the day, and find myself fully indulging with at night. In these books, I've had questions raised, longings bemused, musings that linger, and insights into lives and stories.

Here are a few of my recently completed books, and a little snippet from each one to entice you to pick it up as well:

Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson

The poems compiled here are all from snippets found on envelopes or scraps of paper. Each page shows a snapshot of the real poem in her handwriting, and then a typed version is supplied on the opposing page, because her handwriting is a little difficult to read. Oftentimes I imagine she was scribbling these lines when her thoughts were working on a poem. So, the envelopes become a jotting place, pulled from her stack of mail on her desk, and therefore not neatly written. When paper is scarce, you use every scrap you can when you need to write, She probably had words in her head all the time, as I feel most of the time, and those words need to get out. These are the random jots where new poems fused in her mind. They are scraps of images and ideas that tantalize the imagination.

As there are apartments in our own minds
that we never enter without apology -
we should respect the seals of others -

Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner

In our modern twenty-first century life, we are always chasing that which is faster, better, newer, and flashier. We jump on the bandwagon of our American culture so quickly, and we later realize that we don't even care about what is being done on that bandwagon. We buy just to buy, to accumulate, and look good to others. We try so hard to keep up appearances, to impress people we don't even like! Erin shares her story of all the years of struggle she has gone through with this, and it's still an ongoing process. It is refreshing to read that, as she became a well-known blogger and HGTV star. She was stressed all the time, trying to keep up. A more simplified, minimalist lifestyle is what she moved to, and she's much happier. Her tale is the tale of many, resonating with this modern culture of always being connected via social media and always having something to say that meets the audience expectation.

Busyness is a byproduct of our culture. It is the sacrifice we make for our religion of more, for our perfectionist tendencies, for our temptation to overschedule, overinform, overprovide.
But the answer is not to lower the expectations we have created.
The answer, I believe, is to live up to the expectations we have been created for.

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

I wrote a separate post on this book recently, because it was such a charming book. 

"So that they learn not to rush, to do one thing after another. So as to train them in restraint, patience, silence, and mindfulness in every gesture." He paused. "You must be wondering why I'm telling you this. It's because this is the spirit in which to set out on a journey - any journey. If you travel in a hurry, without pausing or resting, you'll return without having found what you're looking for."

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

I know I have written some posts about this book at some point, but with this third or fourth reading, it was even better than before. It is more like a history of a world, breezing through the beginning of time and space, through thousands of years of history and three ages of time. As Eru Ilúvatar (the God of Tolkien's world) creates the universe, the first beings help bring forth the rest of creation with their songs. The blending of music is a beautiful image and scene to behold, and the idea of Ilúvatar using all the sounds (even the noisy clanging sounds of Melkor) to blend into a harmonious melody that used every piece is such a reminder of our God who can use whatever we give Him. Ill intended as Melkor's music was, Ilúvatar used it for good. As history unfolds, we learn about the creation of elves and men (both were the highest and most loved of the beings), how the dwarves were created, and how out of the immortal Ainur, some selected to exist down on Middle-earth among the creation, including the supreme evil Morgoth (Melkor), who was the most powerful, seeking more power and total dominion. These are the tales of wars, the sad tales of immortal elves, the power-seeking tales of men, the love-driven tale of Beren and Lúthien, and how the gods intervened by sinking a whole civilization and their island. Reading these tales (which all precede The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) explains a lot of things that you don't fully understand as you read the later stories. I love to see the puzzle pieces fall into place that I may have wondered about in later stories.

Then Beren and Lúthien went through the Gate, and down the labyrinthine stairs; and together wrought the greatest deed that has been dared by Elves or Men. For they came to the seat of Morgoth in his nethermost hall, that was upheld by horror, lit by fire, and filled with weapons of death and torment.

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