Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Sort of Summer Reading List

Self Portrait

Summer books. We've seen the lists.

But do books really have seasons? I'm not so sure.

In any case, I know my soul has seasons with books. Take The Artist's Way, for instance. A few years back, someone suggested I read it. I flipped through and was unimpressed— not with the writing, but with any sense that this was a book for me.

Fast-forward to this spring, when I was revising God in the Yard. One editor said, "Have you ever read The Artist's Way? I think it's got a structure you might want to consider."

I sheepishly admitted that I'd never read the book, never even WANTED to read the book. Then I ordered it from the library.

As it turned out, it was perfect timing. I'm doing an art pilgrimage, after all, and had reached a point of stasis. So I began The Artist's Way, and I truly believe it has led to new directions, beautiful experiences, and even a cleaner closet.

So it seems The Artist's Way is a Spring book, at least this year, at least for me.

What are my Summer books? Here they are, according to the current season of my soul...

My Top 10 Summer Book Picks

1. The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I know I said this was a Spring book, but I am still reading it. Which makes it a Summer book as well.

In some ways this has been a hard book for me. It asks us to focus on ourselves, to understand and nurture ourselves. Are we worth it? What if we go overboard and get too selfish?

So far the book has only taken me to joyous places. I think it helps that I bring my musings to you, so this has essentially been a balanced, community experience. I also believe the book led me to make some wondrous turning-point decisions which I will someday share with you. Maybe next summer.

2. Barbies at Communion: and Other Poems. I'm always looking for good poetry. In fact, these days, I rarely buy anything but poetry (and prefer to get my other books from the library). But poetry is something I like to cart around, tab the pages in, and copy for friends. This delightful book even has a few summer poems. Here's one of my favorites...

It Is Never Enough

for Norm and Helena

I am thinking about waves coming into rocky shores,
crashing their way across crooked cliffs like a strange
continuous run of blue and white dominoes.

3. Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World's Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her. Since I was a participant in the celebration of Barbies at Communion, I went in search of a few good Barbie books.

I didn't have high hopes. But this book has been a real page turner for me, since it chronicles the rise of a business from zero to millions, including both amazing successes and stunning losses along the way. My own interest in growing an enterprise, along with my appreciation for good storytelling, is making this a timely read.

Plus, if you'll kindly notice by clicking through to Amazon and looking at the cover, Barbie has already shaved her legs for summer. :)

4. Why Translation Matters. I'm putting this on my list because Glynn recommended it. And I've been doing more reading of poetry-in-translation. And I agree. Translation matters. So the book is on hold at the library— you know, a little light reading to take the pool.

5. The Butterfly's Burden. I bought this recently, thanks to Maureen, best poetry advisor. Reading Darwish is like waking to a warm summer morning, when the dew is still on the grass. Wow. Here's a favorite excerpt...

from "Two Stranger Birds in Our Feathers"

... Tell me anything that changes the sky's
ashen color. Tell me some simple
talk, the talk a woman desires
to be told every now and then. Say
that two people, like you and me,
can carry all this resemblance between fog
and mirage, then safely return. My sky
is ashen, so what do you think of when the sky
is ashen?

6. Less Stress in 30 Days. Remember I said this list was seasonal, based on my current mental state? I figure I spent 30 days stressing my brain for the 31DBB Project, maybe I should spend 30 days coaxing it back to serenity. We'll see. This is just for fun— something I might blog about over on Green Inventions. Besides, this book is so relaxed for summer that it even went out of print.

7. Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian: More Than 650 Meatless Recipes from Around the World. I actually found this book in my basement, while doing a little summer cleaning (okay, so I was late for spring cleaning, what can I say?).

Anyway, I've been following the same 30-Day Meal Plan ever since I made it up about 5 years ago. Finding this cookbook, I suddenly felt inspired to ditch the Meal Plan for a while and go through this book in search of new meals. The Nigerian baked beans were completely out of this world. As was the Tex Mex chili made with a lentil base. Summer yum, here we come! :)

8. The Summer Book. It is hard not to include a book with a title like this, on a Summer Reading List. However, I'm not including it for its title, but rather for the simple reason that I'm rereading it. Jansson's prose is simple, beautiful, and often surprising. Like reading poetry (as often as possible), reading this kind of writing helps me be a better writer.

9. The Poets' Book of Psalms: The Complete Psalter as Rendered by Twenty-Five Poets from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Centuries. I'm enjoying this one, especially since every so once in a while I like to read the bible in a totally fresh way. This qualifies, though it's only the Psalms. But Psalms make great summer reading, since many of them include pastoral scenes (as in, beautiful outdoor, not the-guy-who-stands-at-the-pulpit.)

10. The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You. I have no idea if I'm going to like this book or not. It's on hold for me at the library. If it's good, I'll read it in a week. If not, I might use it as an impromptu pillow at the beach.

So there you have it. My Top 10 Summer Book Picks. What are yours?

Sunglasses photo, by L.L. Barkat.

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Blogger Heather said...

Oh, I have a feeling my wishlist is about to grow.

My group just finished Week 9 of The Artist's Way. That was the Compassion week. While we discussed, we painted Jeans for Justice. Like you, this book had turned up before and I always shot it down. I did The Creative Call two or three times, but never Artist's Way. However, it has been perfect timing this go round. I love how books do that.

I am spending my summer in Middle Earth. I think I will go blog about summer reading now. Thanks for the inspiration.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Louise Gallagher said...

I am reading Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish's I shall Not Hate -- and it is stunning and eye-opening and sad and not sad all in one. There is hope -- and he definitely is a beacon of hope.

Like your list -- must go work on mine -- and must re-do the Artist's Way -- I started and stalled and restarted and stalled it many years ago. time to embrace and commit.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Love your poetry book suggestions. I never know where to start there are so many.
My reading list for June:
-"The Magnificent Obsession" by Anne Graham Lotz - a look at the faith of Abraham {love this book}
-"Life Together" by Deitrich Bonhoeffer
-"A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller
-"God in the Yard" by LL Barkat {read the first two chapters and I had to put it much to digest and process I don't want to miss anything, taking it slow}

These are all my library finds except for "God in the Yard" which is that glorious community book. I'm a bit of a book worm.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

I'm so glad you found your way to Darwish Mahmoud, as translated by Fady Joudah. Thank you for the shout-out.

I've been thinking of doing a post on what I'm reading now -- never just one book -- and this is a lovely little nudge.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Ann Kroeker said...

Pass on what you learn, okay? At Green Inventions or here or at HCB, because none of us can read it all.

My list is a mish-mash of unrelated titles.

I'll put it together today. You'll see how ping-pongy I really am, bouncing from one random topic to another.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

I recently started the Artist's Way, too. It was recommended a few months ago, and I picked it up not sure I would commit to the process right now -- summer doesn't seem a good time for it. We'll see how it goes... if it doesn't work out for summer, maybe fall?

12:08 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

Such an interesting list, and unexpected in many ways.

I tried The Artist's Way, but I guess I have a winter heart, as it did not resonate for me. But I could see why others love it.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LL -- You, Ann, and the growing stack of books on my kitchen table convinced me to put together my own list over at my blog. So glad God in the Yard arrived just in time to make the list. I am really excited to read it.

10:37 PM  
Blogger SimplyDarlene said...

Thanks for the ideas. Now I will take the time at the library to step out of the kiddo section and find something just for me ;-)


11:25 PM  
Blogger Nichole said...

hmmm... Artist's Way sounds interesting, will have to keep that in mind. Cool pic.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

You exercised self-control :) I really wanted to shorten mine, but I kept finding more!! I am book crazy. I just love sharing that with this community. Thanks for this. I'll be exploring, adding to the ever-growing list!

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Artists Way sounds very intriguing. Also your turning point, even more so. Now you have to spill the beans.

Let me know how that business book of business books is. I'll be curious.

(and thanks for the nice comment on my list!)

11:03 PM  
Blogger TUC said...

The Artist's Way, hmmm, I admit I own it and haven't read it. But now I am tempted at least :-)

8:34 AM  
Blogger Michelle DeRusha said...

Wow, that's a lot of books! I find these days I can only squeeze in about a book a month -- sad, I know.

Anyway, I'm reading The Whole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns and The Book Thief (forget the author) right now (two at once!). Both are awesome.

And I am making my way through Acts, too, during my morning reading time.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Michelle DeRusha said...

Sorry...that's "The HOLE in Our Gospel." Duh.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

You are such a good friend to include my book here.

I have to say the title Less Stress in 30 Days kind of stresses me out...

But I'm curious about that one. Also the 100 Business Books. That sounds too good to be true. As a former teacher, I wonder, is it cheating to read the Cliff Notes? Or does cheating only count in an academic setting where we are trying to teach tone and sophisticated sentence structure...

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Debby/Gatekeeper said...

Wow, I need to expand my list of genre. Don't think I've ever heard of any of these books.

2:58 AM  
Blogger Bonnie said...


I'm stuck on that book that make you clean your closet. Oh my. Oh my.
Try reading Andy Catlett: Early Wendell Berry wrote me for my lit. class. Plus Luci Shaw's Harvesting Fog.

I will try to see how I can get my closet clean!How inspiring!

1:33 PM  

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