Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fleeting Freedom

Where have I been since my last post? Let's see. I started in Burl, Texas. Became a student in a writing class in New Mexico. Traveled to Rome. And have just learned about Sabbath rest.

And I haven't left my house.

I've finished at least six books over the past few weeks. To those of you who speedread, this isn't much of an accomplishment. For me, it translates to lots of bottom on chair (or bed) time.

I taste every single word from the inside jackets, to the dedications, to the forewords, to where the author is currently residing. I guess it comes from too much time in the classroom. Or more precisely, too many pop quizzes on minute details--the ones that enable the teacher to see if students actually read the material. I did, and now I know no other way of reading.

So why the sudden reading marathon? It's driven by the fear that I won't get to read much for pleasure once I start teaching next month. There'll be a mountain of drafts to peruse and mark up each week. And so the desire to devour my bookstack consumes me right now.

Before I head back to the stack, I thought I'd leave you with a few book recommendations while I'm in the blogging muse. You can always check the right margin to see what I'm reading and what I recommend, but I thought I'd add some of my favorite paragraphs here as well.

Mary E. DeMuth's Wishing on Dandelions (set in Burl, Texas) is the follow-up to her debut novel Watching the Tree Limbs. I found this second book much easier to read because the material is somewhat lighter, though there are glimpses back to Maranatha's past. There are love stories gallore in this book, and I hope that Mary will write a third book to let us know what Maranatha does next.

Anthony Doerr's Four Seasons in Rome is beautifully written. Every word choice must have been excruciating because he is not one to ramble yet he paints incredible pictures with his stream-of-consciousness prose. Here's one of my favorite paragraphs:

You find your way through a place by getting lost in it. Winter in Rome is a breath of daylight, then limestone and shadow: light glowing behind closed shutters as though stacks of gold are hoarded inside. In a window in Campo Marzio, not far from Augustus's sundial, two thousand silk neckties, each in its own cubbyhole, shine like tropical birds. In San Lorenzo, east of the train station, we drink hot chocolate thick as oil. At the Holy Staircase, a half mile from the Colosseum, where Christian pilgrims are supposed to asend twenty-eight marble steps on their knees, we see a man furtively tuck a folded newspaper behind his shins as he climbs. (p. 87)

I don't think I've underlined a nonfiction book (other than a textbook) as much as I did The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. His examples of Sabbath rest are thoughtful and practical. Here's a glimpse of his writing:

Sabbath is the stranger you've always known. It's the place of homecoming you've rarely or never visited, but which you've been missing forever. You recognize it the moment you set eyes on it. It's the gift that surprises you, not by its novelty, but by its familiarity. It's the song you never sang but, hearing it now, know inside out, its words and melody, its harmonies, its rhythm, the way the tune quickens just before the chorus bursts. It's been asleep in you all
this time, waiting for the right kiss to wake it. (p. 104)

And now back to the books.


Madison Richards said...

Wow. Great recommendations! Just went online and reserved Four Seasons in Rome based on that beautiful paragraph...Thanks so much for sharing!

Krista said...

Well, I just added books to my list! Just can't decide in which order!! Thanks for sharing.

"Bluebonnet in the snow" said...

MR & K - Anytime. I relish great book recommendations, so feel free to share your favorites as well.