My Half-Way Through Summer Reading List: Books I Have Read, Am Reading, or Intend to Read in These Warm Months

Compass of Affection by Scott Cairns (poetry): This slim volume of new and collected poems has been on my shelf for years. I’ve dabbled in it, but have never read it cover to cover. I’ve picked it up again because a.) Annie Dillard calls Cairns “one of the best poets alive,” and b.) because Cairns penned of one of my all-time favourite terms of endearments (from God to humanity): “beloved numbskulls.”

What a Plant Knows, A Field Guide to the Senses by Daniel Chamovitz (non-fiction, science): This book was one of Amazon’s Ten Best Science and Math Books of 2012. So of course I’m reading it. Actually, I’ve never read a Math book for pleasure and Science books only make my reading list if they are fascinating and accessible to art majors – this one seems both. Here’s a bit of a summary from the back cover: “an intriguing look at how plants themselves experience the world—from the colors they see to the schedules they keep…Chamovitz encourages us all to consider whether plants might even be aware.” Hmmmm!

My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman (memoir): Oh my goodness! I recently finished this amazing book and I am still reeling (in a good way). Christian Wiman served as editor of Poetry magazine (the most prestigious poetry gig going). Not so much a narrative sort of memoir, but paragraph-long musings on faith, doubt, love and hope, all set against the backdrop of Wiman’s devastating cancer diagnosis and prognosis, this book required a thinking cap, but the mental effort is so worth it. As I read I felt my heart/soul/insides expand to near bursting. And throughout the last chapter I wept.

Medicine River by Thomas King (novel): Another book that has been on my shelf for years. I grabbed this one on my way out the door for our annual holiday on Galiano Island because it looked like good beach reading. And it was. It’s the story of a good-hearted, generous half-Blackfoot man who bumbles along with little self-awareness but bucket loads of kindness. It’s also the story of family, community, identity, love and healing.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery (Children’s lit): Can you believe my kids (aged 12 and 14) had never read or been read this book? When I discovered this horrifying fact a few weeks ago I set out to remedy the situation pronto. We finished reading it aloud last night. It was as good as I remembered.

Inner Compass, an Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality by Margaret Silf (non-fiction, spiritual formation): This book is a layman’s Jesuit/Ignatian Theology and Practice 101. While the writing style is a bit clunky, the practical exercises have been helpful especially the insights on consolation and desolation.

Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson (non-fiction, marriage): Attachment theory meets marriage advice. Johnson is a psychologist and the creator of the groundbreaking Emotionally Focused Therapy. Throw out all that advice you've read about unpacking your childhoods, learning how to argue better, making grand romantic gestures. ”Instead," says Johnson, "get to the emotional underpinnings of your relationship…” Just finished this one last night too. Really good.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Word? The Epic Saga of the Bird That Powers Civilization by Andrew Lawler (non-fiction, journalism/natural history): Here’s the blurb from the jacket: "Why did the Chicken Cross the World presents the sweeping history that this humble fowl deserves. Queen Victoria was obsessed with it. Socrate’s last words were about it. Charles Darwin and Louis Pasteur made their scientific breakthroughs using it. Catholic popes, African shamans, Chinese philosophers, and Muslim mystics praised it. Neuroscientists studying the long-abused chicken brain are uncovering signs of a deep intelligence as well as insights into our own behavior.” This is why I’m reading it. And because one reviewer said that it reads like a mystery novel. And because we keep chickens.

What are you reading, Blog Chums?

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