What’s on your Nightstand?
In honor of National Read Across America Day (celebrated on Saturday March 2nd), we thought we would share a selection of the books we are reading at the moment. Hope you find something to add to your list.
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” – Anne of Green Gables. Even though I was an avid reader as a child, somehow I never read Anne of Green Gables. In fact, I didn’t really know much of anything about it. In recent months, I kept running across references to this book, so I decided that it was time to find out what I had been missing! Anne’s grit, positive outlook and love of imagination are good lessons for us all!
I am about halfway through Unfinished Business, an analysis of cultural assumptions about work life and family life. I am interested in how cultural norms of valuing work impact primary caregivers in families. The author, Anne-Marie Slaughter, is a mother and a legal international relations scholar. While she was the director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department, she chose a less time intensive career option to be home more for her teenage son. She shares her personal experiences, the stories of others, and observations of other experts to support the cultural transformation needed for equally valuing caregiving as an integral part of a working person’s life.
I tend to have on my nightstand at any given time several books that I am in the process of reading. Just as we may choose to watch television shows and movies based on our mood and preferences at the moment, I take the same approach to my reading selections. In addition to my Bible, which I try to keep on my nightstand for daily reading and reflection, three of the books I am presently in the process of reading are The Whistlerby John Grisham, The Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry, and Swear to God: The Promise and Power of the Sacramentsby Scott Hahn.
The Whistler involves a clandestine whistle-blower, as well as a courageous female judicial misconduct agent who faces unknown and potentially life-threatening circumstances as she delves deeper and deeper into an investigation of a corrupt judge involved in an elaborate money skimming/laundering scheme conducted by an organized crime network at a Native American casino. I always enjoy John Grisham’s discussion of law and lawyers and his emphasis on right and wrong. I do hope that there are some twists and turns along the way, as I have found in the vintage Grisham novels. The Plant Paradox is both a scientific and practical approach to determining the foods we should and should not eat for our overall health based on the human body’s negative reaction to a plant protein called lectin. It remains to be seen whether I will buy-into and attempt to carry out in my diet the author’s prescribed and somewhat drastic approach to food inclusion and exclusion. Swear to God discusses the Catholic Church’s seven sacraments and the power they have to change lives and save souls. This is one of a series of Scott Hahn books and others I am reading to deepen my understanding of the Catholic faith, the Truths and teachings of the Bible, and how I should consequently live my life.
I guess these books are reflective of some of the areas where my interests are currently concentrated, including immersing myself in some law-related fiction for entertainment, learning about nutrition and how diet affects our overall health and well-being, improving myself, and strengthening my faith. If I only could make more time for reading…
We recently welcomed twins at our house so I don’t have much time to read for pleasure. I did just get the book World Without Endby Ken Follett. It is a sequel to Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth. I read The Pillars of the Earthseveral years ago and really enjoyed the development of the characters. I hope to find time to read a few pages in between children’s stories and baby bottles!
Having two young children, most of my nighttime reading is from children’s books. It’s always fun to see which books my daughter will choose, and while several have been committed to memory by both of us, they are still fun and a great way to wind down the day.
For my own reading, I have recently finished The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. The book is a collection of 31 “letters” from Screwtape, a senior demon, to his nephew Wormwood, a junior demon. Through the letters, we learn the uncle is apparently mentoring his nephew as it pertains to a “patient”—a human living during World War II. While highly satirical, the book portrays the battle between good and evil for a human soul. Two of my favorite quotes from the book are (Screwtape writing to Wormwood):
“You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption 'My time is my own'. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright… The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd that, if once it is questioned, even we cannot find a shred of argument in its defence. The man neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels.”
“We have trained them to think of the Future as a promised land which favoured heroes attain — not as something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”
I actually have 9 books in process right now. But two that I am enjoying are metaphors be with you (sic) by Dr. Mardy Grothe. This book is several things, but is overall an enjoyable exploration of how metaphors, similes and analogies are such powerful writing and speaking tools. There are many great examples and it ties to a website with more content through QR codes printed throughout the book. The other is my trusty LGB Track Planning and Technical Guide that I read over and over looking for new ideas for my model train layout. Sheldon Cooper is not the only person who enjoys trains.
The last three books I’ve read are a pretty good survey of what I like to read. The first was the Fall and Rise of China by Richard Baum. It is one of the Great Courses series. That series provides college level lectures about a variety of topics. I like to pick ones that fill in areas that I want to know more about. Speaking of filling in knowledge gaps, I must admit that there are quite a few classics that I have never read. I like to go back and pick up one of those from time to time as well. That brings me to the second book, Sherlock Holmes, the Definitive Collectionby Arthur Conan Doyle. The third book is at least nominally science fiction, and it’s the one I’m reading right now. It’s the latest book in David Weber’s Safehold series. I enjoy the genre and like to keep a modern fiction book in the rotation as well. One final note. To be honest all of these are audiobooks. Since we read so much as a part of our jobs, for relaxation, I prefer the narration and to be able to “read” during commutes.
I always have a “fun” read and a personal development read on my nightstand. My current personal development book is Get Better, 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work. Todd Davis, Chief People Officer at FranklinCovey is the author. One of my favorite quotes from the book is from Thomas Kuhn who wrote “All significant breakthroughs are break-withs old ways of thinking.” It is a nice reminder that I need to change the way I think before I can change the way I act or react.