Links and Thinks: June 26, 2013

Booked: Reading My Way Back to Faith by Jessica Griffith.

“Reading is a form of prayer; I know. Divine reading, lectio divina, is a way of communion with God in scripture, the Living Word. But is it wrong that I’ve had more profound experiences of God’s presence reading Anna Karenina, Middlemarch, Kristin Lavransdatter, and my children’s copies of Frog and Toad?”

Welcome to the Mental Ward by Anthony Esolen.

Perhaps it is sex that has driven us mad. I think rather it must be boredom. We are so bored, we not only cannot be bothered to remember what our opponents say. We cannot be bothered to remember what we ourselves say.

Sex Without Bodies by Andy Crouch.

Marriage, which has always been “unequal,” yoking together two very different kinds of bodies, must now be “equal,” measured only by the sincerity of one’s love and commitment. To insist on the importance of bodies is to challenge the sovereign self, to suggest that our ethical options are limited by something we did not choose.
There is one other consistent position that Christians can hold, though we will hold it at great social cost, at least for the foreseeable future: that bodies matter. Indeed, that both male and female bodies are of ultimate value and dignity—not a small thing given the continuing denigration of women around the world.”

How I Changed my Mind about Abortion by Julia Herrington.

“. . . abortion actually oppresses women. Procedurally what abortion requires is the silencing of a woman’s body and the unmitigated dismissing of her gender. We’ve accepted abortion as a right that celebrates a woman’s ownership of her body. But the procedure necessarily requires that a woman deny her gender by silencing and disallowing a natural and distinguishing result of womanhood. In every other facet of feminism, we celebrate a woman’s body, we honor her identity as a female. But abortion ignores her femininity . . .”

Themes Meme

Last year on 12/12/12, I wrote about some of the “themes” or Big Ideas that keep popping up here on the blog and in my life, themes such as books, community, prayer, and the foundational “theme of my song”, Jesus.

Now a couple of other blogger friends have picked up on my post and written their own list of life themes:

Barbara at Stray Thoughts writes about homemaking and ministry and of course, books.

Carrie at Reading to Know adds a song for each of her themes.

I don’t know if one can call it a meme if only three people so far have participated; however, I did enjoy getting to know Carrie and Barbara a little better through the medium of blogging about life themes. If you write about your life motifs or some variation thereof, please leave a comment. I’d like to link to your list and get to know you a little better, too.

55 Bookish Things I Want to Do Before I Die

Love at First Book: 50 Bookish Things to do Before YOu Die.
The Book Wheel: 50 Bookish Things to do Before You Die.

What a lovely, list-y meme. I had to participate, but of course, I’m listing 55 things in keeping with my own personal number of the year.

'Little Free Library, Carr Ave.' photo (c) 2013, Memphis CVB - license: Create my own Little Free Library.

2. Go to a book blogging conference.

3. Have a book-themed party or tea.

4. Host an in-person book club.

5. Meet 20 authors. 20 is an arbitrary number, but I’d like to meet some of the authors whose books I love.

6. Make blog bookmarks.

7. Write thank you notes to authors whose books make a difference.

8. Get 1,000 books donated to Kazembe Orphanage.

9. Read a book about every U.S. President.

10. Read all of the Newbery Honor books and Award books that I can find.

11. Read one book from or about every country of the world. I made this map a couple of years ago but then I forgot about it. I need to add all of the books I’ve read with links to reviews.

12. Record videos of children’s books being read aloud for the internet.

13. Vist as many libraries and bookstores as I can in as many cities as I can.

14. Give out ALL lots of business cards.

15. Read a poem a day. Out loud. For a year.

16. Read the Bible all the way through every year and takes notes in my personal copy.

'NPL' photo (c) 2012, NPL Newburyport Public Library - license: Set up and open a private subscription library for homeschoolers in my home.

18. Visit Oxford and see all the C.S. Lewis/Tolkien/Inkling sites.

19. Read to my grandchildren. I don’t actually have any grandchildren. My adult children are not even married. But someday.

20. Finish writing and self-publish my second book, Picture Book Around the World.

21. Finish writing and self-publish my third book, Picture Book Science.

22. Inspire a non-reader to love books by helping him or her to find the perfect gateway book.

23. Have a book of the month club for my adult children and other relatives in which I send them each a book every other month especially selected with that person in mind.

24. Abandon books after 50 pages if they don’t capture my interest—unless I want to keep reading.

25. Travel across the U.S.A with Engineer Husband while listening to audiobooks. This travel is a part of my retirement plan.

26. Actually listen to at least one audiobook all the way through. I have a short attention span when it comes to audiobooks, but I might be able to change that. See #25.

27. Go on a weekend reading retreat with just me, myself, and my books. No tech.

28. Go to a book signing.

29. Go to a poetry slam.

30. Read at least one book in Spanish all the way through. I did this in college, but I’d like to do it again just to prove that I still can.

31. Give away books on World Book Night. I actually did give away books for WBN last year (Peace Like a River by Leif Enger), and I’m set to give away again this year (The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan). But I’d really like to do this every year.

32. Read a book out loud with Engineer Husband. We did this when we were newlyweds, but now that we’re almost senior citizens, I think it’s time to renew the practice.

33. Continue to keep a record of what I’ve read here at the blog. Continue blogging. I will celebrate my tenth anniversary for Semicolon in October of this year. I’d like to celebrate twenty or thirty years someday.

34. Go through all of the books on my bookshelves and give away all the books I don’t want to own anymore.

35. Have a year where I actually read one book every day. The author of Tolstoy and the Purple Chair does this, and I think it would be loads of fun—after I get all the urchins raised and out of the house.

36. Have a year when I actually watch NO TV, not because I think television is evil or even a waste of time. I would just like to see what effect it would have on my life to go an entire year without television or movies. Maybe this would be the same year as #35.

37. Finish reading the books on my Classics Club list.

38. Complete the 40 Trash Bag Challenge. Bookish? Yes, because some of those “trash bags” need to be boxes full of books to donate.

39. Meet 20 Texas book bloggers. If I did #2 I might be able to meet lots of book bloggers. That would be so much fun.

40. Finish reading, or at least checking out, all of the books on my TBR list. I can only complete this action item before I die if I quit putting more books ON the list at some arbitrary time. Maybe when I celebrate my 90th birthday? Then, I just read books I’ve already put on the list.

41. Invite 100 bloggers to participate in the Saturday Review of Books link-up. Anyone can participate. If you are reading this post and you blog about books, you are invited.

42. Build a window seat in my house for reading.

43. Read every single thing C.S. Lewis ever wrote. Carefully and thoughtfully.

44. Host a book-to-movie book club for teens in which they must first read the book and then we watch the movie together.

45. Interview some authors for my blog. This item is rather non-specific, but I’d really like to do this and learn how to do it well.

46. Work in a bookstore just for a little while, just for fun.

47. Finish re-reading Les Miserables. I got stuck in the middle. I think I need a paper copy instead of my ebook Kindle copy.

48. Finish “reading through Africa.” This goal relates to #11, but it’s different because I’m exploring a different part of Africa each year. In 2012, I read books set in Northern Africa. This year I’m reading books from West Africa. I have three more regions to visit, and then I might turn around and start again because I didn’t hit every country.

'New York City Public Library' photo (c) 2011, Rande Archer - license: Develop a habit of reading the Bible in the mornings before I do anything else. I’m not a morning person. Maybe this goal isn’t workable, but I’d like to try.

50. Go back to the Texas Book Festival in Austin. I went several years ago, but it just hasn’t been possible in the last few years. The 2013 festival is scheduled for October 26-27. Maybe this fall.

51. Write a poem. A good poem that I’m proud to share with others.

52. Visit the Library of Congress.

53. Visit the New York Public Library.

54. Read all of the books I want to read.

55. Give away all of my books to people who will enjoy and appreciate them. This last thing I will do when I’m old and when I enjoy giving the books away more than I enjoy loaning, recommending, re-reading, and looking things up.

Encouraging and thoughtful links

On humility. I wonder what people will say about me after I’m dead and gone to be with the Lord. I pray that my story will glorify Him.

On fearlessness in life and parenting.

I Come to Bury Keats, Not to Praise Him by Doug McKelvey at The Rabbit Room. An excellent essay on truth, beauty, romanticism and meaning.

Bags We Love: A collection of bookstore and literary tote bags, curated by Julie Blattberg (HarperCollins). I actually own two of these bags.

Deb Nance at Reader Buzz on Little Libraries. When Engineer Husband retires, I’m going to beg him to build me one of these little wooden boxes for a Little Free Library of my own. I think the idea is beautiful, such a community-builder.

How To Grow a Man Without Even Trying (Poetry Memorization) Cindy always has such inspiring, yet practical, posts about homeschooling for excellence. Heaven knows, I could use some down-to-earth inspiration about now in my homeschooling journey. Sometimes I wonder if anything I try really gets through those thick skulls, including my own.

10 Essential Books for Book Nerds at Flavorwire. The list includes a couple that I have read (The Book Thief,) and several that I haven’t.

56 Broken Kindle Screens. Art out of broken stuff.

Finally, I don’t want to just link to this sermon by Tullian Tchividjian. I want to embed it here because it’s so true, and so encouraging, and so real. The title of the sermon is God’s Two Words for a Worn-Out World.

Liberate 2013 – Tullian Tchividjian from Coral Ridge | LIBERATE on Vimeo.

12/12/12: Themes of My Life

These are the twelve themes or ideas or motifs that God has placed in my heart, and consequently the 12 Big Ideas that appear most often here on Semicolon.

1. Books. I have a houseful of books I read lots and lots of books, probably over 100 per year. I love books; I live inside books. I write about books here at Semicolon a lot. Some of my favorite booklists (may be helpful for last minute Christmas gifts?):
Reading Out Loud: 55 Favorite Read Aloud Books from the Semicolon Homeschool.
History and Heroes: 55 Recommended Books of Biography, Autobiography, Memoir,and History
Giving Books: Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction.
Giving Books: FOr the nieces and other girls in your life.
Nine Series for Nine Year Old Boys.
Narnia Aslant: A Narnia-Inspired Reading List.
Books for Giving (to kids who want to grow up to be . . .)
Best Spine-Tinglers
Best Journeys
Best Laughs
Best Crimes

2. Family, particularly large families. I have eight children. Five are grown-ups, and three are still growing. Actually, we’re all still growing. I don’t write as much about my children as I do about my books, privacy and all that jazz. But having a large family and seeing God through the joys and difficulties of large family life is one of the major themes of my life.

3. Community. Through family, yes, but also through the church, the neighborhood in which I live, and even through the blog-world, the experience of community is very important to me. I’m interested in community as an ideal, and I’m also interested in little communities that form around hobbies, intellectual pursuits, ethnic identities, and other kinds of people-glue. I want to know how a subculture develops around a shared interest like bicycling or collecting butterflies or playing Scrabble (Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis) or any other random interest, how those communities work and how they coalesce, what the rules are and how they resolve conflict.

4. The Bible. God’s Word has been a part of my life since I was a preschooler, and my mother read to me from the book of Genesis. I still remember how exciting and suspenseful the story of Joseph was, and how I wanted to know what would happen next. I have read the Bible numerous times, studied it alone and in groups, and still I find treasure, hope, reassurance, and life in the words of history, prophecy, poetry, gospel, and letters in the Bible. The Bible is the central book in my life, by which standard all the many, many other stories that I read stand and fall.

5. Prayer. God is still working out this theme in my life. I’m 55 years old, and I still long to know what it means to really, really pray. If God knows and has preordained everything that happens, why pray? I think part of what it means is to communicate the desires and depths of my heart in language, that God-given means of communication and organization. If I can put my inchoate feelings and thoughts into words and tell them to a God who really, really cares, then I participate in the creation of meaning somehow. I participate in God’s work on earth through prayer.

6. Language. We create community through language. God communicates with us and we with Him, mediated by language. The Word became flesh. What does that mean? We are creatures who speak a language, and that means something. One of my life’s quests is find out what it means to be a language-using creation and how to use those words to communicate truth.

7. Story-telling. One theme leads to another: from books to the Bible, to prayer, to language, to storytelling. Maybe they are all one grand motif that defines how God is working in my life.

8. History. I love family history, especially my family history, but others, too, if they have stories to tell. History is the story of how God created, how He creates in the events of our lives, and what it all means.

9. Singing and Poetry. Music, in general is nice, but singing, alone or with other people, is what I most love, what makes me feel alive. That’s why I did the 100 Hymns series: I love songs with words and poetry put to music. This theme ties into my fascination with language and words, but the melody adds another dimension.

10. Homeschooling. Education in general is a theme in my family and in my life. I pray that I will be always learning, always educating myself and others about the wonderful world where God has placed us. I believe that as a family we were called to homeschool, not because homeschooling ensures God’s blessing or favor nor because homeschooling is always better than any other way of educating young people into adulthood, but rather because it fits with the other themes and concerns of my life: the community in family, the immersion in language and story-telling, the transmission of God’s truth to another generation.

11. Evangelism and missions. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, in GA’s and Acteens, two SBC missions organizations for girls. I am still immersed in the idea of how the gospel is spread to other people and cultures and active in supporting missions and missionaries.

12. Jesus. Last, not because he is the least of my life themes, but rather because He is the foundation. If I wrote a book, Jesus would be the underlying theme, perhaps unnamed as in the Book of Esther, but always present, always at work, always the Rock upon which everything else rests. In Him, we live and move and have our being.

You can see these themes embodied in this list of 52 things that fascinate me. Now it’s your turn. What are the themes of your life? Where has God led you to focus your energies and talents? What is it that wakes you up in the morning, draws you into study and/or action, makes you who you are?

55 Books I’d Like to Read from the Reading Lists I Perused

1. Overseas by Beatriz Williams. From NPR’s Lesser Known Lit List.

2. Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary Of A Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale. From NPR’s Summer Reading List. Nonfiction about a Victorian scandal.

3. Canada by Richard Ford. Recommended lots of places, but I saw it at NPR’s Summer Reading Critics’ list.

4. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.From the Man Booker long list. Actually what sold me on this one was not its place on the list, but rather this review by Susan Coventry. Thanks, Susan.

5. The Fault in our Stars by John Green. Recommended everywhere, and no, I haven’t read it yet.

6. The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman by Lori Smith. Recommended by Gina Dalfonzo at NRO. I read Ms. Smith’s first book about Jane Austen and loved it, so this one one should be a good read, too.

7. Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat. Recommended by Patrick Lee at NRO.

8. One Second After by William Forstchen. Recommended by Clifford May at NRO.

9. And the Show Went On by Alan Riding. Recommended by John O’Sullivan at NRO. Paris during WWII’s German occupation, “a story of secret heroism, hypocritical cowardice, subtle evasion, or double-dealing on every one of Mr. Riding’s pages.”

10. Wish You Were Here; Travels Through Loss and Hope by Amy Welborn. Recommended by Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress) at NRO.

11. The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. Recommended by Al Mohler. Actually, while I was in the process of making this list, I read this book and enjoyed it immensely.

12. The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA’s Clandestine Service by Henry A. Crumpton. Recommended by Al Mohler.

13. The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief by Larry Taunton. Recommended by Eric Metaxas at Breakpoint.

14. Dark Eyes by William Richter. Recommended by Kim Moreland at Breakpoint Youth Reads.

15. The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King Roland, the world’s last gunslinger, tracks an enigmatic Man in Black toward a forbidding dark tower, fighting forces both mortal and other worldly on his quest. Recommended at NPR’s list of 100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Favorites.

16. Stardust by Neil Gaiman. In the quiet English hamlet of Wall, Tristran Thorn embarks on a remarkable journey through the world of Faerie to recover a fallen star for his lover, the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester. Recommended at NPR’s list of 100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Favorites.

17. The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon “Hurtled back through time more than 200 hundred years to Scotland in 1743, Claire Randall finds herself in the midst of a world torn apart by violence, pestilence and revolution, and haunted by her feelings for a young soldier.” Recommended at NPR’s list of 100 Science Fiction, Fantasy Favorites.

18. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I’ve heard good things about this novel somewhere else. Recommended at NPR’s list of 100 Killer Thrillers.

19. Teenager in the Chad Civil War: A Memoir of Survival, 1982-1986 by Esaie Toingar. Recommended for the Olympic Reading Challenge at Lists of Bests, this book fits inot my North Africa Reading project, and it sounds educational.

20. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King from Independent Mystery Booksellers Association list of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century.

21. A Dram of Poison by Charlotte Armstrong from Independent Mystery Booksellers Association list of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century.

22. The Thin Woman by Dorothy Cannell from Independent Mystery Booksellers Association list of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century.

23. The Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos from Image Journal’s 100 Writers of Faith.. I have this one on my Kindle, ready for the right reading mood on my part.

24. Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell from Independent Mystery Booksellers Association list of 100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century.

25. Godric by Frederic Buechner from Image Journal’s 100 Writers of Faith..

26. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb from Image Journal’s 100 Writers of Faith..

27. All Hallows Eve by Charles Williams from Image Journal’s 100 Writers of Faith..

28. Cloudstreet by Tim Winton from Image Journal’s 100 Writers of Faith..

29. West With the Night by Beryl Markham from National Geographic’s 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time.

30. The Gay Place by Billy Lee Brammer. From Book Lust to Go and also recommended by A.C. Greene in Texas Monthly’s The Fifty Best Texas Books. In my library basket right now.

31. Life After God by Douglas Coupland. Recommended by Garry DeWeese, Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Biola.

32. Between Two Worlds by Miriam Tlali. Recommended by Natasha Duquette, Professor of English at Biola.

33. Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation by Jonathan Kozol. Recommended by Bradley Christerson, Associate Professor of Sociology at Biola.

34. The Shadows of Ghadames by Joelle Stolz, translated by Catherine Temerson. Set in 19th century Libya.

35. The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela: Through Three Continents in the Twelfth Century by Uri Shulevitz.

36. Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger. Recommended at Longitude’s 86 Greatest Travel Books of All Time.

37. Down the Nile, Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff by Rosemary Mahoney. Recommended at Longitude’s 86 Greatest Travel Books of All Time.

38. The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt. Recommended at Longitude’s 86 Greatest Travel Books of All Time.

39. Me, Myself and Bob by Phil Vischer. From the Hutchmoot reading list.

40. Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring by Andi Ashworth. From the Hutchmoot reading list.

41. Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D.Wilson. From the Hutchmoot reading list.

42. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. From the TAYSHAS list.

43. Illegal by Bettina Restrepo. From the TAYSHAS list.

44. Across the Universe by Beth Reavis. From the TAYSHAS list.

45. We Are Anonymous: Inside the HackerWorld of Lulzsec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency by Parmy Olson. Recommended by Janet Maslin in the New York Times. Nonfiction about computer hackers.

46. Off Balance: A Memoir by Dominique Moceanu. Recommended in the Chicago Tribune, but I heard Dominique being interviewed on the radio just before the Olympics started I would like to read this memoir, even though it promises to be somewhat disillusioning and heart-rending.

47. Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden. Recommended by the panelists of the PBS program Washington Week.

48. Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. Recommended by Sarah Bessey.

49. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. Recommended by Sarah Bessey.

50. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. Carnegie Medal Winner.

51. The Lark on the Wing by Elfirda Vipont Foulds. Carnegie Medal Winner.

52. River Boy by Tim Bowler. Carnegie Medal Winner.

53. The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng. From the Man Booker long list.

54. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. Recommended at Hermeneutics.

55. Noticing God by Richard Peace. Recommended at Hermeneutics.

Sunday Salon: Links and Thinks

How Silence Works: Emailed Conversations With Four Trappist Monks by Jeremy Mesiano-Crookston. “Is silence beneficial for all people? I would say the cultivation of silence is indispensable to being human.”
I have considered taking a weekend retreat where I simply observe silence and spend the time in prayer and meditation, no internet, no phone, no television, and no books. It’s the “no books” that frightens me. I’m not sure I have the inner resources or the connection with God that would sustain me in such silence for an entire weekend. Sad, but true.

Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short Term Missions Trip by Darren Carlson.
And yet my daughter leaves for Slovakia in a week to teach in Bible (day) camps and to share the gospel working alongside the Slovak church. Mistakes have been made, and unintended consequences are rampant. However, we can be called and used of God in other countries and cultures.

A British offering from Arts Council England: “Brought to life using audio performance and archive footage, 60 Years in 60 Poems travels through time to unpack our shared history, celebrating individual moments alongside national events.”
There’s a poem for every year of the Queen’s Jubilee, starting in 1954. I listened to the one for 1957, the year of my birth, and I thought it was poignant: On Not Dying Young by Elaine Feinstein.

Why Are American Kids So Spoiled? by Elizabeth Kolbert. Yikes, just yikes!

How Reading Disturbing Novels can make you a Better Reader of the Bible by Alan Jacobs

“If we are people of the Book, people whose Faith is built upon the Word of God as it is given to us in the Bible, then we need to be a reading people. And by reading I do not mean merely that we are literate, but that we are able to read carefully, that we are comfortable reading slowly, and allow passages to challenge our preconceptions and to change us.”

The Flying Inn (great blog) gives us a list of 5 things from YouTube that are actually worth watching. He’s called his post Reasons TV is Obsolete.

Diversions and Fascinations

Here are a few links to the articles and blog posts and other things that caught my interest this week:

The Science of Mysteries: Shock, Trauma, and the First Real War at The Last Word on Nothing by Ann Finkbeiner. Ms. Finkbeiner discusses Dorothy Sayers’ novel Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club in relation to the science of wars and weaponry.

This emotionally moving short film reminded me of the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that I watched last weekend with Brown Bear Daughter. I want to read the book by Jonathan Safron Foer now. Artiste Daughter has already read the book and recommends it.

A world without God is a world without fear, without law, without order, without hope. —C.H. Spurgeon

My mom was right: kids need to play outside. She used to send us outdoors to play and tell us not to come back inside until suppertime. I always took a book with me.

The Easiest Way to Memorize the Bible Actually, this method works for memorizing most anything; it’s just that the Bible is the most fruitful and rewarding thing to memorize.

N.D. Wilson on The Hunger Games: Why Hunger Games Is Flawed to Its Core. I think I agree with him, and yet I enjoyed the book and the series, so what does that say about me as a reader? I think Mr. Wilson just called me a “sucker” who “really can’t read.”

Is Science Fiction Un-Christian? by Ethan Bartlett at Christ and Pop Culture is a brief, thoughtful, and fair evaluation of the science fiction genre in light of a Christian worldview. I liked what Mr. Bartlett had to say.

Links During Lent

I was feeding my fascinations, even during my Lenten blogging break.

Book Lists:
Top 50 Books for Children by Lorna Bradbury at The Telegraph (British).

The 50 Best Books for Kids by Elizabeth Bird.

World Literature That High School Students Actually Want to Read at The Reading Zone.

John C. Wright: 50 Essential Authors of Science Fiction. I’ve read only a handful of these authors, and I don’t really feel a need to read all of them, since some sub-genres of sci-fi (cyberpunk, military sci-fi) are not to my taste. The ones I have read and can recommend on some level are Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, 1984 by Orwell, Brave New World by Huxley, Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky or Stranger in a Strange Land,, C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy, Perelandra in particular, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin, and Dune by Frank Herbert.

Historical fiction set in Russia from Sarah Johnson at Reading the Past.

An Indigenous Language With Unique Staying Power by Simon Romero. Mr. Romero writes about Guarani, the native language of Paraguay, which is enshrined in the Paraguayan constitution as one of two official languages along with Spanish.

Why bilinguals are smarter. I knew my Spanish was an advantage in more ways than just being able to understand what they’re saying when they think I don’t know.

Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs
Thanks go to The Headmistress and Zookeeper at The Common Room for the link to this site, Psalms in Metre, which allows one to match metrical psalm paraphrases with their tunes in a sort of mix-and-match sort of template. I love to sing psalms, and I’d like to teach my children to sing them, too.

Straight Talk:
Every single teenage girl who is considering “hooking-up” should read this post by a Catholic mom who has more courage to speak out than I have. And sometimes I’m rather blunt, but I’d have to pray for the presence of mind and courage to say what she said, even though it’s true.

Bookish and Wordie Humor:
For straight talk with a quirky and humorous bent, try this blog post about advertising roof tiles in Zambia. I can’t imagine how this advertising campaign would go over in the U.S., but it seems to be working in Zambia.

President Obama’s Young Adult Novel Economic Plan. This plan, on the other hand, could definitely work, folks.

What Captured My Attention This Week

This article about a ballet star who experienced burn-out, at age 21: “Dance is a real calling . . . because you not only have to be an athlete, of course there’s also the artistry that’s involved. There’s no such thing as perfection. You have to let it devour you.”

This short Academy award nominated movie definitely worth watching: The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.

Washington Times: Values voters with big families favor Santorum. I favor Santorum. We’ll see how it all goes.

This rumination on awkwardness and its ramifications: “There can be no community without passage through awkwardness, and real community is always worth it.” ~Kirk Bozeman

The Oxford Chronicles by Sarah Clarkson at the Rabbit Room. Color me green with envy.

“I greet you tonight from that Rabbit Room, the one in the Eagle & Child Pub, right in the heart of Oxford. The room where C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and a small host of thinkers like them tossed thoughts and growing tales back and forth amidst many pints and much laughter. The room in which the stories that shaped us all had at least a little of their making.”