Twitterature: Faith, race, and dump trucks

15 Dec

Twitterature = a compilation of short(ish) reviews of books I’m reading these days, inspired by the brilliant bibliophile blog Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Let me show you how dedicated I was to getting this blog post together: We just moved yesterday, and I carefully labeled a box so I knew where my latest books were:

recentbooksThen again, I’m an overly specific box-labeler anyway. I’ve learned from sad experience what a pain it is to open up a dozen boxes just to find one thing–it’s much easier to label beforehand!

Now, back to the books. (Book title links are Amazon affiliate links.)

FINISHED:

weepsThe God Who Weeps, Terryl and Fiona Givens (5 stars)

The subtitle is “How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life,” but it is so much more than that. The authors examine what centuries of thinkers–theologists of both Christianity and other faiths, scientists, philosophers, poets–have pondered, reasoned, imagined, and believed about the purpose and meaning of life. It was refreshing and faith-restoring to see my own faith deconstructed and then built back up from scratch. I appreciate and admire the authors’ approach in drawing from such diverse sources, in valuing reason as well as faith, and in weaving it all together in a poetic style that mirrors the inspired works they quote. And their thesis that God is powerful yet vulnerable–it is a game-changer. Aside from the Book of Mormon (obviously), this is the book I would recommend to anyone interested in learning about Mormon beliefs, or anyone intrigued by the idea of a personal yet powerful God. #gamechanging #faith #requiredmormonreading

doubtThe Crucible of Doubt, Terryl and Fiona Givens (5 stars)

For me, this book and the Givenses’ previous book (above) were incredibly helpful reads at a time when I had questions about my own faith. We tend to have a language of certitude in the LDS Church–we hear people say “I know the Church is true” and think that if we don’t know, we’re failing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle, recently spoke about believing and knowing, and the Givenses offer a more in-depth view of how we can productively approach doubt. #faith #requiredmormonreading

My favorite quote from The God Who Weeps, which also applies to The Crucible of Doubt:

“Whatever sense we make of this world, whatever value we place upon our lives and relationships, whatever meaning we ultimately give to our joys and agonies, must necessarily be a gesture of faith. Whether we consider the whole a product of impersonal cosmic forces, a malevolent deity, or a benevolent god, depends not on the evidence, but on what we choose, deliberately and consciously, to conclude from that evidence” (p. 3).

nienieHeaven is Here, Stephanie Nielson (3 stars)

Stephanie Nielson’s blog was popular from the early days of mommy blogging, and Nielson made headlines after surviving a plane crash with her husband that left severe burns on much of her body. I’ve only checked out a handful of her blog posts–when it comes to Mormon mommy blogs, I tend to prefer the satirical kind. I admire her resilience in overcoming significant physical and emotional challenges and was fascinated by the details of her difficult recovery. There were some details that rubbed me the wrong way, like the fact that she nonchalantly bought a ($400 to $700) Vitamix blender as a gift even though she had noted her family would be living off money donated by caring friends and strangers (and turns out, most of their hospital bills were covered by insurance or forgiven). Still, her memoir is an absorbing and inspiring read. #memoir #mommyblogger #survivalstory

KID LIT:

dumptrucksDump Trucks, by Charles Lennie (5 stars, even after the millionth time)

Lars is really into trucks these days. The library just got this new “construction machines” series, including books about cranes, excavators, concrete mixers, loaders, and bulldozers. We’ve been reading Dump Trucks, Cranes, and Concrete Mixers on repeat.  #dumptruckoverload #kidlit

hughesPoetry for Young People: Langston Hughes (5 stars)

You all know why race is in the news. Lars, not yet two, is too young to have meaningful conversations about race (or why he shouldn’t throw his dinner on the floor…). But I’m a believer in the power of literature, and I think exposing him to diverse books is a great start. Even though this isn’t a board book, I have been pleasantly surprised that Lars loves it. Maybe it’s the illustrations? Or he is magically enthralled by the lyrical lilt of Langston Hughes? Who knows. There are so many beautiful selections, and it’s haunting how many are still relevant decades after being written. Favorites: “I, Too,” “Note on Commercial Theatre,” and “Harlem.” #kidlit #poetry #weneeddiversebooks #larsloveslangston

afroamPoetry for Young People: African American Poetry (5 stars)

Another great library find. Lars isn’t as enamored with it as he is with Langston Hughes, but I like it. This and the Langston Hughes book are part of the Poetry for Young People series. I’ve been interested in poetry lately thanks to my friend Allison, who wrote a poem a day last month (read them all!), and I appreciate that this series offers brief notes for each poem, providing historical and literary context, and even definitions for less-common words. They’re perfect for people young and old who are new to poetry or to a particular poet. #kidlit #poetry #weneeddiversebooks

IN PROGRESS:

rightmindThe Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt

This has been on my to-read list forever. Reading the Givenses’ thoughtful analysis of faith motivated me to look this up again. I’m not far in, but so far so good. #psychology #religion #politics #audiobook

 

yesplsYes Please, Amy Poehler

I say “yes please” to this book and to Amy Poehler because she is awesome. If you shudder at swearing (Mom), there is some of that. But just like Amy and her many alter egos, the book is delightful. This is what got me through a week of packing the house! Definitely get the audiobook (narrated by her and other guest stars). #humor #audiobook

What are you reading these days?

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11 Responses to “Twitterature: Faith, race, and dump trucks”

  1. heidivw December 15, 2014 at 3:29 am #

    Good reviews, so well-written as always! I still really want to read “The God Who Weeps” but Dad keeps loaning it out to everyone in the ward. 🙂 And, you’re right, I probably wouldn’t enjoy the Amy Poehler book because of the swearing. I’m probably the only person who, as a kid/teenager, would get upset at my parents if they let loose with an occasional swear word. Weird, I know. And since it appears you posted this at about 2 in the morning your time, can I just tell you to GET THE HECK IN BED! (sorry, that’s as rough as I get)

  2. Allison Mitton December 15, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    Thanks for the shout out! Also, I’m loving this poetry for young people series idea.

  3. Van Woerkom, Heidi December 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Another great post Holly. I don’t know how you did it after just moving this weekend, but then again, you never cease to amaze me! I send off your box of Christmas prizes and think it should be there by the end of this week, but most likely the beginning of next. There may be another small one coming too.
    Love, Aunt Heidi

  4. Anne @ I need some inspiration December 15, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    Love the packing story! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Breanna December 15, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    I love that you included Kid Lit! I read a lot of that these days. I think I’ll try one of these posts. Looks fun (and like my kind of review)!

    • Holly December 15, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

      You should do it, Breanna! And kid lit totally counts! 🙂

  6. brohammas December 15, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    I am the brand of nerd, or maybe zealot, who feels obligated to note, despite the fact that you may already be well aware, that studies show that despite the little man being too young to understand discussions regarding race, he does need to have them early on in life and regularly, otherwise he will absorb the idea that race (and to white society “race” means anyone not white) is bad. White children who do not have discussions about race, no matter how open minded the parents claim to be, form negative perceptions of black people…
    So stick with the Langston and work in some DuBois.

    • Holly December 15, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

      Dalyn, I agree! I mainly meant that L and I can’t have a back-and-forth conversation, due to his limited vocab. 🙂 But we will definitely still teach him about race, equality, etc. I’ve seen some of the studies re. (white) kids’ early racial bias–crazy stuff. I will definitely check out DuBois!

      • brohammas December 15, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

        I knew you knew… the zealot in my just won’t let some things left unsaid.

      • Holly December 15, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

        Hey, it’s worth sayin’!

  7. Jessica @ A Cocoon of Books December 16, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    I am also an overly specific box labeler! We’ve kept a lot of old books to reuse for moves and I laugh at the long, detailed lists on the front. But it helps for unpacking and organizing!

    I really liked The Righteous Mind — I hope you find it as valuable as I did.

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