It’s summer! Which means time for reading and playing outside.
I had heard Marilynne Robinson’s praises sung by my literary-minded friends for years and finally got into her best-known trilogy during the past months. This book has a daring construct – all the form of a letter written from an elderly father to his late-in-life son. What could be an annoying gimmick ends up suiting the story quite well. Robinson helps us see the tenderness and vulnerability of her main character and does not shy away from addressing big theological ideas.
The second book in this trilogy uses a more conventional storytelling voice, this time focusing on secondary characters from the first book and fleshing out their story. Though it is similarly billed as a book that explores the relationship between fathers and sons, I found myself drawn into its exploration of the relationship between siblings. I can’t wait to get my hands on the third book in the trilogy,Lila: A Novel, hopefully sometime in July.
Barbara Kingsolver is an exceptional author. I had read previous works of hers, both novel and memoir, but hadn’t heard of Prodigal Summer until I was perusing the fiction shelves at our local branch of the library. We follow the stories of three people living in close proximity but in very different circumstances, all dealing with with relationships, self-understanding, and solitude. As always, she displays the natural world with such vibrancy it feels like another character in the story.
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
Heidi Durrow’s novel about a girl who survives a family tragedy had me weeping at the porch table while my husband looked on, bemused and slightly concerned. The book deals with race while avoiding cliché or heavy-handedness. Though it is not considered young adult fiction, I would really like my students to read this coming-of-age story.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
Daily Rituals is a series of short chapters detailing the habits of creative, productive people throughout history. The big takeaway: There is no one way to get it right.
When I’m not reading books…
There was so much buzz around this papal encyclical, which prompted exciting and thoughtful conversation. I don’t think I’m done processing it and I am definitely not done writing about it, but you can read my thoughts here, here, and on Storify.
An Engaging Faith with Elizabeth Reardon on Real Life Radio
With lazy summer days here I spend a lot of time with the radio keeping me company, so I was thrilled to be introduced to Real Life Radio by my friend Elizabeth of Theology is a Verb. She invited me to be a guest on her show during its first weeks, and we had three great chats about the many ways we live our faith. Podcasts of those interviews are up (and dare I say, worth a listen).
- 6/12/15: Saints and Sinners
- 6/11/15: 7 tips for new religion teachers (based on this post)
- 6/9/15: An introductory chat about Finding God in All Things
I finally gave in and started a Pinterest “veggie recipes” board when I realized that I was keeping a dozen tabs open with different recipes at any given time. I’m still figuring out how to use it for other things, advice is welcome!
Now on exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is a massive collection by this 18th-century Japanese artist, whose most well known work is The Wave (pictured). I had a great time perusing the exhibit with my mother a few weeks ago. My husband and I got a membership to the museum this year and it has been such a fantastic investment. Being able to pop in whenever we want is a treat and a marvelous perk of living in this city. I highly recommend finding a local museum to join, wherever you are!
I’m back at it after my medically-mandated hiatus. I ran my first 5K at the beginning of June and am planning on a longer race in the fall. Unfortuantely deconditioning has caused all number of problems with weaknesses in muscles I can’t name, so I am also into physical therapy as I attempt to get back into shape.
Boating, Kayaking, SUP
I never, ever thought I would say this but I am now the member of a yacht club. Somebody slap me. As you may know my darling husband came with a boat, and we finally got it out from behind my parents’ barn and into the water at one of the lakes around Boston. I am happy to hang out on the boat with him whenever time and weather allow, though I still don’t seem myself becoming a “boat person”.
Additionally, I got a membership to Boating in Boston this summer, so we went out on the water twice in a kayak last month, and I gave stand up paddleboarding a try too. It was just as much fun as I anticipated, and I only fell in the water once.
Cucumbers are making their way up the stakes, tumbling tomatoes are hanging from porch baskets, and I’m drowning in basil. Bliss.
If it sounds like I have been manic with my outdoor activities lately it’s because I have. One thing you learn from living in Boston is that glorious weather is precious and rare, so you better live it up while you can. I hope all my friends in the northern hemisphere are also making the most of their summers!
What have you been into lately?
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I’ve gotten into Marylynne Robinson’s Gilead trilogy too! It could have been so sappy but she takes it in some amazingly profound directions. The long legacy of historical memory was my favorite part.
Margaret Felice says
I’ve talked to a few other folks who are just discovering it now, funny coincidence. I agree with your profundity diagnosis – at times I am almost surprised at where she takes it, but then realize that it’s exactly how the characters would have thought and spoken so it makes perfect sense!
Leigh Kramer says
I keep meaning to read more by Barbara Kingsolver. I’m a big Pinterest fan, though I rarely browse through it. I have pinboards for recipes (divvied up by category), books, personality type stuff, fashion, DIYs, and so on. It’s such a handy place to keep everything I find interesting or want to try or will need to reference at some point. Love your boating pictures!
When you say that Kingsolver “displays the natural world with such vibrancy it feels like another character in the story” in Prodigal Summer, you nailed it. I just finished that book this month as well, and found that reading it outside while summer was just beginning made me drink in the world around me.
Margaret Felice says
Yes! Reading it at the start of summer was a different experience than reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle during the dead of winter as I did.