Each month my goal is to read five books on a variety of topics and from different genres. Here are the books I read in December 2022. If you click on the title, you’ll go to the longer post on More to Come. Enjoy.
Night Visions: Searching the shadows of Advent and Christmas (1998) by Jan L. Richardson is a series of daily meditations and blessings for the Advent and Christmas seasons. The author’s original artwork, reflections, poetry, and prayers accompany the reader from the beginning of Advent through Epiphany, inviting us to encounter the God who dwells in darkness as well as in daylight. Richardson writes that Advent is a season when something is on the horizon, but it is easy to miss. In her meditations, she encourages us. Stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder.
Christmas Stories (2021) by George Mackay Brown is a wonderful collection of seasonal short stories brought together for the first time in book form on the 100th anniversary of the Orkney writer’s birth. Mackay Brown was a writer who “attempted to capture and re-create the reality of his homeland” through religious and ritualistic themes. In love with the past, he uses his unique voice in these pieces originally commissioned for the Herald and the Tablet to bring the season to life. One Christmas in Birsay is excerpted for my Christmas Day 2022 post.
A Grief Observed (1961) by C.S. Lewis is a brief, poignant, and honest journal from the time following the death of his wife, the American poet Helen Joy Davidman. Lewis, the well-known Christian apologist and writer of the celebrated Chronicles of Narnia, works through his grief, the loss of meaning and faith, and his efforts to regain his footing in this world. It is highly personal, so much so that author Madeleine L’Engle writes in a thoughtful foreword that Lewis helped her understand that each experience of grief is unique. Still, there is a universality to it as well, as what Lewis describes feels so much like what so many have gone through in our period of mass death worldwide.
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life (1991) by Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of the situations that usually pressure and antagonize us. This series of meditations, reflections, and stories from Nhat Hanh’s experiences as a peace activist, teacher, and community leader begins with simple techniques around basic human actions such as breathing, smiling, walking, and eating. But beyond dealing with basic tasks, Nhat Hanh asks us to consider how to use mindfulness for transformation, reorienting ourselves to the relationships around us.
Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ (2016) by Timothy Keller was part of my Advent devotionals this year. Keller is a best-selling author, but he really isn’t my cup of tea. His fans find much to love about his work, but I found his approach to be moralistic. Keller spends a great deal of time telling us that we are not people who can pull ourselves together and live a moral and good life. I prefer James Alison’s look at the non-moralistic nature of Christianity.
More to come…
NOTE: To see which books I read in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November click on the links. Also check out my Ten tips for reading five books a month.
This Weekly Reader features links to recent articles, blog posts, or books that grabbed my interest or tickled my fancy. I hope you find something that makes you laugh, think, or cry.