Friends, I have been traveling on the most wonderful of journeys. The excitement I attempt to capture in these descriptions won't do the books the justice they deserve. Even still, allow them to make you curious enough to get your hands on a copy (I've linked to Amazon, but I encourage you to get thee to a library, go).
The setting of many of them is a setting near and dear to my heart: New England. I drive these roads, I feel the cold, and I ache for spring when blast after blast of winter storm comes through. After reading these stories, new questions and curiosities have piqued my interest: How old are the tombstones in the local cemetery? In what ways did the Puritans (in Wethersfield) differ from the Quakers (in Oxford)? Who else prayed on the rock by the creek in my backyard?
"You human beings want good things to last forever. They don't. Not while we're in time." (A Swiftly Tilting Planet)
Why I read it: It began with the simple desire to read the book before seeing the movie. But the story, the characters, and the new ideas of seeing the world sucked me in faster than I can say tesseract.
What it's about: These three stories follow the Murray family around their New England home and through time and space.
Why I enjoyed it: I wanted each book to last forever. I loved each one more than the one before it. In these stories, L'Engle put to words so many concepts that I'd thought about but didn't know how to express: including thinking about space, galaxies, prayers, and friendship. My favorite story-within-the-series is from the third book as Charles Wallace travels through time and explores what life was like in their New England home throughout history.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
"After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth. Before Kit's eyes a miracle took place, for which she was totally unprepared. She stood in the doorway of her uncle's house and held her breath with wonder. The giant maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch... Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her. The dried brown leave s crackled beneath her feet and gave off a delicious smoky fragrance. No one had ever told her about autumn in New England."
Why I read it: Remember Suzanne, the librarian who helped me last month? This was one of her recommendations. She told me that the place it takes place in is just a short drive from our town and the idea of local historical fiction intrigued me.
What it's about: In 1687, after the death of her grandfather, 16-year-old Kit Tyler leaves her home in Barbados to live with her aunt and uncle in the colony of Connecticut. She struggles to fit in with the Puritan community, feeling the tension between her upbringing of books and plays and dancing and this new world of work and sickness and rules. (Bonus: three budding romances!)
Why I enjoyed it: I loved every page of this book. The descriptions of each season, of each tree and plant and smell, give me joy in calling this place my home and a hunger to learn more. The town where I live was founded as a farm in 1680 and find myself looking into our backyard with curiosity of what once was. The town of Wethersfield, where the book is set, is just a short drive from here and I'm eager to explore once the weather gets warmer.
And It Was Good: Reflections on Beginnings, by Madeleine L'Engle
"Rather than the total loss of self which comes with nirvana, the aim of the Christian contemplative is discovery, our discovery of God and by God. We seek God not in order to find but to be found. When God discovers me in the deepest depths then I am truly Named, and rather than ceasing to be, I become."
Why I read it: We were in Calgary and we had a book-store-date-night (my favorites!). I had been wanting to read a book by Madeleine L'Engle because she is a new friend's favorite author. The book store didn't have many to choose from (and I wanted to stay with Wrinkle, but it was not there). This one also is the first in a trilogy and the subtitle jumped out to me as one that could be good as I reflect on beginning our new chapter in Turkey.
What it's about: L'Engle saunters through the first few chapters of Genesis in this book. She reflects, she retells, and she explores faith and religion and the time in her life when her children were young. As a resident of both Connecticut and New York City, she speaks of places and memories that I can picture well. (Thus also making this book fit my "New England" theme of this month!)
Why I'm enjoying it: Here's how I've read this book: 1. Read first half. 2. Take a break and read the Time Trilogy. 3. Read second half of And It Was Good. I'm loving this read because it's allowing me to get to know the author more - how she processes and thinks about the world. Reading her fiction helps me understand this book more too. She'll write about the "universe" and I know she means it. She writes time - chronos and kairos - and I can picture the difference because of the stories she's told.
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