I haven’t done a “My Favorites” post in awhile, mostly because I haven’t been making enough time for reading lately. Like most moms, I feel about a cupful of guilt at all times, just as default-mode. But when I actually *gasp* take time to read, I feel enough guilt to fill a swimming pool. But as I’ve hinted at recently, I’m taking baby steps to overcome all that. So, without further ado, here’s what I’m reading and loving:
The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile has been one of the catalysts for my “further up and further in” journey so far this year. (If you missed my post “We Are Loved,” which describes a little sliver of that journey, you can catch what you missed by reading it here.) This book is an introduction to a personality classification tool called the “enneagram.” I received it as a Christmas gift, and I devoured it. It was so fascinating, and so insightful that I desperately want everyone I know to read it. When I was reading about my type, I felt like someone was looking directly into my soul, taking a picture, and then showing me what they found. I would never have been able to describe myself that deeply or accurately, and it’s been life-changing already. (I am not exaggerating–I don’t say that many things are life-changing, but this one has been.) In case you read it, or are already familiar with the Enneagram, I’m type 2 with a 3 wing. For those of you who have no clue what that means, read the book and you’ll know me better than I’ve known myself for 29 years. Enough said.
Thoughts on Solitude is a collection of Thomas Merton’s reflections on the solitary life. He was a contemplative monk, and his writing on spirituality contains a depth of wisdom that is valuable and timely for me. It’s a little book, but it’s one of those that I’ve savored slowly, chewing on the short chapters for awhile before moving on. It is rich and deep and beautiful.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance, is the story of a man who grew up in Middletown, Ohio, but whose family was from Jackson, Kentucky. If you’re not a “hillbilly,” you won’t understand why it’s important where his family comes from. But he explains all that, so you can read for yourself. In case you don’t know, I spent my childhood in Elliott County, Kentucky, a place that I would still consider a “home” to this day, and those who also grew up there will understand this. Vance’s memoir is nothing like my life (I had a rosy, beautiful, awesome childhood, unlike his traumatic and “colorful” one), but his commentary on Appalachian culture is truly fascinating to me. He’s an insider, so his assessment and opinions can be respected by those within the culture, and those outside it. The feelings this book evoked for me are complicated, but I’m thankful because it’s helped me sort through things within me that I had no idea were a product of my birthplace. At any rate, it’s a truly fascinating story, and if you enjoy drama, you’ll enjoy the book (for better or worse). **Sidenote: If salty language is a problem for you, I wouldn’t recommend reading this. It’s peppered with profanity, but it’s quite accurate. Take it from a girl who attended a public school in rural Appalachia.**
I’d love to get some recommendations from you, too, so tell me what you’re reading in the comments!
On to music…
Well, in keeping with the “hillbilly” theme, I’ve been loving the album Southern Family. It’s a collection of songs by various artists like Jason Isbell, Miranda Lambert, and Chris Stapleton. If you’re into Americana or folk or REAL country (emphasis on the real), you might like it. If not, peace. I understand. We hillbillies are an acquired taste.
In the words of Monty Python, “…and now for something completely different…” James Vincent McMorrow’s latest album, entitled We Move, is unique from his others, and I absolutely love it. It’s less “singer-songwriter” and more “alternative,” heavy on the electronic sounds and synth, but with his signature smooth falsetto. It’s beautiful. Give it a listen if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Brilliance is a band I discovered a couple years ago, and I’ve been so thankful for their music ever since. The lead singer is Michael Gungor’s brother, and I told my husband last night that it seems unfair for God to put so much talent in one family. I’ve enjoyed their newest album, All Is Not Lost, immensely, especially the song “See the Love.” I hope you enjoy it, too.
Well, friends, that’s all I’ve got for now. Let me know what you’re listening to and loving!