Septemberish Bookish Sweetness

image via Tamara Murphy at Pinterest

These past six weeks haven’t been my most productive times of reading. Too many nights spent emailing preschools and watching the Olympics and worrying about . But I have been reading. And here are my ruminations…

I’m still reading . It’s a long one and I’m really loving it, but I decided once I got to Book II that I’d save the next section for the trip to Italy. And, as I recently learned from this amazing article, I’m a classic “.” I always have a few books going at once. I’m so bad at commitment!

I just finished reading Anne Lammott’s . As always, Anne Lammott is witty and endearing and irreverently worshipful. But (you guys are going to hate me) I just can’t bring myself to love her that much. I can read her or not read her. I’ve started many of her books and put them down (Read: Promiscuous Reader) and never felt the need to go back to them. Maybe it’s that I really long for more narrative arc in her nonfiction and I want more beauty in her language. I always feel like she has more in her and she’s not giving it to me. (So there, I’ve confessed my mixed feelings for Anne. Did you throw your computer at the wall in rage??? Please discuss in the comments.)

Now with me on my trip to Amarillo (I forced myself to bring only one book!), is Madeleine L’Engle’s , the first book of three in the Crosswicks Journals series. Sarah Bessey first mentioned the books months ago in her amazing post “” and since then, I’ve been waiting for a good reason to return to Madeleine (Whom I do love! changed my life in sixth grade. And changed all of our lives when we were twenty, right? Please discuss!).

So, going with the “Promiscuous” theme, here’s what’s flirting with me from the bookshelf:

, which is edited by David O. Taylor has been sitting on my shelf far too long. Chris heard him speak at our church a couple of months ago, just days after we had gotten the news of our move, and everything David said was amazingly profound for Chris. Good tears.

Also, back in April, I bought my husband a copy of . I had this amazing lunch at the Festival of Faith and Writing where I got to sit on the carpet and eat a really bad turkey sandwich while writers read their own pieces from this collection. My favorite essay came from the editor, Leslie Leland Fields. It was stunning. And when she wrote about baking bread and compared it to the great heavenly feast, it felt wrong to be crunching sun chips at the same time. (Next time I hear that essay read aloud, I want to be eating lobster and drinking champagne. Please discuss!)

I just used my Amazon birthday gift cards to order Natasha Trethewey’s poems  and WS Merwin’s .

Also, I’m really taken with but I haven’t picked it up yet.

Chris just read and he can’t wait for me to read it so we can discuss.

And, , was recommended by my friend Tamara Murphy at her blog . (It’s by M. Pennington O.C.S.O.)


So what about y’all? What have you been reading? What do think about my choices?  If you’d like to use alarms while keeping your mac in a real sleep state, you’re going to have www.spyappsinsider.com/how-can-i-monitor-my-childs-text-messages to install the helper

  • Missa

    A list like that makes me wish there was a summer camp for mommys with hammocks, stacks of books, and chefs for fixing fav reading food.
    I have wanted so much to read Madeleine L’Engle. I have no memory at all of ever reading any of her books and am REALLY embarrassed over that fact.
    The Feast and Fast essays sound incredible! I can’t do shellfish- but a nice Black Velvet does sound like the perfect thing to drink while reading it!
    Its especially nice to hear what others are reading. We discovered that the rental we’ve occupied for about 10 weeks has a major mold infestation. I’m trying to figure out how to salvage various things, including our library. Our kids’ library has already been deemed unsalvageable and I’m spending a lot of time avoiding the other possibilities.
    Hoorah for drooling over/loving good books!

    • michaboyett

      Oh my goodness, Missa. Yes, hammocks and chefs must both be involved.

  • My mum passed along a fiction book to me, “The Lake of Dreams” by Kim Edwards and it’s surprising me with it’s spiritual images. And I just discovered somewhere in Luxembourg I can buy €1 used English paperbacks which brings me so much joy! Will you be bringing your poetry Fridays back soon?

    • michaboyett

      Yes, Poetry Fridays will be coming back when I get a grip! Maybe this week now that I have my new poetry books to read. (Fiona, do you know how happy it makes me that you like my poem days? You’re a gem!)

      Also, adding The Lake of Dreams to the library list…

  • I’m with you on Anne Lamott. I finally read Traveling Mercies this summer and have Grace (Eventually) sitting on my books to read stack. It’s not at the top though. Right now, I’m reading Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns (thanks to Rachel Held Evans walk through it on her blog) which is more academic than I’m used to, but I like it. I’m also working on Acedia & Me by Kathleen Norris and The Monastery of the Heart by Joan Chittister. Sitting on my books to read stack are also books by Phillip Yancey, Henri Nouwen, and Brennan Manning. I think I have enough to last me for awhile! 🙂
    I was reintroduced to Madeleine L’Engle’s “Young Adult” fiction as an adult with Many Waters. It’s about the flood and time travel and the wonderful imaginative things L’Engle does.
    I love everyone talking about their books because I’m also looking for new books to add to my stack (especially if I can find them at Half Price Books!).

    • michaboyett

      Melani, thanks for bonding with me over Anne Lamott. I still haven’t read Acedia & Me or Monastery of the Heart (thought I think I own that one!). Both are necessary for me to get to. For sure for sure.

      I love YA fiction. Actually, I think I love YA fiction more than grown up fiction…

  • I am so glad that I am not the only one who reads more than one book at a time!

    Right now, I’m reading a Jane Austen mash-up Mansfield Park and Mummies along with Mansfield Park. I have started a book on the Greeks, Sailing the Wine Dark Seas by Thomas Cahill. Of course, I have read a bit in Lit by Mary Karr, and I still have A Circle Of Quiet and Walking on Water going too.

    • michaboyett

      Oh! Lit might be my favorite memoir of all time. I just don’t think any other matches its wit and art and heart. Incredible writing. If I were your promiscuously reading self, I’d drop the others for Mary Karr. (Only for a little while. I don’t want the others to get their feelings hurt!)

  • Thanks for all the great suggestions! It’s an interesting thought about Anne Lamott, and I’m a fan but not a fanatic, so I can hear what you’re saying. But: Did you feel the same about Bird by Bird? I just reread it and loved it even more the second time. And thank you for reminding me that Walking on Water was incredibly formative in my college years.

    I’m currently reading Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor, but I’m getting a little bogged down in her l-o-n-g story/narrative. I want more meat there, more reflection. I keep hoping it’ll come later, when she finally decides to leave church. I think I keep wanting it to be An Altar in the World, which I might pick up and read again, it was so rich and lovely and amazing.

    And next week, I will drop that book like a bad habit and devour (I just know it) Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, which releases on Tuesday. That woman speaks my heart and says all the right (hard) things. Have you read her Gifts of Imperfection? It changed me. Given your vacation post, I think it might speak to you the same way. The woman is a shame researcher. Ouch.

    And yes — let’s have a book club summer camp with hammocks!

    • michaboyett

      I read Bird by Bird forever ago in college. Before or after Walking on Water, who can tell! And you’re right, incredibly formative. I loved it. It was the first thing I ever read from Anne Lamott and I’m sure it’s still my favorite. Though it might be nice to get it out and see it again with new eyes.

      I don’t know Brene Brown at all and I’m so grateful for your recommendation. I totally trust your reading brain, Kim. I writing her name down now. I’ve also been wanting to read Leaving Church so I’d love your final thoughts on it. Haven’t read An Altar in the World yet either. For shame, Micha!

  • Ooh I love this list. I actually haven’t ever read any Anne Lammott at all. I’ll check her books out and then never get around to reading them. I love the Crosswick Journals – and there’s actually 4, not 3 of them. They’re so beautiful. I don’t like her fiction, but I love her non-fiction. Although, I’m making my kids read Wrinkle this year so I’ll read it with them. I’m hoping I like it as an adult, because I would love to fall in love with all of her books. For the Beauty of the Church is such a good book. And I just added several of your reads to my list. I’ve had The Artist’s Rule on there for a long time. I should finally get around to checking it out.

    • michaboyett

      Four of them! Yay for more Crosswicks than I orignally thought.

      And I would LOVE to know what you think about A Wrinkle in Time after you read it again with your kids. I haven’t touched it since sixth grade. But I love it so much I’ve given it to my both my niece and nephew when they turned 12.

  • Jeannie

    I enjoyed this post and the many good ideas in it (and in the followup comments) for books to read (so many books, so little time!). This summer I re-read Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth. Although it is a tragic story, it is so masterfully written and the main character Lily Bart is so compelling that I find myself drawn back to it every few years. I suppose the fact that I tend to re-read favourite books is one reason my to-read list never gets any shorter.
    I too have very mixed feelings about Anne Lamott. I can laugh at her foibles in her nonfiction, and I do like Bird by Bird very much — but in her fiction I feel she is just presenting herself as main character over & over again. Like you I’d like to see her push beyond that and work more on creating beautiful prose — when she does hit her stride, it can be breathtaking.
    I also feel that Lamott’s insecurities (while endearing at times) are a serious downfall. I recently read a brief interview with her in Writers’ Digest, in which she said that we should show our writing to “a few trusted friends” but if they become “insensitive clods” we should get rid of them. This attitude (which unfortunately emerges a bit in B by B) is appalling to me. How does a “trusted friend” suddenly turn into an “insensitive clod”? Well, in Lamott’s world, it’s presumably by not liking what she’s written and telling her so — after she has deliberately chosen to show her work to that person! I wonder if Lamott hides behind the excuse that the person who criticizes her writing is being insensitive, and uses that as a reason both to distance from the person AND not to go further & deeper in her work. She suggests that her critics (who, again, she first called trusted friends) are betraying her, but I wonder whether she is the one betraying the relationship and her calling as writer by her fear of being criticized. I agree that there are sometimes toxic people out there who long to see us fail (though I don’t think I have any of those in my life!), but the way Lamott makes that into a continuing theme in her life makes me wonder, Hmm, who’s really got the problem here?

    Anyway, it is always wonderful to talk about books, so thank you for this post.

    • michaboyett

      Such interesting thoughts on Anne Lamott. I’ll have to check that interview out. I feel like I had to read something of Edith Wharton’s in one of my college classes, but that’s it. And, obviously, I don’t even remember it! That problem should be righted, huh?

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  • I absolutely adored this post! I love the term “promiscuous reader” – I’ve finally landed on a name for my reading habits, thanks to your blog! 🙂 I love Anne Lamott – but I can see why you don’t love some of her books. I actually couldn’t bring myself to read that particular book of hers. I’m actually re-reading her book “Bird By Bird” on writing right now – as I just bought a replacement copy for one I lost in a move… I love that you have the book “The Artist’s Rule” – I’ve had that one in my non-committal stack all summer. It’s very good, but I’ve had a hard time getting into it, probably because I’ve been super busy, and it’s seems to be partly about moving a slower speed…which I haven’t had the luxury of this year. I’m still really looking forward to finishing it though – lots of good stuff in there. I ADORE your quote about Madeleine L’engle and “Walking on Water”. It’s so true!! I see so many women bloggers who are just now getting to that book, and others of hers, and it brings me back to college when I discovered her non-fiction and WOW in particular, and it felt like my artistic world broke open. I loved her Crosswick novels too, and those were among the casualities in a book-loss from a cross country move. My replacement copy of “Circle of Quiet” just came in the mail yesterday. I don’t normally re-read books (other than the Bible) 🙂 because usually I keep my copy that’s been underlined and highlighted to go back and reference, but I may have to re-read some of those. I loved “Circle of Quiet” the most when I read the series, but I’m enjoying going back to “Irrational Season” this time around.
    I read about “For the Beauty of the Church” as well at Sarah Bessey’s blog, and as it has been recommended numerous times, I know it will soon be on my reading stack. I’m also reading “Surprised By Oxford” by Carolyn Weber, “What Women Fear” by Angie Smith, “Scribbling in the Sand – Christ & Creativity” by Michael Card and “Life Path” (a book on journaling) by Luci Shaw.
    Thanks as always for your words – love your blog!

    • michaboyett

      Thanks for your recommendations, Sarah! Writing them down…

  • Sam

    I love your book reading ways!

    Of course, to me Anne Lamott can do (almost) no wrong. I will admit that I prefer her nonfiction to her fiction. Gasp! I just love her voice, and she is so freeing and funny to me. And oh! The Circle of Quiet! That book…I am sure I’ve said here before. But that book is what kept me from leaving Christianity. It’s very important to me, even though since I’ve gone back and re-read it and thought “oh, why did this seem so revolutionary?” So if you’re not as blown away as the rest of us, don’t worry. You will definitely love the next book in her “journal” series – The Summer of the Great-Grandmother. But Madeleine was always struggling to do what so many of us are, trying to bring together being a creative person and also keep supper on the table.

    Right now I am flitting between books as well – I try not to do that, because then it all seems to take longer, but I can’t help it lately. I’m reading The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. And yes – oh, what a book. Also picked up I Love You to God and Back by Amanda Lamb, which is a lovely account of the prayer relationship/ritual between a mom and her daughter.

    • michaboyett

      Sam, I totally thought of you and feared breaking your heart when I said I didn’t LOVE Anne Lamott. Hope you can see past it and we can still be friends. 🙂

      I love that title: I Love You to God and Back…

  • Sara

    Seriously? You can take or leave St. Anne Lamott? No! say it isn’t so! Have you ever read “Ham of God” in Lamott’s “Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith”? I can read that a hundred times and never tire but then again, I’m a huge fan….. After reading so many good reviews, including Sarah Bessey’s, I tried to love L’Engle’s Circle of Quiet but just couldn’t – I’m now reading Thomas Merton’s spiritual classic, The Seven Storey Mountain, and so far, I’m finding his timeless search for faith and meaning inspirational and relevant.

    • michaboyett

      Have not read “Ham of God”! (The title alone is hysterical.) And I didn’t read Plan B. (I wasn’t impressed enough with Traveling Mercies to read it. I know! I know! Heartbreaking.)

      So happy to hear about Thomas Merton’s book. Adding it to the list as well. Thanks Sara!

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  • amy cormode

    I love M. L’Engle. I only discovered her really when I was pregnant with my second boy nearly six years ago. I adore her fiction and non-fiction alike, and voraciously read everything I could find by her during that year I was pregnant. I took a trip to Italy with my then three year old oldest boy and my baby-in-belly, and read the rest of the Wrinkle in Time series while there. My boys are now 8,5,3 and this summer we read Wrinkle in Time aloud and the second one and my boys ate it up and I just loved that there were meaty thoughts for each of us on our own level. When I first started reading her, I was so happy to learn she was in the Episcopal church, as that is where I had recently ended up. Her view of life and the world is such an amazing mixture of spirituality, science, and art. I feel like she always draws me into deeper places of heart and mind to contemplate and act.
    Circle of Quiet was my least favorite in that series, the one where she talks about her marriage was great and my favorite is The Summer of the Great-Grandma. Full true stories of her own life and that of her grandmother that are quite amazing.
    I’ve been reading your blog now for just a short time and stumbled upon it somehow when I was looking up something having to do with Benedictine ways and motherhood. I am an Oblate candidate and have really found peace and direction in the ways of St. Benedict. I’ve been glad to know there are others who are young mothers who feel the same way, as I am the youngest in my Oblate group by about 25 years:).
    May you have rest and refreshment and taste the Goodness of God throughout your trip to Italy with your husband. What a beautiful thing to do with your time.

  • Heatherer

    Penguins and Golden Calves is actually the Madeleine L’Engle book that changed my life. It’s a fresh new take on idols and icons. Just in case you needed more thoughts on good reads.