Sunday, April 02, 2006

Catching up

Daylight savings time begins today, so I should still be sleeping. Instead I'm almost wide awake and typing. It's funny sometimes how the Lord works. I'm excited to see what the day holds.

Three book reviews today. If you only read one, read the first one and then read this book!

Songbird by Lisa Samson is hands down one of the best Christian fiction books, no I take that back, one of the best books I've ever read. Charmaine is so real she literally breathes the book into life. There are no cardboard stereotypes here, and Charmaine is quick to admit her mistakes and own them. I went in for some tests at the hospital on Friday and took the book along with me for company. I don't know that I could have had a better companion. (Jesse went too, but he was finishing up Harry Potter 6 and not much for company.) Reading Songbird was like having a sweet stranger come up and start sharing her life story with you, but in such a way that made me feel more comfortable. Charmaine was the woman in the waiting room who saw my fear and decided to put me at ease by chatting. But all the while, gently nudging my side and reminding me that God is Sovereign, He's with me, and He loves me. I read the book through lunch, the end of the tests and finished it Friday night. The subjects that Samson tackles in this book are not light: depression, honesty, psychology, and she doesn't treat them lightly. Both sides of these issues are handled from a Christian viewpoint and with love. I could see Charmaine's cycles start to run higher and lower through the chapters, but her love for her Lord stood firm. This book is like a friend you'll miss when it's over, and the reminder in it that none of us are perfect, but Jesus loves us anyway is poignant.

Deborah Bedford's Remember Me doesn't stand quite as tall in the department of Christian fiction, but I love her lyrical writing style. Her world is a bit more perfect, most people are beautiful, or at least rarely are they truly unattractive. Remember Me is the story of Pastor Sam Tibbits trying to find something he lost years ago and finds that while sometimes we can go back, God often has better things for us if we move forward to His plan. Bedford's descriptions are lovely and breathtaking, and the depth of emotion in her characters are real. Aubrey comes across as the strongest most well-rounded character so when she has a change of heart toward the end of the novel, I felt like I had missed a chapter. The ending is not the obvious one, but it felt slightly forced. The funeral scenes and final scenes at the church with Sam are very moving. For Bedford's best book, read If I Had You, this one is worth a read, but it won't stick with you when it's done.

I ordered Life's Little Annoyances: True Tales of People Who Just Can't Take it Anymore by Ian Urbina expecting to find some light humor along the lines of Cool Dead People by Jane O'Boyle. Quick, silly reading to pass the time. Instead the book felt to me like it lived just a bit much up to its title. The book showcases who decided to strike back at some of the annoying things that happen everyday: junk mail, grocery store discount clubs, cellphone overcharges. A couple of the stories are clever, like the man who invented the TVBGone, a device that turns off TVs in places like restaurants and bars. But for the most part, the book simply showed how petty we can be as people. We get angry over the smallest slight and then try to hurt or disrespect the person we perceived as the source of our injury. The problem with playing that game is that the person who caused the injury can reply just as easily. Most of these are not tales of revenge, they are sad stories of people wasting time trying to get respect from other people who just don't care. With all of the wonderful books sitting on editors' desks, I just don't understand how a trifle like this got published. It's not clever, it's just a sad indictment of how far our values has slipped.

The book did have one point in its favor. I went shopping for Doug's birthday present on Friday at a used video game store. Just walking in those places makes my hackles rise. The selection is so overwhelming that trying to find the few things on his list, AHHH, it makes me crazy. I did find one item, and when I went up to pay was (of course) ignored by the college age check out guy. Part of me wanted to give him a dirty look or make a comment about the lack of help, but then I remembered the book and realized that he was probably sick of clueless mothers trying to make him find that perfect gift for their son and blaming him when it was out of stock. So I forced a smile, made eye contact, and wished him a good day. He just grunted, but I felt better inside for having made the effort. That seems like a far better response to pettiness.

Time to get ready for Sunday School and church. Hope you all have a blessed Sabbath!