In the past few months, since the COVID shutdown, I haven’t been inspired to write. My anxiety has been heightened as we’ve tried to establish new daily and weekly rituals. Like most children, my daughters have been grieving the abrupt loss of their friends and normal activities leading to a chaotic house as they act out their sadness and confusion.
Processing the chaos and losses along with helping my children process has left me feeling empty so I haven’t written anything I’m ready to give to the world. I decided to limit my blog posts to once a month or so and take my time on developing any essays instead of pressuring myself to write and submit work I was not proud to share. I’ve been focused on being more present with my girls during a tough time for them, and they certainly aren’t mad about the extra playtime with Mommy.
However, I have taken advantage of the shutdown to read consistently for the first time in years. I was an avid reader throughout my childhood, but I was on a pre-med tack in undergrad, where I took the maximum amounts of hours a semester and once got permission to take a 21-hour semester. I graduated a semester early then immediately went into a Master of Divinity program. When I graduated divinity school, I immediately answered a call to pastor with regular preaching and teaching responsibilities. While I love academia, preaching, and teaching the constant research and preparation took up most of my bandwidth for reading and writing.
Since leaving the ministry this past January, I took a respite from books and words. One could say I’ve never stopped reading, but there is a difference between reading in order to produce or prepare something else and reading because you love it and want to hear the author’s voice and story.
Anyway. I’m reading again, having read six books in the past month I’ve another six, or sixteen, on the way.
Here are a few of the books I’ve recently read and what I thought about them.
This is a book written by a Native America author and speaker who is a citizen of the Potawatomi nation. It was a book about identity and finding ourselves and God. I would not necessarily label it a “Christian” book, but it was one that engaged in the mystery of God that is uncontained by a stained glass capsule.
She has an inviting and poetic writing style, but the poetry should not be confused with gentleness. This was a convicting and confronting book from a truth-teller who did not shy away from the ravages of white supremacy on her people and all marginalized groups. She filled the book with other native authors, so it is also a great resource for seeking out more Native American voices.
The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists by Eleanor D. Payson, M.S.W.
This is a well-known work on narcissism for a good reason. If you’ve experienced narcissists in your life, then this is a book for you. It details Narcissistic Personality Disorder in detail then goes through several types of relationships with an NPD individual such as parent-child, romantic, friendship, and professional relationships. I read this once then immediately started again thinking, “Did this woman spy on my life to write this book??”
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Everyone is reading this book and for a good reason. She describes the book as the “stories about how I got caged – and how I got free.” I was doubtful about starting the book because I’m cynical in general. I find white feminism to be toxic in many ways, which is another blog post, but my preconceived notions about the book were incorrect.
Glennon writes with depth. Her essays on cages, freedom, identity, and knowing yourself were complex and challenging. This was not toxic positivity, but a woman who truly come into knowing and loving herself. She dealt with a knowing yourself that encompassed all the pain, trauma, mental differences, and betrayals that come with being a person and accepting the fullness that is you.
I came away from the book with a true and abiding idea of what personal liberation was, and confronted with the way that Glennon challenges her readers to translate liberation as something tied to a world larger than yourself in the spirit of Lilla Watson, (Aboriginal artist, activist, and academic) “If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
I love books and words and the diverse, beautiful stories that come from any person that has simply lived.
If you have a book recommendation to add to my list, please share it with me here or on social!