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There Is Power in Reading!
What a better way to spend a summer afternoon relaxing and reading. Especially these days when Alberta and Western Canada have been sweltering in an unprecedented heat wave. As I finish this post, it’s 36 outside at 4:30 in the afternoon; this week we almost reached Calgary’s all-time high of 36.5 C.
This summer I’ve been grateful for a time away from responsibilities of volunteer activities of this past year. Instead, I’m relaxing as I putter in my garden and house. And I’m reading!
I begin reading in the early morning, spending long leisurely times in God’s Word, meditating more thoughtfully on the Triune God and on what God is saying to me. Currently I’m reading through the Book of Acts, a post-Gospel narrative I’ve read many times and could reread almost continuously. Add a praise Psalm and a devotional by David Wilkerson, God Is Faithful, or Lloyd John Ogilvie’s Lord of the Impossible, and a time of prayer, and the hours can fly by.
In my other reading, I’ve always been a non-fiction aficionado—biography, personal essay, prayer, creativity, and more. Our church library has been closed due to Covid and remodelling, and so I'm missing out on my usual faith-building books. However, I'm borrowing books out of my normal range from the public library.
With Covid restrictions, I've missed my own travels to exotic places, and so I’m reading The Best Women’s Travel Writing series. These books are ideal for me to pick up now and again, choosing a shorter or longer essay depending on my time and attention span. In my imagination I revisit countries such as South Africa, Egypt, and Haiti, absorbing their stunning landscapes, bright colours, and wonderful people. Or other countries I’ve only read about: Mongolia, or Cambodia, or Bangladesh. Then I copy some of the essayists’ word nuggets in my “Quotes Journal”, to sharpen my own writing.
But not all my reading is nonfiction. This summer I rediscovered two novels with stunning detail, metaphors, and word images that are nourishing my senses: Fugitive Pieces by our Canadian Anne Michaels, and All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. These two books on different aspects of World War II have challenged my intellect as well as my spirits. They had the power to grab and hold my interest until I finished—but I declined to read until 3 o’clock in the morning!
I do take my reading seriously. As I absorb other author’s writings and plan ahead to impact my readers, I think of Annie Dillard’s words: "The writer studies literature...He is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write....Only after the writer lets literature shape her can she perhaps shape literature."
I also respond with the words from the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 10:31): Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Now over to you.
What genre(s) do you enjoy most? What books are you are reading this summer? What books are meeting your need of release and renewal? How has God used books and their genres to touch your heart and change your life? What has been the impact on your writing and purpose for your readers?
Thanks to Lynn Dove for inspiring this month's theme, as she described her love of reading. "I was an avid reader from a very young age, disappearing whole-heartedly into a book, where I lived, breathed and took on the persona of the main character."