Tuesday, May 31, 2011

it's summer reading time!

This week I got the chance to read a summer novel under the sun! I forgot how fabulous Michigan summers can be, as I’ve spent my last three summers away from home. My family just loves being near the water, so we spent the better part of Memorial Day weekend up in Ludington at my parents’ condo and then at my grandparents’ cottage on Big Whitefish Lake with my whole extended family. This week finally felt like it was summer -- full of evening kayak rides, tubing and skiing on the lake, and reading under a sunbeam.
My book for this past week was called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (quite the mouthful), and is a pretty quick read about the habitants of Guernsey Island in the English Channel during and after WWII. The book is comprised entirely of letters, and these letters tell the story of the Guernsey Literary Society and their experiences in the war. I won’t go on too long about the book, but I enjoyed reading it and felt myself getting sucked into these people’s lives. That’s the beauty of fiction -- that you can escape your own world, not in some desperate attempt to be free of your own troubles, but in the desire to know more about the world  around you. So even though this book was fictional, it was still based on a real place and a real historical period, and so by reading this I learned a lot about the Occupation and how everyday people must have felt about it and dealt with it. This book reminded me, yet again, how important people’s stories are, and how worthy they are of being told. 
I wanted to leave you with a lovely little poem I encountered while reading this book. One of the characters used to quote this poem at the meetings of the literary society, and I just fell in love with it: 
Is it so small a thing, To have enjoyed the sun,
To have lived light in the Spring,
To have thought, to have done;
To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes –
That we must feign a bliss Of doubtful future date,
And while we dream on this, Lose all our present state,
And relegate to worlds . . .  yet distant our repose?
Matthew Arnold (1852)
This next week, I’ll be reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, a book about daring to live fully, right where you are. That is, in essence, what I’m all about these days and why I love this poem by Matthew Arnold. Life isn’t about waiting around, “that we must feign a bliss of doubtful future date,” but that we can celebrate and enjoy today. So that’s what I’m doing, and so far I’m loving spending time with my family and finally living in the same city as my very best friends. What a blessing it is, to just be for a moment, instead of rushing off to the next thing. I’m excited to read Ann Voskamp’s book, because I’ve heard wonderful things about it, and because I think her words will show me more ways to live fully today.  

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