Happy New Year! (Am I A Little Late?)

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”― Stephen King

Am I late in my New Years well wishes?

Let me explain.

I took a break from the old blog for a couple of months, in part as an effort to deal with some of the rougher edges of life, and in part to grow this awesome beard. I returned for a spit, but only before loading a jet plane for Ethiopia where the internet moved at a tortoise's pace. This is to say that I have a rather decent excuse for waiting until January 13 to extend my New Year greetings.

Alas, I've always been a bit behind.

I suppose I could spend days and days telling you of the many mind-blowing things I saw in Ethiopia, and I suppose I will share some of them when the time is right. For now, though, let me just say that I'm glad to be back home. I'm glad to be sipping coffee in my morning chair and pecking at the keyboard. When I'm being most myself, pecking at the keyboard is what I do (whether it's here at the blog, or in the journal, or otherwise).

My keyboard pecking over the last few months has been inhibited, though. So we're on the same page, allow me to explain.

Last March, I finished a short-ish book. It's a novel of a thing, and before you ask, no, it isn't slated for publication anytime soon. That being said, after I put the closing period on the work, after I walked away to let the thing air out, I found myself exhausted. (I might say it felt like the tired that sets in after giving birth to a baby, but how would I know that? I'm a fella with little right to use these kinds of metaphors.) In that exhaustion, I stepped away from reading the quality, longer-form writings of others. To be clear, I think I read one book (a beautiful work by Mandy Steward) and less than a half-dozen of readable magazines since mid-April of 2013. (As an aside, and in an attempt to justify my lazy reading habits, I read a great deal of poetry from Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, and Rumi. I also listened to a great deal of Arlo Guthrie, which is neither here nor there.)

Mandy steward

This year, I'm inclined to right the ship and get back to my previous reading habits. So, I'm memorializing my New Year's resolution here. A poem a day? Check. A magazine article a week, something from Oxford American or Harper's? Check. Continue working on one of the many books on my shelf? Check.

This, my friends, is where you come in. In the coming days, I'll be reading a friend's latest work (more on that soon), and I'm looking forward to it. But in the meantime, I'm wondering--which books do you think I should read in 2014? I'm open to suggestions, and feel free to diversify your selections--fiction, non-fiction, poetry collections, text books (but if it's scholarly text, it better be crazy-interesting). And if you make a suggestion in the comments, leave an Amazon link so I can one-click my way to it.

I'm glad to be back at the keys, and I hope to see you around on a more regular basis. For now, though, give me a book title or three! Who's first?!?

The Sunday List~What to Read in a Drought

Pinterest / Home*Original image here.

Sunday is a good day to slow down and take in a few words. What did you read this week? Here's my Sunday List.

*****

This morning I am in a cold hospital room with my wife and youngest son (background at Amber's). It's 7:00. The sun is rising out the window and I can see it's reflection against the building across the alley. There are moments of clarity in the quiet. John Blase jump-started one with this piece

Ann Voskamp discusses prayer and hope in dry days. She writes:

A man can watch the sky like a plea. “And we didn’t get nothing — not one drop.”

I've been watching the sky like a plea, and I feel like we're seeing clouds accumulate. Maybe there's water up there. Ann puts words to our position, and she does it well.

Speaking of prayer, I've been thinking of C.S. Lewis' grand (if not too short) essay, "The Efficacy of Prayer." His conclusion may be surprising, and it might help make clear some of Voskamp's message. See supra. You can find his conclusion here.

I'm still finishing the July Harper's. That's all I'll say about that. If'n you ain't got it yet, go and git it.

On the book front, a dear friend came to visit yesterday bearing gifts. Among those gifts was Wendell Berry's Andy Catlett, Early Travels. Amber and I have been reading it out loud. We've laughed. David Jackson, you are a good man. You know our flavors

*****

Thank all of you for continuing to pray for Titus. You are a grand and colourful lot of people. And, by the way, that "u" is for a few of my Canadian friends who continue to pray for us. I'll root for your folks in the Olympics.

Now, what are you reading this weekend?