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What I read in June 2020 (Part 2)

There are two book reviews in this post.

I won a paperback copy of Breaking the Mould: Learning to thrive as a Ministry Mum by Jules Middleton from the publisher SPCK* on Twitter . I was excited about winning it as I have been following Jules Middleton on social media (including her blog Apples of Gold) since we both reviewed Bible to go! for the Big Bible Project.

Both sentences in Kate Bottley’s endorsement: ‘Will make you laugh and cry along with her. Not just for ministry mums.’ are true. The target readership is women thinking of becoming ministers in any Christian denomination, those training or serving especially mothers, mothers-to-be and those hoping to have a family. Much of the content is also applicable to lay people. Middleton uses innovative analogies to make her points.

Other ministry mums have contributed their own stories to the book, which has an introduction by Sharon Prentis. Some of the contributors were familiar to me from Twitter. They have enhanced the book explaining, for example, how a physical disability or mental health condition is not a barrier to serving in the Church.

I found the explanation of the context and background to the passage about the perfect wife in Proverbs 31:10-31 particularly helpful.

Surprisingly, when I had finished reading it hubby picked it up and is finding it very interesting and readable, proving the point that this is a book which is attractive to a wide readership.

Highly recommended!

The second book was To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf which I read as an e-book from BorrowBox. I had not read any of Virginia Woolf’s writing previously. I did not find the story particularly gripping. It was told in an unusual way, concentrating on the thoughts and feelings of the characters as much if not more than the action. I didn’t find a contents list or a way to flip back to earlier parts of the story, but that might be due to my unfamiliarity with the BorrowBox app.

The first part of the book was a description of life in a large household over about a day. The chapter numbers began again at 1 with a jump forward in time. Some of the insights into character and motivation were interesting, but I won’t be rushing to read everything Woolf wrote. The story was followed by a biography of Woolf, which I might have liked to read first. In a printed book that would have been easy! It took me a long time to finish reading it.

I have been unable to find the cover image used on BorrowBox. It was an edition published by A Word to the Wise. This link is interesting.

My other book reviews may be found from the links  Authors A to M and Authors N to Z.

* not IVP (UK) as I originally stated.

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What I read in June 2020 (Part 1)

The next three books are all from our shelves. I had read them previously, but too long ago to remember much about them. They are all by JRR Tolkien.

The three books

The Silmarillion is a prequel to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It was compiled from JRR Tolkien’s papers after his death and published in 1977. All I could remember about it was that I was very disappointed with it shortly after its publication. With Middle Earth fresh in my mind I began reading it as soon as I finished The Return of the King. I found it very slow reading, but worth the effort. The early part included a sort of creation story and all the different races, which peopled Middle Earth, were slowly introduced with chronologies and genealogies for each. I could only read a few pages at a time, so interspersed the books in my previous post with this. It reminded me of the Books of Kings in the Bible, with the amount of information about each family and the characters of the individuals.

Later there is an exciting section about journeys and battles, but the best is kept until the very end, when the answer to a mystery is revealed. Having an index of characters, a map and other appendices this is a remarkable work ably edited by Christopher Tolkien, son of JRR Tolkien.

Tree and Leaf is a small volume. My 1974 edition has 50p as the price! Inside there is the text of a lecture about Fairy stories presented in 1938, with additional notes – some as footnotes, others appended. On Fairy Stories is followed by Tree and Leaf, a story, which I’d classify as a fable or allegory rather than a fairy story. However it does illustrate what Tolkien regarded as sub-creation – the creation of imaginary worlds. I had not remembered as much about this story as I thought. I still believe that Tolkien modelled one of the characters on himself, but for a different reason. The story is perhaps Tolkien’s equivalent to CS Lewis’ The Great Divorce, although their beliefs were not exactly the same. One thing, which struck me, is how the world has changed since Tolkien’s time. Would a young adult reader know about railway porters? Tolkien was writing in a time when train travel was the most usual and only a very small minority of people travelled overseas.

The third book I read really is a fairy story. Smith of Wootton Major is a tiny hard-backed volume with illustrations. If it has a lesson to teach, it is that people will believe what they want to believe, but it is best enjoyed as a story!

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What I read in May 2020 (Part 2)

The three books I am reviewing in this post were all ebooks on BorrowBox.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I searched for Alexander McCall Smith and discovered two children’s books – Precious and the Monkeys Precious Ramotswe’s very first case and Precious and the Mystery of Meerkat Hill A new case for Precious Ramotswe.

They are delightful. The stories in both books include at least one told to Precious by her father as well as her own adventures with school-friends. The first book explains how she discovered she had the skills to be a detective. The second one shows her developing those skills further. The illustrations are in keeping with the stories.

I found The Outrun by Amy Liptrot from a list of recommended books. I had already heard of this nonfiction book. The background to the story was in some ways similar to The Seafarers, but I found The Outrun much easier to read (in spite of my preference for books over devices). The author’s life on Orkney, in London and back on Orkney are described mainly in the present tense, with descriptions to draw the reader in to the landscape and the events. The subjects, which interest Amy Liptrot, are wide-ranging and she explains them well. I enjoyed it and hope to read more of her work in the future