let’s talk books

There is a hint of Fall (finally) in the air. We’ve been experiencing a heat wave here in the Netherlands, niet normaal for the time of year. It’s been especially hard on this nearly thirty-weeks pregnant woman, whose sole relief is ice cubes in her glass of water and after-dinner popsicle. There’s no AC here in most places and the AC on our car gave out long ago, so thank goodness for a short-lived heat wave. Today’s cloudy coolness is much more like a typical Dutch day that we often become tired of throughout the year, but if I’m honest, I think this damp, cool day with dim indoor lighting suits the Dutch concept of gezelligheid much better.

It also suits my mood much better. I am increasingly discovering myself to be a person whose indoor space affects her daily moods, especially color, warmth, light, and order. And books. Do I have good books to read? Answering that question in the affirmative helps greatly. I haven’t had (or taken) the time lately to be creative, or write. Most of my creativity gets poured into mealtimes or toddler problem-solving/crisis management or scheduling our busy lives…constantly sifting through endless opportunities and choosing the demands on time and energy that best suit our family for now. So my creativity for the past year has looked like…reading.

But my writing has become rusty. My solution: I want to start writing about what I’m reading. This will be good for me. I inhale books in big gulps, often forgetting to chew, and also forgetting the importance of interacting somehow with the text: discussing with others, or writing about it. I also am someone who reads at least two, but usually three books at the same time. Right now I am reading:

Chaim Potok’s Wanderings. Probably best known for his fictional novels based upon Orthodox Jewish life in New York City such as My Name is Asher Lev, Potok’s works have been known to Dutch readers just as long as American readers since their original publications in the 70s. Wanderings is a rare work of non-fiction by Potok, an ambitious attempt at chronicling Jewish history from its origins to present day (1970s). I found this book at a thrift store, and was inspired to read it because of a current work project I have, editing a book of theology about the understated but critical importance of the essence of Judaism within Christianity. I’m about halfway through Wanderings. 

Woody Holton’s Abigail Adams: A Life. My favorite genre within non-fiction is, without a doubt, biography. I re-read David McCullough’s John Adams about six months ago (nerd alert). I love McCullough’s work) and then moved onto a re-read of Eric Metaxes’s Bonhoeffer. But after reading Adams again, I found myself increasingly intrigued by the person of Abigail Adams, especially her wit, independence, and intelligence…all used in support of the US’s most important Founding Fathers. In fact, my sneaking suspicion was that there never would have been a President John Adams (or John Quincy Adams, for that matter), without Abigail’s ingenuity and input. So I ordered the book to make sure. So far I am most surprised by Adams’s sheer iniative; it seems as though she fought tirelessly for the dignity, education, and independence of not only women in her immediate circles, but later for women everywhere. She probably also earned more money than her husband through her entrepreneurial spirit, but I’m not finished reading.

Tara M. Owens’s Embracing the Body: Finding God in our Flesh and Bone. I just started this one, and am reading along with some friends. I’ll let you know my impressions as we read along and discuss. But this book feels like a Godsend. The biggest challenge I’ve faced since coming to the Netherlands is the continuous series of transitions within a short period of time: marriage, culture, climate, language, pregnancy, baby, sick baby, moving, renovating, pregnancy. All of these changes have taken their toll on my body. As a Floridian used to sunshine (and heat!), I’ve moved to a climate known for its wind, cold, and rain (and darkness in the winter!). My access to foods has changed, as well as the need to cook and make a lot of ‘actual’ meals, often warm…whereas in my single days in Florida I would have sliced up an avocado, combined with organic tortilla chips, and called it dinner. Or served myself a salad. I’ve gotten pregnant, delivered a baby, and struggled with breastfeeding while I watched my hair fall out, thin, and lose its curl. And then the three of us spent nearly a year sick with various illnesses, which limited both my energy and ability to get outside. All of that to say, my body has felt all of the transitions. It’s been a challenge to take the same care of myself as I did when I was living in a sunny, warm climate as a single woman with free time to do yoga and Pilates without a toddler climbing on my back, or run before the sun goes down (at 4:30pm here in the winter). It’s a time where I mourn my former style (I knew the secondhand shops to shop!) and before my body was constantly changing and when my hair was longer and fuller.

So as you can tell, there will be more thoughts book coming on the blog! I’m sure I am not alone, even for my friends who either stayed in Florida and are raising their families there, but are still in awe of the speed of which their bodies are changing, or my friends without kids who have experienced challenges (job, illness, move) that affect the way they view their bodies.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to talking more books…I love the inspiration books give. I need the inspiration books give.

I’m so interested to hear: what are you currently reading? Do you have any plans to read this Fall?




4 thoughts on “let’s talk books

  1. Hey Erin!
    I read John Adams and was absolutely fascinated about the courage and bravery of these men (and women) in rebelling against England. But I’ve got to tell you…about 3/4’s of the way through the book, I found myself thinking, “Oh, just die already, John Adams”! It was a long book! You’re so right about all the adjustments to body change, etc. I sometimes think that aging is God’s way of keeping the longing in us for something better, for our true selves and home….

    • Hi Jan!

      Haha, in this latest book on Abigail Adams, I’ve had the same feelings…”Just get it over with, Abigail!” I don’t know if I’d recommend the book in the end: it was heavily detailed with financial summaries and repetitive theses. She certainly was full of sass and fire, though!

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