The Flight: A Monthly Book Sampler (February 2019)

The Flight: A Monthly Book Sampler (February 2019)

Andrea Humphries, our resident bibliophile (and a board member), writes a monthly post about what she’s learned from the books she’s reading. Today, she’s here with what she learned in February:

I finished six books in February — not as many as I would’ve liked, but still, a respectable number. That’s 14 of the 75 I’m aiming to finish by the end of the year — one shy of 20%.

Four of the books I read were from K.B. Hoyle’s fantastic YA fantasy series, The Gateway Chronicles. I finished the first book in December and I’ll finish the last book in the next couple days. I’m not typically a big YA fan; these are the first YA books I’ve read in years. But Hoyle is a friend, so I picked up The Six, the first book in the series. And then I picked up the next and the next. Now that I’ve started the last one, I’m sad that there aren’t any more books. Hoyle’s world-building is fantastic and I’ve fallen in love with the characters, even the couple I didn’t like at first. What I’ve learned from The Gateway Chronicles is that I should probably get off my high horse a little more often and explore genres beyond my handful of go-to’s because I might just be pleasantly surprised. Hoyle’s writing also reminded me that I can still get swept up in a great story and that I find a well-created fictional world almost as fascinating as the stories that are set in it. I’ll always be the reader who wants to know more than an author could sensibly include in a book.

Friendship plays an enormous role in The Gateway Chronicles, so it was fitting — though unplanned — that the two non-fiction books I read in February are also about friendship. Girls’ Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World by Sarah, Sally, and Joy Clarkson is a book about the power of women’s friendships, written by a mother and her two adult daughters. I read the whole thing on the plane from Toronto to Dallas for the annual Rise Board of Directors retreat and I don’t think I could have planned that combination better if I’d tried. Each of the Clarkson women shares stories of what their friendships with each other and with the other women in their lives have meant to them, showing the reader the frequently untapped potential our relationships have. They emphasize over and over again the power of presence, of showing up for your people. Getting to spend a few days with the other women on the Rise board, as well as some other friends, really hammered home the importance of that day-to-day, in-person community. In fact, it was something of a rude awakening to come home and realize just how lacking in that kind of community I currently find myself. It’s left me with a renewed determination to find and/or create those close friendships.

At the same time, I realized just how much the community I’ve found online means to me. I got involved with Rise because I “met” Holly on Twitter. Molly was an online friend before I joined the board. Amanda and the other friends I spent time with in Texas are ones that I met in the Christ and Pop Culture members’ forum. Even though we live thousands of miles apart, even though I live in a different country, these people are my friends. Getting to see them in person, to sit beside them on a sofa or across a table from them was an absolute delight. It’s something I hope I can make happen more often.

The other non-fiction book I read was A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 by Joseph Loconte. I really enjoyed it, even though it’s not a happy, cheery read. Loconte reminded me that, as my friend Kaitlyn Schiess wrote, “Whether we intend for it to be or not, the songs we sing, the words we repeat, the prayers we pray, the rhythm and rituals of our corporate identity shape our political identity. The real question is not whether our churches are political, but whether we’re aware of it.” The parallels between the actions of the church leading up to World War I and the church today are disconcerting, to say the least. At the same time, I think we need more authors like Lewis and Tolkien who’ll push back against the prevailing socio-intellectual stance and remind us that hope, fidelity, sacrificial love, and wonder still exist.

The Flight: A Monthly Book Sampler (January 2019)

The Flight: A Monthly Book Sampler (January 2019)