In which Ruth does some holiday reading

Oh my giddy aunt! I have just read the best religiousy book ever. There is a rumble going on in churchy circles about this new woman called Nadia. She has popped up on Twitter @Sarcasticluther and in the Church Times and everyone is saying, “Have you read the book by that tattooed priest?” Ok, maybe not everyone but loads of folk are. And yes, she does have tattoes, lovely Mary Magdalene tattoes all up her arms. Not a little bluebird on your ankle or a butterfly on your coy shoulder kind of tattoes. No, these are big bruiser tattoes which tempt me greatly. The book is called Cranky, Beautiful Faith and is Nadia’s journey with God. She was/is a stand-up comic, an alcoholic, and unlikely pastor in the Lutheran church in Colorado. In fact she founded a mission church called House for All Sinners and Saints and blogs regularly and is becoming the public speaker everyone wants to hear, including me. The book is gloriously honest and outspoken and it made me want to be so much braver. if you like Anne Lamott and can cope with the F-word then read this book. 5 stars.

The next book I read on holiday was a Christmas pressie from Son #2 called Wonder which was absolutely unputdownable. This is one of those books which you’re not sure if it is for children, young adults, adults. I don’t think it matters. I don’t really want to tell you what it is about either or what the themes are but I’m pretty sure we will have it as a Book Group choice soon. It is American and about a young boy but there are other voices too. The young boy has a disability. There are references to Star Wars. It gets excellent reviews from everyone but please read it without knowing too much more. I envy you reading it for the first time. 5 stars.

Our next Book Group book is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The theme of this book is not new – wife goes missing, husband gets accusing of murder. It is quite a long book and took a wee while to get into because neither of the characters are particularly appealing. However I did find myself wondering how it was going to end. The author is good at the psychological thriller and there are so many twists and turns but the ending won’t please everyone. It was definitely a page-turner and kept me guessing. Not sure why I didn’t love it so 3.5 stars.

Sean gunLast night I finished another of my Christmas pressies – Solo by William Boyd. Some time ago I heard Boyd being interviewed on the wireless about being asked to write this latest James Bond book. As you know, the movies are all set in the era in which they are made, but this book is set in the swinging sixties when James is about 45, which would be accurate according to Ian Fleming’s last Bond book. There are some lovely London bits in the 60s but the ‘Bond girls’ are very modern and feisty and independent. So even a feminist can read this quite comfortably! Bond is sent to a fictitious country in West Africa to sort out a civil war, which he does with a twist. Good read. I’d love to read a Bond book written by a woman. #justsaying  3.5 stars (As this book was in hardback I always take the dust cover off to keep it nice when I’m reading it. This book has the most wonderfully designed inside hard cover which I just loved. Go and just have a peak in a shop at the two covers and how they compliment one another.)

Grace (Eventually)

I’ve just finished reading another Anne Lamott book – Grace (Eventually) Thoughts on Faith. There is something rather wonderful about her writing. You feel as if you know her, and I certainly can relate to some of her difficulties with faith, There is a truth and honesty about her style, and it is refreshingly non-preachy. This book is really a series of essays on Faith – messy faith, tough faith, honest faith with alcoholism, drugs and ruthless honesty thrown in for good measure. Highly recommended.

Plan B – Further Thoughts on Faith

As part of my Lenten discipline of not reading fiction, I have just finished my second Anne Lamott book: Plan B – Further Thoughts on Faith. I read Travelling Mercies a wee while ago and loved it but this one wasn’t quite in the same league. Oh, it was easy to read, a few ‘ah yes’ moments, and a few smiles but not the ‘laugh out loud’ that I had with the first one.

This book reads like a series of essays on different topics and much of it features her family. They are chatty books, the kind of topics you might discuss in the pub over a glass of wine. She seems like the kind of person I’d have as a friend.

Here’s a bit I liked…

…I had been going up on Mount Tamalpais to walk and be quiet and pray nearly every morning for years. I started to do this because I had heard that Jesus did so, although my friend Father Tom recently clarified this. He said that we are not sure whether jesus actually did this; people had to explain Jesus’ absence by saying he was going up to the mountain to pray, but for all we know, he went off and had a few beers. Then he may have gone bowling, slinging the ball bitterly down the alley until he felt better.

“What would he have done with thirteen-year-olds?” I asked Tom.

“In biblical times, they used to stone a few thirteen-year-olds with some regularity, which helped keep the others quiet and at home. The mothers were usually in the first row of stone throwers, and had to be restrained.”

I wrote this down and taped it to my wall… Every parent who saw it laughed and felt better; nothing helps like letting your ugly common secrets out. And it came in handy during a recent fight.

Traveling Mercies

Yes, I know it should have two ‘l’s but it is an American book.

I often buy books, or put them on my Amazon wish list, on the strength of recommendations from others. Lately, I kept coming across the name Anne Lamott from my US e-friends so thought I’d give her a go. When you are told she is irreverent, never takes herself seriously, passionate and humourous then you just have to, right?  Traveling Mercies was recommended as a good starter as it tells her journey of faith along with how she came to have dreadlocks, being a single parent, men she’s dated and the joys and sorrows of drugs and alcohol. I enjoyed it. It was all that it said on the tin, and more, and it did make me smile and nod in recognition a few times. (Made me want to write my own version, actually!) I didn’t find the irreverence shocking, just real. In fact, it was jolly good and I might look out for more.