I don’t know about you, but I am a slow reader. I have a study at home full of books that I have yet to dive into! I love books, but find the day-to-day tasks get in the way.
This year I set aside some time on holiday and rediscovered the joy of a good book. Part of this joy was a growing confidence. It was so good to experience the value of dedicated time, without distraction, and the experience of getting lost in the plot. So, I’ve decided to write and recommend some books.
We travelled to North West Scotland up the west coast this year. After exploring the Applecross Peninsula, we drove through Poolewe, and we discovered that the deep Loch Ewe was a very important Naval base in the second world war. It was home to the ships protecting the Arctic convoys. Ironically, these convoys were supplying Russia with tanks, ammunition and other goods to equip them to defend themselves again Hitler’s German Army. I did not know this history. I went into a museum and spoke to a veteran and he recommended Alistair MacLean’s ‘HMS Ulysses’ as a well-researched piece of informative historical fiction. This is my first recommendation.
I also read some books by Maggie O’Farrell. I had read ‘Hamnet’ – a highly regarded book looking at the life of Shakespeare’s wife - earlier in the year. This has now been turned into an excellent play. On holiday I read two others of hers, both of which I strongly recommend. These are: ‘After you’d gone’, and ‘I am, I am, I am’ – an autobiographical account of some life scrapes.
My third recommendation is more serious, but also a book for our time. Stephen Cox’s ‘Navigating by the Son’ is an excellent, and I think prophetic, book based on his dialogue (as a priest in the Church of England from the conservative evangelical tradition) with his gay Christian son. He describes his developing understanding about how to live in love with difference, while also hearing what God maybe saying to us today. Each day we pray in the Lord’s Prayer ‘Thy kingdom come’ and ‘give us today our daily bread’ reminding us that there are contemporary challenges into which Jesus speaks today.
For those who prefer audio books, I recommend ‘On the Road’ by James Naughtie. The author narrates his own work in his own characteristic style. This book is a fascinating record of his observations on American Life between 1970 and 2020, ending with an explanation of the rise of Donald Trump.
So, have a fantastic August. For me the most important part of a holiday (after rest and restoration) is to take the opportunity to do (and think) things differently. When we do, we are guaranteed to see God differently too. This growth brings us closer to Him.