I have an e-reader, which I enjoy, but there is something about getting lost between the pages of a good book, settling into the chair and becoming immersed in a story.

Some reading is necessary, some is monotonous, some inspiring, some is challenging, some is pure delight.

Although reading is solitary – and that kind of rest is good – I like to hear what others are reading and learning.

That was the case recently when a friend recommended a number of books and I dove right in.  I dusted off my library card and found a whole new world of treasures.

I’ve now read three books by Lisa Genova, the author of the famed “Still Alice”, a novel about a woman diagnosed with dementia, and this book became a major film.  I have not read “Still Alice” yet, but found myself fascinated by her novel “Love Anthony” about a little boy who suffers from epilepsy and severe autism.  She steps right into the mind of this child, and you gain a whole new understanding of what it might be like to perceive the world when you are autistic.

Genova is a researcher who creates artistic expression with her words and stories and brings the real challenges of physical and emotional difficulties that people face, to life.  This has helped me to broaden my understanding of some of these challenges.  The latest book I read was “Inside the O’Briens”, an amazing account of a family dealing with Huntington disease.  I also read her novel “Left Neglected”, about one of the possible side-effects of brain injury.

These books and stories are better than any textbook in my opinion (although textbooks certainly have their place!)  They have given me new perspective to understand some of the people I meet in my work as a chaplain.

Recently I had a conversation with a colleague at work and we talked about how it is our personal experience and often suffering that have been our hardest and best teachers.  There are books which bring us into the lives of those facing challenges and these stories can  teach us in a way that textbooks cannot.

Another novel I just read is by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn, “Healing Waters” which addresses the deep problem many women have with self worth and body image.  This book also addressed those difficult questions about suffering, and why does God allow it?  As I read through the pages, I was drawn into the struggle; it was a good and challenging book which kept me from any housework for a number of days!!

I must admit I love a good novel.  I dislike fluff and pre-fabbed happy endings.  Life isn’t like that.  I want a book to challenge and inspire me, to stretch me into thought and imagination.

True stories and biographies are high on my list as well. 

And I love the ancient words of the Psalms, of Isaiah, the poetry of the Bible.  And the scriptures are full of wonderful stories of real people.  I recently spoke on the story of the Red Sea, and again it was a book that helped me to understand this story even better.  If you need encouragement, I recommend “The Red Sea Rules” by Robert J. Morgan, the subtitle is “10 God-given Strategies for Difficult Times”. 

What would we do without words, without language?  I think of the imagination of our Creator – and it is said we are made in God’s image – and we have minds to think, and tongues to speak. These are gifts to us.  There is power in this, and also danger if we misuse it.

So, if you are inspired to read, happy reading!   And please share your favourite reads that you have discovered recently.  Here’s to inspiration!

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