are some of my favorite books that keep the mental leg of my table strong! I hope you find them encouraging, as well as fun to read. If you have a
good book to recommend, please leave it in the comment section at the
end of the page.
Out of the Silent Planet
This science-fiction novel is the first in C.S. Lewisâs Space Trilogy as it follows the abduction of Dr. Ransom. Ransom is taken by spaceship to Malacandra, (Mars), where he discovers that Thulcandra (Earth) has grown so corrupt that the Spiritual Being who controls his planet has cut it off from the other planets. Therefore, earth is called "the silent planet." When Ransom lands on Malacandra, he escapes his captors and then faces the challenges of surviving the strange surroundings and inhabitants, as well as finding a way back to Earth.
I am not usually a science fiction fan, but this was not a science fiction story to me. Instead, it was a human story,--a story of kindness and redemption.
Written in 1850, The Scarlet Letter is one of America's greatest pieces of literature. It is set during seventeenth-century Massachusetts when a strict Puritan influence governed the people. Hester Prynne believes she is a widow when she bears an illegitimate child, Pearl, from an adulterous relationship with a man who refuses to take responsibility for either his actions or his daughter.
The entire community, especially Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale, rebukes Hester and forces her to wear the letter âAâ on her clothes at all times as a punishment for her sin of adultery. Meanwhile, the young mother is unaware that her husband, Roger Chillingworth, is very much alive and living in the same town under a different name as he seeks revenge on the father of the illegitimate child.
I love the way Hawthorne, one minute, makes me feel like Hester, the next like Dimmesdale, and then even Chillingworth at times. To me, the story is less about adultery and more about the liberty of truth, the strength of loyalty, and the desecrating effect of secrets and revenge.
For two centuries, the Pyncheon family has been haunted by a mysterious past of an ancestor accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts during the seventeenth century. Over 200 years later, the remaining four members of the respectable New England family are left to care for one another in a house that has decayed greatly as if the family's haunting past has physically effected on the mansion itself. The family also has suffered through the years, coming to a point of poverty.
Inside the house of seven gables, present circumstances force the relatives to face their past, which grows more complicated when they discover old documents concealed behind the wall panels. Can these musty pages offer further clues to the past for the Pyncheons? Oh, I will never tell! You will just have to read it! And by the way, this story was based on the history of one of Hawthorne's own relatives who brought a legendary curse on the family when she was condemned during Salem's infamous witch trials.
Based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk, who survived five years alone on an uninhabited island near Chile, Verne's classic tale records the events of five people and their dog who escaped from a Civil War prison camp via a hot air balloon. When their balloon goes down, they are stranded on an unknown island somewhere in the Atlantic. As the survivors set up camp on the island, they begin to notice that the island has peculiar characteristics. Medicine mysteriously appears at the moment of need and pirates are routed away in a similar mysterious fashion. The longer the survivors remain on the island, the closer they grow to uncovering its secret.
This book isn't considered "Chick Litâ" for sure, but this chick was crazy about the castaways and their enchanting island!
When wealthy Aunt Touchett brings her niece, Isabel, to Europe, the lovely young lady is expected to marry quite soon. Yet this spirited American woman is determined to decide her own fate, and to the surprise of her family, she turns down the first two eligible suitors without hesitation. However, an irresistible attraction draws Isabel to the charming Gilbert Osmond, who skillfully hides an evil nature beneath his cultivated facade.
The story of Isabel's love and betrayal is one of Henry James' most well-known books. I found myself at the end of the book shouting to Isabel, "Don't do it!" You will have to read the book to find out what she did! It is a truly beautiful study of the multi-faceted heart of a woman.
Scottish author George MacDonald weaves a fantasy tale in his 1871 novel "The Princess and the Goblin" that fascinated even well-known author J.R.R. Tolkien during his childhood. MacDonald's story teaches its key characters the necessity of sometimes believing without seeing as it follows the steps of the young Princess Irene, her friend, Curdie, and Irene's great-great grandmother who lives at the top of the castle stairs in a secret room. While the princess learns her grandmother's mysterious secret, Curdie, a minor's son, discovers an evil plot of the goblins who live beneath the mountain.
Told in the fashion of folk tales, this book is simple enough for children to enjoy and compelling enough for adults to love with its fantastical images of goblins, burning roses, and a thread so fine that it is invisible yet strong enough to guide the young Irene back to the safety of her grandmother's arms. I featured this book at my summer classic lit chat--the women loved it.
Rest and Be Thankful
Sally Bly and Mrs. Pell, a wealthy widow, exchange their European life for a journey into America's western frontier. The experience is a stark change for the ladies who have spent so many years in the more sophisticated culture of Europe. When a rainstorm overtakes them in Wyoming, they seek shelter at a nearby ranch. During their stay, the ranch and its peaceful valley capture the hearts of Sally and Mrs. Pell who buy the land and turn it into a quiet writer's retreat.
This book was charming and enchanting. I loved the characters and the unexpected love story that emerged. It also taught me a lot about life in the west. If you write, want to write, or just curious about writers, you will get a kick out of this book!
Biographer Ron Cherno delves into the records of America's history to paint a compelling portrait of one of the country's most influential yet often over-looked founding fathers. Modern history marks Alexander Hamilton as the first U.S. Secretary of Treasurer, a member of the Constitutional Convention, and co-author of the Federalist Papers, yet Cherno expands Hamilton's character to reveal his depth of brilliance and intelligence.
Cherno claims that Hamilton's opposition of slavery and capitalistic ideals made him a man far ahead of his time,--a man with whom Americans today could relate. After digging into nearly 22,000 pages of articles, manuscripts and letters, Cherno writes about a man who was not an arrogant, conceited monarchist as he is sometimes accused, but a talented, and intelligent man who found religion later in life.
Trust me, as I turned the final pages (which I dreaded because I knew how it would end), I was so sad! I think I have a huge crush on Alexander Hamilton and I really, really, really don't like Aaron Burr!
Although the second president of the United States is sometimes lost in the fame of George Washington, who came before him, and Thomas Jefferson, who followed him in office, this book shines light on the widely accomplished life of John Adams. The young lawyer moved into the political realm of the colonies when his patriotism drove him to prominent positions in the First Continental Congress. Although he held a significant role during his presidency, Adam considered his highest achievement to be, according to McCullough, his role in America's independence.
This biography also delves into Adams' relationship with his long-time friend and rival, Thomas Jefferson, as well as the loving romance between him and his wife, Abigail.
To be honest, the letters in the book and the presentations of Adams journal thoughts were the highlight of the book for me. It made me want to be more like Abigail Adams, that's for sure!
As the daughter of former President Harry Truman, Margaret Truman uses her own childhood experience in the White House to invite readers across the threshold into the President's house for a personal look at the lives of First Ladies. Assessing the roles and accomplishments of 29 First Ladies, Truman supports Lady Bird Johnson as the most successful, depicts Florence Harding as possibly the worst, and defends the sometimes criticized life of Mary Todd Lincoln.
Her writing includes first-hand interviews with recent First Ladies such as Lady Bird Johnson, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush. Truman concludes that no matter who fills the high priced shoes of "First Lady," each woman should encourage the public support of her husband. I really enjoyed the variety in this book.
The personality and character of George Washington unfolds as author Joseph Ellis shares his study of one of the United States' greatest military and political leaders. Ellis explains some of the inner forces and emotions that influenced the stoic leader, which gives an inside view not only of the founding father but also of the country itself during the beginning stages.
Washington's bravery in battle and personal dislike of the imperial English led him into the role of a general who guided the young colonies to freedom despite the fact that he lost more battles than he won. Later, Washington left another footprint in history as the U.S.'s first president who fought to maintain the hard-won independence of the new Nation. One of the most striking memories I have of this book was Washington's incredible âself-command.â It truly was inspiring.
Galileo is noted for his creation of the first reliable telescope that led to his controversial conviction that the earth rotates around the sun. Although much is known about his trials with the Inquisition because of this "heretical belief," Dava Sobel offers further insight to history with the untold story of one of Galileo's strongest pillars of comfort during this time - the oldest daughter of his three illegitimate children. Virginia became a nun at the age of 13 and took on the name Sister Maria Celeste. She corresponded with her Father from her convent, and 124 of her letters are still preserved today.
Sobel translates each letter from the original Italian and interweaves them into the previously-known historical facts about Galileo, revealing the character of the famous scientist who held a strong allegiance to both his science and his faith. Through the letters of his daughter, Dava shows readers that the nun was a loving daughter who became one of her father's strongest allies and confidants.
I loved this book and was totally fascinated by the science (which usually doesn't fascinate me), the history, and the tenderness of the father/daughter relationship.
JOURNALS AND NEWSLETTERS TO KEEP YOU THINKING
The Mars Hill Audio Journal is a bimonthly series of audio programs that is "committed to assisting Christians who desire to move from thoughtless consumption of contemporary culture to a vantage point of thoughtful engagement." In the journals, listeners are challenged not only to love God and their neighbor, but also to pay close attention to the neighborhood in which they live. Those who do not understand their environment have a difficult time ministering to it. Therefore, those who follow Christ should seek to understand the spheres of music, literature, government, economics, eating, and drinking in addition to prayer, Bible study, and evangelism.
These audio journals are used âto encourage sensibilities and habits of thoughtful cultural engagement through creative audio resources.â Each ninety-minute program includes interviews with a variety of guests who discuss a diverse range of topics, and is available on MP3, cassette tape, and CD.
In a world where the color gray is preferred over anything more distinct like black and white, A Slice of Infinity is a resource "aimed at reaching into the culture with words of challenge, words of truth, and words of hope." The weekly email messages, from the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, offer readers the chance to define truth in areas of culture that otherwise go unchallenged by the world. This ministry is dedicated to answering the questions of those who are seeking the bigger meaning of life, using the truth found in the Gospel of Christ. During each message, the reader is challenged to investigate their life, their beliefs, and their culture, as well as examine how the distinctive message of Jesus Christ can be applied to each area.
My thanks to Becky Williams for helping me write the summaries and compile this list. Please feel free to let me know what is on your Anti-Boredom book list and leave your suggestions in the comment area.