Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hello, Old Friend

To me, some books are like old friends. I seek them out every now and then because they help me remember who I once was, some of which has changed for the better, and some parts that need to be reclaimed.

Old favorites are generally restful to me as well. I love new books, but all, even the good ones, are tiring to me. The bad ones are tiring just because they are such a chore to get through...each page read with an energetic hope that it will get better, that there will be something redemptive and worth the effort. The good ones are tiring because I have yet to learn how to pace myself. When I really like a book, I read it voraciously, greedily taking in every word, staying up until my eyes burn with weariness. It is, oh so worth it, but tiring nonetheless.

So, an old book is pulled out every now and then. It's a bit of a break. I know how it ends already. I anticipate certain parts with full knowledge of how they turn out. There's no wondering, no waiting, no hurry. Just an enjoyable kind of knowing.

I've been re-reading The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. What a great book. I first read it a few years ago and it made such an impression on me. There is so much in it about the deep desires of our hearts. Our desires for connection, to be known, to be loved unconditionally, to understand why we are the way we are, and to live out of a place that is alive to all of those things.

I can remember copying page after page of this book, highlighting the passages, and pasting them into my journal. "This is how I feel, " I would write. And I did. And some of it still rings true today. Here is a particularly significant passage:

What is my civil war about? Is it the fear of being held in familiar love
versus the fear of running through the fog, searching for love? Each holds its
own terrors, extracts its own pound of flesh.

Flesh. Now we draw closer. The question is: can I love Connor, who will die someday, any day, the smell of his shoulders becoming only a memory? Can I soften to love, with full knowledge of the suffering I welcome in? Thomas Merton said the love we most cherish will, of necessity, bring us pain. Because that love is like the setting of a body with broken bones.

But I want to stage the setting; I want to direct all the scenes.

So, for now, I'm curling up with my old friends, the Ya-Ya's. And it's good getting reaquainted.

Who are your old friends, fellow readers?

P.S. Yes, they made a movie out of this book...the book is better.


Michelle said...

I read this too- years ago, & loved it. I agree the movie wasn't as good. It didn't capture the tone that the passage you quoted had.
You won't be surprised that my 'old friend' book is 'Redeeming Love' by Francine Rivers. I couldn't put it down! I've read it quite a few times, and even though I love it so much, it never captures me the way it did the first time. I remember where I was sitting, reading those words that really changed my life, and my relationship with God. What an amazing journey it was...!
Great question Amanda- I'm anxious to hear what other people have to say!
xoxo- mas
p.s. you're such a great writer- I wish I had your gift!! ;) and your sig. is on the way- sorry it's so late!

Amanda said...

No worries on the sig., Michelle.

I love 'Redeeming Love', too, and have to say that it is one of my old friends as well. I probably read it at least once every year or so.

Good pick.

Deb said...

Michelle, took my best bff book! Although now, I may have to say that 'A Same Kind of Different As Me' is now a new favorite! I've already started to read it again and I just finished it. It has been a long time that I've stayed up way too late to read a book and one that made me sob...or should I say allowed me to sob!

Jess said...

I have never read this but I may try it now. I have also heard so many things about 'Redeeming Love'.One of my friends has it and has been suggesting it to me for quite some time. Looks like I've got some reading to do!

Steve Bezner said...

This post immediately resonated with me, and I'm so glad that you talked about this. Books are near and dear to my heart, and, you're right: there are some that demand to be returned to for a variety of reasons.

I continue to read The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer over and over. It pushes me toward following Jesus like no other.

I also love to read Wendell Berry, and his little book on the problem of racism in the South called The Hidden Wound was one I read three times in a short period.

Along with those, I love to read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe over and over, and it's great because my boys really like that book right now. We're also reading Stuart Little right now, and despite the fact that I read that as a kid, it's a lot funnier to me as an adult.

Others that I've read a couple of times: The Ragamuffin Gospel, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, Pupose-Driven Life, and an Unstoppable Force.

I don't guess I re-read novels very often, but, for some reason, A Time to Kill was one that really affected me the first time I read it. I have re-read sections of it since then, but haven't finished it yet.

Oh! One I forgot: Leaving Ruin. Great book.

Amanda said...

Jess, You absolutely have to read 'Redeeming Love'. Take your friend, and mine(as it turns out), at their is amazing! You won't be disappointed.

Amy said...

I will somewhat sheepishly admit that while I do so love to read, I don't consider myself much of a re-reader. But then again, I guess I do have some old friends that I return to: any of Anne Lamott's non-fiction (over & over), C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces & A Grief Observed, and perhaps my best-y, Pride & Prejudice. And I wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't say I have made a new friend which will be an old friend: Twilight. Oh yes, Twilight. (I see that didn't make your pastor/friends' list.)

The Coopers said...

ok sis you know I am not a huge reader like you are, but I am finding more time to sit and relax and wanting to grab a great book. I just finished Shepherding a Childs Heart for the second time and love it. Also Calm my anxious heart is another good one I have re-read. The one deb mentioned is one I heard was great from someone else. going to pick it up maybe this week. great post for the newly wanna be a reader again! love you!

Jennille said...

Loved this blog. I am not much of a re-reader, but there are a few that I would read again. Redeeming Love is definitely one of those. I would like to read The Shack again, someday. Amy, I so much a Twilighter, too! I am finishing Breaking Dawn today. I will probably read those all again, too. I love see all the favorites out there! Fun, fun, fun!