I’ve been on such a classics kick lately. My sister got me this beautiful complete works of Jane Austen set a couple years ago for my birthday, and when I saw this challenge back in January, I decided I owed it to Jane (and Katie) to have read all of her novels. I wanted to re-read Pride & Prejudice at the beginning of the year, but I didn’t quite get to it. I did, however, read Mansfield Park in March, and I am so glad I did. Here’s what I thought about it and a few other books I read lately:
Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen
I knew absolutely nothing about this book before I started it, and it took me a while to really get into it (partly, I suspect, because the language is such a departure from the many YA novels I read), but by the time I was finished I was so glad I read it. I don’t want to give too much away, but one of the main male characters becomes a clergyman, which causes strong reactions from two of the female characters who have feelings for him. What ensues is several conversations about the character requirements for clergyman, what their responsibilities are, and the role of a woman who marries such a man. As a pastor’s wife, this discussion, especially set against the literary wit and sweeping romance of an Austen novel, deeply resonated with with me. Pride and Prejudice will always be one of my favorite books, but Mansfield Park may have a shot at claiming a spot on that list, too.
Notes from a Blue Bike, Tsh Oxenrider
This book was what I bought with my birthday money. The chapters are short enough that I was usually able to fit one in with my Bible reading and my coffee in the morning before I started my day. And at that pace, I had a lot of time to think about the things Tsh ruminates on in this great book. I’m still giving a lot of thought to the choices we are making as a family, from what we eat, to how we educate our kids, to how I balance work and life. While there is no one right choice for every person in every situation for any of these things, I don’t want to do any of it by accident. I want to live my life, raise my kids, complete my work with purpose and intention.
Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey
Don’t let the title of this book put you off. I was a little nervous to read it because I emphatically do NOT consider myself a “feminist” in the way that most of the people I’ve known who call themselves that understand the label. But I do believe that men and women are both made in God’s image, and that God chooses to use and gift them both as he works to redeem the people he loves, which is primarily what this book is about. Honestly, if you’ve read the theology book God’s Women, Then & Now (written by two excellent female AG scholars), this book won’t cover much new ground, but it’s written in a much more personal, narrative style. An excellent read!
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein
This, too, was a little hard for me to get into (I have GOT to start reading more books for grown-ups!) but I’m glad I read it. Jason and I never made it to the second movie while it was in theaters, and now we have forgotten what the first one was even about, so I felt like this was a good primer for our upcoming movie marathon. I stayed away from this book when I was younger, because of the people I knew who read it and liked it (not exactly people with whom I usually saw eye-to-eye on books), but I wish I hadn’t been so prejudicial. It was really good, and I could totally see myself reading it aloud to the boys when they get a little bit older.
Surprised by Motherhood, Lisa-Jo Baker
You love your kids. I know you do. But that doesn’t meant that being a mom is always easy. This book gives you permission to admit that sometimes being a mom is impossibly hard, even while it’s completely amazing and rewarding. I wish I could buy this for everyone I know, but since I can’t, please go out immediately and buy a copy of this great book for yourself or the mom in your life.