In a time of crisis, heroes step up and we see them for who they’ve always been. They haven’t changed, but our perspective has, ready to lean in and be grateful for their services. With Coronavirus in our midst, our first responders and medical workers are those such heroes that are holding our communities together.
While emergencies and medical services protect and heal our bodies, I believe the creative community steps in to protect and heal our souls. Music, art, nature, the written word – these hold great power – helping us sort through the fog of our feelings to find clarity and truth.
Books live in this creative realm, always there inviting us, just waiting for the moment when we are ready to pick them up, open our hearts and consider new or even forgotten ideas. The teacher and avid reader in me loves to connect people with the right books. This is not always easy because the real truth in finding the right book relies on timing. The true sweet spot, is an intersection between a reader’s current existence and the truths a book has to offer.
Amidst this pandemic we are living a whole spectrum of emotions. My hope today, is to connect you with the right books “for this season of life we all find ourselves in. While each book is very different, their themes all bring us hope amidst tragedy, peace over panic, and highlight the resilience of the human spirit. Each book title is also an Amazon link if you wish to purchase these books and have them delivered by our other heroes- delivery workers! Libby is another free option for ebooks and audiobooks. All you need is a library card to get started. While there is a wait for popular books, and not everything is available, I love Libby because it means books are always waiting for me on my phone, anytime I want them. I believe libraries are a treasure. Since many libraries are closed right now, Libby could be a brilliant way to check out books.
Take a peek and see if you find the perfect book for you.
A Paradise Built in Hell
While I have have just started this book, I can already tell it will be a lifelong favorite. Perfect for the time we are living in, Rebecca Solnit has written a book about real disasters throughout history. In A Paradise Built in Hell she describes the best parts of humanity that comes from tragedy – how people rise to care for one another amidst disasters.
The prelude captivated me with this idea, “‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’… He is also raising one of the perennial social questions: are we beholden to each other, must we take care of each other, or is it every man for himself?… If I am not my brother’s keeper, then we have been expelled from paradise, a paradise of unbroken solidarities.”
This book found me seven years ago when I desperately needed it, but was certainly not searching for it. In the beginning of my autoimmune diagnosis and my worst health years, Bo Stern helped me see beyond my circumstances and find beauty in my battles. Throughout the book, Bo references Romans 5:3-5 – the endurance, character, and hope that comes through suffering (paraphrase).
Bo writes, “If our roles were reversed, and you were telling me your story, I know that together we could find something beautiful that you have already gathered in the course of your fight… you could find yourself with more treasure than your arms could contain… not in spite of your battle, but because of it.”
When the World Didn’t End
I love poetry, but rarely find poems worth reading. To me, poetry is only useful when it finds a way to explain the truths your heart was longing to hear, but never knew how to eloquently express. When the World Didn’t End is a book filled with poems centered in the pieces of us that try to heal after broken seasons of life.
Sometimes I breeze by poems I find unworthy, but just as I quickly dismiss one, another poem pulls me in with words that seems to represent the songs of my soul.
Here is an excerpt from one of my favorites.
…and looking back,
it’s such a beautiful idea:
to have your favorite moment right in front of you.
looking back, that’s all I ever wanted.
for the best part of my life
to always be the present.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Heather Morris writes to show readers glimmers of hope amidst terrible atrocities in the Naazi prisons. I devoured this novel, reading to find powerful moments when a character would defy dangerous odds for the sake of caring for another human being. While this story is filled with pain, I view it as a story of hope, believing that people can choose to be kind and good and generous in the worst of circumstances.
I reference this quote because it is a belief I hope to live out through my choices each day, “To save one is to save the world.”
The Day the World Came to Town
This is perhaps the most light hearted book on my list, but just as powerful. This is the true account of Gander, Newfoundland – how this charming community cared for stranded travelers amidst the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Jim Defede tells stories of the most precious moments in life that only come when our own plans are halted and we are forced to find a new path. This is also a story of strangers, helping strangers in that special way that develops life long friendships.
This quote represents the spirit of the story, “They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed. If the terrorists had hoped their attacks would reveal the weaknesses in western society, the events in Gander proved its strength.”
Present Over Perfect
I owned my copy of Present Over Perfect for about two years before I was able to read it. I must have attempted that first chapter at least 4 times before I was in a season ready to really hear these words. Now that I’ve taken them in, I return to these truths often. Shauna Niequist writes to teach us how to simplify life, find the most important moments, and be fully present in them. Her words have taught me how to be at peace amidst the demands and deadlines of life. More importantly, she helped me define what is most important, and make choices to honor those values first.
I could quote Shauna all day, but perhaps you will find my favorite quote relevant to your life right now, “I’m finished hustling for perfect. It did not deliver what they told me it would. And so instead, present.”
The Circle Maker
Mark Batterson always writes with the purpose of empowering readers. Woven through his books are true stories, bible verses, and inspirational ideas. This book reminds me to set my worries aside and instead spend time in meditation and prayer. When I enter this mindset, my fears wash away, my dreams feel possible, and I’m ready for the next important moments of life.
Mark Writes, “Many people never see God part the Jordan River in their lives because their feet are firmly planted on dry ground. We’re waiting for God to make a move while God is waiting for us to make a move. We say to God, “Why don’t you part this river?” And God says to us, “Why don’t you get your feet wet?” But if you make a move, you’ll see God move. And He can move heaven and earth.”
Green Gurney friends, I hope these books find you in your current spaces. While you are caught in this strange season of pause and hustle. While you are protecting your neighbors and family by staying home. While you are sorting through the unknown, I hope books bring you comfort and help you find new beauty in the world around you.
Please share with friends or comment if you found a book you love. Is there another book you’d add to this list? Please tell me about it, because I bet I’d love to read it.
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