Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A New Blog Series...

Books. Reading. Reading books. I only wish I had the discipline to set aside time to read more.

Now be sure to note that that does not say, “I do not have the time to read,” because though I have been guilty of making that comment in the past, I have reevaluated the idea and reminded myself that that is not the case. I say this a lot in the same light as my response to those who say, “You sure have a lot of spare time on your hands to be writing blogs as often as you do and as LONG as you do.” That is not it, my friends. It comes down to the simple idea that we all have the same amount of time in our days, the only difference is how we choose to spend that time. That’s right, I choose to spend hours a week blogging because it is something I love. We all can make time for whatever we want to do, just whether we do it or not is another question. So, when I found myself asking for and receiving MANY books for gifts this Christmas, I made myself set aside time read.

Though I started several of the books I got for Christmas (I have a BAD habit of starting books and not finishing them), I find myself dedicating my reading schedule right now to one book in particular. This book is one I’ve had recommended to me by several of you who are reading right now. I find myself on the 15th chapter of Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller right now.

As I read the first chapter of this book during the long hours of the trip back to Dallas from St. Louis for Christmas, I immediately thought to myself, “This guy makes some really good points that I would love to discuss in some blogs.” It did not take very many more pages for me to come to the decision that this was going to be my next Monday blog series!

Blue Like Jazz may never make it to Oprah’s book club, but Miller’s creative thoughts and points will be shared with the world though my own version of a book club—the Blue Like Monday Mornings blog series.

Over the next 20 weeks, since there are 20 chapters in the book, I plan to discuss one chapter a week. As I do with just about every book I read, I have noted points in the book that stood out to me with small pencil checkmarks in the margin. Each chapter has some marks, because Miller is just that good! Some thoughts I already have marked to discuss include:

Why would God want to call Himself Father when so many fathers abandon their children?

Some people skip through life; some people are dragged through it.

I couldn’t give myself to Christianity because it was a religion for the intellectually na├»ve.

I like to think I do things for the right reasons, but I don’t, I do things because I do or don’t love doing them.

I started thinking about how odd it was to be human, how we are stuck inside this skin, forced to be attracted to the opposite sex, forced to eat food and use the rest room and then stuck to the earth by gravity.

That is just a couple points quoted directly from the text by Donald Miller that will be mentioned and discussed at later points during this blog series.

So this is why I made a post not to long ago asking about who has read and who owns a copy of Blue Like Jazz. I’m curious who will be my reading audience for this series.

For those who have already read this book, I encourage you to reread it along with this series. I plan to reread each chapter the night I write the blog entries because I know how, like a movie, you pick up on new things the second time through. Not only that, but if you haven’t read the book in a while, you might have forgot what points Miller was making in each chapter, so rereading it can really help to jog the mind for better comments and thoughts on his writings during this blog series.

For those who have never read this book, I will tell you this: I really have a hard time describing what this book is about to people when they ask me. HA! It really is hard to describe it. It is non-fiction, so if you’re a non-fiction fan, this is right up your alley! If you are anything like I used to be growing up, and when you hear the word “non-fiction” you think of boring books about documentary style topics like penguins, planets, and plants (for some reason those were ALWAYS the kinds of books I thought about when I was told I had to read a non-fiction book in elementary school…I have NO idea why it was always things that started with the letter “p”…HA!), then look at it this way, give it a try, non-fiction books can be a GREAT way to get yourself thinking about life, since last time I checked life is pretty non-fiction! ;)

Beyond that, I will try to sum the book up like this: It is a book focusing on interesting situations that have happened in Miller’s life that have been beautifully related to bigger and better ideas about life. It is a book focused around Christian topics, but it is not a book to sell Christianity on you (that’s what’s really cool about it)! I truly think the best way to describe it comes from the description written on the front cover of it and it says, “Nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality.” That’s pretty much what it is, as it has twenty chapters that talk about situations involving everything from grace to belief to church to money to love. Each chapter is on a different subject like that and basically Miller draws you into the topic with his fun and humorous stories describing a time in his life and then lets you back out by the end of the chapter by tying that story into his interpretation of that topic in relation to Christian spirituality. It’s really pretty neat how he does it!

Here is what I would love to have happen: I would love to see those of you who are interested in this blog series to run out this week and get you a copy of this book. It is a small, paperback book that will most likely run you from $10-15. Not bad at all. Matter of fact, I bet you can get it really cheap used on amazon, half.com, or ebay even cheaper! All you have to do is read the first chapter before next Monday (the 15th). Then after that, all I ask is for you to read one chapter a week (however, once you get into it, I can see you having trouble limiting yourself to just one chapter a week).

One of my favorite things about this book is that it is so very easy to read and a quick read! The chapters are only about 12 or so pages long and the print is rather large, so a chapter takes you maybe 10 or 15 minutes to read (even if you find yourself rereading a paragraph here and there because they are so interesting and you want to mark things in the margins, like me)! Since this is the case, you really don’t even need to set aside time to read it because you can do as I do and that is get in bed at night to go to bed and just stay up another 10 or 15 minutes to read the chapter (only ONE night out of the week, since you only have to read one chapter a week) and then go to bed. Honestly, 10 or 15 minutes later of a bedtime will hurt NO ONE!

So, next Monday it will begin! The Monday Paint a Picture series has wound up for now, as I still am considering continuing it in the future with some of my own picks for people to honor (AKA some of my close friends who are not readers of my blog), but for now it is time for a new series!

So, become a “reader” with me and let’s discuss some nonreligious thoughts on spirituality together as we venture through Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz! Best wishes over the next few days as you will hopefully be reading the first chapter entitled “Beginnings: God on a Dirt Road Walking Toward Me” before I start next Monday with the first entry of the Blue Like Monday Mornings series!


Jennifer said...

Well, I doubt it's necessary to tell you that I will obviously be there. I'm going to take credit for being the first person to recommend this book to you. It was wayyyyy back in the summer. I remember trying to explain it to you, and you're were like "Hmm...I'll have to keep that in mind," seemingly to me that you were just trying to appease. I'm glad more people recommended it to you. I knew you would like it!

Also, if you're a reader wanting to get the book, you can usually get it for about $10 at any Christian bookstore or $5 at Half-Price Books. I bought several copies there. If you want to check out more on the author, go to http://donaldmillerwords.com.

A. Lo said...

I haven’t actually read the whole book, but I did start it one night in Barnes & Noble. If you’ve ever read Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, I think it’s sort of like that. I think you should read Traveling Mercies, too, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Anne gets to be a little irreverent sometimes (which is why I love it) but she makes some interesting points that I think would also make great blog topics. I mean, c’mon, where else can you read about a woman who “converted drunk,” dreadlocks, dime bags (not the drug paraphernalia kind) and learning to love the butt you’ve got? It’s a great read!

I got to hear Anne Lamott speak once, and she quoted one of her friends as saying, “You know you’ve created God in your own image when you think He hates all of the same people you do.” (Doesn’t that make you want to read her stuff?)

FeedingYourMind said...

Yes, ma'am. JWalk WAS the first to introduce this book to me (and yes, many of you others have since recommended it...HA!)

And yes, JWalk. When I say I'll keep it in mind, I am being honest, I wouldn't say THAT if I didn't really mean it. I've told a GREAT many of people that I have no interest in reading or watching certain things...HA! I'm an honest person, can't help it! HA!

I think it probably was "I'll keep it in mind" more in the sense of I KNOW I never make myself sit down and read books, and can barely remember the last book I read COMPLETELY, so I figured I'd never sit down and read this one...but I'm only a couple chapters from finishing it as of right now! ;)

A.Lo--I'll definitely have to look into this Traveling Mercies book. From the sounds of what you say, it does sound like it might interest me! But I'll have to admit, I got a LOT of books for Christmas, and knowing my track record of reading I fear Ms. Lamott's book might fall a little ways down the list (AKA I might get to it before I have grandkids...HA!)

The next book on my reading schedule is most likely going to be "A Million Little Pieces"...and I'm REALLY excited about that one, though it is REALLY long and very small print (which is always intimidating to a not-so-frequent-reader like myself...HA!)

Thanks again for the recommendation though! So, you didn't say though what you thought of "Blue Like Jazz," the part you read at Barnes and Noble! ;) This is a good "excuse" for reading the rest of it! ;)

julesforstenholm said...

I like your idea! Who does it remind me of? Oh yes, my professors! Haha! I love it! You might consider that profession... I'll evaluate you at the end of the 20 weeks and let you know how you're doing! :)

Anywho, BIG fan of Anne Lamott, too! You should check out her books and Miller's others... I've read Through Painted Deserts, Blue Like Jazz, and Searching for God Knows What... they're excellent, in my opinion! Sometimes irreverent, yes, but very human! I like that!

FeedingYourMind said...

Uh Oh....the only time I consciously am reminded of the "evaluation process" when I am thinking about professors is when I am looking forward to filling out the evaluation because I can't wait to express my dissatisfaction with the professor.

The pressure has been "brought" for this blog series.... =/

Jennifer said...

Yes, I too, have read Traveling Mercies. Actually, I'm not finished with it yet. It's similar to Miller, but so far I've liked Miller a bit better. I think his sense of humor appeals to mine a bit more. As far as writing talent goes, they've both been abundantly blessed with it.