Favorite Books

A friend of mine, Bethany Jennings, posed the question of favorite books on Facebook the other day. While I have a running list in my head of favorite movies, I was stumped to think of my favorite books. This bothered me since I consider myself a reader. After much thought I came up with this list:

  • Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  • Harry Potter by JK Rowling
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
  • Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
  • Mindhunter by John Douglas
  • The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • Fiddler’s Green by A.S. Peterson
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley
  • Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz
  • All Band of Brothers Books but especially: Easy Company Soldier: The Legendary Battles of a Sergeant from World War II’s “Band of Brothers” by Don Malarkey, Biggest Brother: The life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who led the Band of Brothers by Larry Alexander, Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends: Two WWII Paratroopers from the Original Band of Bothers Tell Their Story by William Guarnere
  • The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelssohn
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • 3000 Degrees: The True Story of a Deadly Fire and the Men who Fought it by Sean Flynn
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Les Miserable by Victor Hugo
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • With the Old Breed by Eugene B. Sledge
  • The Killing Zone: My life in the Vietnam War by Frederick Downs
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Most books by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
  • The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques
  • The Railway Children and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
  • Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  • The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon

These are books I have either read several times, quoted from, was strongly influenced by, stuck with me, or I learned from. The longer I think about it the more books I want to add. This list is not static, but growing all the time.

And, due to popular demand, some of my favorite books are also:

  • When Skies are Gray by Abby Jones
  • Never Know, Dear by Abby Jones
  • Don’t take my Sun by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • Happy Thought by Abby Jones
  • Hero’s Story by Abby Jones
  • Hope’s Journey by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Cost of Two Hands by Abby Jones
  • The Sparrow and the Star by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Seventh Son of the Seventh Son by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Playground Children by Abby Jones (Unfinished)
  • The Texas Cousins Adventure Stories by Abby Jones

 

Advertisements

The Journey

1-1024x723

We’ve all heard the quote that it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination, right? I think there is a ring of truth to this idea. I’ve read Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Jane Eyre several times each. They’re my comfort reads. They’re books I go back to in the winter when I need to be reminded that spring will come again. I know how they end. I know about the Gray Havens. I know about Harry’s children, and I know about Jane and Mr. Rochester’s children. I know how the story ends. I’m not reading the book for the ending. I’m reading it for the beloved journey to the end. I’m reading it to let Théoden ride again. I’m reading it to play Quidditch in my mind. I’m reading it to watch a girl do the right thing when it’s the hardest thing. Over and over I read these books because the journey is more significant than the destination.

As a Christian, the destination is of primary importance to us. The destination is where we finally see hope fulfilled. We see. We see Christ, not by faith, but with our eyes. We will hear his voice with our ears. We will touch him with our fingers. We will finally see our great elder brother, our husband, our captain, our mighty King. Our destination is truly a mighty one.

But, at the moment of salvation we are not suddenly made perfect. We aren’t whisked away to paradise. We aren’t taken from this world. We aren’t even taken out of our sinful flesh. We are left to toil, suffer, and ultimately to die. For we are humans are we not? We are mankind even as Christians. We are left in the world God made for us until we die.

The Holy Spirit puts this time, this journey, to good use. He uses it to sanctify us and make us more like Christ. That is the point. The good in Romans is not good as in happiness and comfort, but good as in “conforming us to the image of Christ”. We are constantly being melted down. We are being weaned off this world, trained—like soldiers in basic training—to live by faith, lay up our treasure in heaven, love the brethren, and grow in grace and understanding. We are not magically righteous. We are made righteous.

For us the Journey is important.

My husband put it this way when he was preaching on theology the other night: The theological logic is as filled with blessing as the theological truth.

The journey is filled with blessing just as much as the Destination.

We may not understand why God decided not to just rapture us out at the moment of regeneration. We may not understand why God decided not to make us perfect at our first breath of faith, but we can rest in His Word. The journey is important.

Romans 8: 18-30: (ESV)

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

There is a journey here, a path to follow from predestined to glorified, from suffering to being conformed to the image of Christ. And just like the stories I love, I know the destination. I know where the journey ends. That gives me hope in the journey, but it also gives me the ability to focus on the journey.

The first time you read Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or Jane Eyre every fiber in your being is focused on the destination. But when you know the destination, your focus is on the journey. I know how the story ends. Knowing the end frees you to focus on the growth of the characters. You can see Frodo fail. You can soak in Neville’s courage. You can analyze the conversations between Jane and Mr. Rochester. You can focus on the journey because you know the end.

Life is the same for a Christian. (Oh the wonderful beauty of God’s wisdom, and the lesser yet still amazing beauty of stories.) You know the end, if you have faith in Christ, which frees you to focus on the journey here on earth. You can focus on the war against sin, your fellow saints, the means of grace, truth, love, and the beauty of the bride of Christ—His Church. You know where you’re going and you know how you’re going to get there. Focus on the journey.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0618640150/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0618640150&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=PJ5M2BLL5DPBDXV5

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0545162076/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0545162076&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=6TWJDBPZUPEDGHDI

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0007350805/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0007350805&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=37XMIUQ6MZJELMK6

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1433524767/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1433524767&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=NDV4V7TIFBRKXYY5

Writing Journal: Writing a Fairy Tale

I don’t have any great writing let-me-splain-01lesson to share at the moment, so what I’m going to talk about is the joy I have suddenly found in writing a fairy tale.  Some of you followed my Worlds before the Door blog and so you know what I used to write.  You have my permission to skip the next paragraph.  For those of you new to me, let me explain…that would take too long…let me sum up.  🙂  (Now you know exactly what kind of geek I am, and that I grew up happily in the 80’s.)

My writing is dark and detailed.  Now it’s hasn’t been detailed for the readers, but under the hood, it’s complicated.  I told all of my dark stories in a magical, fantastical setting.  This fantastical magic had very intricate rules.  It had to.  If you’re going to give your supernatural heroes supernatural enemies and have consistent battles, or any type of battles, you have to know who can do what.  Who can have visions and who can’t?  What type of visions?  When?  That’s the details.  I wrote about serial killers, mass murderers, insane asylums, and other such things.  The darkness came pouring out of me because light shines brighter in the darkness.  Hope is sweeter after emptiness.  Healing only matters if you’re broken.  Forgiveness is for the damned.  This is why my stories are dark.  I had to do a lot of emptying, breaking, and damning before I could bring hope, healing, and forgiveness.

tumblr_mx5whjOoRK1t44rh7o1_400

The problem was very few people could stomach them.  Those who actually made it through my 70-page prologue, where everyone died, did so with lots of shudders.  A few readers told me they couldn’t read what I wrote.  They loved the message but they couldn’t bear the depth of the darkness to get to the light.  The people not interested in my stories far outweighed the people who loved them.  (Thank you to everyone who loved them!!!)

quote-you-have-to-write-the-book-that-wants-to-be-written-and-if-the-book-will-be-too-difficult-for-madeleine-l-engle-106251

I wanted to share my stories and I wanted to encourage the body of believers.  I wanted to remind them through my stories that there is hope in the darkness when you’re broken and bleeding.  I wanted to remind them of the power of forgiveness.  I want to show a true love that is a choice of the mind instead of a whim of the heart.  I didn’t want to be one of those people who stubbornly and rebelliously refused to change at the request of others or the dictates of the Lord out of some misguided desire to be true to self.  What did I do?  I started writing fairy tales for children.

1024For the past few months, I’ve pounded my head against a brick wall with my Fairy Tale: Icicle Rain.  It was such a struggle.  I had so much to learn about this world.  Nothing felt comfortable, familiar, or smooth.  I had to edit every scene already written as I wrote new scenes and discovered more about the story.  Then it happened:  I had a moment.  The whole story came together.  The darkness became so very dark and the light became ever brighter, if smaller for a time.  I found a piece of the heart of the story:

(Just to make it clear, Gus is a mouse and Presto is a mushroom with many eyes.  Oak is a dryad.  I told you it’s a fairy tale, right?)

“And your heart?” Presto asked raising several eyebrows at Gus.

“My heart?” Oak patted his coat and trouser pockets.  “Where’s my heart?  Oh, yeah, I gave that away.”

“Do you know who has it?”

“No, but they needed it.  Their own heart had been broken, so I gave them a new one.  I gave them mine.”

“Can you tell us even one little thing about who has your heart?” Presto asked getting irritated.

Gus grunted at him.

“You know, sir,” the mouse turned to Oak.  “It might be a good idea to know a little bit about this person.  Your heart belongs to them now and that brings responsibilities and obligations.”

“I know that they are kind,” Oak said.  He leaned forward, listening not with the ears he no longer had, or seeing with eyes no longer his own, but listening to what he had given away.  “I know they needed hope.  I know great sorrow and loss mark them.  She lost everything she cared about, and that loss broke her free.”

“Did you say she?” Presto said, leaning forward.

“Yes.  I gave my heart to a woman.  She loved eight men and when the last one was safe or dead, or both, she left.”

“Sounds like a bit of a floozy if you ask me,” Presto muttered getting another pointed glare from Gus.

“No.  No.  Not grown men.  There was only one grown man.  The rest were growing men, her growing men.”

Gus gasped.  “She had seven sons?  You gave your heart to the mother of seven sons?”

“No.  I gave my heart to a woman with a glint in her eye and a heart for trees.”

The mouse and the mushroom gasped.

“That’s impossible,” Presto said, never truly at a loss for words.  “Impossible, I tell you.”

These few lines won’t mean a whole lot to you, but to me they were the moment I found a huge part of why I was writing this story.  They represented all the darkness still coming, but it wasn’t an empty darkness.  It was a darkness with lots of hope.

I fought against writing children’s literature for years.  Poor writing plagues it.  Everyone is doing it to try to capture some of the monetary magic of Twilight.  I often find most YA, and Tween books filled with angst instead of adventure, worship of romance instead of the truth about real love, and lacking adults as if adults can’t be in YA fiction.  (Obviously, there are exceptions.)  I didn’t want to throw myself in with that mix, and yet…I love good children’s stories.  Many of my favorite books are books I read in high school or were written for that age group:  Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Sunshine, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Chronicles of Narnia.  I love a well-written story for children.

So, I shook off the self-imposed stigma I had attached to writing for young people.  Who cares if most of it out there is tripe or poorly written?

I embrace my new stories.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because it can have all of the darkness, and not all the magic has to be explained like it was in my other stories.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because I can pull from all the myths and truths that I love and hold dear.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because I found a piece of the heart.

Shiny

Shiny!

I’m not one of those people who believe that the best way to battle darkness is to pretend it doesn’t exist.  I think it’s best battled by facing it head on.  Heavy thoughts from someone with a blog covered in bright colors and paisley patterns who writes kids stories about her nieces and nephews, right?  Nope.  I consider myself the Kaylee of the battle against darkness.  I can face the darkness with tears and a smile because my soul is safe.  A Hand mightier than my own holds it.  The darkness doesn’t like hope, laughter, and smiles.