lists of lists

oh, i had so many beautiful new years resolutions this year.

one was that i was finally going to grow up, be responsible and learn to be organized. while i organize certain things almost obsessively, overall i am not exactly an orderly, organized, rational “a place for everything and everything in its place” type of person. and, as we all know, grown-ups are scrupulously organized! </sarcasm>

so that was one resolution.

then i decided i was woefully out of the habit of reading and was never in my life going to get through all the books i kept accumulating if i didn’t actually sit down and crack one open sometime. so i decided this year i was going to read a book a week — give or take a few weeks when 1,000+ page books like the biography of samuel johnson were on my list. oh, and they weren’t going to be just fun, fluffy books like p.g. wodehouse, either (although i love wodehouse dearly). oh no. these were going to be deep books. books that mattered. books that actually required me to think. books that, to quote my journal, “improve my mind and challenge my soul.”

i got through one book the first week of the year, actually, and felt like i was in college again. it was “don’t waste your life,” by john piper, which i’d received from my pastors as a high school graduation present, started and abandoned for less guilting topics. i graduated six years ago, by the way. but it was a good book — challenging, but not guilt-inducing this time. i picked that one to read first because our church was about to start a series called “don’t waste your …” and i wanted to be prepared.

then the next week came, and my book was “the everlasting man,” by g.k. chesterton. it became my downfall, i’m afraid. not only was it longer than i figured, but chesterton’s writing is so wonderfully rich and dense and profound that it takes me a lot more thinking to read his theology than it did john piper’s (and piper himself had deep things to discuss). so i thought, okay, i’ll take two weeks to read this. that won’t be too bad. but i had a hard time getting much forwarder.

then i was asked to be in a play and had about a hundred million lines to memorize, and all my lovely resolutions went KAPUT! all at once.

(that is not entirely true. actually it is mostly not true at all. in further admission of actuality, it was a huge multi-faceted step toward restoring creativity and the arts as a normal part of my life. so i’m not really complaining. i just like to give excuses for things.)

so here i am now, a few weeks after the play’s finale, full of things to do and lacking the motivation or memory to do them. somehow i went from no reading (other than the Bible and a few wodehouse books that slipped in there when i was losing my mind during rehearsing) to reading three books at once! which, i will say, is not all that unusual.

here, then, is the first list on my mental “list of lists” — books i am reading and the books i need to read once i finish those.

“wired that way,” by marita littauer
“the everlasting man,” by g.k. chesterton
“standing by words,” by wendell berry
“here i stand: a life of martin luther,” by roland h. bainton

“the book of the dun cow,” by walter wangerin jr.
“impro,” by someone whose name i forget
“1984,” by george orwell
“brave new world,” by aldous huxley
“the great divorce,” by c.s. lewis (i’ve heard it read aloud, but haven’t read it personally.)
“the screwtape letters,” by c.s. lewis (started and haven’t finished.)
“through painted deserts,” by donald miller
“amy carmichael of dohnavur,” by frank l. houghton
“growing up whitney,” by rick whitney
“the triumph of john and betty stam,” by mrs. howard taylor
“the life of samuel johnson,” by james boswell
“grant: memoirs and selected letters,” by ulysses s. grant
“the mabinogion” (welsh national mythology)
“beowulf,” translated by seamus heaney
“the great tradition,” edited by richard m. gamble
“the mound builders,” by george r. milner
“history of the hour,” by gerhard dohrn-van rossum
“telling the truth,” by marvin olasky
“the discarded image,” by c.s. lewis
“the republic,” by plato (i decided i need to revisit this from western civ. i in college)
“a history of wales,” by john davies
“the dawkins letters,” by david robertson
“the years with ross,” by james thurber
“the ball and the cross,” by g.k. chesterton
“true spirituality,” by francis a. schaeffer
“evangelism and the sovereignty of God,” by j.i. packer
“your God is too small,” by j.b. phillips

now, if your mouth’s hanging open at this point and you’re thinking “how on earth does this girl intend to read all these books in a year?” please rest assured that i don’t. this is a list first of the books i intend to finish, then the books i’ve been encouraged to read, finished up by a (long) list of the books i own that i would like to read this year but will probably read over the course of the next 2-3 years, or possibly throughout the rest of my life. several of those are little, and i know i could get through them quickly if i just actually tried reading them instead of admiring the way they look on my shelves. some are huge, of weighty content, translated from another language or are all three, and therefore will take quite a lot of wading through.

but look, now i’ve made a list! now i actually know what i have to work with and can start ticking things off. oh frabjous day — calloo, callay!

by the way, i’m always open to book suggestions. i reserve the right to decline to read what you suggest, but i welcome the suggestion all the same.