Part II: 7 Days, 7 Book Covers ... With Explanation
I just posted my last book cover from the "7 Days 7 Covers" challenge on Facebook. As I explained here, I wanted to take things a step further on my blog and explain why I chose the books I did. So here are the books I chose for days 4-7 of the challenge.
Day 4: Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality
Here's an excerpt from my review, summarizing why I think Love Thy Body is so crucial for Christians today:
Nancy Pearcey “makes the case that secularism denigrates the body and destroys the basis for human rights.” She tackles the hottest moral questions of our day, one chapter at a time. She employs philosophy, history, and most importantly, Scripture, to wade through each question and end at a biblical answer. ...
It’s vital to understand the biblical answers to the tough questions surrounding us, and to be able to share those answers with compassion and conviction. Love Thy Body helps readers do just that.
Day 5: Captivating
When I read this book by John and Stasi Eldredge in high school, it introduced me to an entirely new way of thinking about womanhood.
I'm grateful to have grown up in both a family and church environment that valued women's leadership, contributions and freedom. But it's still easy in our culture for girls to pick up confusing — and just flat out wrong — ideas about womanhood and femininity. Captivating helped me work through many of the warped ideas I'd encountered.
For instance, reading Captivating was the first time I understood that weird term we see in Genesis 2: "help meet." The Eldredges write:
When God creates Eve, he calls her an ezer kenegdo. "It is not good for the man to be alone, I shall make him [an ezer kenegdo]" (Gen. 2:18 Alter). Hebrew scholar Robert Alter, who has spent years translating the book of Genesis, says that this phrase is "notoriously difficult to translate." The various attempts we have in English are "helper" or "companion" or the notorious "help meet." Why are these translations so incredibly wimpy, boring, flat...disappointing? What is a help meet, anyway? What little girl dances through the house singing "One day I shall be a help meet?" Companion? A dog can be a companion. Helper? Sounds like Hamburger Helper. Alter is getting close when he translates it "sustainer beside him"
The word ezer is used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament. And in every other instance the person being described is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately.
Women aren't confined to being Hamburger Helpers or dog-like companions. Our role in God's creation is vital and necessary. And that's why since the dawn of time, Satan has had it out for women. Captivating helped me understand the widespread abuse and subjugation of women around the globe as more than an unfortunate reality, but as a spiritual war meant to keep women from fulfilling our full purpose for God's kingdom.
Day 6: Johnny Tremain
There are many books I love, but to this day if you ask me what my favorite is, I'll answer Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.
I have my dad to thank. He introduced me and several others to Johnny Tremain in a Revolutionary War class he taught for our homeschool co-op.
I love historical fiction and the Revolutionary War era. But more than all that, I came to love the characters in Johnny's world, whose true-to-life personalities pop from the pages and draw you in.
Of course, I loved Johnny most of all. Maybe because he's so relatable to the young adolescents toward which his story is geared. He's ambitious, gifted and arrogant, thinking he knows everything and needs no one's help. But life is tough and puts him in his place, as it does with many of us. He encounters this brutal awakening while still wading through everything young people do: crushes, friendships, fear, insecurity and a longing for adventure. Young readers (and old!) live through Johnny when real adventure actually finds him.
It can be hard to adequately articulate why a book is your favorite, but suffice it to say, Johnny Tremain is a story I'll visit again and again.
Day 7: At Home in Mitford
The Mitford series by Jan Karon is a dear one to me, so I had to include the first novel, At Home in Mitford.
I began the series in high school, and at first, I admit, I was afraid it might be boring. After all, I liked adventurous fiction about people my age. Books like Johnny Tremain and The Chronicles of Narnia. But a beloved writing teacher spoke so highly of the series I decided to try it.
I was immediately sucked into Mitford, the North Carolina home of Episcopal priest Father Tim. The small-town drama and personalities are so realistic, you feel like you've been through the town and met everyone in it before.
As I devoured the first of Father Tim's stories, I learned several valuable lessons. First, that the simple life is a profoundly good one. There is beauty, purpose and yes, even adventure to be found if we'll just look up and engage with the people around us. Secondly, stories about the simple life, simple people, and the struggles of both are compelling and important. Not every story needs to have some grand, fantastical plot. As someone who aspires to write stories, this was truly formative. Finally, I learned that the author, Jan Karon, didn't even begin to write the extremely successful Mitford series until after her 50th birthday — amazing inspiration to never give up on your dreams!
My favorite character in the Mitford books has to be Cynthia, Father Tim's mysterious middle-aged neighbor and eventual love interest. Cynthia's enthusiasm for people, for life, and for her work as a children's author gave me a picture of what I might aspire to down the road. Though fictional, Cynthia is a personal hero of mine. If I can be half as vivacious, kind and successful when I get to be her age, I'll be happy.
So that's it — my 7 Days, 7 Covers explained. Thanks for reading! What books have been formative or meaningful in your life?