We've been studying the Jewish exile in Babylon in our Bible Study group. You can look at my Bible Study blog to see where we're up to, but the reason I mention it is because we've been looking at how the Jews were told by Jeremiah to live their lives and make their homes among "the enemy," how Daniel modeled that so perfectly, remaining Jewish and becoming a seriously successful Babylonian, and how Christians today might do well to take the same advice. Not our job, perhaps, to convert the world or take over the government, but rather to live our lives "in the world, but not of the world."
So what has that got to do with reading and writing book reviews? Well, one of the books I've just read is Madeleine L'Engle's Walking on Water. She seems to express what I feel so very well, reminding readers that bad art is bad religion, even if it lays claim to follow all the rules. Good art, even if not religiously inspired, is truly an act of creation. And if we are like our creator God, good art is inspired, whether we claim so or not, by our creator. I really enjoyed the book for its conversational style, the way it invites questions, and the author's acceptance (even insistence) that doubt is part of "what if," which is part of faith and experiencing that which cannot be fully understood--it's also part of writing creatively. If you're looking for something to read, and for coffee suggestions, enjoy an elegant and complex four-star coffee with this one.
Brandilyn Collins' Why Did I Love Hate That Novel offers plenty of advice for readers and writers too, from an easily understood explanation of what makes the reader say "it started slowly" to the value and judicial use of short and long sentences. Plus some psychology. Plus some fine illustrative examples. Enjoy this one with a well-balanced full-flavored three-star coffee.
Finally, since reading and writing both make me happy, I thought I should finally get around to reading The 7 secrets of Happiness by Linda Johnson and Kat McDivitt. It's an interesting read. Again, the authors have a pleasing conversational style. Examples from sources as varied as Buddhist wisdom and Shakespeare illustrate the points. And there is some excellent advice. Enjoy with a lively, easy-drinking two-star coffee.
And that's where the title of this blogpost comes from. Self-help and happiness in the final book, meeting creativity in the second and faith in the first, all stirred together into some pretty cool read.