You're killing me, Smalls ...

Jane Austen said, "Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings."

True, Jane. Very true.

I have discovered the meaning of that quote, especially over the last few years. My life is pretty much go, run, do. Having three children - three active in everything children - will do that to you.

But I've also noticed that things do, in fact, seem to be slowing down as I get older. Not so much go and run anymore, still quite a bit of do. It's scary, how quickly time flies after 40. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to cram several years' worth of accomplishments into a 24-hour period. And I have to keep telling myself I can't do that. My inner voice just shakes its head and says, "You're killing me, Smalls."

One thing I've been doing a lot more of lately - to my own benefit - has been reading. It's hard to put into words the joy that floods my soul when I escape into someone else's world for a while.

One of the patients where I work (the day job) lent me a book called The Map Thief by Heather Terrell. I liked the premise of this story - a modern-day art sleuth is hired to recover an ancient map stolen from an archeological dig, and the present day storyline is intertwined with historical accounts of the map's journey into existence and history in two separate time periods. As a writer myself I can appreciate the time and effort that went into the researching of this book, and I enjoyed this author's depiction of the 'what if' factor with respect to the historical events. I also enjoyed the book overall, though I was a little disappointed with the structure, as the book didn't seem to flow from past to present and back as fluently as other books of this type that I've read (see my notes on Christi Phillips' The Rossetti Letter and The Devlin Diary, for instance). And - spoiler alert! - being a romantic at heart, I was more than a little disappointed with the way Terrell ended the book with regard to the romance between the art sleuth and the archeologist. I'm not a fan of being left hanging with no promise of a resolution.

Although anyone who knows me knows I am a believer, it might surprise you to learn that I'm not big on "inspirational" reading - either fiction or nonfiction. I try to read the Bible on a daily basis (in fact, I have an app on my phone with different plans for reading and studying the Word - it's pretty cool), and occasionally someone will recommend a book that I'm willing to give a chance. Additionally, I belong to our church's women's ministry book club, and we meet every couple of months or so to discuss selected works - both fiction and nonfiction - some of which I'll take the time to read and some of which I will admittedly (and unashamedly, really) not. For our last meeting we chose a sweet little book called Heaven is for Real, the story of a 4-year-old boy who slipped into unconciousness during emergency surgery, returning to his family and full health with an amazing account of how he had visited heaven, accurately describing both his great-grandfather (who had died 30 years before he was born) and his sister (whom his mother had miscarried and about whom he was never told). Those ladies in the book club who had already read the book assured me that I could finish it in a day (I actually finished it in about 3-1/2 hours). The thing I enjoyed most about this book was that though it was written by the boy's father (Todd Burpo, a small town Nebraska pastor) - along with a professional writer, Lynn Vincent - the story is often related in little Colton's own words, which makes it both appealing and believable.

Another inspirational nonfiction book I'm currently reading (and absolutely loving) is my friend River Jordan's Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit. A couple of years ago, River made a New Year's resolution to pray for a stranger every day, and this book is her account of how that decision affected her own spiritual journey. I'm only about a third of the way through it but it's a simply beautiful book. I love the way River writes, both her fiction and her nonfiction; I'm a bit envious of the way she can put together fluid sentences that steal the breath from your very soul. I've previously mentioned here her most recent fiction novel, The Miracle of Mercy Land. If you haven't read anything by this charming and dear lady, please rectify that!

My ever-inspiring critique partner gave me (actually bought and had shipped to and demanded that I read) a book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Yes, that Steven Pressfield, the one who wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance. The War of Art ranks right up there with Stephen King's On Writing for anyone who wants to call themselves a professional writer. Remember what Yoda said? "Do or do not. There is no try." JT is using this as her new sign-off on her emails. It's more or less the theme of Pressfield's book. Either you're a writer, or you're not. There is no in-between. The one nugget of advice from the book that stuck with me is that amateurs talk about it, professionals do it. 'Nuff said.

I've said repeatedly that my dream job is to be a film critic - combining two of my favorite vices: writing and watching movies. I'm so tickled to have a Netflix subscription. Last weekend Little Bit and I watched Inkheart. How apropos, a movie about a book (and based on the popular children's novel of the same name by Cornelia Funke). Brendan Fraser and Eliza Bennett play a father (Mo) and daughter (Meggie) who share an unusual gift - they can read characters to life out of books. When one of the characters who comes out of the book turns out to be a treacherous villain, Mo and Meggie must find a way to read him back into the book. It was delightfully fantastic (and I mean fantastic in the truest sense of the word).

Today is the rainy day we've all been saving for ... a perfect day for snuggling up with a good book. That's what's on tap for me for the next couple hours, until these storms pass through far enough that I can drive down to the oldest daughter's place and help her finish moving.

So, what are you reading?

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