The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

2009 Books In Review January 5, 2010

Last year, in my own personal blog, I wrote lists of three of this and three of that about 2008. I’ve decided against that this year.

One thing I have continued from 2008 through 2009 was my goal to read 10,000 pages in completed books (excluding children’s books, which have been too numerous to count) within one year.

Inspired by the similar goals of my friend Rachael Clanton, I started at January 1, 2008, and on December 31, 2009, I had reached about 9, 500 pages. I had missed it by one book. How disappointing.

So, I have decided to renew the goal. This isn’t a New Year’s “resolution”, just a goal to accomplish by next New Year’s.

This year, I was not nearly as successful, but I have enjoyed the books I read. One way to motivate myself has been to always read a book before seeing a movie based on it. As a result, I’m sure you’ll recognize a lot of the books I’ve read this year as major movies that have been released.

Another way I’ve managed to motivate myself to read new books is by following along with the Schindlers’ book club. While I might not drive all the way to Chicago every month to attend, I’ve attempted to read many of the books. (That was probably a good thing, as it took me two months to read October’s book.)

As 2009 came to a close, I must admit: I only read about 2/3 of my goal this year, 6,179 pages. I’ve read many more incomplete books and magazines, but I only included completed books.

Considering I haven’t yet met my goal, I am going to try again this year. Perhaps I’ll manage 10,000 in 2010? Who knows? I’ve already completed my first book.

Maybe this next year I should require that they are all in large print so that I can multiply pages faster. Hmmm.

I’ve also recently discovered the BBC book club. (My dear friend Katie sent me a link letting me know that John Irving would be on and discussing my favorite of his books, A Prayer for Owen Meany.) I might try to follow along with that book club as well, but that might be a bigger stretch.

Please suggest any for this following year if you know of any I might like in particular. Thanks to anyone who may have suggested one I’ve read this year.

Here is the list of the books I completed in 2009:

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
  • He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo
  • New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
  • The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
  • Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  • A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth
  • Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  • Blind Dates Can Be Murder by Mindy Starns Clark
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Crazy Love by Francis Chan
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  • The World as I Remember It: Through the Eyes of a Ragamuffin by Rich Mullins

My list from 2008:

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Crooked Little Heart by Anne Lamott
  • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
  • The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
  • Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Baudolini by Umberto Eco
  • Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (twice)
  • Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Pirsoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
  • REVEAL by the WCA
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Wizard of Oz 70th October 12, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — ashleybarrett @ 8:01 am
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While strolling through the local Barnes and Noble, I passed a sign announcing 2009 marked the 70th anniversary of the release of MGM’s, The Wizard of Oz.

Like millions of other people, I loved, and still love, The Wizard of Oz. I watched it hundreds of time as a child, and it still cheers me up as an adult.

As a child, however, I missed the whole point of the movie. You know, the bit about Dorothy trying to go home. From the first time I watched Dorothy step out of the amber and sepia farmhouse into the Technicolor world of Oz, I knew I wanted to go there too. But unlike Dorothy, I would never look back.

I’m not sure why I chose the particular day I did. My cousin Tony had come over to play and I remember Dad was going to important man-work in the basement. I was not allowed to play outside. “I don’t even want to hear the door open,” he said.

But for whatever reason, I choose that day to leave for Oz. I put on the Dorothy costume my mother had made for me that previous Halloween, carefully divided my hair into pig-tails and packed a suitcase with crayons, coloring books (something to do while waiting for the tornado) and clean underwear. I tried to drag along my basset hound, Cleo. At eighty pounds, I knew she was too big to fit in my suitcase, but she would have to do.

“Come on, Toto!” I tugged on her collar. She licked my hand and resumed dozing.

Could I get to Oz without a dog? I couldn’t back out now. I stood at the door and looked at Tony. He waved sadly.

“You could come too, I think.”

“I don’t like the flying monkeys.”

At that, we bid farewell. I opened the screen door, picturing my grand entrance into Munchkinland. Until I heard my father stomp up the basement stairs.

I ran out the door as fast as my little legs could carry me.

I always picture this part of the story from the neighbor’s perspective.  On this beautiful, sunny day a chubby, five-year-old Dorothy bursts out from the house next door, her little ruby slippers pounding the pavement for all they’re worth. Before the screen door even shuts behind her, a large, disgruntled man charges outside chasing little Dorothy. He doesn’t even need monkey wings.  In about five seconds he catches her, spanks her and carries under his arm, kicking and yelling, into the house.

I doubt I made it out of the front yard. Worse, my parents forbid me from watching The Wizard of Oz for a year.

Despite my overzealousness, Oz touched a special place in my heart. I think it awakened in me what C.S. Lewis called sehnsucht, the inconsolable longing. A longing I thought could be filled somewhere over the rainbow.

Now I know better. Even Oz, though beautiful and mysterious wasn’t as wonderful as it first seemed. In the book, the Emerald City wasn’t well, emerald. They just made everyone wear green tinted glasses. And in the movie who could forget that famous fake wizard, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

My heart didn’t ache for a talking scarecrow or Munchkinland. It longed to stand in the presence of Jesus. The beauty of his kingdom surpasses even the most active imagination. And someday, I will get there; the inconsolable longing will be satisfied. I’ll look deep into face and will finally get, “There’s no place like home.”

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.

Philippians 1:21-23 (NLT)



Why do we read? September 14, 2009

Filed under: Life in General,Writing — ashleybarrett @ 12:44 pm
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I just finished a great book and am freshly reminded of the thrill from diving into a story and letting it move you, letting yourself care about the people and their world. But aside from the sheer pleasure of reading,  I feel like it also enhances my understanding of God, myself, people and places. Reading gives me a fuller and more examined life.

Here are some quotes from other authors about what reading gave to them:

“We read to know we are not alone.”

-C.S. Lewis

When I look back, I am so impressed again
with the life-giving power of literature.
If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of
myself in the world, I would do that again by reading,
just as I did when I was young.
~ Maya Angelou ~

Books are standing counselors and preachers, always at hand,
and always disinterested; having this advantage over oral instructors,
that they are ready to repeat their lesson as often as we please.
~ Oswald Chambers ~

All good books are alike in that they are truer
than if they had really happened
and after you are finished reading one
you will feel that all that happened
to you and afterwards it all belongs to you;
the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse,
and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.
~ Ernest Hemingway ~

What about you, what does reading give to you?