My friends, have you been swapping books?
Last week, I got to visit three young friends of mine (and their mother). I traded wildflowers from my yard for books from my friend. #winwin
I also talked her girls into reading Farmer Boy, even though it’s not about Laura. We discussed how many books there are with my name in the title (their shelves had B is for Betsy, Betsy Tacy, and Understood Betsy). And we visited the bunnies and chickens.
Earlier this summer, I loaned stacks of books to young friends. I received some school books I’d loaned out last year and handed over some new ones. I picked up an Algebra I textbook from one friend and bought a giant chemistry book from another.
As of this writing, our library has been closed for more than 4 months. And yet, we haven’t been without reading material. Not only that, we’ve had good reading material. As a bonus, trading books around has been one way to maintain relationships in this era of social distancing; after all, book lovers have been bonding over favorite books for centuries.
Recently, I found myself panicking stressing over our library’s continued closure. What would my teenagers read for fun this coming year? What about the read alouds I’d planned to check out from the library? After all, they coordinate perfectly with our history studies. What about the new books I want to review for my job here, at Redeemed Reader?
My friends, the Lord always provides. Even books.
I looked around our home library shelves: loaded with books. No one person in our house has read every book in our house. And, because I try to buy only the books we will want to re-read (as opposed to the casual, recreational reading that we get from the library), most of them are worth re-reading, even those we’ve already re-read.
George MacDonald’s fairy tales (all of them, in several editions). The Hornblower books. Madeleine L’Engle’s Time trilogy, books by Gary Schmidt, classic Star Wars novels, and the Master and Commander series. Books by R. C. Sproul and C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton and Jerry Bridges. Harry Potter books. Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys. The entire Anne series along with the Emily series. A boxed set of Jane Austen’s novels, Dracula, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Beowulf, Treasure Island, The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Winter King, Christy, Unbroken, The Queen of Attolia, The Boys in the Boat, scads of poetry books.
I won’t list *all* the books we have on hand. Some of those mentioned are books that were mine (or my husband’s) during childhood. A few are our parents’ childhood copies. Others are hot off the press. Beat-up paperbacks alongside cool vintage hardbacks and crisp new copies. Clearly, there’s no shortage of reading material for us, even if our library stays closed for another year!
But there’s another problem we face: contentment.
My friends, books don’t save.
It’s easy to get sucked into the “perfect book list” syndrome, especially if you are at the helm of your child’s education this year. Curricula providers and homeschool experts love to package it all up neatly for you:
Read these 5 books for the best third grade American history experience.
If you really want your child to get a good education, then this list of “25 Classics to Read Before Age 12” is a must.
How can you claim to have covered American literature at the high school level without reading The Scarlet Letter?
But our goal as Christians is not to blindly follow someone else’s recommendation. We want to seek God, to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, to love our neighbor as ourselves. We’re to glorify God and enjoy him forever. And part of that is trusting in his provision and what he might want to teach us, not what some outside source says is a “must.”
Instead of striving after the wind (or the perfect reading list), I’m choosing to enjoy the Lord’s abundant provision. Perhaps this will be the year we read aloud all of George MacDonald’s shorter fairy tales or re-read The Princess and the Goblin. Maybe my son will finish the Swallows and Amazons books on his shelf that he hasn’t had time for yet. Perhaps my daughter will discover Christy at the same age I did (and with my same well-read copy). There are two (of the five) of us who haven’t read the Tripods series yet, and three of us who haven’t read the Mistmantle books yet. Maybe I’ll finally read Chesterton’s Orthodoxy.
Will we get to The Girl Who Drew Butterflies or The Book of Boy or some of the other Medieval-esque titles I thought sounded fun? Frankly, it doesn’t matter.
The only must read is the Bible. Everything else is gravy.
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