I’m heartsick about what’s happening in the United States these days. Perhaps you feel some of the same bewilderment and anxiety?
I’ve put together a reading list for these uncertain times. I’ve read some before and want to revisit them. Others, my husband has read and recommended.
With a couple of notable exceptions in eighth grade and my freshman year of college, I had lousy history teachers and came out of school with only the most basic understanding of World War II and the Holocaust. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank introduced me to the horrors of that time period when I was in middle school.
As an adult, my reading of both fiction and nonfiction has filled some of my knowledge gaps and broken my heart over and over.
When I read about the political climate leading up to and the atrocities during WWII, I find myself wondering what I would have done in those times. Would I have been brave? Would I have turned a blind eye? Would I have resisted? Or pulled up the drawbridge to keep my own safe?
I do not have sure answers to these questions, and I do not like that I cannot answer these questions about myself. And so I read. I arm myself with words and wisdom so that when these questions come, I will be sure.
In case you’re looking for books to help you navigate your own questions, I offer these (in no particular order … well, except for the Bible. That’s always a great place to start.):
- The Bible (I prefer the NASB and NIV translations, but pick whatever suits you best).
- C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters (a work of fiction containing letters from a senior devil to a junior devil about how to divide people from one another).
- Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.
- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.
- The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison (edited by Eberhard Bethge).
- Zoo Station by David Downing (the starting point of Downing’s John Russell novels).
- The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy.
- People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.
- The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor.
- Violins of Hope by James A. Grymes.
I’ll leave off with a few words that I find particularly encouraging now, words that may also appeal to you.
Daring to do what is right, not what fancy may tell you, valiantly grasping occasions, not cravenly doubting – freedom comes only through deeds, not through thoughts taking wing. Faint not nor fear, but go out to the storm and the action, trusting in God whose commandment you faithfully follow; freedom, exultant, will welcome your spirit with joy.
Thus has the Lord of hosts said, “Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.”
— Zechariah 7:9-10
See also Exodus 23:9, Leviticus 19:33-34 and Hebrews 13:2.
Do you have any reading suggestions? I hope you’ll add them in the comments below.
I just found your blog by happy accident and I love it.
I was trying to find information about the healing/recovery home that was set up by Corrie Ten Boom after the war, and in my search I found a post where you mentioned her book.
I also loved an older post on writing and emptying out your bundle of pens. I do that too, but since I homeschool many children around here and it’s usually because someone took my good pen and used it to draw trolls or airplanes. By the time I find another one my well turned phrase is gone forever…
Anyway, thanks for the lovely site!
I’m so glad you found me by happy accident. I imagine a lot of moms, homeschooling and otherwise, can relate to losing their favorite/best pens to their children’s creative projects. Try keeping a pen behind your ear. Easier said than done, but at least you’ll lose fewer well-turned phrases. You might enjoy one of my posts from last year about The Hiding Place, the recovery home, and inspirations for our own healing places: https://theflourishingtree.com/2016/04/27/healing-in-the-hiding-place/
Thanks again for dropping by!
Oh, that’s the very post I read that brought me here!
I’m rather obsessed lately about creating safe spaces for healing, both for myself and to invite others into. I have started an online community, but the idea of a real place where one could come…this is the one haunting me.
I picture one part folk school, one part Elrond’s house, one part L’abri, and one part Betsie Ten Boom’s vision healing house&garden. I wondered if that place had a name, and what became of it, and then I stumbled on your blog post.
I recently reread The Hiding Place after many years, and I found myself being moved even more the second time around. Maybe because I’m older now, maybe because the world seems to be getting darker, I don’t know.
Im in a season of healing after a string of personal traumas, and I am struck with how rare it is to find support and true Christian community when you are broken. As if there’s a sign “Only shiny happy people wanted here…”
It seems recovery is an elitist luxury, and if you want a safe place to heal you’d better be seriously wealthy long before your season of harm comes!
Thanks again for your beautiful little space!
I love your vision of a healing place. Keep listening for ways God is nudging you on this matter. I think we can carry dark times more heavily on our hearts as we age, not just because we’re older and remember more history, but because we worry also for the young people in our lives whose own lives will be forever colored by the experiences we’d love to protect them from. I’ve been blessed with numerous communities of faith (churches, small groups, etc.) where we get past the “shiny happy people” syndrome. I wish the same for you. May you find your community, and may you someday be able to bless others with the healing place God has put on your heart. Peace and blessings, my friend!
I have read several of these; the bio of Bonhoeffer and the Geraldine Brooks novel are probably my favorites from your stack. I am finishing Hidden Figures right now, but am seriously considering a comfort read next–Jane Austen never fails to soothe me. I also have felt drawn to history–to reminders that our country has seen dark periods before. I am comforted by the fact that so many Americans are willing to speak up for refugees, for the less privileged.
I’m reading the David Downing book my husband recommended, a heavy read, even from the start. Like you, I’m planning a comfort read next. Not sure what it’ll be, but I have a good supply on my to-be-read shelf. I hope we don’t get tired from having to speak up for the less privileged, and even if we do grow weary, I hope we’ll continue anyway.
I am with you in all of this Hope. I just finished a book called Stones from the River and it once again helped me to imagine, “what would I have done?” A few others that I have read are Sarah’s Key, A Thread of Grace and Those Who Save Us.
Thanks for recommending these books. I look forward to checking them out.