Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top Books of 2012

Time for the book report from 2012!  I love doing  this.  I hope you got some time to read this year and read well.  There are just so many books out there worth reading.

You will notice it's just 5.  No I didn't just read 5 books this year...but these were the ones that really stood out to me.  The ones that I want to read again in my lifetime.  You will also notice that Philip Yancey has two books on the list.  I have noticed that I really love the way he writes.  He seems to be the Lewis of our age.  Or at least to me.  I have been deeply challenged by his writing and hope to show you some paintings based on grace in 2013.

Here is the list:

This is a very personal book for Yancey in that he writes about his "recovery" from the church.  Each chapter is a different person that challenged his faith towards authenticity.  Through people like Martin Luther King Jr., G.K. Chesterton and Mahatma Gandhi to the lesser known Dr. Paul Brand, Henri Nouwen and Dr. C. Everett Koop.  He struck cords in me that I didn't know needed to be stuck.  It made me think who had been my mentors in my faith.  It made me grateful for a God who sent men and women to my life that helped me along.  Because of this book I am now reading more work by Chesterton and John Donne...and definitely Yancey.

Frederick Buechner's 10th novel.  Godric was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1981.  This is the only fiction book to make my list.  Not that I don't like fiction but I tend more for the true stories.  Godric is a retelling of the life of Godric of Finchale, a 12th century English holy man who worked to purify his life from sin.  In the story you find the juxtaposition of both kinds of men the sinful, evil one and the one striving for good.  It is only through his relationship to something "otherworldly" that we see such a story of grace.  One of my favorite passages, "...the meadow that tempts you to rest your bones and dream a while.   The rackribbed child that begs for scraps the dogs have left.  The sea that calls a man to travel far. They are all doors, some God's and some the Fiend's.  So choose with care which ones you take, my son, and one day - who can say - you'll reach the holy door itself."
Thanks to Stanley for this great recommendation.  This was achingly haunting.  I felt as if each word had been carefully picked.  There wasn't a sentence wasted.

It's hard to convey how much this book meant to me.  I think every Christian should read this.  It calls us to a deeper awareness of how being forgiven is a greater miracle than healing a lame man.  It puts us ALL on the same playing field: sinners in need of God.  If you have a tendency (as I do) to look down at any person or groups of people because of their politics or sin or whatever else you need to read this book.  Our culture has taken that word and made it so careless and soft when in fact it IS the greatest thing to ever happen to mankind.  And it is through grace that we should treat and love one another.

From the book, "C.S. Lewis could never understand the hairsplitting distinction between hating a person's sin and hating the sinner.  How could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? "But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life - namely myself.  However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself.  There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact, the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man.  Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things."

It's hard to read Beth Moore and not be changed.  This happens to be the one I worked through this year with a group of ladies (still going!).  I have read it 3 times and every time I get something out of it.  Insecurity has been a part of my life WAY too long and it was time for God to get into my heart and help me see that.  Beth asks us, "Am I doing this...or buying this...or saying this...or selling this out of any semblance of insecurity?"  Her goal throughout the book is to, "cease being motivated by thought or action in any way by insecurity."

You might be asking, "So, is it a self-help book?" No.  It's a telescope into the soul and a cry for help to the only one who can really fix us.  I'm not saying you will be TOTALLY changed after reading this one book but I am saying she's put a finger on a dark place that has long needed light.  It's time to start and this book did that for me.

Oh yeah, it IS an art blog...and I did read one book this year that really changed my art. "Landscape Painting" by Mitchell Albala is by far THE best book on Plein Air (outside) painting I have read.  Not only is a practical tool for colors and composition.  It gave me some of the best insights into really getting at painting that was me.  For instance in his chapter on using photographs he writes, "...the strong visual impression I experienced at the first moment I saw these subjects provided inspiration to do the series, but I also needed a permanent photographic record of the sites...Of course, none of the paintings in those series looks anything like the original reference photographs.  My personal style, color, and abstract sensibilities directed my interpretations."
Never have I read this so clearly.  I have always wanted to figure out a way to see the landscape and render it correctly but THROUGH my experience of it not as a photographic piece of art.  This book helped me see how I could.  Mr. Albala I thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Totally gonna check out that Buechner book. Thanks for the recommendations. (P.S. I absolutely love Yancey. What a bold writer.)