Wednesday, January 09, 2013

from the book pile, 2012: a brief review of "From the Garden to the City" by John Dyer + all the rest of the titles from 2012

to see the book pile from 2011, click here / from 2012, click here

From the book pile posts collect my reading reflections as I work my way through the tower of books teetering off the edge of my nightstand. I post the once a month the books I've read.  In the meantime, the fun little widget on my sidebar includes a "real time" thought about each title I'm reading.

When I first started this blog in 2006 one of my goals was to nurture a forum that kept me accountable for the cultural goods I consume.  Of course, I didn't really know then to articulate the goal in those terms.  The truth dawns gradually.

Every new year, I consider making a number goal for books read in the coming twelve months. (do you do that too?) It's never a good idea; rather takes away the enjoyment of arriving at December 31 and tallying up titles from the previous year.  Feels like an accomplishment no matter the number.

                                                                        Hope you enjoy!


Author:  John Dyer

Genre: non-fiction

Published: Kregel Publications, 20122

General Impression: Surprised.  I read this book at the invitation of a friend.  I loved her approach:  send out an email to a group of friends she knows who love to read and talk about reading to read the book and get together at her house for discussion and noshing.  Three couples joined in on rich reading and discussion.

For those who wonder how much technology is too much and if it's possible that technology might have redemptive qualities, Dyer's book is thought-provoking and perfect for discussion.  While I did not know this author prior to reading, his chapters appeared to be well-researched across a relatively balanced spectrum of thought. And, though, reading the book did not persuade me to change any of my technology habits on any large scale, neither was that the author's stated purpose.  I did come away more mindful of the concrete concerns that stem from so much time spent in a virtual environment.  And -- in my book -- more mindful is always good.

A thoughtful analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of social media:
"The great temptation of the digital generation is to... assume that online presence offers the same kind of "complete joy" as offline presence. Our problem is not that technologically mediated relationships are unreal, nor is the problem that all online communication is self-focused and narcissistic. Rather, the danger is that just like the abundance of food causes us to mistake sweet food for nourishing food, and just like the abundance of information can drown our deep thinking, the abundance of virtual connection can drown out the kind of life-giving, table-oriented life that Jesus cultivated among his disciples."

A great example from the author of what it means to embody technological discernment:  
"In our family we've attempted to take practical steps to foster the kind or relational world that Jesus and his disciples had.  When I come home from work around 5:00 PM, I've decided to put my phone and computer away until I put my kids to bed at 7:30 PM; and my wife does the same with her computer and phone. This serves to carve out of the day a space (or as Borgmann calls it, a 'focal place') where we can interact together and share meals as a family. As my kids grow older, we plan to do this together as a family, with all of us putting our devices together in a common basket. When we are all disconnected from the world out there, it frees us up to be fully present with the people right here in front of us. When I go back to work, I spend my day on the Internet interacting with people and building websites, but I attempt to do so for the purpose of fostering embodied life, not replacing it. "
Catching up on the classics:

27.  Walden by Henry David Thoreau


I went on a bit of a memoir kick -- again.  Both of these are re-reads of some of all-time favorites:

28.  An American Childhood by Annie Dillard

29.  Bring Me A Unicorn by Anne Morrow Lindberg


Just-for-fun reading:

30.  The Know-It-All: One Man's Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs

31.  Out to Canaan (Mitford series) by Jan Karon

32.  The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White

33.  The 24 Days Before Christmas by Madeleine L'Engle

34.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie    Barrows


Four books I read when I was considering blogging-for-business:

35.  Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael S.  Hyatt

36.  Tribes: We Need YOU to Lead Us by Seth Godin

37.  How to Blog a Book by Nina Amir

38.  Get Rich Click! by Marc Ostrofsky 


And two small books as required reading to join Christ Church's team of Chalice Bearers:

39.  Can You Drink the Cup? by Henri Nouwen

40.  The Meal Jesus Gave Us: Understanding Holy Communion by N.T. Wright


Two books I read this year on the spiritual practice of Sabbath:

41.  Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner

42.  Sabbath: The Ancient Practices by Dan Allendar


Lastly, one of the books I received for Christmas and devoured all too quickly (and will have to tell you more about at another time):

43.  Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L'Engle in Many Voices by Leonard S. Marcus

Next up in the bookpile for 2013:

The Hobbit: There and Back Again by J. R. R. Tolkien

When I Was A Child I Read Books: Essays by Marilynne Robinson

The Art of T.S. Eliot by Helen Gardner (reading with an online book group)

I'd love to hear what YOU are reading! 
 Leave me a couple of suggestions in the comment box, won't you?

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