January Blogging Challenge: Books

Oh my goodness! I love PJ’s prompt for this months photo challenge! So many books….so little time. As an avid reader, I’ve been known to even read the back of cereal boxes in a pinch.

The written word….the tool in which language is expressed….has been with humankind for millenniums. Writing systems date back to the eight millennium BC with tokens and pictographs. The development of alphabets and phonics emerged around the second millennium BC.  The written word is a powerful tool that brought us such documents as our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. While oral history is important, it’s the written word that is capable of spreading ideas quickly and documenting history in preservable detail.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a frigid, January winter day than curled up with a good book and cozy afghan. So, hope your enjoy this peek into my library and passion for all written words. While I gravitate towards High Fantasy (think Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings etc.), the genres in my library span a multitude of topics, authors and styles.

Books #1
Starting off the list is my favorite novelist, John Grisham. Don’t even ask me what I want for Christmas if he’s published a new book. There are a lot of great novelists out there, but the way Grisham weaves details, plot twists and unexpected turns throughout his story is genius. Most noted for his stories revolving around the legal system, he has written some lighter books like Playing for Pizza and Calico Joe that are entertaining, summer, pool-side reading.

Books #2
In a previous lifetime, my BFF and I owned a book design studio. We worked with university press houses across the country and turned author manuscripts into books. This photo shows a few of the books I worked on during that time. This experience forever changed the way I look at a printed book from the cover design to the very last index page. Knowing what goes into designing and compositing a book, I vowed to never again whine about the cost of the written word.

Books #3
I’ve not completely jumped on the e-reader wagon, but did install our local library’s app on my laptop to see what was available. I did download an e-book on the recommendation of a fellow blogger for test drive. I much prefer a bound book, but this will do in a pinch, especially when I don’t want to purchase the book to keep.

Books #4
Apologetics and books relating to different worldviews are a passion of mine. This is just a sampling of the books I have on this topic squirreled away around the house. I especially think books written by scientists addressing the relationship between science and faith are fascinating. I also have quite a few books by C.S. Lewis, including a set of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Books #5
Dovetailing with the above is the book that surpasses all books in print. The bible clocks in with 5 billion books printed since 1815. Add to that, all the hand-scribed copies prior to the invention of the printing press. Many of you have issues with its written words. I encourage you to read what I wrote about the bible HERE. It’s the Big God Story that is filled with poetry, Hellenistic biography, documented history as well as inspiration and comforting words. It’s a book that reflects our messy lives. Because of our circumstances, I’m spending a lot of time in Psalms….usually accompanied by diffusing essential oils and hot tea.

“Check out” the other books over at PJ’s for January’s prompt of Books.

And, in keeping with Thankful Thursday over at Brian’s Home, I think it’s safe to say I’ve been thankful for the written word since I was old enough to pick up a book. I’m thankful this passion was not lost on my daughters. And Peanut, at age 10, has been assessed at a 7th grade level for reading comprehension. I would be thankful if Twix, who is learning letters and basic words, follows in their footsteps.



Lisa scores an advance copy of Calico Joe

WooHoo! Let it never be said there aren’t a few perks to be found in the cesspool of indiscretion called Facebook. After “liking” the John Grisham fan page, I noticed they were giving away…that’s right…giving away advanced reading copies of his newest book, Calico Joe, scheduled to come out just in time for the opening day of baseball. Advanced reading copies are uncorrected proofs of a book, and all I had to do was give up my mailing address, write a review on my blog and tell them about it. Easy peasy.

The book showed up last week and I (as luck would have it) was out of reading material on the bedside table. Three nights later, I’m finished with the book and thinking this would make a visually-fabulous baseball movie.

All you Grisham fans know his main genre centers around legal stories. He’s brought us A Time to Kill, The Firm, Pelican Brief, Runaway Jury, The Testament and many, many more. I have almost every one of his books sitting in bookcases. But occasionally he strays into other areas; like Skipping Christmas, Ford County, Bleachers and Playing for Pizza. While not as “meaty” as his legal stories, they’re always fun reads.

According to the preface of Calico Joe, the best-selling author always wanted to write a novel about baseball but could never find the right storyline. A few years ago, he read about Ray Chapman, the player who was killed by a fast pitch to the head. There was speculation about whether the pitcher “beaned” the batter on purpose. Grisham took this story and ran with it…and we now have his latest home-run novel, Calico Joe.

In the summer of 1973 Joe Castle was the Chicago Cubs rookie phenom of baseball…and the idol of every kid who loved the game, including Paul Tracey, son of a New York Mets pitcher, Warren Tracey. The day the two players met at Shea Stadium, Warren threw a blistering fastball and changed the course of both players’ lives forever.

But this isn’t a story just about baseball. The fluid way in which Grisham takes us from Paul’s present family challenges to flashbacks of the early 70s captured my interest even though I’m not a huge baseball fan. I have to admit, I glossed over much of the baseball stats and details, but found the underlying story between Paul and his father poignant and somewhat surprising. Calico Joe is more about facing the truth and coming to terms with past actions. It’s a story about fathers and sons…and the sometimes tumultuous relationships between the two. But the main focus is its lesson of forgiveness and making amends. And Easter is the perfect backdrop for this storyline.

Grisham is a master at getting people vested in the characters of his stories. Young Paul tugs at your heartstrings as the son who can never live up to his father’s brutal expectations. He’s a true baseball fan with torn loyalties between a rival team superstar and his not-so-stellar father. Paul, as an adult, is equally likeable even though the relationship with his father is damaged and jaded. The story is fairly predictable and there were few plot twists. But it was an enjoyable read.

I recommend Calico Joe not only for those who enjoy baseball, but for anyone who believes in redemption and the healing power of forgiveness.