I'm going to tell you something I'm not proud of: in the past two years I have watched more television than my cumulative life.
I don't want to make excuses, but the reasons are real: we dated, got engaged, planned a wedding and a move, and got married in three months flat. We moved into an AirBnB for five weeks. We moved into a house. I started a new job, my husband lost his. We put our house on the market. We moved to DC, to another AirBnb in Maryland for five weeks. We moved again to Virginia to a house for a year and then moved again to Texas. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying there were a lot of transitions and most evenings we were too tired to read or talk or do other things newly married couples do, so we opened Netflix or Amazon Prime on the laptop, and scrolled mindlessly. We finished West Wing and started it again. We watched some great foreign films and series. We watched The Night Manager and An Honorable Woman. We loved River and we really liked Bleak House. Endeavor is great too. We also watched a ton of other shows I wouldn't recommend or have mostly forgotten. We had spurts of not watching shows every night, but mostly we watched. About a month ago we put the kibosh on mindless watching—after all, isn't this why we don't own a television? Instead we've been reading every night and I feel like, for the first time in two years and three months, the fog of my mind is beginning to clear. I know that's not only due to reading instead of watching, but I think the reading is helping me along a bit.
Folks are always asking for recommendations, and I thought since it's the beginning of summer, maybe now would be a great time to recommend a few we've loved.
Nate read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead last month and I finished it last night. It was one of the most engrossing stories I've read on one of the grossest injustices of our country.
I really love a good mystery and Tana French delivers. Her spectacular use of the first person narrative, embodying very different first persons in each novel, makes each one unique. If you don't like one, try another. I loved The Likeness and In the Woods the best.
I'm also getting into Louise Penny's mysteries. Hers are a slow burn, proper and well-written.
Nate is reading Disciplines of a Godly Man for a book study he's doing with a group of men from our church, and so far it's provided good conversation.
On the recommendation of a few trusted friends I began The Gift of Being Yourself, which makes me wildly uncomfortable, but which is also deeply convicting.
Nate started reading Coming Apart by Charles Murray last fall and has still been working his way through it as we try to educate ourselves apart from quick news and media hits.
I have been slowly, slowly working through Jen Pollock Michel's newest book Keeping Place, and as I've come to expect with all of Jen's work, it must be chewed slowly and thought about deeply.
I know for lots of you the opportunity to read even one of these books sounds like a pipe dream, you're grabbing 15 minutes once a day to gather what remains of your sanity. It's a season and I hope and pray the Lord will sustain you through it, and you get to read again. Maybe others of you have been in a similar season to ours above: just trying to get through and subsisting on Netflix shows in the meantime. Maybe today's a day when you can unsubscribe, though, and grab a book from the library (we love our local library!) or a used bookstore, and spend the summer reading. Enjoy!
P.S. A bunch of you have asked for a download of the poster pictured above. "Fidelity to the Word of God and not to an outcome," is a saying we've had in our marriage almost since the beginning, so I made it into a poster for Nate's 40th birthday. Reminding one another of this has protected us from so many unwise things, even if the outcome looks crazy to the rest of the world! Here's the download.