Recent Reads / October ’15

Ordinary by Michael Horton


I’ve just started reading this book with our JOY (Future Minister’s Wives) group and find the premise intriguing. We hear a lot these days about living big lives, being able to accomplish anything, being radical Christians, etc. Horton argues instead that mundane faithfulness ought to be the goal of our lives.

Here’s a section that stood out to me (he’s quoting a blog post):

“What I need courage for is the ordinary, the daily everydayness of life. Caring for a homeless kid is a lot more thrilling to me than listening well to the people in my home. Giving away clothes and seeking out edgy Christian communities requires less of me than being kind to my husband on an average Wednesday morning or calling my mother back when I don’t feel like it.”

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes


This is a good example of a book that encourages us to live big/radical lives. Quadriplegic Will Traynor meets his new paid companion, Louisa Clark, and can’t stand the fact that she’s living an ordinary life. They have conversations like this:

“So where did you pick up your exotic tastes? Where else have you lived?”
“I haven’t.”
“What, you’ve only ever lived here?”
“Only here.” I turned and looked at him, crossing my arms over my chest defensively. “So? What’s so weird about that?”
“It’s such a small town. So limiting . . . I always think this is the kind of place that people come back to. When they’ve become tired of everything else. Or when they don’t have enough imagination to go anywhere else . . . It’s not exactly dynamic, is it? Not exactly full of ideas or interesting people or opportunities . . . You’re twenty-six years old, Clark. You should be out there, claiming the world as your own, getting in trouble in bars, showing off your strange wardrobe to dodgy men . . .”
“I’m happy here,” I said.
“Well, you shouldn’t be.”

One thing Lucy Maud Montgomery excels at is showing the loveliness of ordinary life. And I wish I could say that Louisa plays the part of LMM for Will, opening his eyes to the truth that ordinary activities, like peeling potatoes and encouraging a friend, done in love are good and worthwhile things to do. Instead, Louisa is the one who realizes that her small life is the result of being paralyzed (ahem, pun intended) by her past. It makes for a wretched and unsatisfying ending. O, for a Middlemarch-like ending instead!

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
– George Eliot

I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit; head on over there to read more brief book reviews.


4 thoughts on “Recent Reads / October ’15

  1. Krysta says:

    Such thought-provoking reads! Growing up, I was a little anxious about what I was being called to do, since the holy men and women we read about so often did such extraordinary things. It made me wonder if just, you know, living wasn’t somehow good enough. But as I’ve grown older, it does seem to me that “just” living and being kind to those around you does, indeed, take an extraordinary sort of love.

    As for the second book–I don’t think I’d much enjoy it if the point is to demonstrate that life is always occurring elsewhere. What’s wrong with a small town if you like it? Why will moving make you happier? I’d read over Montgomery over that for sure!


    • arenda says:

      Yes to your thoughts! I had the same thing growing up, wondering what big thing I ought to do (medical missions abroad? something amazing in Africa?), but especially since having kids I have been challenged by day-to-day kindness.

      And yeah, while some of the conversations in “Me Before You” were entertaining, its overall message was opposed to everything I believe in.


  2. jrdeleeuw says:

    That first book sounds interesting. Though I never had huge plans or aspirations for my life, I do find myself always coming back to “be joyful always” in day to day activities.

    I loooved “Me Before You”. I got it out of the library before driving up to Smithers this summer, and Jon had the most boring travel partner as I couldn’t get my nose out of the book 🙂 (“Renae, the kids are calling you!”) heehee.


    • arenda says:

      Hey, we actually just heard a sermon about rejoicing in the Lord always!

      I’d be interested to hear why you looooved “Me Before You.” Do tell! 🙂


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