Saturday, May 5, 2007

Honey for a Reader's Soul

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)

My mother purchased Honey for a Child's Heart 26 years ago at the recommendation of my second grade teacher. Over the years she scoured used book stores and other book sales for any book recommended by Gladys Hunt. My very childhood was shaped in some way by her thoughts on books and reading. Gladys Hunt has done it again with her excellent book, Honey for a Woman's Heart.

I had put off reading Honey for a Woman's Heart somehow expecting a list of 'female-type religious novels.' I should have know better. Gladys Hunt has an extensive reading repertoire, including classics, great nineteenth-century novels, twentieth-century classics, short stories, mysteries, historical novels, science fiction, fantasy, westerns, nonfiction, and more. She even writes about the often lower standard of fiction published by Christian publishers, due partly to 'readers' fear of stories.'

Chapters include thoughts on the joy of reading, reasons to read, what makes a good story, and sharing books with others. Gladys Hunt devotes six chapters to book recommendations: literature and the classics, genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, the Bible, and spiritual growth books.

While Honey for a Child's Heart devotes half of the book to a book list with very short comments or explanations by the author, Honey for a Woman's Heart is smattered with boxes inset on the pages containing recommendations by other readers. Gladys Hunt recommends many titles in the conversational style of her book. She includes an alphabetical index of both authors and book titles, which is a very helpful resource.

Why Read?

Reading is a sage way to bump up against life. Reading may be an escape, but it is not escape from my own life and problems. It is escape from the narrow boundaries of being only me. Reading in some wonderful way helps me find out who I am. When she was a young girl Patricia MacLachlan's mother urged her to "read a book and find out who you are." And it is true that in some way reading defines me as it refines me. Reading enlarges my vision of the world; it helps me understand someone who is different from me. It makes me bigger on the inside. We tend to see the world from our own perspective; it is good to see it from the eyes of others. Good literature helps me understand who I am in relation to what others experience. Far from being an escape from reality, good literature is a window into reality.

I read to feel life.

I would highly recommend Honey for a Woman's Heart for anyone who loves reading, needs a gentle push in that direction, or would like a diverse selection of excellent books to put on their to-read list. My list was just extended by about 50 books. I need a vacation!


At A Hen's Pace said...

This books sounds great! I've loved Honey for a Child's Heart.

Thanks for the quote too! CS Lewis said something similar, which I can't quite remember--must go look it up!


Amy said...

I have read and loved this book and I used Honey for a Child's Heart to help turn my kids into book lovers.

Nice review! Thanks.

Kevin Stilley said...

Sounds like a lovely book. Great review!

Heidi said...

Thanks for visiting, everyone!