Memes, this time for real

Christianne tagged me for these last week. Though I’m not feeling a lot better, I am bored being at home by myself, watching movies I’ve seen a million times. So here goes…

I’ll do the 1-2-3 meme first. The rules are as follows.

1) Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2) Open the book to page 123.
3) Find the fifth sentence.
4) Post the next three sentences.
5) Tag five people.

Ok, the closest book to me right now is my Bible, since I just finished my Ignatian retreat section for the morning. But I’m torn, because the next-closest book is probably much better for this particular purpose–it’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which Dave and I are reading out loud. Actually, after the Bible, I’m equidistant from Harry Potter and at least a whole shelf of books, since the bookshelf is right behind the couch. But I’m assuming that the meme is aimed at books I’m actually reading right now, so Harry Potter it is.

Hmm…on the other hand, maybe I’ll do the meme with both and let you decide which works better.

So, the Bible.

Ok, I hate to quibble with meme writers, but do you think they mean the fifth whole sentence, or the fifth period. I’m going to go with the fifth whole sentence, you know, for the purpose of scientific objectivity and all.

Page 123 lands us in the middle of Numbers, just after the men who were spying on Canaan come back and give their report. Sentence five says, “Or would that we had died in this wilderness!” The next three sentences read: “Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

Maybe this is more apropos than I had thought.

In Harry Potter, page 123 brings us to the scene at the Quidditch Cup where the Dark Mark has been projected into the sky and everyone is trying to figure out who put it there (I think…it might actually put us right before that happened…I haven’t read the book in quite a while).  Sentence five gives us Hermione’s deep, passionate statement, “Oh, I can’t believe this,” which she follows up to by asking, “Where have the others gone?”

Then, the narrator steps in: “Fred, George, and Ginny were nowhere to be seen, though the path was packed with plenty of other people, all looking nervously over their shoulders toward the commotion back at the campsite. A huddle of teenagers in pajamas was arguing vociferously a little way along the path.”

Ten points for using “vociferously” in a sentence.

Exciting stuff, eh?


Now, for the more serious, more bookish meme.

1) One book that changed your life.

I’ve saved this for last in the hope that I would be able to up with something definitive. The best I can do, though, is mention The Inner Voice of Love, by Henri Nouwen. Several years ago, I went on an intense three-week retreat. When I left, the man who led the retreat gave me this book. It articulates some of the cries of my heart with words better than I could ever come up with. Nouwen talks about freedom and honesty and showing our true faces to the world as someone who knows what that journey is like, inside and out. He let me know that he wasn’t alone, and that my own journey fell into the great archetype of spiritual journeys everywhere. His words were both personal and profound, and the book still says some of the things in my heart better than I do.

2) One book that you have read more than once.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. This was the first book I ever fell in love with, and it is one of the few that I’ve actually reread a bunch of times. I adore this book. I have identified with Jo ever since I was a child–the writer, the one who was different but still loved, the one who couldn’t do all the things that were expected of her but who ended up doing so much more. Also, I never had sisters and I felt like these girls were that for me. Amy, Meg, and Beth were my sometime female companions and Laurie my rich older brother. It was great fun.

Actually, I recently discovered that the version I’ve read and re-read was abridged. Abridged! The horror. I finally got my hands on the whole version and I love it even more. Now, if only I owned it…

This question was hard for me, because I’m not a big re-reader. There’re two reasons for this, I think. First of all, I know all good parts and get frustrated when they don’t come quicker. Secondly, I remember the feeling of a book so deeply that recalling the actual events isn’t that important to me.

3) One book you would want on a desert island.

Honestly, probably Celtic Daily Prayer. Most of the prayers in this book haven’t been handed down through generations like the ones in the Catholic Missal or the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, but they’re beautiful. It’s from a community of people who live together in Northumbria, England.

When I came back from the retreat I mentioned before, I felt unmoored. I was so different inside that my regular, outside life felt foreign. The morning prayer in this book gave me structure and cocooned me while I found my bearings again. I would imagine that, were I lost on a deserted island, I would feel at least that undone inside and would need something to hold me while I figured out how to survive. I would miss my fiction, but this would be better for my soul.

4) Two books that made you laugh.

The first book in this category is A Civil Campaign, by Lois McMaster Bujold. This is one of those gems that no one has ever heard of, and I can’t possibly say enough good about it. It’s late in a series of the best space-romp I’ve ever read. Now, I’m more of a sci-fi fan than many are, but I would like this book anyway (actually, I’d like the whole series). It has some of the best characters I’ve ever met, some great one-liners, some deep ideas, and one of the most fabulously-written scenes I’ve ever read. The author’s stated way of writing is to think, “What is the worst thing that could happen to this character?” Then, she puts them in that situation and watches them get out. Truly, it’s hilarious and human and beautiful.

True story: When I first read this book, I would sit in my room reading it and laugh out loud. One of my friends still refers to it as “that book” because she kept coming around the corner to see what was so funny and seeing that cover.

This book, by the way, also fulfills the category of What one book would you recommend to everyone in the world, if you could only recommend one? It truly has something for everyone–romance, intrigue, people putting their feet in their mouths. (The meme didn’t ask for this category, so it’s a freebie.)

The second book that made me laugh is Regency Buck, by Georgette Heyer. I’m not usually into romances, nor regency books, but this book (and many of Heyer’s, actually) is fabulous. I first “read” it when I listened to it on tape during a long drive. It covers the story of Judith and Peregrine Tavener, who are orphaned. They decided to go to London before they come of age, against the wishes of their guardian, who they have never met. They have adventures in snuff, driving at breakneck pace, fighting matches, and suitors for Judith before everything works out (of course) in the end. Seriously, it’s a light, hilarious read.

5) One book that made you cry.

 My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok. Christianne gave a great rundown of this book, which I just read for the first time a few months ago. I cried for Asher’s heart, for his pain, for the fact that the person God so clearly made him to be could never have a place with the people he loved. It made me want to love people wherever they’re at, to let them know that God’s mission for their lives is important to me, whatever it is and whatever they have to do to fulfill it.

6) One book you wish you’d written.

There are so many, but what comes to mind here is Girl Meets God, by Lauren Winner. I love how she owns this book, how she talks about what she feels and thinks so straightforwardly. She knows herself and holds her stuff so well. She might be wrong, but she seems willing for that to be true and for everyone to see it if it is.  I also love her heart. She walks so courageously and with her arms wide open.

7) One book you wish had never been written.

Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting, by Laura George, or any other book about manifesting your own destiny (including The Promise). I think those ideas are so close to the truth and yet so far away that they’re dangerous. They seem like cheap religion, like getting what you want from “God” without having to make any commitment. Maybe that’s overly harsh, but it disturbs me. (I refuse to link to this book…it’s that awful.)
8) Two books you are currently reading.

Actually, none. Well, one–the Bible. See, I’ve given up reading books that aren’t the Bible for Lent. I found myself spending a lot of time reading and I wasn’t sure if I was hiding or running from something, and so I decided to give it up and see how it went. Also, I’d love to read the Bible all the way through, from beginning to end, again. I haven’t done that for several years.

I guess I could also put on this list the book I was in the middle of reading when Lent started: The Power of Personal Storytelling, by Jack Maguire. It’s all about how to take events or series of events from our lives and make them into stories that mean something to other people. While the book is for people who want to tell their stories verbally, I hoped to find gems in it about the power of storytelling in general and how to tell my own stories and those of others in writing in such a way that they would have power for others. From what I read, I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but if you’re interested in story and what it means that we each have stories, it seems like a good resource.

9) One book you’ve been meaning to read.

Um…this is such a long list that I won’t put it all here. But here’s a selection:

In the end, I can’t leave out Til We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis. I think it’s one of the most brilliant (and important) books ever written and, while it didn’t quite fit into any of the categories above, I must mention it. If you care about who you are and who God is and how those stories work together, this book is for you.
Now, to tag some people:

Stephanie, at What’s in a Name?

Heather, at elbereth-elentari

Jenny, at JJ

Sharon, at Lasselanta

Emily, at Laundry and Lullabies

Ingrid, at This dreamcrossed twilight…

I have no idea if you’re all still blogging, and if you read here, but if you do, please play along if you so desire.



Filed under Lists

10 responses to “Memes, this time for real

  1. I enjoyed reading both your memes. You gave great detail on all your picks (including the ones from the first one). It was fun to learn more about you through the medium of books.

    Ah, Henri Nouwen. He’s someone I had heard so much about for many years but only just read last year. And then, of course, I went on a Henri Nouwen reading spree. My favorite book of his, the one that moves me so much, is “Life of the Beloved.” It’s a series of letters that he wrote to his friend who didn’t believe Christianity was relevant to life. The way Nouwen pours out his heart in these letters, you just come to love his friend so much, through Nouwen’s own love for him.

    I hadn’t heard of “The Inner Voice of Love,” but the way you described it makes it seem a must-read for me.

    Love you. Hope you’re feeling better. Sounds like you are, at least a little bit — enough to get typing and thinking and emitting wry humor across the wireless highway, at least.

  2. dang…i’m never going to be able to read all the books on my list now. God is going to have to extend my life beyond a normal lifespan. i really enjoyed reading this sarah because it revealed so much of your heart and your humor. so beautiful. i get why you and christianne and kirsten are so tight.

  3. sarah, i so loved reading your list. the books you listed i have never read, so it’s great to see how & why they touched you and why they stand out to you. i’m always looking for a humorous read since much of what i usually read tends toward the serious. i love it when an author can make you laugh out loud.

    i LOVE henri nouwen. it seems that the heart conveyed in his writing is one that is humble, tender, & completely after Christ’s own heart. i’d love to pick up another title of his.

    and yeah … the power of personal storytelling looks like one i must have. for all my talking about story & how important it is to me, & i don’t have that book?! what would people say?!

    and let me say … oh my goodness, i love that you mentioned till we have faces. as i was perusing my shelves to answer the questions for this same meme, my eyes kept fixating on the spine of that book. i almost used that title as an answer to the question about what book changed my life … because it really did. i see so much of myself in orual, who hides & veils herself. i agree completely with your assessment … a very important & pivotal work of fiction.

    loved seeing this list!! ;o)

    peace, sister. & wishes for wellness!

  4. I think this is one of my favorite posts you’ve done (and not because you listed my upcoming book either!).

    It just opened things, let us see a little more into your heart and the way you think and feel about things. The Nouwen book. It may be just what I need to read next. (Going to my library’s site right now to put it on hold. Thanks for pointing me to it.)


  5. Done. (Looking forward to reading it!)

    Oh, and I read most of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Good book. I really liked his book Second Nature too.

  6. Christianne–I AM feeling better…well, at least some better. Better enough to be back at work, for whatever that’s worth. I haven’t read “Life of the Beloved” but it sounds good.

    Terri–I totally know what you mean. My mom once gave me a pillow with the words “So many books, so little time” in Latin, and it’s SO TRUE (and I love that pillow, by the way). I think there are libraries in heaven.

    Kirsten–‘Til We Have Faces is simply one of the best. I can’t categorize it or even talk about it well sometimes, but it is. As for Nouwen, well, I have a love-hate relationship with him. Some of his stuff is so deep, so insightful and penetrating. And then some of it is so far away from where I am that I just sort of stand there, looking at it bewilderdly (is that a word?)

    Laura–I guess that goes to show you that I should always blog while hopped up on cold meds 😉 Seriously, though, they do lower those inhibitions. And enjoy the Nouwen book…it’s a slow read, but a good one.

  7. Got the Nouwen book today; they reserved it for me at the library. Excited to read it!

  8. Very cool! Let me know what you think (even if you hate it) 😉

  9. jennyjack

    Hey can I split these up into two different posts and tag different people, or do I have to answer all together?

  10. JJ–do whatever you want with them 😉 You can split them up, or do one and not the other, or whatever. Please, use your initiative!

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