Religion Magazine

The Wonder of a Book

By Marilyngardner5 @marilyngard
The Wonder of a BookLOOK!The Wonder of a BookWOW!The Wonder of a BookIT’S REAL!

Boston is bathed in fog and rain. Sometimes it’s a light rain, other times it’s torrential and the humidity makes everything stick. Our bedroom door squeals in pain as it shuts and clothes and sheets are all damp. It reminds me a bit of monsoon rains growing up – except that the monsoon lasted for six to eight weeks.

And all I want to do is curl up with a book. Work feels so unnecessary in the summer. I have the second Harry Potter book by my bedside, the one where Dudley has turned into a fat teenager and Harry doesn’t make it to Platform 9 3/4. I promised my children that this year would be the year I read all of them. It’s an exciting goal.

Growing up my favorite book on ever earth was Christy by Catherine Marshall.

It was a thick, dog-eared paperback that sat on our bookshelf, just waiting for me to read it during my 3-month winter vacation from boarding school. On the cover a beautiful, smiling woman was on a hillside, her face to the sun – young and hopeful. Christy was the first book I read that could probably be considered ‘historical fiction.’ The story was based on the author, Catherine Marshall’s, mother, who left a wealthy southern family in Asheville, North Carolina to go to Appalachia and teach for a year in a one-room school house. Appalachia was an impoverished community with multiple problems miles away from Asheville in both distance and resources, The book chronicles her journey of learning to love a people and a place, understanding for the first time in her life what it meant to be privileged, how to respond to poverty, and most importantly – what it was to recognize and face evil.

Through the story of Christy I fell in love with the character, her students, and all of Appalachia. I lived out her story and every year I would re-read the book.

There was a lot of time to read during our winter vacations and daily you could see one or more of us in a spot in the house reading. Our imaginations could go from a Swiss mountain boarding school to a South African mansion; from a brownstone in Brooklyn to an imaginary land called Narnia; from the search for a treasure in a mountain by small people who loved parties to the ocean with some Bobbsey Twins. We traveled everywhere through Child Craft, Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, and anything else we could get our hands and eyes on.

There is magic in a book.

And yesterday my very own book arrived – oh yes it did! It arrived in a large box around six in the evening. I saw it outside and ran to get it. The rest of the family were in their separate spaces and so I had this moment alone opening the box. Nothing prepared me for the feeling. The cover is so beautiful – I held it like I would a baby. And then I opened it and there it was. Words I had written, descriptions I crafted, thoughts and beliefs I have. In the big scheme of things this is so little, in the small scheme of things it feels so big and unexpected, such an incredible gift. 

And so today I am announcing a book giveaway. In the next week if you leave a comment here on the blog, send an email to [email protected], leave a comment on the Communicating Across Boundaries Facebook page, OR put a link to the book on your own Facebook page and tell others about it, then you will be eligible to win a copy of Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging. In a week’s time I will put all the names of those who have contacted me through any of the listed methods, and put them into a computer program that will shuffle them and spit out a winner! I am excited to give away one or two copies of the book. I will send them your way, complete with a discussion guide that you can use on your own or in a small group setting.

Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging is not a suspense thriller that will make you curl up until two in the morning, flashlight under you covers, reading as though your life (definitely the life of the character) depended on it. But my hope is that it will be a book you read and nod and think – “yeah, I’ve felt that. I’ve been there.”

I thank all of you from deep within my heart that you have read and encouraged me enough to have the courage to write. 

Now – Let the games begin!

Remember – there are 4 ways to do this:

  • Comment on the blog 
  • Send an email to [email protected]
  • Leave a comment on the CAB Facebook page! 
  • Put a link for Between Worlds on your Facebook page!

Thank you so much for reading and encouraging through this process, for being a part of this journey! 

Between WorldsBetween Worlds, Essays on Culture and Belonging is a set of essays on living between. The book is divided into 7 sections and each section is illustrated by my talented daughter – Annie Gardner. Home, Identity, Belonging, Airports, Grief & Loss, Culture Clash, and Goodbyes set the stage for the individual essays within each section.

Share your favorite book and why in the comments! 

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