Last year was a record breaker with 66 books read, the most since I started keeping a regular tally. But after that my reading seemed to hit a brick wall. In the first months of this year I finished a couple of books that I’d already started and I enjoyed Susan Meissner’s The Shape of Mercy, but after that nothing has really been able to attract and keep my attention.
Over recent weeks I’ve been watching a TV series called “Living With the Amish”, about a group of British teens given the opportunity to live with various Amish families over a six week period. It’s one of the most interesting TV shows I’ve seen for a long time.
The simplicity and lack of materialism of the Amish was very challenging. There is a lot about them that I admired, but those things also showed up how much western Christendom has fallen for consumerism and lives based on “stuff”.
Particularly telling was an incident in the final episode when a couple of Amish women were taken along to a shopping mall so that they could catch a glimpse of the world their visitors came from. One of the women told how she was made nauseous by the atmosphere of the place.
During an earlier episode of the series one of the Amish was talking to a British girl about forgiveness and told her about a shooting in an Amish school where a gunman killed several of the young students before turning the gun on himself. And that is where I come back to this year’s reading list.
I found One Light Still Shines a book written by Marie Monville, who was the wife of the gunman. It’s the first book this year, since The Shape of Mercy, that makes me want to continue reading. It tells of the event that changed many lives (after ending the lives of several others) and how the tragedy led to amazing expressions of God’s love and grace as a wife, a family and a community come to terms with the outcome of the devastating acts of someone they thought they knew well.
I’m only halfway through, but it’s already a very moving book that I’ve found hard to put down, but considering most of my reading is done during tea and lunch breaks at work, it’s also been a hard book to continue reading because of the emotions it stirs. More than once I’ve had to put it aside before workmates notice the welling tears.