Archive for the 'Books' Category

Cold Tangerines

A while ago I discovered that I comment I left on an article on Wrecked For The Ordinary resulted in a copy of Cold Tangerines winging it’s way to my doorstep. You know me… I’m never one to turn down free books.

That book happens to be Shauna Niequist’s first book, and it is stunning. It’s very easy to read, yet it’s this beautiful celebration of life in all it’s fullness. It’s learning to let go of the need to impress and simply rejoicing in the little things (and the big ones). Perhaps my favourite thing is that it’s real – that I can imagine having been a part of the kind of stories she tells.

You can read a few chapters from it on her website.

Living A Better Story

About a month ago, I set out on a trip to the US, which inevitably began with lots of hanging around in airports. Wasted time? I think not. A few hours in Heathrow gave me ample time to read Don Miller’s latest book, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. Like all of Miller’s stuff, it’s ridiculously easy to read, and ridiculously hard to read at the same time. It’s easy because I read it in a couple of hours. And it’s difficult because I’m still wrestling with putting it into practice.

And that’s the truly beautiful thing about it. It inspired me to live a better story.

“If Steve was right about a good story being a condensed version of life – that is, if story is just life without the meaningless scenes – I wondered if life could be lived more like a good story in the first place. I wondered whether a person could plan a story for his life and live it intentionally.”

It’s easy to get caught up in reading about other people’s exciting stories, their exciting lives. But the truth is we can just as easily have our own exciting story. We will have to choose to endure pain and hardship to get there no doubt, but joy does not (nor should not) come easily.

“Part of me wonders if our stories aren’t being stolen by the easy life.”

Returning to Glasgow after 3 weeks of being on the road sometimes feels anti-climatic. Yet my story is just turning a page, starting a new chapter. I’ve been inspired (again) to live a better story. To not just talk about the stuff I dream of doing, but actually do it. That means actually changing something, doing something differently. For my part, I’m learning French again, and starting to navigate what it means to be a photographer full-time.

It’s scary. I might fail. It might not work out.

And that’d be ok. It matters that I try.

“Sometimes when I watch [Lucy, the dog] I think about how good life can be, if we only lose ourselves in our stories.”

What are you doing to lose yourself in the story? What would you do?

My New Love

I think I’ve fallen in love with graphic novels. Really.

It started with Batman. Frank Miller novels such as The Dark Knight Returns.

Then there was Blankets, a beautiful Craig Thompson novel.

Chris plied me with the Ex-Machina series (which I have yet to finish) that has been keeping me hooked.

Most recently, I picked up the Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle. Easily my favourite so far.

Any of you guys got graphic novel recommendations?

Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

I’ve had Philip Gourevitch’s book, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, sitting on my bookshelf for quite a while now, but it is only recently that I started to read it. I have spent most of today finishing it off, and I think it has fast become one of the top two books I’d recommend to anyone wanting to read about Rwanda.

Gourevitch’s book is essentially a collection of stories from Rwanda, focused around the genocide in 1994. It’s heartbreaking reading, but insightful, and well written. This time last year I was still in Rwanda. No doubt you would have found me meandering down the beach at Gisenyi or holed up in a cafe in Kigali. Though my time there was short, I think about it often. I think about what it must have been like to live through a genocide, and maybe worse, to live through a genocide that everyone knew about but noone cared about. I wondered what it must be like to live in the aftermath of such an event, and it was often something that came up in my conversations with Rwandan friends.

Gourevitch writes of the many NGOs and governments who sought for neutrality in the situation. It provoked such a strong reaction in me… I wonder, can we really claim neutrality if our inaction is what is aiding the violence? Just thinking aloud, but it’s a thought that has been plaguing me in recent days.

Reminds me of that old quote, usually attributed to Edmund Burke, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

On The Road

Jack Kerouac On the Road Finally got round to reading Kerouac’s On The Road. What can I say? If ever there was a book that gave me wanderlust, it has to be this one. I’m desperate to just hop in a car and start driving across the States now…!

This book has been on my to-read list for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally got around to it. It’s a little insane, it goes in crazy directions at times, yet all the same I want to get on the road now too. Thinking about taking a little road trip across the US at some point next year perhaps… any suggestions? Must see places? Must do things?


I’ve been a terrible reader recently, switching and swapping my books constantly… Here’s what I am/ have been/ kinda am reading currently…

jPod, by Douglas Coupland
It’s official. I love Douglas Coupland. jPod is witty, sarcastic and terribly funny… I’m loving it!

The Photography Reader, edited by Liz Wells
This is good, but difficult. It’s extracts from various important writings on photography & theory. I’ve been searching for ways to improve my photography, and I think understanding some of the theory and criticism would help me

Travel Writing, by L. Peat O’Neil
Been discovering more and more how much I really enjoy writing, and particularly the branch known as ‘travel writing’. I love taking all the bits and pieces of an experience – the sounds, the smells, the sights, the emotions – and crafting a piece of writing that takes the reader there.

The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman et al
Chris is giving me an introduction to comics. So far I’ve been enthralled by the Ex Machina series. Gaiman is Chris’ favourite writer, and I’ve read part of his latest book (The Graveyard). Am enjoying Sandman so far; albeit not as much as Ex Machina.

1984, by George Orwell
I’ve been terrible with this one… keep starting it, then getting distracted by something else and setting it aside… as I have done again! I will get to it eventually, I promise.

What are you reading?

The Poisonwood Bible

I recently read Barbara Kingsolver’s book, The Poisonwood Bible, which has been on my ‘to-read’ list for a looong time. It’s set in the DR Congo while the Belgians were still in control (late 50’s) and follows the story of a missionary family through the course of independence and all that follows. Each chapter is written from the perspective of an individual family member, which gives it an interesting flow.

I really enjoyed this book actually. I don’t read a lot of fiction (due to time constraints more than anything else!), but its something I’m trying to rectify. This book blew me away, I thought it was incredibly well written, grabbed me from the start. There is also the added benefit of having been in the DRC recently, which of course gives me a different perspective on things.

There were a few comments that grabbed me in the book, wanted to share them here…

“The church of the lost cause..”

“To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story.”

Anyone else read it? What did you think of it? What grabbed your attention?

“Me Too”

“Writer Anne Lamott says that the most powerful sermon in the world is two words: “Me too.”

Me too.

When you’re struggling,

when you are hurting,

wounded, limping, doubting,

questioning, barely hanging on,

moments away from another relapse,

and somebody can identify with you –

someone knows the temptations that are at your door,

somebody has felt the pain that you are feeling,

when someone can look you in the eyes and say, “Me too,”

and they actually mean it –

it can save you.

[From Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell]

Jesus Wants To Save Christians

I’ve just finished my second read through of Jesus Wants To Save Christians, the latest Rob Bell book. Been mapping out a little of the directions it goes in…

Whose land is it, anyway?

A story about progress

East of Eden

An economy based on fear -> keeping us safe is v profitable

The cry of the oppressed


An empire of indifference

Exile as a consequence of infidelity

A new Jerusalem, a new kind of exodus

Suspended promises

What kind of Son of David are you?

What do you do when your religion isn’t big enough for God?

Swords into plowshares

A story of movement: no one city/ religion/ perspective/ worldview can contain it

If the church gets converted, the whole world will follow

America as empire -> the bible is oppression narrative

We forget God by forgetting the widow, the orphan, & the refugee

Confusing blessing with entitlement

“American lifestyle is not up for negotiation” -> oil

Vicious cycle of the priority of preservation

Military spending -> empires accumulate

Founding of America & its wealth -> Native American genocide?

Followers of Christ missing the central message of the Bible?

Symbol of the revolution -> remember -> good gift

Being the Eucharist costs -> body broken, blood poured

“Me too”

Jesus wants to save us from ____

New Arrival

Got very excited by the arrival of this book today…!


"Ultimately, movement is only as valuable as your commitment to stillness, and vice versa."

Pico Iyer

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