I will be the first to admit that I have never been an avid book reader. Rhonda reads more books in a month than I read in a decade. My rationalization for this is that to be a good teacher and a competent research investigator, a lot of technical reading is required - textbooks, journals, conference proceedings, etc. Since I have retired from full-time work, there is now a bit more time for non-professional reading activities. In the last few months, I have actually finished three books!
The first one is Yearning Wild: Exploring the Last Frontier and the Landscape of the Heart by R. Glendon Brunk. I knew Dick from our younger days in Goshen, Indiana. Dick was a bit older than me, and we younger fellows at College Mennonite Church thought that he was pretty cool, and the girls did also because he was quite handsome. Another of my long-time friends encouraged me to read the book, and I found it engaging and enjoyable. Interestingly, later in life, Dick decided he no longer wanted to be a "Dick" and changed over to his middle name, Glendon. Dick passed away on May 13, 2007, in Santa Fe, NM. Here is a blurb from Publishers Weekly:
"This engaging memoir by a professor of creative writing and environmental studies at Prescott College tells the story of a young man growing up and a land becoming tamed. Brunk, who drove west the moment his high school graduation ceremony ended, eventually arrives in the wilds of Alaska in 1968. Newly married and ready to be a "real" man, he lives his "Jack London notion of life": hunting, fishing, building his own log cabin and beginning to race sled dogs. Over the next 12 years, Brunk becomes one of the world's top sled dog racers; he experiences fatherhood and later divorce. But after winning the world championship of sled dog racing in 1980, Brunk sells his dog team and leaves Alaska's shrinking wilderness behind, heeding a voice that "kept prodding, kept insisting that something else needed doing." The nomadic Brunk then embarks on a seven-year odyssey around Africa, South America and Asia. He thrives on the "open, reckless engagement with the world," spends his 40th birthday camped out in the Serengeti, "in love with life, with the myriad possibilities of it all," and eventually comes to embrace simplicity and challenge Western notions of success. Finally, largely in response to a plea from his daughter, Brunk decides to return to North America and "life without bears," and to commit himself to protecting the Alaskan wilderness he loves. Although occasionally unpolished, at its best Brunk's prose is direct and heartfelt. This is a stirring memoir from one man who heard the call of the wild and answered it."
The second book is also by a long-time friend, Clair Miller. We attended Goshen College together in the 60's and when drafted, headed different ways - Clair to Vietnam and me to Civilian Public Service in Denver. Clair's book is Forgotten Brother, a fictional but realistic account of a Vietnam POW and his quest for freedom. Once the plot is set, I found it to be a real page-turner.
The third book is The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials for a Radical Faith by Stuart Murray. It is a thoughtful, enlightening and challenging look at Christendom and anabaptists past, present and future. Here is what Shane Clairborne has to say:
"The Anabaptists are beginning to make more and more sense to a world that is increasingly aware of the emptiness of materialism and the ugliness of militarism. Anabaptist logic is rooted in the wisdom of the cross of Jesus, which Scripture says confounds the wisdom of this world. It seems the world is poised for a new Anabaptist movement, and The Naked Anabaptist may well be the spark that lights the fire."
I found all three books to be worth the time.