Friday, September 27, 2013

Favorite Bibliophile Destinations

Hi friends and fellow bibliophiles!
I'm at a writer's conference this week, so I'm not going to do a formal post today, but I still wanted to pop in and say hello. :) For today's post, I've shot a couple of blog videos of my two favorite bookstores, one in northern Michigan where I vacation every year, and one fairly close by to where I live. Enjoy, and I would love to hear about your favorite bookstores in the comments section! What are they called? Do you have any big chain bookstores in your countries/states? And what is your favorite section to browse in while you're there?

Lady Bibliophile

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tales of the Long Bow

Junior Bibliophile's a gem, isn't she? :) I completely forgot about the possibility that she might surprise me with a post, even though she had done it last year. The truth is, I don't often go on my blog to read my posts for myself, as I've already read what I've written, so there was a very high chance I wouldn't see it at all. But the Lord knows how to orchestrate things. :) Just for a fancy I clicked on my Blogger dashboard stats yesterday morning, and saw that there were three views on this strange post called "Behind the Bedroom Door".

I couldn't think of what possible book I had reviewed with that title. For the life of me, the content of it escaped me. So I clicked on it, curious to see what it was, and found that once again, my dear and shameless hacker of a sister had broken into my Blogger account and had her own merry time of it.

Thank-you, Junior Bibliophile! I really enjoyed it, and all your surprises made my birthday so special yesterday. :)

And now, on to today's post...

Suzannah has often encouraged me to read a G.K Chesterton, in our swapping of book titles, and not too long ago, wrote a highly enjoyable post on some key themes to be found in his works.

Well, the truth is, I've read a Chesterton. All except the last chapter, that is.

Years and years ago I picked up Tales of the Long Bow, back in the days when I kept my current reads between my mattress and my bed-frame when I wasn't reading them, and every night before going to sleep I would take a daily dose of the very strange adventures of the Long Bow Society. I got the main gist of it, though missed just about every major point Chesterton put in, and just as I was about to finish the last chapter, the due date came around.

Every year since then I've thought about getting it again. I think it's been a good six years now that I've wondered whatever happened in that elusive last chapter. After reading Suzannah's article I decided to pick it up again, though it may not be the flashiest or best-known of his works, and follow through on the promise I had made myself to find out what happened to the Long Bow Society.

The Book
When Colonel Crane, the epitome of respectable British society, takes to wearing a cabbage to church and everywhere else as a hat, his neighbors are quite shocked. Shocked, that is, until they begin to wonder if they themselves should take up the fashion.
Owen Hood sits by the Themes every day with a fishing pole in his hand, never catching a fish and content to let the world drift past him. Then an oily scum appears on the surface of his glorious river, stinging him to take action.
Hilary Pierce takes daredevil rides in his airplane and finds his thrills bucking respectable government policies. Until a pretty innkeeper's daughter brings him down to earth and he turns his attention to helping locals retaining their right to raise pigs.

These three men form the core trio of the Long Bow society, and are mentioned most often, but not to be despised are the exploits of various other intrepid members, including Parson White, Enoch Oates, Professor Green, and Commander Blair. Each of these men is responsible for debunking acts considered impossible by the English language. "Castles in the air," "I'll eat my hat," and such other statements are taken up one by one, and proven to be possible.

Why go to such lengths? Because these men have a far greater purpose than making public spectacles of themselves. What, in the first chapter, looks like a random act of eccentricity, quickly pulls together into a driving purpose: three men who are absolutely determined to prove a point to their society. The point? Read on...

My Thoughts
No first review of Chesterton can be complete without praising his writing style. His imagery is fantastic; he puts in such descriptive detail, but it's solid stuff and not a fluffy filler to reach a word count. If you want to improve your imagery, read Chesterton. A steady diet of him will be better than all the chapters on adjectives and adverbs and similes and metaphors put together, and the brilliant thing about him is, every word counts towards the story.

Secondly, Chesterton strikes the happy medium of being a thoroughly British wit and a thoroughly Christian author at the same time. One moment you'll be laughing over the dry humor that characterizes his works, found both in description and the characters' conversations with each other. Then next you'll be very carefully reading a paragraph over again to soak in the entire meaning he intended you to get from it.

I love the whole premise of the novel: each man taking a famous proverb and trying to prove it true, when it is generally believed to be false. That's a clever plot, and made for a fun time, because Chesterton would give you the story before giving the proverb at the end, so you had plenty of time to guess which one each story is about. Also, the way he weaves one story into another, so that you can't completely understand each one until you read the next one, makes for a book that keeps you reading. You have to finish if you want to make any sense of it, and when you finish, it makes perfect sense.

Actually, the only thing I didn't like, believe it or not, was the last chapter.

Up to that point in the book, I was under the impression the story was set in a time contemporary to G.K. Chesterton, sometime World War One, perhaps after World War Two. It wasn't until the last chapter that I realized he was writing a novel set somewhere in the future, though he still placed it in the 1900s. I started to get this inkling in the chapter before the last, when the men were doing some things that were decidedly unrealistic. I would have preferred a little more clarity on the time period before I got to the last 30 pages, as it's hard to turn around and re-set by then. In the last chapter everything got just a little bizarre, and while the previous parts of the book were definitely a little stretch of the imagination, there was a huge jump from the slightly wacky to the unreal.

Chesterton not only incorporates moral musings into his stories, but also societal campaigns as well. He was a distributist, and believed that property ownership was an individual right, and industry should be as individually pursued as possible, instead of being under control of the government or a big business owner. This, of course, was an outcry against Socialism, and while it's an interesting theory, Distributism should not be confused with Capitalism. Chesterton often uses the term "Three acres and a cow" as a slogan that everyone should have a little patch of land to earn their livelihood. On first read, I don't see distributism as a principle taught in the Bible, though Chesterton did give it a Christian twist, but it would bear more research to see how it compares with Capitalism.

The whole thrust of Tales of the Long Bow teaches two things; a group of men fighting for distributism, as mentioned above, and a group of men fighting for constancy in the face of a changing society:

"In all our little adventures," went on the other, "we have all of us taken up some definite position and stuck to it, however difficult it might be; that was the whole fun of it. But our critics did not stick to their own position--not even to their own conventional or conservative position. In each one of the stories it was they who were fickle, and we who were fixed....Don't you see that's the moral of the whole thing? The modern world is materialistic, but it isn't solid. It isn't hard or stern or ruthless in pursuit of its purpose, or all the things that the newspapers and novels say it is; and sometimes actually praise it for being."

Tales of the Long Bow is a story of seven men who were willing to be fools to society, in order to keep their word. Though the points they chose to stick to are amusing in themselves, the whole premise gives rise to some serious thought. If we, as Christians, are willing to be fools in the eyes of the world, how long will we hold out to prove that we believe what we say?

When we hold fast in a changing culture, then people begin to look at us, and they begin to say, "I wonder if what those people have is the truth."

Truth doesn't change. And since the law of God is written on the hearts of men, even the non-Christians know that what lasts eternally is the truth. And they yearn for stability and surety. We need to mirror that truth to them by our commitment, our confidence, and our unwavering daring to prove that what we are doing is absolutely true and right.

Check out Tales of the Long Bow for a funny and thought-provoking read. It's not a long book, but it's definitely worth your time. I can't believe I've never read him before. He's fantastic, and an absolutely solid writer. If you've never looked him up, by all means hurry and do so. You won't regret it, and you'll find tons of entertainment and food for thought in a fascinating story.

Lady Bibliophile

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Behind the Bedroom Door

*Everything is quiet. The lights are off and the soft noises of sleep are coming from different rooms. Suddenly a flash of light! Silence. Another flash! And in pops Junior making a crash landing on Lady B’s bookshelf and knocking the collector’s addition of LOTR off the shelf. Oops.*
Here I am.

Well, I know I did an uninvited visit last year and I felt I needed to make another appearance. After all, the smell of cake and candles is in the air. So join me in wishing Lady B. a very HAPPY 19TH BIRTHDAY!!!!!   
Our family will very often hear the sound of giggles coming from behind a closed bedroom door. And no one will ever know how many story ideas are shared and how many conspiracies take place behind that bedroom door. With the fan on medium and voices lowered to whispers the deepest darkest secrets of the art of story writing are shared. Lady B. will share bits of her story and Junior will listen closely, soaking it all in. We discuss complicated plots that need to be worked out, grin at certain story characters, and all in all we share a special sister time that only sisters can have. :)
Books, books, all those books! Junior stares in dismay wondering how to find anything in the complicated system of Lady B’s bookshelves. Off she goes, begging Lady B. to give her a really exciting book that she’s never read before. Lady B. scrambles to find one! But sooner or later, she comes up with it and Junior B. goes off to zip through it as quick as lightening. Only then she needs another one.
Then on a certain night of the week Lady B. goes from book-recommender to teacher (scary…) and teaches from the Book of all books. With eight other girls, Junior listens attentively and has to read the lesson that Lady B. hands out before the next meeting. Little by little, she learns more and more and works on applying everything Lady B. teaches. And Lady B. works very hard on creating a very special night for all her girls.
And I should add something about Lady B.’s editing. Through a trip to the other side of the country, colds, no inspiration, and even when it gets very discouraging, Lady B. continues to persevere to get her novel done. (And it’s a very nice novel, I might add.)  She has laughed and cried over her character’s virtues and delinquencies but she still stands by them through thick and thin and keeps editing them to make them even better. Only sometimes Junior has to come and tell them to behave.
So here’re three cheers to a very happy birthday! Hip, hip HOORAY!!!!


I hope this next year is a blast as you continue to grow in Christ and reflect Him to those around you.  You are a very special sister!
Love you, Girlie! :D

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Junior Bibliophile

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Cat of Bubastes

G.A. Henty is well known for his prolific historical fiction novels, centered around a young man in adverse circumstances meeting great heroes of his time. This inspiration came from a childhood of reading books, and later telling stories to his children, and countless young men and young women have enjoyed the fruits of his labors ever since. G.A. Henty's books have inspired essay contests, given countless families books to share together of an evening, and educated young readers with a basic overview of numerous historical eras.

I've only read about six G.A. Hentys altogether, during the days when my brother was collecting them. I could tell you the general details of a few more, due to the fact that I listened to my dad read them aloud to my brother in the evenings. We always had twenty minutes of Henty and twenty minutes of Elsie Dinsmore, and we got through a lot of books that way. But altogether I really don't have an extensive knowledge of his works.

Technically, though, if you were to insist upon a point, I've never actually read a Henty. The only books I've heard by him from beginning to end are due to the fantastic voice recordings of Jim Weiss. And he is fantastic.

The first one I ever heard was The Cat of Bubastes, back in the good old days when cassette tapes were still popular. And that to date is still my favorite of all the ones I've heard, with In the Reign of Terror making a close second. So, since audio books are another form that bibliophiles sometimes utilize, I'm going to review The Cat of Bubastes today, while highlighting the Jim Weiss narrations.

The Book
The prince Amuba has a bright future before him as a newly fledged warrior and the future King of his people, the Rebu, when invading Egyptians conquer his people and lead him off as a captive. His father was killed in battle; his mother drank poison; and if he were left in his homeland the chances of claiming the kingship are very slight. Now that his father is dead, the highest general is taking a bid for the kingdom.
In Egypt, Amuba, along with his friend Jethro, becomes a slave to the high priest Ameres, who serves in the temple of Osiris. But Ameres is no normal high priest, and his son Chebron soon tells Amuba that his father is not as confident in the Egyptian beliefs as first appears. Ameres holds to the belief that there is one God who encompasses all the attributes of the Egyptian gods. When the other priests of Osiris find out, they determine to kill Ameres for his blasphemy. The perfect opportunity appears when Chebron and Amuba kill a sacred cat that has been selected from Ameres' household to replace the one at the temple. Chebron must flee his Egyptian homeland since he has killed an image of the gods, and Amuba accompanies his friend to find out whether or not he can reclaim his kingdom and return to his homeland.

My Thoughts
Jim Weiss is a fantastic narrator for the Henty books. Always calm, with superb voice control and different inflections for the different characters, he truly makes the listening experience an enjoyable one. Our entire family loved it the first time we heard it, and I think we even listened to it twice while we had it out from the library.

Of all the Henty books I've read, I think this one has the tightest plot. Some Hentys are heavy on the descriptive detail, which isn't a bad thing, but has the danger of losing the reader's attention. The Cat of Bubastes has enough to give atmosphere, but not so much that you're waiting for the characters to get on with it. Full of great adventure for the reader crowd, and excellent characterizations for the writer crowd, this book is sure to please a variety of ages and perspectives. The characters are just a little British, but that's not a bad thing now, is it?

The Cat of Bubastes is set during the time of the Israelite bondage, and features a cameo appearance of Moses when he was living in the palace of the Pharaoh. This book gives you a good basic overview of Egyptian culture, though not a terribly in-depth one; just enough to add flavor to the story.

One of the most interesting issues to consider in this book is that of salvation to the Gentiles. The priest Ameres is convinced that his people are worshipping attributes of God through their false gods, while only one true God is worthy of their worship. He doesn't have access to the Jewish community, but this illustrates an important doctrine of the Christian faith: namely, can people come to Christ when they have no access to these things?

For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. --Romans 2:12-16

God has given everyone the law, whether they have Bibles or Christians in their life. He has written it on the heart of every man, woman, and child. And they will be judged on the day of judgment, not for whether or not they've heard the law, but for whether or not they've kept it. Through the story of Ameres, we find that in a culture and time when the Scriptures were not even available, a man could still come to repentance and faith in the one, true God.

The Audio books
 So far, of Jim Weiss' recordings, I've heard The Young Carthaginian, The Cat of Bubastes, In the Reign of Terror, and In Freedom's Cause.  Every one of them is worth listening too, and I highly recommend In The Reign of Terror. In Freedom's Cause is a little harder to follow on audio, but that's not the fault of Jim Weiss; there were a lot of Scottish places and battles to keep track of.
Weiss has also narrated many other excellent books.  Of particular enjoyment to our family was Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. I've listened to it a good six or seven times, and the rest of my family has all heard it and enjoyed it. If you're looking for a family-friendly recording, that story would be a great choice. The only one I didn't particularly like was Kidnapped; I think it's hard for an American to narrate such a Scottish story, and all the voices were opposite the way I imagined them. Weiss's most recent audio book release is Men of Iron, and he also expanded this year to digital download format.
Jim Weiss doesn't only narrate books, though. His strongest forte is taking stories and telling them in his own words. Chesterton, Conan Doyle, Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, and numerous Celtic folklore stories and fairy tales are all recorded on CD. You can find some of his storytelling session free on Youtube, and the rest of his recordings are available on his official website. They're not cheap. But it's hard making money from the audio-recording industry, and the investment is worth it to support a talented artist.

He's one of the best narrators I've heard, and it is my pleasure to feature his work today on the blog. Check him out, and I hope you find just as much enjoyment from him as we have!

Lady Bibliophile

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Stopping Words That Hurt

The Institute in Basic Life Principles (formerly Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts) has certainly impacted the Church at large in a huge way, throughout all of Bill Gothard's ministry. You can find their resources stocked in church libraries, homeschool bookstores, and online catalogues, and they certainly have a wide variety to offer. But even more helpful in my life have been the books their ministry has inspired. Many ministries found their roots in the IBLP seminars and resources, and one only needs to glance around various speakers' websites to see that without IBLP's influence, we would have a huge gap in Christian teaching.

One of these resources they inspired, Stopping Words That Hurt, is a recent release from Bethany House publishers, and one I am thrilled to review today. Have you ever wondered what to do when someone speaks negative words to you, about yourself or someone you know? Should you just shrug it off? Pretend it didn't happen? Confront them? Swallow it down and hurt inside? When a person sins against you, turning the other cheek doesn't mean denying that they've sinned, and negative words are some of the most crippling and hurtful things that send Christians down the track of bitterness and isolation. Stopping Words That Hurt identifies different negative words, the attitudes behind them, and the keys to resistance and repentance.

Michael Sedler, the author, grew up in a Jewish home, but is now an ordained minister. He has counseled in many different schools and organizations, which gives him a wide range of experience in communication problems. One of these he saw throughout his career was the hurtful impact of negative words. When he wasn't speaking them himself, others spoke them in his hearing. While visiting a church in southern Idaho, he heard a minister give a sermon that turned the light bulb on. This minister spoke about the damage of hearing negative words, not only the damage of speaking them. Sedler found out later that much of his material was taken from the "Seminar in Basic Youth Conflicts" put out by IBLP. This started Sedler on further researches in the topic, and brought about the end result of Speaking Words That Hurt.

The Book

-What is meant by an 'evil or negative report' and how do I recognize it?
-Is it ever possible to talk about someone without indulging in a negative report?
-Is it still an evil report if those who are speaking do not mean to injure another person?
-What if I just listen without comment? Is that not okay?
-Can I learn to respond in a biblical way to people who gossip and murmur?
-How can I be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually cleansed from the violation that occurs when I listen to these reports?
~Chapter One, Stopping Words That Hurt

Sedler presents the above questions in his first chapter as he lays the groundwork for his book. If these are questions that you have, then you'll want to read Stopping Words That Hurt to find out the answers. The book divides into three key aspects, though these sections aren't official; they're merely ones I've made up myself.

There are three things we need to identify to stop words that hurt. The first thing is the words themselves. Do you know hurtful words when you hear them? The second is our attitude in listening to evil reports. Sometimes we listen because we are confused, sometimes we listen because we are foolish, but every evil report we listen is a contamination. Third, we need to identify the type of person giving the evil report. Sedler gives 7 types of people who speak negative words, and how the Bible views them.

So what do you do when someone comes up to you and starts gossiping? Well, certainly listening politely isn't an option! When we listen to an evil report, we're not only participating; we're also allowing ourselves to be polluted and damaged, and needless hurt is far from the kind of sacrifice God intends Christians to make. Discerning the motives of the speaker, refusing to make judgments based on their report, and polite ways to refuse participation in the conversation are all included throughout Stopping Words That Hurt.

If we're the one giving reports, we need to turn from our hurtful words. If we're the one receiving them, we need to have an attitude of restoration, and not cut off the people who have been hurting us. Repentance is the key to healing, and reaching out to those who have hurt us will help us avoid making the same mistake.

My Thoughts
Michael Sedler's book is written in an easy-to-read style, and he organizes his thoughts very logically with clear headings. He also takes great care to define his terms, writing definitions for what he means by terms such as 'evil report', 'confusion', 'contamination', and 'foolishness'. Every attitude he speaks out against, he makes sure to explain his meaning for, and this is very helpful in persuasive writing. Though it took me a while to read this book since I had several unexpected events this summer, I think during a normal workload it would be a pretty fast read, since Sedler takes the time to summarize and explain everything so clearly.

This book is definitely both convicting and instructive. Convicting in the sense that I realized just how many negative comments I spoke without realizing it, and instructive in that I now have a better idea how to identify and graciously resist negative words when others speak them to me. Sedler hits pretty hard on the gossip, and after reading those sections, it's shocking to see just what gossip is--it's far more prevalent then women's church suppers. (No offense to those, of course.) You'll find it in chat rooms, friends going out for coffee, families chatting in the car, church attendees sitting in the pew before the service: basically everywhere.

Stopping Words That Hurt does not address verbal abuse. It focuses heavily on gossip and negativity, which are valuable areas to be addressed. However, if you're looking for help on figuring out whether or not someone is verbally abusing you and how to seek help, this won't be the best resource for that. It's designed to address different needs.

This is the type of book that not only helps you identify a problem, but also equips you to rise out of the pit of negative words, whether you're the one giving them or receiving them. We all face negativity, and I highly recommend this clear, concise, and helpful book for any bibliophile looking how to deal with this issue.

Lady Bibliophile

**This book was given to me for free by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a favorable opinion, and all thoughts expressed in this article are my own.**

*Stopping Words That Hurt was originally published as Stairway to Deception in 1999, and Stop the Runaway Conversation in 2001.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Men of Iron

As our family is on vacation this week, I'm pulling out some of the most enjoyable and relaxing reads that I've discovered over past summers. One of these gems is certainly Howard Pyle's Men of Iron, a smashing boy's adventure story set in the time of knights and fair maidens, when a duel and a joust were the most natural activities of the day. It's a fascinating period of history, one that I must confess I don't delve into often, and I can't even recall how I first came across this particular story. But regardless, when we took a trip one afternoon to the bigger library we have in town, there it sat on the shelf, and I promptly picked it up and brought it home.

 Being very bad about that sort of thing, I read the first couple of chapters, skipped about in the middle, and finished off with the end. (Take note, and do not follow my example. It was a most depraved thing to do.) Then I had to return it to the library, but the bits and pieces were so good that I always wanted to get it back and redeem myself at some future date.

 I did. I read it from beginning to end, with only a few surreptitious glances ahead at parts I especially liked. And it was so much better all as one tale, taken in order, that I would highly recommend anyone who reads it not to look ahead, but to savor the enjoyment of watching it unfold a chapter at a time.

 So here we are: Men of Iron, by Howard Pyle

 The Plot

When Richard II abdicates, leaving the throne to Henry IV, young Myles Falworth is taken by his parents into hiding. His blind father, Sir Richard, is stripped of his lands for his loyalty to Richard, and though he can do nothing to better his case, he bides his time and places his hopes in his young son's future.
The lad promises to be a fair fighter; skilled, and taking quickly to the lessons he is given. Myles is well-equipped at sixteen to take on the role of squire, and the Earl of Mackworth, kinsman to Sir Richard, agrees to have him.
Under the rough tutelage of an old friend, Sir James Lee, Myles grows up with a sturdy independence and a tenacious will to better himself. The first to claim his rights whenever they are violated, he grows up a leader among his fellow squires, winning their allegiance and respect.
He also manages, through secret visits, to fall in love with the Lady Alice, until her father finds out and puts an end to the acquaintance.
At nineteen years of age, Sir Robert's plans are ripe for action, and Myles is knighted as a Knight of Bath to make him eligible to win back his heritage by conquest. Brace in battle, skilled with the joust, he promises fair to win back his family's honor; and when King Henry allows him to challenge his father's enemy by combat to the death, Myles eagerly takes up the quest to win his father's honor and his own fair maiden all in one stroke.  

My Thoughts

The story is so good. It's a very G.A. Hentyish kind of tale, only I liked the characterizations slightly better than Henty (no disparagement intended, of course.) Myles Falworth is a valiant, manly, yet loveable hero, and I quite cheered him on during the entire course of his adventures. He's passionate, he's impetuous, and he takes the chances against all odds that all good knights must take. The best of books always ends with a battle of ultimate good against ultimate evil, where the stakes are so high they turn your fingernails ragged from all the biting, and though the climax in this book is fairly brief, it promises to offer all the high-stakes tension you could wish for (provided you don't look ahead, in which case the tension won't diminish a lick, but you'll know what happens after it.)

In an age of literature when the heroes were virtuous, except for the fault of courageous impetuosity, and the heroines were spotless feminine damsels worthy of any knight's hand, we're given an enjoyable tale of clearly cut good vs. evil. This is the perfect book to relax with on a summer's day, preferably by a small lake in a grove of pine trees; but if those luxuries aren't available, a cozy armchair will do just as well.  

 After seeing Howard Pyle's prowess with Men of Iron, I'm very much interested in checking out his version of Robin Hood. He wrote books specifically for children (though not childish in tone) so his purpose is generally to provide a good clean historical read suitable for family entertainment. While books with adult themes and more food for thought are enjoyable, it's always refreshing to find an author with material that one can read aloud without skipping.

 If you haven't yet read Men of Iron, be sure to check it out. A brave tale of a young man's journey to manhood, and one worth many a re-read.


Lady Bibliophile 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Keeper of the Bees

Gene Stratton-Porter is best known for her novels set in the Limberlost, the band of woodland stretching from Michigan to Indiana. The cry of "Timber", a few pink-cheeked lasses, and a stunning array of botanical facts are her trademark, producing novels quite enjoyable to peruse on a summer's day.

Towards the end of her life, however, she turned her characters out on new ground. Gene was interested in nature, and wrote about the flora and fauna in her backyard. When she moved to California just before her death, her characters moved there as well. The most enjoyable California novel I've read thus far is Her Father's Daughter, which I haven't yet reviewed on the blog, but another one I particularly enjoyed I would like to review today.

So I present to you, friends and fellow bibliophiles, The Keeper of the Bees.

The Plot
Jamie Macfarlane is lying in a hospital bed after a fruitless year of treatment when he overhears doctors deciding to send him off to a tuberculosis camp. They can't do anything more with him, but a camp like that is a sure death sentence, and Jamie doesn't want to give in so easily. So he gives himself permission to leave, and sets off privately up the coast of California to find a place to live out the last days of his life.

Jamie walked out on God when he enlisted in World War One to revenge his beloved Scotland on the nations who wronged her. His passion won him a medal of honor, and left him with a shard of iron lodged in his chest, one that can't come out. The pain of it nearly conquers him when he leaves the hospital. He's a persistent man, though, and by hitchhiking and a good bit of perseverance, makes his way to the California coast, and the house of the Bee Keeper.

The only problem is, the Bee Keeper is in worse shape then Jamie, and needs a fairly quick trip to the hospital. He asks Jamie to stay and look after his property for him until some friends can come back to help, and Jamie, who holds up his medal of honor in proof of his good character, agrees to stick around.

While the Bee Keeper is in the hospital, Jamie starts on the Grand Adventure he's always wanted, in company with the woman who cooks for him next door, and the Little Scout, and a child of uncertain gender, who prefers to keep its real name a secret. Within weeks, Jamie has taken up bee tending, given his name in marriage to a mysterious woman in disgrace whom he calls Storm Girl, and discovered that life is so good, six months seems too short to enjoy what he has left of it. And through it all, he begins to see that perhaps God is not quite finished with him yet, in spite of his indifference.
My Thoughts
To refresh my memory of the exact workings of some of the subplots, I browsed The Keeper of the Bees page on Goodreads, and the heated ratings shocked me until I remembered why. Either you'll love this book, or you'll hate it, but either way the divisions between the camps are pretty sharp. This is because The Keeper of the Bees teaches very strongly such themes as God's creation, anti-evolution, femininity, the wrongness of bearing a child out of wedlock (which is a totally foreign no-no in today's culture) and manly chivalry and headship. It teaches that girls are different from boys, and they shouldn't become a tomboy in an attempt to change their sex. It also, in a roundabout way, gives the transgender issue the slap it deserves, almost a century before it became a societal problem.

In other words, Gene Stratton-Porter hit pretty much every hot-button issue in today's society right out of the park, and she never knew the things she was writing about would become rampant social ills in the country she loved so much.

I love books like that.

Certainly the book has a couple of drawbacks. There is a little profanity here and there. Also, a lot of feminists take this author under their wing, and it's pretty easy to look at the book from a modern perspective, instead of understanding its true meaning. Gene likes to give other women inspiration that they are thinking, reasoning, purposeful beings. She wanted women to rise above the idea that they are a decorative angel of the hearth, and realize that, under male headship and within the context of the home, they are to be purposeful, mission-minded, and dominion-oriented. The lesson falls apart slightly at the end of this particular book; the end gives the impression that Jamie joins a woman's mission instead of her coming under his. However, the plot teaches that husbands and wives are designed to work together, and I don't think Porter is trying to teach here that if the woman has a better mission, the man should abandon his for hers. It all must be read in context to get the correct meaning from it.

Oh--and as an aside, you'll also pick up quite a few facts about bees while reading this story.

Gene Stratton-Porter's novels almost never disappoint. If you've never checked out The Keeper of the Bees, I highly recommend that you do so!

Lady Bibliophile

Friday, September 6, 2013

3 Things I Learned From GK Chesterton

Two months into launching My Lady Bibliophile, I met Suzannah Rowntree, an Aussie bibliophile, blogger, and freelance writer. Through reading each other's blogs and chatting back and forth, Suzannah has widely expanded my reading horizons, and today I asked her if she would be willing to introduce my readers to one classic author that I have not yet read myself! So without further ado, I will hand it over to her...

3 Things I Learned From GK Chesterton

I’d love to introduce you all to a great Christian author and teacher. No, not St Augustine, or John Calvin, or Charles Spurgeon, but the more often overlooked GK Chesterton, “the Apostle of Common Sense.”

Chesterton was a prolific novelist, apologist, columnist, and poet of the early 1900s. As a young atheist, he slowly converted to Roman Catholicism over the course of decades by a process which he describes in his apologetic classic, Orthodoxy, as the construction of his own personal heresy, which, to his boundless surprise and chagrin, turned out to be orthodox Christianity.

He was remarkably gifted. Eloquent in poetry, prose, fiction and nonfiction, his writings are enjoyed today by all kinds of people, from John Piper (who has a popular article on Orthodoxy) to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, postmodernist unbelievers who dedicated their novel Good Omens to “GK Chesterton, a man who knew what was going on.” Not that he would have liked the book much,
but I think he would have been chuffed.

There were many facets to Chesterton’s genius, but the most amazing to me is his ability to look at the intellectual landscape of his day and see exactly what errors would go on to characterise the following century. He was blessed in many ways, but in none more remarkable than his gift of thinking Christianly in a world of sneering modernism--to an extent rarely equaled since, even by our greatest men. His insights are as keen today as when he wrote them. Postmodernism was not even a word in 1908, yet he refuted it in Orthodoxy. He warned us against feminism and compulsory state schooling in 1910 in What’s Wrong With the World, and against eugenics in 1922.

I could go on, but Lady B hinted that three pages was a good limit. I want to outline three specific lessons I learned reading GK Chesterton. Also, because I never tire of defending the honourable art of fiction against those who believe it at best a second-rate amusement compared to Serious Non-Fiction, these three things will all come from his stories.

1. The New Hypocrisy
In the brilliant short story, Ring of Lovers from TheParadoxes of Mr Pond, Captain Gahagan, an elegant young man-about-town, is invited to dinner by Lord Crome. Although the guests have all been carefully picked, none of them appear to have anything in common. Then, toward the end of the meal, an ancient ring goes missing, and sudden death strikes.

My favourite thing in this story is the revelation that comes to Captain Gahagan at the end. He’s a good man, you see, a man who would never seduce a woman, blot his honour, or tell a lie (although he is a talented fabulist). Inside he’s a Boy Scout, but on the outside, he cultivates a faint and artistic atmosphere of villainy. He enjoys being thought to be a dangerous man--enjoys it so much that his reputation nearly hangs him. Chesterton’s characteristic insight slices right to the heart of a common temptation.
"I was better than I seemed. But what did that mean, except the spiritual blasphemy that I wanted to seem worse than I was? What could it mean, except that, far worse than one who practised vice, I admired it? Yes, admired it in myself; even when it wasn't there. I was the new hypocrite; but mine was the homage that virtue pays to vice."
This is an amazing insight, and since reading Ring of Lovers, I have seen the new hypocrisy everywhere. Sometimes it’s pretty obvious. I once saw a poster for a Christian youth event called the One Night Stand.

But we all do it, to some extent. Maybe we didn’t do the workshop, hosted by the local Gigaplex Christian Fellowship, on how droopy the Apostle Paul’s pants would have been if he’d been a modern youth pastor. But we enjoy shocking elderly church members. We’ll used minced oaths, just two letters short of blasphemy, to demonstrate our wild untameability. We write and read subversive novels featuring moody and dangerous romantic heroes.

The problem is that sooner or later, we become what we pretend to be. It’s dangerous to cultivate the appearance of evil, which is why the Apostle Paul warned against it in 1 Thessalonians 5:22. We mistake evil for maturity. We decide it’s time to move on from our wholesome childish image, and by a series of logical steps wind up cavorting in our underwear before a salivating crowd. The image becomes the reality.

And even if it doesn’t, we lock ourselves inside a dead-end role. We’re only playing at evil, so we can never really be any good at it. We do pathetic little villain impressions, constantly restricted by what morals we still have left, when we could actually be on the sublime adventure of holiness. We have sold our birthright to be hip and cool.

2. Good Knights With Bad Tempers

In the rollicking and delightful novel The Ball and the Cross, a na├»ve young Christian challenges a pugnacious atheist to a duel after the latter publicly insults the honour of Mary. To everyone’s surprise, the atheist accepts--but then the two men must flee, pursued by the wrath of a world which no longer believes in fighting for what you believe in. By land, sea, motor-car, and yacht, under cover of disguise or trapped in an insane asylum, the Christian and the Atheist look for a nice quiet place to
cross swords and finish their quarrel.

It’s a magnificent book. But my very favourite part comes when the young Christian is given a vision of a magnificent Christian London, a London to which (for he is a Jacobite) “the rightful king has returned”, where St Paul’s Cathedral is topped by a triumphant cross and ringed by a triple crown of swords. Knights, not policemen, patrol the streets. But then one of these shining guardians strikes an old man who stumbles at the crossroads.

“The soldier had no business to do that,” protests the young Christian. But the angelic figure, his guide in the vision, smiles and argues. On the contrary, the knight was quite right to strike the old man, in the interests of justice, or order, or beauty, or something. And with that Christian knows that the vision is a fraud:

“Why, you great fool!” cried MacIan, rising to the top of his tremendous stature, “did you think I would have doubted only for that rap with a sword? I know that noble orders have had bad knights, that good knights have bad tempers, that the Church has rough priests and coarse cardinals; I have known it ever since I was born. You fool! you had only to say, ‘Yes, it is rather a shame,’ and I should have forgotten the affair. But I saw on your mouth the twitch of your infernal sophistry; I knew that something was wrong with you and your cathedrals. Something is wrong; everything is wrong. You are not an angel. That is not a church. It is not the rightful king who has come home.”
The thing that has always struck me most deeply about this passage is the part about good knights with bad tempers. I think, as Christians, we can be too ready to condemn those of our spiritual forefathers who have had faults. Martin Luther was prejudiced against Jews; Edmund Spenser may have oppressed the Irish; Thomas Aquinas made some poor philosophical choices. Atheists, taking the moral high ground, thunder at us about such things and we commit one of two errors in response. Sometimes--very occasionally--we defend the evil done by our own side. More often we curl up, concede every charge, and blackball the unfortunate target from our universities.

This is not entirely because we lack backbone. Far from it. We have a transcendant standard of right and wrong, absolute, inviolable, admitting no excuses. Because we stand for ultimate truth, beauty, and goodness, we draw our skirts away from anything that is evil, ugly, or untruthful. It is the enemy’s thing, and we are eager to let the enemy have it, to prove that it was never a thing of ours.

Unfortunately, in Solzhenitsyn’s wise words, the dividing line between good and evil cuts right through the human heart. Sin will be part of our experience until the Lord takes us home, and none of us is righteous. Does this mean the plans of God for His world will be frustrated? Will He fail in His purposes because His instruments are evil?

Good knights have bad tempers. And it is a shame, but it is no match for almighty grace.

3. Love and War

The Napoleon of Notting Hill is a book about war, a book about love (especially patriotic love), and a dramatically iconoclastic book about the necessity of both.

Eighty years into the future, the world has successfully suppressed patriotism when a surrealist humourist named Auberon Quin is quietly and routinely made King of England. On a whim, he immediately fabricates a pseudo-medieval system of boroughs, Lord Provosts, and halberdiers across the suburbs of London, since he fancies the idea of forcing dull businessmen to wear blazing medieval robes. Twenty years into the experiement, however, London is thrown into amazement when Adam Wayne, the young Lord Provost of Notting Hill, takes his role seriously. Wayne protests against a new highway being built through his suburb with an eloquent and impassioned speech on the sacred inviolability of Notting Hill. When the other Lord Provosts try force, Adam Wayne goes to war, and savage fighting breaks out in the streets of London, transforming them at once from dull commonplace suburbs into things that men can love enough to die for:

"I know of a magic wand, but it is a wand that only one or two may rightly use, and only seldom... But whatever is touched with it is never again wholly common. Whatever is touched with it takes a magic from outside the world. If I touch, with this fairy wand, the railways and the roads of Notting Hill, men will love them, and be afraid of them for ever.”
And Adam Wayne points to his sword.

Notting Hill is the story of a war that brings London back to life, because it gives London a reason to fight. And it makes the highly politically incorrect argument that you cannot be a lover without also being a fighter. You cannot love a thing until you have faced death for it. And, “There were never any just wars but the religious wars,” a character says at one point.

A couple of months back I read Otto Scott’s brilliant, if somewhat nauseating biography James I: The Fool as King. In summing up this contemptible but dangerous man’s legacy Scott says, “His theory that peace can be purchased by cowardice helped move Europe into the Thirty Years’ War in his own day--and many more since.”

This is still a prevailing political theory, especially in Africa, where friends who have been there describe the United Nations as an army that only knows how to retreat. I am not endorsing war-mongering, empire-building, or intervention in foreign conflicts. However, it was once considered honourable for citizens to take up arms to protect their own family and community from a direct threat. Those days are long gone, and the reason is not that courage leads to war, but that according to prevailing Marxist philosophy, the state must have a monopoly on violence.

If The Napoleon of Notting Hill can be trusted, such a monopoly and such a policy of retreat is the opposite of love. But it also might explain something else. It might show a causal link between a disarmed and demoralised people, and the widespread contempt of country and heritage demonstrated by so many populations in the civilised world.

I could easily go on and discuss other lessons I’ve learned from Chesterton--the lesson of the  Enchanted Commonplace, or the lesson of the Paradoxical Enthusiasms, or that of the Mirthful Creator. But I am already over my limit!

Most if not all Chesterton’s works are available for free in the public domain, and none of them are out of print. If you are interested in reading Chesterton, it may be easiest to start with his non-fiction: the wonderful Orthodoxy, or a volume of selected essays. His short stories are legendary for good reason; try the brilliant Father Brown mysteries, The Club of QueerTrades, or The Paradoxes of Mr Pond. Finally, his whimsical and visionary novels--The Napoleon of Notting Hill, TheMan Who Was Thursday, The Flying Inn, and The Ball and the Cross are my favourites--are essential reading for every Christian in this modernist world. I also recommend his poetry.

I’d like to thank My Lady Bibliophile for hosting this guest post! I’m honoured that Lady B asked me to introduce you all to the marvellous GK Chesterton, and I do hope you’ll put him on your to-be-read list immediately. Or, if you’ve already read some of his books, let us know in the comments! I’d love to hear about it!

--Suzannah Rowntree, In Which I Read Vintage Novels

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Art of Blogging

Photo Credit

In keeping with the writing theme I began on Friday, I'd like to do one more practical post on my writing mindset, specifically as it applies to blogging.

Certainly in the various circles around the web, there are many different articles on how to blog. Some of them are practical, but their ultimate goal is to grow readership. Good readership is a huge blessing, but not the ultimate goal of blogging. Then there are other articles from experienced bloggers that tell you what works, and give you tips from their experience on what doesn't. Occasionally you'll find one that talks about blogging from a Christian perspective, and how to glorify the Lord with it.

I suppose this post is  a combination of the two: to discuss some of the little things I've learned in the last year and 9 months of blogging, and also to give other bloggers a good and biblical foundation of why we blog. There are many websites with many purposes on the web; not all of them are teaching articles, or even about books. Some are places to load photographs; some are daily journals that friends can keep in touch through. But every blogger needs to have the following eight principles of blogging in mind, whether it's a casual endeavor or a serious purpose.

In writing this article, I must begin with the disclaimer that I don't pretend to have everything together. This is an ideal I'm striving for--the standard that I look up to. I was a little hesitant to write this post in the first place, for as I told one friend, it seems a little weird for me to talk about the best way to blog.

She replied "Well, who else can do it, except a blogger?"

Very true. So I'm going to give it a try. Do you want to start a blog? Do you want to re-evaluate the one you currently have? Then here are eight tips that I hope will prove helpful for you in establishing your own little corner on the web.

8 Qualities Every Blogger Needs

1. Commitment
The first quality every blogger needs is commitment. In other words, as soon as you hit the 'Post' button for the first time, you have effectively told your visitors that you have pledged to update them periodically on whatever your blog happens to be about. In the case of My Lady Bibliophile, you know that it will generally always be book and writing related. You also know by this point that I post every Tuesday and Friday, and that's a commitment I've made.

Most people look at blogging as a hobby, and that's certainly a good hobby to have. However, when you're doing something in public, it's always important to be others-focused. If you've committed to posting something, then you need to have a good testimony and follow through on that. Everybody drops a post; sometimes you're sick (though I can say from personal experience that writing while sick is still possible) and sometimes last-minute emergencies come up. When you're a regular blogger, they just can't come up every week. ;)

Understand that starting a blog implies a promise to your readers that you will update it, and as we are Christians, we need to keep our promises.

There have been many times my commitment has been tested in the last year and a half; I'm sure there will be many more. Sometimes it means getting up fifteen minutes early to get a post out, or staying up fifteen minutes later to finish it up. Back when I didn't have a laptop, my computer allotment would run out before I could finish the post, and I had to finish it in the afternoon before I started working on my novel. :) When I was across the country earlier this summer, I wrote the posts ahead of time and posted them late the night before, so they would show up at regular times.

When you practice commitment, you build muscles that you never thought you could strengthen. Blogging is a good deal like exercise: if you're consistent at it, the benefits build up over time. But only if you're consistent.

One thing that I think is very important from a reader's perspective, is to finish something you've started. Sometimes inspiration runs out towards the end, and your series falls a little flat, but I say as a reader that I respect every blogger who crosses the finish line. Whenever you've begun something, readers appreciate you finishing it, or telling them why you're not able to. :)

2. Discipline
That's right. When I began blogging, I knew that I would simply put--have to blog. That means when I get up on a blog post morning, I read my Bible, check my email, get dressed, and then get to it! Blogging requires discipline--the ability to say no to all the other fun time-wasters that take away half your morning before you know it. Blogging is a very enjoyable and rewarding experience. It is also on some days a tough one--so the first quality every blogger needs is the ability to say no to distractions, whether it's a short post or a long article.

Which sometimes means turning off that Irish music playlist. Ouch.

3. Fellowship
Certainly, one of the most enjoyable parts of blogging is the fellowship. Watching those readers trickle in one by one (or on some blogs, by the hundreds) is so encouraging, and gives an amazing boost to your inspiration. :) While we don't want to be blogging simply for the followers, we do want to have like-minded encouragement and edifying conversations with those who choose to come. So having fellowship as a purpose is certainly not wrong. It's just important to leave it up to the Lord as to whether that's a core group of friends or a large following.

For new bloggers, I would encourage you that readership does come. The rewards of commitment and discipline are fellowship. It's a sweet reward, and one that must be earned. Give your blog a good six months to get off the ground before you evaluate whether or not you should continue; sometimes it takes a while for readers find a good thing. Also, fellowship with people on other blogs. That's the best way to advertise yourself. Advertising shouldn't be your sole purpose, but certainly commenting and being in circles will bring other people to you. That's how I've found many blogs, and that's how several friends have found mine.

4. Quality
Certainly we should make it our goal to present as high-quality posts as we can. Granted, some of us are better at the proof-reading than others. I don't claim to be one of the experts on the line-by-line editing. ;) When you don't have much time, read through every post at least once (slowly) before you post it and do a spell-check to catch the really obvious mistakes. This will get you far.
If your subject matter is interesting and engaging, but you're afraid that you aren't as good on the grammar, consider asking a friend to look over it for you in advance, and trade services with them. If your life doesn't allow for that option, do the best you can. No blog is going to be perfect; and though that's not an excuse for slip-shod practices, readers should allow you some grace if they can see that you're making a good effort.
Good quality posts include good grammar and engaging subject matter, but they also include crisp web layout. Quality means your readers should be able to read your posts easily; you want to make their stay as enjoyable as possible. Quality also means color and pictures. Pictures, when well-placed, give interest and spice to what you're trying to say, and sometimes a good picture can drive the point of the whole post home.
Good quality also refers not just to the post, but to the web design as well. Make sure it's easy to load. For instance, when I started My Lady Bibliophile I considered putting a music mix-pod on the side with some of my favorite instrumental music, but after some thought I took it off. Mixpods can be hard for people with slow internet, and to be honest, most people enjoy listening to their own music. Consider having a list of your favorite tracks on a different page, or linking to a YouTube playlist that they can look up, if music is something you really want to include.

Also, sidebars should be crisp and clean, and not cluttered. Sometimes I particularly enjoy blogs with tasteful pictures and quotes on the sidebar, as long as they aren't too 'loud' and distracting from the main website. Experiment, and ask for feedback occasionally to make sure the design is serving your readers well. Make sure people can access old posts easily, and I would suggest allowing a good 5-7 posts per page. Some of us check blogs and catch up on several posts at once, and if there are only two posts, we have to keep pushing 'older posts' and reloading the page all over again.

The purpose of quality in content and design is to show your readers that you have a message worth their time and consideration.
5. Reality
People love little bits of trivia, and finding out who you really are. That doesn't mean we air all our dirty laundry for others to see, but giving a hint now and then that we're real people can be reassuring to readers trying to measure up to what we're teaching. I post a lot about the quality of the books we need to read. But at the same time, I get stuck on reading four or five murder mysteries in a row just like everyone else. And I've posted about healthy reading diets! Especially if it's a teaching blog; throw in some normal, everyday things, funny anecdotes, and real-life facts about yourself so readers know that your standards are reachable for them as well.

6. Hospitality
Every blog is, in essence, a little living-room that has a revolving door. Guests come and sit a while, sometimes they'll want to chat, and we as bloggers need to make sure that they want to stay, and want to return! Welcome new readers, maintain contact with regular readers, and let them know that no matter how little or how much they come, their presence is welcome. :) Consider having an about tab telling some of your interests; also, putting up a statement of your beliefs is a hospitable thing to do, so readers can be aware of what perspective you are coming from.
Some people are concerned about online security, and that's a very legitimate thing in today's world. If you choose to use a pseudonym I would encourage you to make your Christian name available in your bio, or at least, don't keep trumpeting the fact that your name is fake. If it's fake, make it obvious (like Lady Bibliophile) but if it's fake, and not obvious, why tell people? Obviously, if someone emails you, let them know that you're using a pseudonym, but otherwise, continuously telling your readers that your penname isn't your real name is like smirking and saying 'you have no idea who I really am.'

Most people don't like that.

Blogging is like a home on the web. You wouldn't invite people to your home and neglect them or ignore them. That's where commitment and discipline comes in. You don't have to respond to every comment, but you should make an effort to respond at least to some or the majority of them. That's also why bloggers should post on a fairly regular basis--it shows readers that you value the time they take to read what you're saying.

The main purpose of hospitality, in the home or on the web, is to show the love of Christ. Truth should be preached, but those readers who haven't yet come to an understanding of what you're teaching should never be marginalized or made to feel unintelligent. Gently lead your readers to the conclusion you want them to reach. Sweeping generalizations should be avoided, and space out the controversial posts with something everybody can agree on. That's like introducing politics at your dinner table, having a lively discussion, and then introducing another more universal subject to bring the guests back into one accord.

Posts should also be upbeat and positive. Blogging is a place to encourage and edify, not to complain. We want people to walk away challenged to better serve the Lord, and lightened of burdens they may be carrying.

Also, you also don't have to allow guests to worship idols in your living-room. :) If you're teaching something controversial, opposite viewpoints are to be expected, and sometimes people who comment aren't always as polite as they could be. Comment policies are good; feel free to exercise your right to moderate the interaction on your blog. I've had to do that a few times, and it's perfectly all right. A blog is your domain; you own it, and you can lead where you want the discussion to go. ;)  
7. Ministry
Every blogger should have a ministry mindset. When I started this blog, I knew that it had to be a little more than going into ecstasies over my favorite books. It needed an edifying purpose. I started out with a vague, shadowy notion that I would do some book reviews and some articles on how to read with a Christian mindset, and it all grew from there. Ministry can take on many different forms; it doesn't always have to be Scripture teaching. Sometimes ministry through blogging means giving girls practical examples of modesty, taking inspirational photographs, or providing funny life anecdotes that will lift the spirits of those who come. Some blogs I visit because they always put a smile on my face, and that in itself is a huge ministry.

8. Dominion.
Ultimately, the goal of every blog should be advancing the Kingdom of God through dominion. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Whether through casual posts or purposeful content, every blog written by Christians should strive to glorify the Lord, to teach others more about Him, to lift up fellow believers, and to point non-believers to the Savior who can give them hope.
We war against the world, the flesh, and the devil just as much in the blogosphere as we do in other areas of our life, and we must use blogs for purposeful dominion for the glory of God. I take dominion of books. Perhaps you are here to take dominion of something else: but I would encourage you to build your blog on ministry and dominion, because if you have a purpose, that makes commitment and discipline so much easier, and the rewards of fellowship so much sweeter.

There are many more things that could be said about blogging, but I suspect other people have covered those points, and I will conclude with these eight for now. I hope that this post has offered some special encouragement specifically to bloggers, and given you a vision as to how you can use this valuable platform to encourage the readers who follow you. :) Do you have any tips that you have found helpful blogging?

And for the people who don't blog, but who do like to read them--what do you most like to see on blogs, in mindset or in practical posting tips? :)

Lady Bibliophile
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