NAS: Summer Reading List

This is perfect! Today’s Not Alone Series topic is summer reading lists, which is a post I’ve been meaning to write. My summer reading list last year was more extensive than this one will be but I’ll try to give an overview of what I’ve read/am reading/am going to read this summer as well as recommending a few of my favorites.

 

Summer 2014

Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde
I read this at the very beginning of my summer. It was an interesting one. Curious and a little odd. A nice beach read with just a enough cheesiness to satisfy my romantic soul. It’s about a boy who comes up with a system for making the world better and tries to help who he can including his teacher, a vet who lost his eye, and his mother, a divorced and broken woman. The ending (*spoilers*) isn’t what you’d call happy but it’s hopeful. A couple months later and I still haven’t processed it all the way but that may be because I’ll never be able to form a complete opinion on it.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I’m nearly done with this one. I’m reading for it my english seminar class this Fall. It’s funny, I’ve seen a few different adaptations of this book into movies and the Muppet version is actually quiet accurate. It’s a classic and not too long. So yes, even though it’s the middle of July, I recommend it.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I bought this at a rummage sale this summer and frankly, I needed to read it before I head back to school. It’s a hardback and a little bulky and I’m flying. I knew it would be a fun read. I started it just yesterday as I was traveling back to my internship after a few days at home. And I just finished it. It was surprisingly similar to the movie and makes me want to read Mockingjay right now. It was an easy read and I got caught up in it pretty easily without getting sucked in. I liked it, and, because I’m me, appreciated the themes of self-sacrificing love/loyalty.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
I’m excited that this book is also on the list for my seminar class. I’ve been wanting to read it for a year or two. I’m hoping to read this between leaving my internship and classes starting (so still technically summer).

 

Recommendations/Favorites

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
An almost-gothic love story. A secret. A quiet girl who’s led a hard life and finds it hard to believe in someone loving her. A broody but romantic man who falls for plain and innocent Jane. It’s an old favorite of mine.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
A spoof of a gothic love story. I haven’t read much Jane Austen. I actually find her stuff hard to get through (but that’s based off a couple years ago, which was the last time I tried to make my way through one of her novels) but in high school I ate up this one. It was funny, sappy, and just great.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
I also particularly like this one. Yes, another classic. There were some great themes that I really enjoyed.

The Lord of the World by R.H. Benson
How do I explain this? It’s a Catholic apocalyptic book about the end of the world. Well-written and interesting.It centers around a priest who’s at first just living in a world full of the technology of the not too-distant future, atheists and apostates, an oppressive government, and euthanasia clinics. But with the coming go the anti-christ the world goes from terrible to worse and this priest is caught up in the middle of it along with some other characters who come and go depicting a span of human experiences during these end times.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
This one’s a YA book but a good read and has a positive message about the value of life. Plus, I remember it being an exciting read. It follows

How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul by Jason and Crystalina Evert
Here’s my review from last year. But basically, if you’re a Catholic young woman read this book.

 

So there you have it! You should be able to find any of these easily online. Any of these your favorites too? What are you reading this summer? Any suggestions to add to my ever-growing to-read list?

NAS: Friends

This week’s topic from the NAS link up:

We LOVE the NAS community, but creating a real-life community is essential to our lives! What have been your struggles in making friends as a young adult? Do you have any advice for those struggling to build community post-college?

So, I’m going to amend this a little, seeing as how I’m not living post-college. I’m going to talk about making friends in college as that’s something I actually have experience with.

I’ll admit I’m lucky when it comes to my friends. I have a great core group of girls. And even though we don’t always get along perfectly and we’ve certainly been known to annoy each other I couldn’t trade them for the world. They make me a better me. I also have other great friends who continue to build me up. How did all these friendships begin?

Well, I think most began with a conversation. Now maybe you’d seen them around before or heard their name mentioned. But actual friendships form when at some point someone says something to someone else. Then things just kind of happen. You enjoy talking and you talk more. You do things together. You see each other. And bam one day you realize you’re friends. I know its probably not like that everywhere. It’s just been my experience.

Isn’t it kind of amazing how a person who was once a stranger, can suddenly, without warning, mean the entire world to you?” ~author unknown

There are different levels of friendship and acquaintance-ship. Friendships with girls and friendships with guys tend to be slightly different, at least in my experience. Especially when there’s interest on the girl’s side. Friendships also are different when you live with someone or work with them or if you’re just in class together or see each other around.

One thing I’ve learned though from my close friends is that a friendship requires work. I like to think I can be polite to anyone who is remotely polite back. But building a bond of true friendship requires effort and a few realizations.

1) No one’s perfect.
I think this is one of the most important realizations. I used to look for the perfect bestie. And I thought I’d fund her, twice. Only to be disappointed when she did something slightly annoying. I’ve since realized that we’re all human and it is all but impossible to find someone who thinks exactly like I do. And that’s ok. We need those differences to stretch us and form us into better people.

2) You do annoying things too.
Yep. I’m still learning this lesson. But it’s true. My friends aren’t perfect. But neither am I. I’m sure I do things that my roommates can’t stand. I whine. I talk too much. None of my anecdotes are funny. But they accept me even with those flaws, just as I should accept them.

3) Differences are okay.
Growing up my family did things one way. We made pancakes from scratch. We always had certain holiday traditions. We never made a cake except out of the box. We didn’t eat spam. My mom’s lasagna was the epitome of delicious. When I got to college my friends had different ideas and different traditions and different ways of doing things. I must admit it can be frustrating at times. But I know it’s important to see beyond that and recognize that just because they do something differently doesn’t make them wrong.

Though these are mostly suggestions for maintaining friendships I think they’re important to realize as you set out to make those solid friends.

There will be drama and difficulties but there’s a reason God placed these people into your life at this time. Maybe it’s so you can learn to be strong and walk away. But maybe it’s so you can be worn smooth and made into a better version of yourself.

On the practical side I think the most important things to remember are to find friends who share the same values as you (not necessarily religion but values) and who you have something in common with (interest, likes, temperament, etc). Find friends who will make you a better you, who will challenge you but not break you down. Then maintain those friendships, living them out with love and respect.

NAS: If I’m Called to Religious Life…

So, I’m finally making the plunge and linking up with Jen and Morgan for the Not Alone Series for the first time. I’ve read some of the posts before and admired it from afar. But I’ve never really felt it was the link-up for me. But thing’s have changed lately. I think this post will help explain why.

My first time joining this link-up and this is the topic I get:

While most of us feel called to marriage, it is important to see the beauty in all vocations! If/when you were discerning religious life, which communities interest(ed) you? What do you see as the positives of that vocation?

This is actually a perfect topic. Because discerning religious life? Yeah, been there, done that. Kind of.

Okay…story time.

When I was in high school I was coming into my faith. I was realizing the beauty of it and starting my personal journey with God. I was enamored with the whole thing, with the joy and the community I had found. I was also a helpless romantic. As a sophomore in high school I remember saying to a priest that I was pretty sure I was called to be a sister. I wanted what they had and perhaps, in a way, I saw it as the logical next step on my journey.

Then came senior year. A year of decisions. I was still contemplating religious life and that fall I went on a discernment retreat. In adoration I believed I received a sign. I thought that I should look at religious orders dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Later, I recalled that I had already visited one such order. After that, I was pretty convinced that the sign had been true and this was God’s way of saying that this order was where I was supposed to be.

So a month later I visited them. I hated it. I didn’t feel welcomed I didn’t feel at home, I didn’t feel peace. I was confused and upset. But…this was where God wanted me. Or so I thought. And that was the most upsetting part.

I wrestled with it for months. Eventually, I decided I would do it. I would join the convent. Needless to say I hadn’t discerned properly. I’m not saying you can’t have reservations about your vocation or that you have to love every aspect of it. But from my understanding God’s will should bring you peace not the twist of emotions and dread that I felt.

Thankfully, God was at work. I told my mom that I would be joining the convent. The next day she put down a housing deposit at Benedictine College. She said she wanted to give me time to think about it. Well, it didn’t take long for God to tug at my heart. I came for early orientation at BC and loved it. I wanted this. And it’s where I’m meant to be.

So here I am, finishing up my sophomore year of college. I’ve done a lot of thinking and discerning this year about my vocation. I don’t know that I have it all figured out. I don’t think I’ll wind up in religious life but if I do, that will be okay with me. I’ll get to have prayer and daily Mass scheduled into my day for me. My life will be simpler and spent in service to others. And if I get married that will be okay too. Ditto with single life. Every vocation has its challenges and its joys. I’m still trying to figure out which joys will be mine. In the mean time I’m continuing to discern and I’m waiting. Waiting on God. And potentially waiting on my future husband. 😉

The positives of religious life, I think are things which initially attracted me to it and which I still see as beautiful and appealing: living in a community of  Catholic women, trying together to be holy, and giving yourself completely to God in a special way. Religious life is beautiful and I think it’s important to acknowledge that no matter what your vocation is. I will never be a priest but I still acknowledge the beauty of that vocation.

If God does call me to the life of a sister I’m fairly confident it will be to an order with some sort of apostolate such as teaching or possibly nursing. The School Sisters of Christ the King come to mind, as do the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. I’ve had some type of contact with all 3 orders, the first two especially. They seem to be beautiful orders of happy young sisters living their callings (and having fun while they do so!). Honestly it wouldn’t be so bad.

But I’m still on a journey. And I’m glad to be sharing this journey with my friends and with all of you and to be finally joining the NAS link-up.