my stack of books

Uncategorized Apr 23, 2024

Ever since 2004 I have attended the biennial Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin University in Grand Rapids.  This three-day gathering of writers from all faiths held at a Christian university is chock-full of encouraging and insightful words, especially appreciated by myself, a book group facilitator.  I always come away with so many recommendations.

Unfortunately, due to Covid, the last two festivals have been cancelled.  This year was the first time that we could return to the campus for the event in six years.  Usually I go with my friends, LB and Thanne, both avid readers.  But this year they were not planning to attend, so I convinced my daughter to accompany me.  We could spend the three days at the conference and then go up to Ludington to get our summer cottages ready for the family’s arrival in June.

This would be the first time I had attended the conference with a writer who was not a presenter at the festival.  I wondered if she would be as inspired as I was by the rich and varied selection of writers in all genres that were on the menu of presenters.  But I was also concerned, because in the past I have recognized some of the writers, especially those giving plenary addresses.  This year, other than Anthony Doerr, the acclaimed author of “All the Light We Cannot See”, I recognized almost no one. (More on Anthony Doerr later.)  There were poets and journalists, children's picture book authors and writers of Young Adult fiction, writers of sci-fi and fantasy, but not that many adult novelists.

After the first day of sessions, Meredith turned to me as we headed back to our hotel and said that she was loving it.  She felt like she should go back and start writing right away.  By the end, the Lord had used the words of her editor and a God-sighting encounter with another writer to give her focus for her next projects.  And though I knew almost no one going in, you can see by my stack of books in the photo that I came away with so many books to dip into over the summer. 

Sometimes some of the plenary speakers are the least interesting.  They are well thought of writers, but not necessarily great speakers.  The notable exception this year was Anthony Doerr.  He came out of the gate with an enthusiastic shout out to Grand Rapids and the Calvin community.  He had made the most generous donation of time by attending the entire festival himself, and brought in references to the other writers whose sessions he had attended.  He regaled and disarmed us with a list of some of the silliest similes ever written.  And he crafted a seven-part presentation on how similes, in the way they link unlike things, are actually a literary version of the interconnectedness of the whole world.  He never used the word Shalom, but the way he spoke of this interconnectedness made us realize that writing really is an effort to reweave the tattered fabric of a broken world, and it all begins with the artistic devices of well written similes and metaphors.  He never even mentioned his own award-winning books.  He was everything that you could hope a final plenary speaker would be.  We left CHARGED! 

So here is my reading list in photographic form.  Maybe you will find a title that you want to try.

Love, Liz