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Hooray Living The Bedside Table




“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”  Groucho Marx


“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.”  Gustave Flaubert


“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.”  Jane Smiley


I never really met a book that I didn’t like. Words, words and more words! And the smell and feel of a book in your hand. (I use my Kindle now, but it just doesn’t do the trick sometimes.) I love to write on the pages like I do letters to old friends. My ideas are shared. I wrestle with the words like Jacob wrestled with the angel of God.

I’m guessing that if you’ve found your way to this page, you feel equal fervor for “the book.” While the books I’ve written about are currently on my bedside table being read or waiting for my unfaithful eyes to lure me in, I’d love to know what you are reading. There is an opportunity below to write your thoughts and suggestions. Because Hooray Living is about being our fearless and fabulous selves, I would ask that contributors confine their titles to spirituality, wellness, self-care, theology, meditation, psychology, poetry, non-fiction, and fiction that has a redemptive story line.

Check back often as the books do change!

Soon I will be adding several reading lists that I’ve gathered over the years. These will be my “Best of” books, as in Best Hooray Living Books or Best Contemporary Spirituality Books. And if you want to know my thoughts or picks for a particular area, just ask! I would love to give my two cents!



Felicity by Mary Oliver – I’m not sure that Ms. Oliver’s latest collection of poems can beat her last book, Dog Stories, but I’ve picked it up and am consuming the first half with greediness. In a word, I would say that the poems in Felicity are about love. Yes, love as the headlong rush into life each day. She grabs you by the shirt collar and points to the birds, furry four-legged creatures, the sky and the mangroves, exclaiming “look, listen and love!”


Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, Candice Millard – Wow!  A native of the Midwest (like me!), Ms. Millard weaves a tale that is remarkable and riddled with what-we-now-would-call medical malpractice.  She tells the story of one of our greatest, and least known U.S. presidents, Chester Garfield, through the filter of Thomas Edison’s scientific work, the frustrated efforts of Dr. Joseph Lister’s boosters and the psychiatric delusions of a murderer.  I could not put the book down, and I kid-you-not.  I’ve recently finished her newer book about Theodore Roosevelt, River of Doubt, and now have Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill on the nightstand waiting for me to pick it up.


Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, Rebecca SolnitDuring a time of cyncism and wide-spread despair over current U.S. and world affairs, it is worth picking up this book written by a long-time progressive thinker and writer. She finds gold even in the mud.  Ms. Solnit writes of hope in social justice movements at the end of the Foreward: “Together we are very powerful, and we have a seldom-told, seldom-remembered history of victories and transformations that can give us confidence that yes, we can change the world because we have many times before.  You row forward looking back, and telling this history is part of helping people navigate toward the future.  We need a litany, a rosary, a sutra, a mantra, a war chant of our victories. The past is set in daylight, and it can become a torch we can carry into the night that is the future.”  She pulled me in with that line.  Already, I have the foreward littered with my notes and highlighting!




The Givenness of Things: Essays, Marilynne Robinson – Her work is suffused with spiritual eloquence and a demands that grace and goodness be the test of our faith.  (You’ll see that I’ve also had Gilead on my nightstand and it is reviewed below!  I just added Home to the stack of books, so I think I have plenty of Ms. Robinson to read the next few weeks!)

What I’ve read thus far of Givenness, I’m impressed with the depth of Marilynne Robinson’s theological knowledge combined with her reverence for the mysteries of faith.

The Christian Science Monitor has this to say about The Givenness of Things: “Robinson brings both her formidable intellect and powers of plain speaking to deliver a clarion call against the culture of fear that she believes is eating away at American society.”

…Time for me to finish the book!


Gilead, Marilynne Robinson – I recently read the two-essay spread in The New York Review of Books, of Marilynne Robinson and President Barak Obama’s conversation at Iowa University, where Robinson teaches writing. I was impressed with her comprehension of religion as it is played out in the United States. The President portrayed her work as something he admired greatly, and seemed to understand at a deep, deep level. They discussed the book, Gilead, and its protagonist, a Midwest clergyman at length. Their dialogue made it sound delicious!  So as is typical of me, I went directly to my Kindle and ordered it with One Click. (THAT is sooo dangerous for the book fanatic! I hate to confess what I spend on that thing because it is easy to do. Find the book, click, and boom!—it’s on all of your reading devices!)…I digress. I am in the middle of reading this book and thoroughly enjoying the main character, John Ames, from my home state, Kansas. He lives in Gilead, Iowa, and sets about writing a long letter to his very young son because he believes he is dying. The character is a pious sort, but definitely not without humor. At this point, I do not know if he dies or lives or anything else. But I can assure you that I am enjoying this old man’s tales and wisdom to the point that I don’t want it to come to any kind of end. So if you’ve read it, please don’t tell me how it concludes!




Hooray for You: 365 Get-Up-and-GO-GO Quotes for Your Year, Lee Ann Hopkins – Is it cheesy to have one of my own books on my bedside table? I hope not! Hooray for You has quotes that I love and use. I don’t have them all memorized, so I need to keep the inspiration close at hand. There are giants in the book from Helen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt to e.e. cummings and Lao-Tzu. So if you need a thoughtful dollop of motivation, dip into this collection of can-do.


You Are All That: Creating a Great Life with Affirmations, Lee Ann Hopkins – In You Are All That, I offer (I certainly hope!) spiritually-infused common sense and can-do for creating your vibrant life. I provide practical, helpful and honest information about generating and using affirmations without giving into the obstacles that we often put into place to thwart our momentum. Self-esteem will grow with every declaration and affirmation.  Feel the love in my words, dished up and written directly for you.






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