A past snowstorm in Columbus, January 25, 2014

A number of my friends spent this past weekend “sheltering in place” as Winter Storm Jonas (what a cool idea to name snowstorms!) blew through the Ohio Valley and up the east coast. This one missed us by less than 50 miles. We had flurries but no accumulations in beautiful Columbus.

One of the delicious things about being snowbound is the thought of some extended time to curl up with some good books and a warm drink while the snow flies outside (at least as long as the power stays on!). Digging out comes soon enough. Time now to savor that delicious thought of what to read during those extended hours.

So I was thinking, what books would I like to be stuck with in a snow storm? In this case, I decided to answer the question by looking through my TBR stack and picking some that looked most interesting. Here are five I wouldn’t mind being stuck with for a few days:

Last LionFlourishingNine TailorsFools TalkGreater journey

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, by William Manchester and Paul Reid. I’ve waited for years for the final volume of Manchester’s biography of Churchill, covering World War 2 and the years following. Hopefully Reid preserved Manchester’s magnificent style.

Flourishing, by Miroslav Volf. He explores the importance of religion in a globalized world. I like the idea that someone doesn’t see religion as a problem and I’ve appreciated the other books he’s written even when we don’t agree.

The Nine Tailors, by Dorothy Sayers. One of the few mysteries of Sayers I haven’t read!

Fool’s Talkby Os Guinness. I’ve appreciated Guinness’s work since I read The Dust of Death during my student days forty years ago. This was a 2016 Christianity Today award winner and explores the question of how one might speak persuasively in the best sense of the word with regard to matters of faith. And yes, he is from that Guinness family. Now there is a thought, Guinness and Guinness!

The Greater Journey, by David McCullough. I have loved everything McCullough has written and I suspect this book about “Americans in Paris” will be no exception.

It would have to be some snow storm to finish all these books, particularly the Churchill book. The thought of getting started in each of these books is fun though. And truth is, you might see these in my reviews sometime this year anyway, snow storm or not!

OK, so my tastes may be different from yours. What books would you like to have with you if you were snowbound?

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Snow Days

My father-in-law during a big snow storm before we were born (late 40s-early 50s) courtesy Marilyn Trube used with permission

My father-in-law during a big snow storm before we were born (late 40s-early 50s) courtesy Marilyn Trube used with permission

You remember what a delicious feeling it was. Dad comes into your bedroom and tells you that you can sleep in today. School is cancelled because of a big snow fall. Maybe you were up and heard the news on the radio and jumped up and down with jubilation–especially if you were supposed to have a test or do a report that day. At very least you had an unexpected day free of classes, cafeteria food or sack lunches, and bells.

I don’t remember that we had huge numbers of these in Youngstown. Unlike Columbus, which seems to cancel school at the drop of a snowflake (we joke in my house of it being “the great white death”), you had to have more than six inches of snow–a real blizzard that was ongoing–to cancel school. Otherwise it was boots on and off to school. Parents all knew how to drive in snow, and the worst that happened was that sometimes you were tardy–and sometimes you got a break on that.

But there were those rare times when we got buried on a school day. Usually, the first thing was to help the parents dig out. We only had a short stretch of sidewalk but a long driveway that went down a hill to a detached garage. Houses were pretty close together so when you were between the two houses, the question became where to put the snow without piling it up against the neighbor’s windows. That was a bit of work, but the reward was to come in to some hot chocolate and a warm house.

Then there were all those great outdoor things you could do. I remember building snow forts and having epic snowball fights with friends. Usually when it snowed heavy, it snowed wet and it was great for making blocks of snow (a wood or sturdy cardboard box made a great mold!), and of course the snow packed well for snowballs.

There were also snow men, which seemed to be something we did when we were younger–complete with some charcoals, a carrot nose, an old hat and some sticks for arms. Sometimes it would get really cold after these snows and our forts and snow men would hang around for weeks. Unfortunately, back then, they would also start turning a bit gray as soot from the mills would settle on them making them look a bit grubby unless we got a fresh layer of snow. I don’t think we thought then about the fact that we were breathing this stuff as well!

Of course this was a great time to go sled riding as well. I discovered on my recent post on sledding that many of us called it “sled riding” back then. I also learned that in addition to Calvary Run and Glacier Avenue and Rocky Ridge, there were a number of other awesome places around the city to go sledding like “Suicide Hill” (also called Ski Hill) in the park, up at Crandall Park and the Kensington Hollow, St Joseph’s in Campbell, Ipe’s field in Brownlee Woods and many others. Some readers of these posts reminded me of how our parents would put bread bags over our feet inside our boots to keep our feet dry and how all our boots smelled like bread!

Often, we would get home by late afternoon, pleasantly tired, just in time to watch some of the late afternoon TV shows for kids like a show that we remember as “Four O’Clock Showtime” (we’re not sure of the exact name but it had all these great old sci-fi flicks). All those outdoor activities worked up an appetite, but suppers in working class Youngstown were usually early, sometime around 5 pm so you weren’t hungry for long. Then as evening came along, you realized that there would be school tomorrow, and you better do that homework (if you hadn’t already!).

I still find myself wishing for snow days–until I remember that I do a good deal of work out of my home and that the internet is still up and even if I can’t get to the campus where I work, I can still work from home. But visiting those memories recalls the delight of those wonderful words “schools closed”.

What are your memories of snow days?


What Will You Be Reading During the Next Snow Storm?

In our patch of Midwest, we are currently hearing forecasts of 6-10 inches or more of snow on Sunday. Will winter never end? Of course in my town this means a mass descent on the local grocery stores where people buy enough food for a month even though we’ll be dug out within a day or two. [See my post on Ten Things Columbus People Do When Snow is Forecast.]  I wonder, do book lovers make an equivalent descent on local bookstores or libraries preceding similar weather events?

January 25 storm looking out our front door

January 25 storm looking out our front door

It seems to me that “snow days” like this are a delicious invitation to curl up with a book (or three), a warm cup of something, a comfortable chair and maybe some good music. That is Nirvana to this introvert!

So if you are sharing in the latest version of “snowmageddon” or anticipating something like this in the future, what are the books you’d like to curl up with. Here are a few that I’m looking forward to:

Pilgrim’s Regress by C.S. Lewis. A group of us are starting to read it and this should be a good chance to get some of that reading done and see what Lewis did with this classic idea of a pilgrimage.

This feels like a great time for an Agatha Christie mystery.  I have a few of those on my Kindle and so I might just pull one of them up.

I’m in the midst of wading through a couple more serious books and I’ll probably take some time at my most attentive (usually mornings) to make some headway in Jesus the Sage by Ben Witherington exploring how Jesus represents the culmination of the Jewish wisdom tradition and in Andres Tapia’s The Inclusion Paradox, a book that is assigned reading for an upcoming conference.  The latter so far has been an eye-opening tour of how diverse our marketplaces are becoming and how businesses, non-profits, and educational institutions all need to take this on board. What is unique about this book is that Tapia sees diversity and inclusion not primarily through the lenses of challenges, problems or recruitment strategies, but rather as an opportunity for growth.

Lastly, I hope to finish off Paul Miller’s Praying Life, a very practical book that has been opening my eyes to the opportunities for prayerfulness in daily life.

Of course the one challenge to these great aspirations is that sometime I’ll have to get out and shovel all of that snow! But even just the thought of some time to curl up with a book is delicious. What about you?