10/20/07

Book Review: Houseless thoughts on "Dwelling"

One of my New Year's resolutions was to finish books that I start (in case you're wondering, my other resolutions were to journal and wear more jewelry. So far I am 0 for 3.) I thought it would be a good discipline to get in the habit of writing a book review each month. This will force me to at least read a whole book and pass along book ideas to my faithful blog readers, all three of you. So, without further ado, here' goes.

Dwelling: Living Fully from the Space You Call Home
by Mary Beth Lagerborg

I picked this book off the shelf at a Christian bookstore and was caught by the challenge to "move onward in creating the type of space your soul desires." Sounded interesting to me. The premise of the book is that your home is a resting place for the soul, not just your soul but for everyone who may call that space home. As the home maker, it is your great challenge to create and maintain a space that is functional, familiar, and conducive to rest and play. The book is separated into two parts- Building Inside and Reaching Outside. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of your home, such as meals, creativity, having company, or working from home.

The good- Overall, I liked "Dwelling" because it inspired me to think through my space and consider the needs of the people who share my home. It also reminded me how the simple things, like family dinners or celebrating seasons, add so much life to a home. For me, the book was helpful as I think through setting up our new space in the basement. How can that space be restful for me, my husband, and the two little guys? In what ways should each room function?

One of my favorite things Mary Beth (the author- it feel so impersonal to refer to her as "Lagerborg") said was that she always prioritizes cleaning her bedroom and living room over everything else. That way if she needs to rest, her bedroom will provide a peaceful setting. Or if someone comes by, she will be able to host in her living room. Kind of interesting- especially since my bedroom is always the LAST thing I clean.

The bad- In her examples, the author refers to ideas from a bunch of different ladies. (I think she did a series of interviews to prepare for the book.) As she uses them as examples, I felt the effectiveness of the example was hindered due to the impersonal nature of the approach. For example, she might say "Shelly finds that doing her housework in the morning provides an energizing start to her day. Krista likes to clean in the afternoon when her kids are sleeping." OK- I made those up but they are similar to statements in the book. My reaction is kind of, "Who is Shelly? Does she have small kids? Is her house big? Does she clean the whole house? How early are we talking- like sunrise?" I'm not sure that I'm really inspired by Shelly cause I just don't know enough to be. There were some good ideas in those portions, but I would prefer three in-depth examples to 25 brief ideas.

The ugly (or how this book is changing me) - I found myself reflecting on the reality that I don't associate home with a house, any house really. So there isn't a certain smell or view or walkway that brings me back to my childhood. But that's OK. There are foods and movies and board games and (most importantly) people that are the essence of home to me. So I was encouraged by the idea that I am not "homeless" like I've kind of always thought; I'm simply "houseless", which isn't so bad.

So there you have it. Feels good to articulate those thoughts. Are you reading a good book? Do tell.

Oh- one of next year's resolutions will be to work on being concise. =)




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Becky,

That book sounds interesting, thanks for the review. I might have to order it. I'm reading or re-reading (can't remember, but parts of it are familiar) Richard J. Foster's "Freedom of Simplicity." I figured I needed the kick in the pants to live simpler. It is hard in this town to not want more, more, more.

love you,
Kristy Allen