Honey for a Woman's Heart: Growing Your World through Reading Great Books

Honey for a Woman's Heart: Growing Your World through Reading Great Books

by Gladys Hunt, Gladys Hunt


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Vibrates with encouragement for women who want to explore and enjoy the world of books Gladys Hunt, long-time advocate of reading and author of the cherished Honey for a Child’s Heart, has written this new book for busy women who want a wider worldview and stimulus for intellectual and emotional growth. Honey for a Woman’s Heart explores: * The wonder of words, language, and reading * What good books offer thoughtful readers * What makes a good book * The value of reading fiction * Best books in genres of fiction, nonfiction, spirituality, and poetry * How to enjoy the best of books: the Bible * The pleasure of sharing books with others * Something for everyone, no matter what age or reading experience * Recommendations for over 500 books to enjoy Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310238461
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 01/07/2002
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 472,393
Product dimensions: 7.38(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Gladys Hunt was a well-known author and speaker. Her books include Honey for a Woman’s Heart, Honey for a Teen’s Heart, and Honey for a Child’s Heart (revised edition). She also wrote numerous Bible study guides for the Fisherman and Lifeguide series. She lived with her husband, Keith, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Read an Excerpt

Honey for a Woman's Heart

Growing Your World through Reading Great Books
By Gladys Hunt


Copyright © 2002 Zondervan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-23846-3

Chapter One

For the Love of Books

Book love. It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live. Anthony Trollope

I know what Trollope is talking about. I am a book lover. Crammed bookshelves spill over to stacks on the floor or on tabletops and counters. (Is it obsessive?) Sometimes I am reading three different books at the same time. I like the way books feel, the way the paper smells, and the anticipation of what the words will say to me. My idea of a delicious day is time to browse in a library or a bookstore, picking up a book and reading, putting back and choosing another until I find the one I want.

We recently moved to a smaller house. In our attempt to downsize we gave away a thousand books or more. It was a long process. We took one off the shelf, discussed whether we thought we would ever read it again, put it in a box, found another, and then retrieved the first one and put it back on the shelf. Moving was going to take forever, we said, because memories fell out of each book we handled. But we persisted, thinking of the gifts we were now giving to our younger book-loving friends, and also remembering how much it costs to move books.

Often when we put the box of books in the car for delivery, we took one or two volumes back out. It's hard to get rid of your friends. I found it easier to give away the nonfiction books; I wanted to keep all the stories. My husband fought for the nonfiction and gave away some of the fiction. We kept almost all of the classics we had collected. But we still go to the shelves in our new house hoping to find some books that we gave away.

Our new condominium has fewer bookshelves, even though we increased the shelving before moving. We finally decided we did not need to keep the duplicates we had brought from our individual libraries when we married. (Why did it take us so long to come to that conclusion?) But whose copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare would we give away? We each had sentimental attachments to certain books of poetry, so we were careful to keep some of the overlaps. My husband had emotional feelings about reading his copy of Tolstoy's War and Peace; I had never made it through to the end of mine, having lost my way with all those Russian names, so that choice was easier. We kept his. (I must try again! Maybe there is something magical about his copy.) But after the movers brought the furniture in, the first boxes we unpacked were books for the shelves in our living room, the library-den, and every other room where we had shelving. Then it looked like home.

It isn't as if we don't have access to a public library. We have a wonderful library within walking distance of our new location, and it already plays a significant role in our book discoveries. The problem is that when we are passionate about what we read, we either go to the bookstore or access the Internet to order our own copy so we can mark it up. The overload in our house is creeping back up to where it was before we gave all those books away!

We still read aloud to each other the passages that simply must be shared. Some passages we end up discussing; some we get wet-eyed over because the words are just too beautiful; some we laugh over together; others evoke a disappointed shrug of the shoulders when the book doesn't live up to the promises of the first pages. In many ways, but especially when it comes to books, we are glad we married each other, because sharing books makes for a comfortable kind of companionship. Besides, if we didn't feel the same way about books, who would keep finding places to put more bookshelves?

But enough of such confessions. (I only shared this to make you feel less guilty about your own excesses.) Our house is probably slowly sinking into the soil beneath it because of the weight of our books. (Book collecting is not neat!)

It is not collecting, buying, or borrowing books, however, that make a reader; it is reading books. You don't have to own everything you enjoy reading. You may decide to avoid all that clutter. That's why we have libraries! Borrow; don't buy. Enjoy; don't complicate the dusting. If you choose a book you don't want to finish, it costs you nothing to take it back.

For many people in the world, a library is nothing short of a miracle. Imagine someone providing this incredible supply of books for you to explore! Don't take it for granted. Pioneer people were most often book-poor. Abraham Lincoln once wrote, "My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read." It was a fortunate family who owned a Bible. Even today in small towns and in the inner city, unless there is a persistent champion of reading, libraries may be dreary, poorly used facilities containing few books. Shout out a word of praise that we have so many treasures available to us in good libraries, free of charge.

But what good is a library if you never visit it?

The Joy of Reading

Mark Twain said that the person who doesn't read has no advantage over the person who can't read. It is awesome to be able to read, to learn that the letters of the alphabet have sounds, and that if you put the sounds together it makes a word! And words become sentences. And sentences become stories, and suddenly the magic happens. You can read! In How Reading Changed My Life, Anna Quindlen writes, "It is like the rubbing of two sticks together to make a fire, this act of reading, an improbably pedestrian task that leads to heat and light. Perhaps this only becomes clear when one watches a child do it."

One year I taught a class of first graders in the local public school when their teacher had complications from a broken leg. What fun I had! I watched a classroom of six-year-olds struggling at various levels to conquer the sounds of letters, putting letters together, forming words, and suddenly realizing they were reading. When we formed small groups to practice reading aloud, I watched stubby fingers stabbing each word, earnest faces mouthing silent sounds before committing the word to the airwaves. It was serious work-this business of reading-slow and tedious. After all, we were just beginning. Except for round-faced Abby who could hardly wait to read out loud. When it was her turn to read, something electric happened in the room. Abby seemed to size up a sentence before beginning to read; none of this word-by-word stuff for her. She read with drama, her voice rising and falling. When the dog ran, her voice warned of impending danger. When the character in the story said something as simple as, "Where did he go?" it became a melodrama, a moment of adventure for everyone in the room. This was reading! Every child in the room seemed filled with new hope about reading. I smile just thinking of the miracle I took part in that year. The wonder of reading; the magic of words.

The Wonder of Words

Reading and words obviously go together. Words rightly used have the potential of making us shiver with pleasure. Words are a God-idea. "In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1)-that phrase itself says something important about words. It is no small thing that God has made us word-partners with himself. He communicates to us with words. He allows us to speak back to him with words. The wonder of this strikes me forcibly. What a gift from God to be able to communicate! All communication, the expression of ideas, the interface of human beings is dependent on words. I can transcend myself with words and attempt to let you into my personal world, telling you who I am-and you can do the same with me. All of which makes the world more habitable and less lonely.

The Bible says that the world was created by the Word of God. "God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light" (Genesis 1:3). With the power of words, God spoke and created a world. In a lesser sense, we also speak and create a world-a world for someone else to live in. The harsh, destroying words of an angry father; the comforting, nourishing words of a loving mother; the name-calling bully in the school yard; the affirming words of a teacher about work well done-these are only examples of how people use words to create a world for someone else to live in. Words have enormous potential for good or for ill. It is likely that more lives have been destroyed by words than by bullets. More grace and joy have been brought to lives by words than by costly jewels.

Words not only create worlds; they give meaning to our lives. Some people use words; other people love words and see their potential. It really has little to do with talking or not talking; it is seeing what words were meant to do. Words name things. Words open up our imaginations. We clothe our experiences in words and save them. Writer Lynne Sharon Schwartz said that in school she was told that a picture is worth a thousand words. "But, to me," she writes in Ruined by Books, "the value seemed quite the other way around. Meanings might be embedded in the picture, but only words could release them, give them shape and specific gravity. Nothing was really possessed or really real until it was incarnate in words. Words contained the knowledge; words were the knowledge, the logos."

Words have a great attraction for readers. By readers I mean those whose eyes grab words wherever they appear, which is why people find themselves reading the same words on the cereal box morning after morning. But not all words have the same value because of the way they are used. Too many of them can overload and obscure an idea instead of clarifying it. Fuzzy thinking comes with fuzzy word choices. The challenge of using the right word is a healthy exercise of the mind and something readers learn to treasure.

In his commencement address at the University of Michigan, Soviet-born poet Joseph Brodsky told graduates, "Zero in on being precise with your language. Try to build and treat your vocabulary the way you treat your checking account-to enable you to articulate as fully and precisely as possible. Acquire a dictionary and use it on a daily basis." It may seem amazing that one would need to admonish university graduates about such an obvious thing, but the cheap and careless use of words has invaded our world like a virus and infected nearly everyone. Why not call people to honor and protect language the same way we call people to protect the earth?

Good literature is words at their best, taking words out of the mundane and demonstrating their wonder. It's all of a piece, this business of words and reading.

My All-Time Favorites

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong

The Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle

The Loon Feather by Iola Fuller

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

recommended by Pat Feldhake, school guidance counselor

Great Read-Aloud Books

A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

Peck's first book (1999 Newbery Honor Award) is about Grandma Dowdel through the eyes of her grandchildren, Joey and Mary Alice. The sequel (Newbery Medal 2001) continues the story with rich humor and strong characters. Mary Alice is sent to live with Grandmother for a year during the Depression. This is no ordinary grandmother! A real treat for all ages!

Vet in the Vestry and Poultry in the Pulpit by Alexander Cameron

True-to-life descriptions of veterinary practice in Great Britain (in the fashion of James Herriot's books), these books explore Cameron's life of faith as a minister of the Church of Scotland and his experience as a vet. The descriptions of both animals and parishioner are delightful.

Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Montgomery has written the wonderful eight-book Anne of Green Gables stories, but don't stop there. Rilla describes the agony of World War I and the heart-breaking involvement of the Canadians and British in this struggle, before the Americans enter the war. Then go on to read more. Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, Emily's Quest, Pat of Silver Bush, and Mistress Pat are tales of a different delightful Montgomery heroine with the same kind of unforgettable characters. Another small gem is The Blue Castle. Many of Montgomery's stories were discovered forty years after her death and are now being released in new collections.

recommended by Kristy Motz, librarian and storyteller


Excerpted from Honey for a Woman's Heart by Gladys Hunt Copyright © 2002 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

The author of the parenting staple Honey for a Child's Heart expands her role to become a chatty adviser for Christian women interested in exploring the literary world. Hunt's passion for books is infectious as she discourses on a broad range of issues---from 'Why Read?' to the classics, genre fiction, nonfiction, book groups, poetry, the Bible, making time to read and a host of related topics. As well as listing her choices for best books in each of the categories she discusses, Hunt adds recommendations from outside sources (including editors, housewives, librarians and Mitford maven Jan Karon), which are boxed on the pages. The resulting compilation of titles resembles a list one might obtain from a well-read book group. Hunt also tackles some of the touchier issues for conservative Christian readers, such as the value of reading selected books that contain profanity and sexual situations. There's homespun wisdom ('It's a good rule to never pronounce judgments on books you haven't read'), as well as moral commentary (Hunt calls Snow Falling on Cedars 'beautifully written, but with some unnecessary sexual scenes'). Interspersed throughout the text are her effusive accolades such as 'My all-time favorite' or 'that title is the best!' Hunt's gushy asides are easily pardoned because they're just one part of her unbridled enthusiasm. It's a satisfyingly eclectic mix for book junkies, which doubles as an introduction to reading for the reluctant reader. 'The right thing said in the right way, ah, that's the delight of good books,' writes Hunt. There's much to delight in here. (Jan.) -- Publisher’s Weekly

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