The Book Lover's Devotional: What We Learn About Life from 60 Great Works of Literature

The Book Lover's Devotional: What We Learn About Life from 60 Great Works of Literature

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Overview

You can find a lot of truth

in literature. . .

 

. . .and that’s what The Book Lover’s Devotional is all about.

            Here, in five dozen readings, you’ll discover bright shining moments or dim glimpses of God’s truth from the printed page. Covering books from the 1600s to the present, these brief meditations describe what makes certain stories so engaging—and provide a thoughtful, contemporary spiritual point for each. Books include

 

  • 1984
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Don Quixote
  • In His Steps
  • Little Women
  • Lord of the Flies
  • The Pearl
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Tom Sawyer
  • and many more!

With questions for further thought, each devotional is ideal for personal reading or small group discussion. If you like books, you’ll love The Book Lover’s Devotional.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607423898
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/01/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 296,994
File size: 2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Book Lover's Devotional

What We Learn About Life From Sixty Great Works of Literature


By Amy Blake, Darlene Franklin, Martha Willey, Paul Muckley

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60742-389-8



CHAPTER 1

1984


Author

George Orwell (born Eric Arthur Blair), 1903–1950


First Published

1949


Original Publisher

Secker and Warburg, London


Notes

• One of TIME Magazine's "100 Best Modern Novels"

• Film version starring John Hurt, 1984, Richard Burton's last film


The Ministry of Love


Aside from George Orwell's beautiful writing style and wonderful imagination, there is nothing inspirational in the novel Nineteen Eighty- Four. It is a near-relentless nightmare where peace has come to mean war and love has come to mean hate, where the past is perpetually rewritten and the future is a jackboot grinding a human face forever.

This miserable, wretched world is controlled by "the Party" and the invisible-but- omnipresent Big Brother. Winston Smith, a party functionary, becomes convinced that he and others like him are "the dead" and decides to rebel. He has an illicit affair with Julia, a coworker, and approaches O'Brien, whom he thinks is sympathetic to the rebellion, about a rebel group intent on deposing Big Brother.

He convinces himself that freedom is the ability to say, "Two plus two equals four."

It's a short-lived rebellion. O'Brien, the party's torturer, takes Winston Smith to the Ministry of Love, where he brainwashes him into believing that two plus two equals five. Despite this, Winston still manages to keep something of himself. He still hasn't betrayed his love for Julia.

O'Brien takes his prisoner to Room 101, the place where everyone confronts his worst fear. For Winston Smith, this takes the form of a two-part cage: One part fits around his head and the other holds starving rats. As O'Brien opens the dividing gate, the last decent part of Winston Smith disappears. He betrays Julia, knowing she will be tortured in his place. He puts her between himself and his nightmare.

Reintegrated into "normal" life, Winston Smith cries tears of gratitude as he realizes how much he loves Big Brother—though at that moment he would love a bullet in the head every bit as much.

Orwell's vision is a world without God. Human love has become worthless, and there is no hope. His world is indistinguishable from hell. Big Brother is indistinguishable from Satan.

We, on the other hand, do have God—and that's where we should find our inspiration. And there's more! Room 101, in whatever form it may take, can never steal our souls. We don't have to sacrifice love. God has already put someone between us and hell: His own Son.

Christ lifts us above Winston Smith and "the dead" to an everlasting future where peace means peace and love means more than we could ever imagine.

Who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. Galatians 1:4 NIV

* * *

For Further Thought

1. In what ways can you see or feel the world trying to get you to conform to its own way of thinking and behavior?

2. In your own words, how would you describe the love of God and what it means to you?

I've read this book []

My Star Review *****

CHAPTER 2

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT


Author

Erich Maria Remarque, 1898–1970


First Published

Serialized in Vossische Zeitung in 1928, published 1929


Publishers

Propyläen Verlag, Germany Little, Brown & Co., England


Notes

• Banned and Publicly Burned by the Nazis

• The 1930 Film Won Academy Awards For Best Picture and Best Director


A Night in the Trenches


All Quiet on the Western Front is a poignant story by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The story transcends cultural and social barriers, showing the undeniable horrors of war.

The hero in the story is a young German boy named Paul, who goes off to fight for his country during "the Great War." One powerful scene in the midst of battle haunts many readers because it is so brilliantly written and because it speaks so clearly to the issue of loving our enemies. In this scene, Paul is separated from his company in the heat of battle. He hides out in a bomb crater, exhausted and terrified ... and completely alone. The unthinkable happens when a young French soldier jumps into the trenches with him. Paul's knee-jerk reaction is to attack.

What happens next is shocking to most readers. Because of the impending danger outside the crater, Paul is forced to spend the night with his wounded enemy. This young man dies a slow and painful death, and Paul, knowing he is to blame, is overwhelmed with emotion as he watches. After all, his "enemy" is not much older than Paul himself.

Can you picture it? Two men in the trenches together ... one alive and one dead. One German, one French. One battling his emotions, the other battling no more. As the night progresses, Paul grows more remorseful. He realizes that the young man he has killed is not his enemy at all. He's just a fellow victim of war. Paul goes through the deceased man's things, learning his name and discovering he has a wife and child. When morning comes, Paul is reunited with his fellow soldiers, but he is haunted by his treatment of his so-called enemy.

Picture yourself in that bomb crater, spending the night with someone you see as an enemy. Who do you envision? Think about that one person you struggle with the most. Who is in the trenches with you right now? Have you hardened your heart, or are you speaking words of life over the situation?

Show love to the very person who has hurt you the most. Do good to the one who hates you. Pray for the one who spitefully uses you. Forgive. Bless. Love. It's truly the only way to face the morning light with a peaceful heart.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Matthew 5:44 KJV

* * *

For Further Thought

1. How do you think you would respond to someone you see as an "enemy" if you were to allow yourself—just for a minute—to try to see things through his or her eyes?

2. What should be your response to your enemies, to those who treat you wrongly or dislike you for no particular reason?

I've read this book []

My Star Review *****

CHAPTER 3

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES


Author

Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1874–1942


First Published

1908


Original Publisher

L.C. Page & Co., Boston


Notes

• More Than 50 Million Copies Sold Since Publication

• The First of Many Film and TV Adaptations was Made in 1919


A Father to the Fatherless


Few stories in literature encapsulate the message of our Father God's heart for His children like Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic tale Anne of Green Gables. Anne Shirley, the story's young heroine, represents each one of us. She comes to Green Gables a fatherless child who hasn't quite found her place in the world. In a sense, she is a lost soul. Others have taken her in, but they haven't really cared for her—at least not in the way she needs.

There is a somewhat ironic scene near the beginning of the story in which Matthew Cuthbert (the owner of Green Gables, a farm in the town of Avonlea, on Prince Edward Island) goes to the train station to pick up an orphan child that he believes to be a boy. He and his sister Marilla have decided to take the boy, because Matthew is growing old and needs help with the chores at Green Gables. Imagine his surprise when he finds Anne—a darling little chatterbox with red hair—waiting there. He takes her back home to meet Marilla. Unfortunately, Marilla—who is rather stoic in personality—doesn't take to the child. Anne is everything Marilla is not: quirky and fun, and often into mischief.

Anne feels set apart from the other children in Avonlea, not just because of her "plight," but also because of her physical appearance. She despises her red hair, even going so far as to dye it. Unfortunately, the dye turns her hair a lovely shade of green! In one of the most poignant scenes of the book, Marilla helps Anne cut her hair, promising one day all of this will be behind her. Surely she refers to more than just the green hair!

In spite of her challenges, Anne maintains a hopeful view of life. She's convinced that "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world." In fact, her story ends with that very positive message. All of this is made possible because two people extend a hand to her, offering love and hope in her time of need.

Our journey is much like Anne's. We come to God broken, without a home, lost, and unsure of where we fit in. He fathers us, caring for our deepest needs and offering a safe place to run. Then, as we are healed and made whole, He teaches us to do the same for others—to extend a hand to those in need.

As others receive your love, may they, like Anne, come to understand that "God's in His heaven, all's right with the world."

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Psalm 82:3 KJV

* * *

For Further Thought

1. In what ways do you see yourself as "broken and lost" before God? What did He do to make you healed and whole when you came to Him?

2. What specific actions can you take today to "defend the poor and fatherless" who are around you?

I've read this book []

My Star Review *****

CHAPTER 4

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS


Author

Jules Verne, 1828–1905


First Published

Serialized in Magasin and published in 1873


Original Publisher

Pierre-Jules Hetzel & Cie, Paris


Notes

• Unesco Lists Verne as One of the Five most-translated authors ever

• The 1956 Film Won Five Academy Awards from eight nominations


The Journey Home


Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days is a romp. From a standing start, Verne's hero, Phileas Fogg, and his manservant, Passepartout, embark on the ultimate adventure: to travel around the world in eighty days—just to prove it can be done. If they don't succeed, Fogg stands to lose half his fortune.

As the story begins, Passepartout is looking for a quiet life and Phileas Fogg is the ultimate stay-at-home. So far, so good. Then, as it usually does, life intervenes. The whole world intervenes, in fact.

Fogg determines to set out on his epic journey the same evening he made the bet. He seems like a man who has everything, but he has no friends or family to say good-bye to and no commitments to delay him. He thinks of himself as a man who needs nothing and no one. The journey will change all that.

Fogg and Passepartout make good time at first. Their schedule is planned to perfection. It only falls apart when they stop to rescue an Indian girl, Aouda, from a sacrificial fire. It's against the clock all the way from there.

Arriving back in London, Fogg is convinced he has lost the bet. He must surely be penniless, but he doesn't care because Aouda has agreed to marry him. Then Passepartout realizes that by traveling from west to east they have actually gained a day. They win the bet!

But the costs of the journey equal the winnings. Fogg isn't broke, but he's no better off—at least materially. He still doesn't care.

Just like Passepartout and Phileas Fogg, you and I might prefer to stay at home, enjoying the quiet life, going to church and saying all the right things. We're only here a short time, though, and, as our heroes find out, there are people out there needing saving.

Phileas Fogg's riches come from a source that is never explained and that his associates don't understand. After his adventure, he still has them and he has love as well.

A loving God provides our riches, which will stay with us always. At the end of our journey (which can be every bit as wonderful in its own way as Phileas Fogg's) we will return home no richer or poorer than when we arrived ... unless we managed to love or be loved along the way, because that's what makes the journey worthwhile.

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" Mark 8:36 NIV

* * *

For Further Thought

1. Other than the material ones, what kinds of riches has God blessed you with both today and in the past?

2. In what specific ways can you use the riches God has blessed you with to enrich the lives of those around you?

I've read this book []

My Star Review *****

CHAPTER 5

AT THE BACK OF THE NORTH WIND


Author

George Macdonald, 1824–1905


First Published

Serialized in Good Words for the Young, 1868 Published in book form, 1871


Original Publisher

Strahan &; Co., London


Notes

C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien were admirers of Macdonald's Writing

• MacDonald claimed not to write for children but for "the childlike"


The Good Side of Suffering


In his fantasy work At the Back of the North Wind, Victorian storyteller George MacDonald introduces Little Diamond, a boy named for his cabbie father's favorite horse, Big Diamond. This tale of young Diamond's adventures with North Wind, a glorious woman with pale skin and long dark hair, tackles the truths of God's goodness even in the face of the world's seemingly endless evil and suffering.

One night as Little Diamond sleeps in his loft above Big Diamond's stall, North Wind blows a knothole from the wall, awakens him, and invites him to ride on her back. Before they begin, she warns him that she doesn't always look beautiful, that sometimes she swoops like a huge bat or howls like a vicious wolf. But as long as he holds tight to her hand, it will never change in his.

On one journey, North Wind takes care of Diamond with one hand while sinking a ship with the other. When he questions how she can be good to him while being cruel to others, North Wind says that since "there can't be two mes," she must be either good or evil. Diamond knows she's good and learns that sometimes what looks cruel isn't really. North Wind only does the tasks set for her by "Another," and each person receives whatever treatment is best for him or her.

Diamond suffers horribly on his journey to the back of the North Wind. The cold nearly kills him, but he returns after a time, always longing for that beautiful land at her back. When North Wind tells him that people call her Evil Chance and Ruin and another name "which they think the most dreadful of all"— Death—Diamond learns that he's never been to North Wind's back at all, that he's only seen its shadow. But at book's end, because it's the best possible good for him, he dies and enters the true land at her back.

Sometimes we as Christians have trouble understanding the purpose of pain in this world. We can't see the good in the suffering around us. But as North Wind explains to Diamond, sometimes good things must look ugly because they are "making ugly things beautiful." In His wisdom, God often uses the hard things in our lives to fulfill His plans for us, plans to give us a future and a hope. Although our sufferings may seem hideous, God uses them to conform us to His image and prepare us for our own journey to the land at North Wind's back.

"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 NASB

* * *

For Further Thought

1. How do you respond when an honest skeptic asks how a loving God could allow so much suffering to go on in the world?

2. What specific good have you seen come out of your own suffering or the suffering of those close to you?

I've read this book []

My Star Review *****

CHAPTER 6

AULD LICHT IDYLLS


Author

J. M. Barrie, 1860–1937


First Published

Serialized in St James's Gazette, 1888 Published in book form, 1888


Original Publisher

Hodder & Stoughton, London


Notes

• A compilation of vignettes depicting village life in Scotland

• The Auld Lichts or "Old Lights" were a traditionalist sector of the Scottish church


Sneckie


J. M. Barrie is best known for writing Peter Pan, but in his Auld Licht Idylls there's a little scene worth thinking about.

The narrator has himself in a garden surrounded by a high wall. He and the house's owner are unpacking a water pump that had been wrapped in straw for the winter. They hear a scrabbling noise and look up to see a fellow called Sneckie desperately clambering over the wall. From the top, Sneckie drops onto the roof of the henhouse then slides down a board to the ground.

Sneckie recovers his breath and spends a few moments discussing whatever business he had with the house's owner. Then he sighs heavily, looks at the wall, and says he'd best be off again. As he starts climbing, the puzzled narrator says, "Wouldn't you be better using the gate?"

"There's a gate?" asks Sneckie in delighted amazement.

He'd first climbed the garden wall as a mischievous schoolboy and was such a creature of habit that, even as an adult, he had never considered any other way. The house's owner had always wondered why Sneckie came visiting that way but hadn't thought it polite to comment on someone else's ways.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Book Lover's Devotional by Amy Blake, Darlene Franklin, Martha Willey, Paul Muckley. Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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.

Table of Contents

Contents

1984 by George Orwell,
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque,
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery,
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne,
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald,
Auld Licht Idylls by J. M. Barrie,
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell,
Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The by John Boyne,
Charlotte's Web by E. B. White,
Christy by Catherine Marshall,
Count of Monte Cristo, The by Alexandre Dumas,
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky,
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes,
Emperor's New Clothes, The by Hans Christian Andersen,
Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley,
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson,
Good Earth, The by Pearl Buck,
Grapes of Wrath, The by John Steinbeck,
Great Gatsby, The by F. Scott Fitzgerald,
In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon,
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë,
Jungle Book, The by Rudyard Kipling,
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo,
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The by C. S. Lewis,
Little Engine That Could, The by Watty Piper,
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder,
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott,
Lord of the Flies by William Golding,
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien,
Moby Dick by Herman Melville,
Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene,
Odyssey, The by Homer,
Paradise Lost by John Milton,
Pearl, The by John Steinbeck,
Picture of Dorian Gray, The by Oscar Wilde,
Poisonwood Bible, The by Barbara Kingsolver,
Prayer for Owen Meany, A by John Irving,
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen,
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe,
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare,
Roots by Alex Haley,
Scandal in Bohemia, A by Arthur Conan Doyle,
Screwtape Letters, The by C. S. Lewis,
Silas Marner by George Eliot,
Secret Garden, The by Frances Hodgson Burnett,
Sophie's Choice by William Styron,
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The by Robert Louis Stevenson,
Street Lawyer, The by John Grisham,
Tale of Two Cities, A by Charles Dickens,
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee,
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain,
Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A by Betty Smith,
Velveteen Rabbit, The by Margery Williams,
War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells,
Water Babies, The by Charles Kingsley,
White Fang by Jack London,
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne,
Wrinkle in Time, A by Madeleine L'Engle,
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë,

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