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a few things in January {+book giveaway!}

Well, in January I went to Italy, and what else is there to say? Plenty, actually. Because I haven't told you about the books, movies, and music that accompanied me on the planes, trains, and buses.

Books

My editor suggested that I read The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber - and boy does she get me! This weird story about a British missionary to aliens (like, the sci-fi kind) had as much relevance to faith and missions and cross-cultural communication and what it actually means to be human as anything I've read this year, and it was a page-turner, to boot.

I loved the descriptions of growing up in the South in Amber Haines's lovely Wild in the Hollow. At some points, her prose was so raw and vivid, full of unexpected yet concrete images of the physicality of the human experience, that I was reminded of Annie Dillard.

Also, I read the latest Veronica Mars novel.  I was in an airport for 10 hours.  It was perfect.

 

Movies
I watched three movies worth mentioning on the plane: 

The Intern - totally charming

The Martian - I thought the writing was a bit uneven (particularly the scenes on earth run toward cliche), but Matt Damon was pretty fantastic.

Paper Towns - I'm always up for some John Green, and I loved the way the ending of this movie dismantled the "manic pixie dream girl" thing 

Music
I spent more than a few hours listening to the music that I listened to last time I was in Italy - stuff like Indigo Girls and Pete Yorn - but I also tried some new bands that Emilie recommended, The Staves and Daughter. Another new favorite is this little album by Joan Shelley.

And Also
When I couldn't sleep on the plane, I listened to The Gilmore Guys podcast, and the soothing sounds of conversation about my favorite tv show helped.

Family
Rosie turned 7.  
We took the kids to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

Writing
Aleteia launched a new website called For Her in January.  I have several pieces there-
Tuning In To Taylor Swift - how I dealt with my six year old's TSwift obsession
The Joy of Being Alone (Without Your Phone) - the proven sociological value of solitude
Fall in Love with Fair Trade Fashion - I love these pieces, especially the Noonday earrings, which I got for Christmas
Resolve to Retreat - I did not write the deck copy on this piece, and kind of hate it, but this is a list of affordable retreat centers across the States

I might have book title news soon... when I do, I'll announce it first through my newsletter.  Sign up if you haven't!

And Finally, the Giveaway!
When I got back from Italy, I had a package waiting for me - two advance copies of Christie Purifoy's new book Roots and Sky. Since I had also preordered a copy, I want to share these two! I haven't finished the book yet (because: first week of the semester + jet lag), but I've valued Christie's words and her friendship for several years now.  She wrestles honestly with darkness and still finds hope. (See, for example, this post she wrote for my blog about the pain of infertility.) If you've been following her over the last few weeks, you know that this has been an especially dark time for her family.

If you'd like to read this book (and yes, you probably would - it's a lyrical, meditative reflection on home and hope), leave a comment on this post.  On February 10th, I'll close the comments and choose a winner at random. {Update: random.org generated 14, and the 14th commenter was Hannah! You'll be receiving your copy soon.}

The second giveaway copy will be given away randomly to a newsletter subscriber, so if you haven't yet, sign up to receive my very occasional newsletter.

PS this post is linked up with Leigh!