The Wonder of a Book

Boston is bathed in fog and rain. Sometimes it’s a light rain, other times it’s torrential and the humidity makes everything stick. Our bedroom door squeals in pain as it shuts and clothes and sheets are all damp. It reminds me a bit of monsoon rains growing up – except that the monsoon lasted for six to eight weeks.

And all I want to do is curl up with a book. Work feels so unnecessary in the summer. I have the second Harry Potter book by my bedside, the one where Dudley has turned into a fat teenager and Harry doesn’t make it to Platform 9 3/4. I promised my children that this year would be the year I read all of them. It’s an exciting goal.

Growing up my favorite book on ever earth was Christy by Catherine Marshall.

It was a thick, dog-eared paperback that sat on our bookshelf, just waiting for me to read it during my 3-month winter vacation from boarding school. On the cover a beautiful, smiling woman was on a hillside, her face to the sun – young and hopeful. Christy was the first book I read that could probably be considered ‘historical fiction.’ The story was based on the author, Catherine Marshall’s, mother, who left a wealthy southern family in Asheville, North Carolina to go to Appalachia and teach for a year in a one-room school house. Appalachia was an impoverished community with multiple problems miles away from Asheville in both distance and resources, The book chronicles her journey of learning to love a people and a place, understanding for the first time in her life what it meant to be privileged, how to respond to poverty, and most importantly – what it was to recognize and face evil.

Through the story of Christy I fell in love with the character, her students, and all of Appalachia. I lived out her story and every year I would re-read the book.

There was a lot of time to read during our winter vacations and daily you could see one or more of us in a spot in the house reading. Our imaginations could go from a Swiss mountain boarding school to a South African mansion; from a brownstone in Brooklyn to an imaginary land called Narnia; from the search for a treasure in a mountain by small people who loved parties to the ocean with some Bobbsey Twins. We traveled everywhere through Child Craft, Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, and anything else we could get our hands and eyes on.

There is magic in a book.

And yesterday my very own book arrived – oh yes it did! It arrived in a large box around six in the evening. I saw it outside and ran to get it. The rest of the family were in their separate spaces and so I had this moment alone opening the box. Nothing prepared me for the feeling. The cover is so beautiful — I held it like I would a baby. And then I opened it and there it was. Words I had written, descriptions I crafted, thoughts and beliefs I have. In the big scheme of things this is so little, in the small scheme of things it feels so big and unexpected, such an incredible gift. 

And so today I am announcing a book giveaway. In the next week if you leave a comment here on the blog, send an email to communicatingblog@gmail.com, leave a comment on the Communicating Across Boundaries Facebook page, OR put a link to the book on your own Facebook page and tell others about it, then you will be eligible to win a copy of Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging. In a week’s time I will put all the names of those who have contacted me through any of the listed methods, and put them into a computer program that will shuffle them and spit out a winner! I am excited to give away one or two copies of the book. I will send them your way, complete with a discussion guide that you can use on your own or in a small group setting.

Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging is not a suspense thriller that will make you curl up until two in the morning, flashlight under your covers, reading as though your life (definitely the life of the character) depended on it. But my hope is that it will be a book you read and nod and think – “yeah, I’ve felt that. I’ve been there.”

I thank all of you from deep within my heart that you have read and encouraged me enough to have the courage to write. 

Now – Let the games begin!

Remember – there are 4 ways to do this:

  • Comment on the blog 
  • Send an email to communicatingblog@gmail.com
  • Leave a comment on the CAB Facebook page! 
  • Put a link for Between Worlds on your Facebook page!  http://amzn.com/0983865388

Thank you so much for reading and encouraging through this process, for being a part of this journey! 

Between Worlds. Between Worlds, Essays on Culture and Belonging is a set of essays on living between. The book is divided into 7 sections and each section is illustrated by my talented daughter – Annie Gardner. Home, Identity, Belonging, Airports, Grief & Loss, Culture Clash, and Goodbyes set the stage for the individual essays within each section.

Share your favorite book and why in the comments! 

67 thoughts on “The Wonder of a Book

  1. Having lived for the last 18 years in North Africa and the Middle East, and watching our children grow up “between worlds”, I am so grateful for their experiences. We feel so privileged. Thankful for deep friendships across 4 countries…and sweet memories along with tough ones…lots of hellos and goodbyes. Looking forward to reading Between Worlds. It’s time for a fresh read on this subject. Thanks for writing it.

    BTW…my favorite childhood books are the ones I discovered homeschooling my children – Love You Forever, Little Critter books, Star of Light by Patricia St. John, Seven Sons and Seven Daughters by Barbara Cohen & Bahija Lovejoy. New favorite is The Day the Crayons Quit by Daywalt & Jeffers.

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  2. Oh and also, the Saint Nic celebrations here have become really complicated. Accusations from minorities that the helper Pete is racist because he derives from slavery. Need to really write something on that for you, very much a clash of cultures and how to deal with changing rituals and societies.

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  3. Hope I´m not too late – would love to read your book. And write a piece for your blog sometime – visiting Cambodia in september, that might be the ideal time and place. Love!

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  4. We must have read many of the same books during our long winter vacations in upper Sind as they got passed around — Christy, Heidi, Tanglewood Secret,Sugar Creek Gang, Hardy Boys, James Michener, Lord of the Rings, the Narnia series and countless others. Don’t sell your new book short — it will strike a chord with many readers and some of them may very well read it late at night, perhaps even using a flashlight under the bed covers when all the other lights in the house have been turned off!

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  5. Shabash, Marilyn Dear, I see you have inherited your family genes for writing. Of course I’ll add your book to my collection!! And I do understand the pull of leaving large collections of books behind when you move on. I left HUNDREDS in Pakistan, though you would never think so now – looking at my collections here, now. Shabash, indeed!! Looking forward to seeing you at the Pak Reunion next week. I’ll buy my copy of THE book, there! Auntie Mary

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  6. I’d LOVE to win this book! I was born in the US but have lived in Ireland and Poland for the last 18 yrs.–nearly half my life. I want to learn from someone else who doesn’t know where they’re from…

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  7. I look forward to reading your book Marilyn, just as I look forward to your blog and the insights it gives. I save up bits and pieces of them to share with our staff here in Cameroon. Some of us are MK’s or TCK’s, but your insights help us to understand those we serve when our experiences and feelings don’t match up with how the bridging of cultures are seen by others. I love finding points in common and points of divergence – this is what helps us understand the awesome breadth of our loving and creative God.

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    1. Carolyn – I am so happy to hear this! Thank you. Points in common and points of divergence….yes. That’s what this life between worlds is and I am so glad you came by. Thank you.

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  8. I can only imagine that feeling when you opened the box! Felicitaciones! I’ve had my nose stuck in one book or another since I learned to read at age 4. My allowance went to either buy Scholastic books through school or used books at the thrift store, and I’m not sure I ever left the library without a dozen books weighing down my bag. A favorite date for us is a few hours in a bookstore :) When we moved overseas I weeded out and got rid of about 2000 books, but still brought almost 700 with me. And have regularly replenished my supply on trips back to the U.S. Also finally gave in and got a Kindle, because books I bought and had sent via snail mail take way too long to arrive (1 to 4 months) and a few went missing altogether in transit. I prefer the feel of a “real” book, but admit it’s been nice to have access to lots of other books I wouldn’t have otherwise.

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  9. Congratulations, Marilyn!! You asked about a favorite book? I think the summer of 5th grade I spent my days in a tree reading “My Side of the Mountain.” Reading through the comments here I feel like I missed out not reading “Christy!”

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  10. So very very proud of you and excited for this accomplishment! I remember even in nursing school you talked of writing a book! What a wonderful day!

    My favorite book was Heidi; I love the description of snow covered alps and grass covered meadows-contrasting with my beloved desert.

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    1. I don’t remember that but it makes me so happy that I said that! Thank you for your support in this whole process. I’m anxious for you to get the book. It’s so pretty….Also I loved Heidi as well. I was Heidi when I was in Murree.

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  11. “Clematis” was my first beloved childhood book; there was only one dog-eared copy in our local library, and I borrowed it at least once a year. It was the story of an orphaned little girl whose life could not have been more different than my own life as the eldest of five siblings in a racous family living downstairs from my grandparents. But Clematis, as have all books I have loved ever since, gave me glimpses into another world. Your “Between Worlds” does the same . . . it gives me glimpses into the between worlds lives of TCKs, and at the same time, it speaks to me of all the times I have found myself between “worlds” — maybe not worlds of place, but worlds of feeling. How exciting to hold it in your hands, Marilyn!! Congratulations!!!

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  12. As a teenager it was Sophie’s World by Josteein Gardner. Now I think it’s Far From the Tree” by Andrew Solomon, it’s also about identity!

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  13. Marilyn, I’m reading a book, actually 2 volumes that was first published in 1850 and reprinted in 1975 called “Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque” by Fanny Parks. It’s all about her sojourn in India. Your book has just been launched and I am quite confident that it will be around for a long long time. It is timeless, reaching across cultures, genders, and ages. Your journey is remarkable and we look forward to more of your writings. I’m mighty proud of you, the long hours of hard work that went into writing, editing, and publishing. Congratulations!

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  14. This is so exciting! Congratulations many times!! I, too, loved Christy, and read it several times. I need to read it again, as I think I would make many new connections now that I teach in a small mountain school. So many stories…

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  15. So much I could say … mostly, good for you, Marilyn!! You did it. I would love to win your drawing, but even if I don’t, that book will become part of my library. Take a boxful with you to the Pak Reunion and they’ll go like hot chapatis :)

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    1. I will Leslie! I am so grateful for you – you have no idea. This woman I admired so much in highschool coming alongside me like this is proof of the bond of TCKs – thank you more than you know. And I would love to sell them like Hot Chapatis!

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  16. So happy and excited for you!! I can’t wait to read it – I’ve always loved reading your blog posts, so having a whole book written by you will be amazing :) I never read Christy, but I so relate to reading and re-reading a book over and over and over… You can tell which books are my favorites by how creased the binding is, and there are some books I will never tire of reading again. Reading a book is magical and can do wonders for the heart, mind and soul. And I’m sure your book will be one of those :) Congratulations again!!

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  17. So proud and so happy for you! And I can truthfully say that I know exactly how you feel. When Dan put the first copy of “Jars of Clay” in my hands I could hardly believe that I had really written that book! When Aimee, a friend, was reading it, her son Sam was quite young, maybe 6. He asked her, “Did Mrs. Brown really write all those words?” When Aimee answered that, “yes, she surely did.” He said, “That’s an awful lot of words!” Well, now you’ve worked so hard to get all those words into a book that I know will mean so much to so many. Congratulations, and I can’t wait to read it myself.

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  18. Love your blog! I’m sure I’ll love the book. Though I’m not a TCK, I have been working with TCKs at a small university for the last several years. I frequently post links to your blog on my Facebook…so many encouraging insights!

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    1. I love that you told me this! I feel like its been a gift to hear from so many readers these past few days and to know that you are using these is gift to my soul.

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  19. I was planning to leave a comment today congratulating you on your book and saying that I am looking forward to reading it. Then I read your post, and my motivation increased, not merely because of the giveaway (although I would be happy to win), but because you discussed what was possibly my favorite book growing up—Christy. I read and re-read it, and in fact, I loved the ending so much that I memorized the last ten paragraphs or so of my dog-eared paperback copy. The ending never failed to send a thrill through my body, in much the same way that the author describes Christy returning from near-death to realizing that she must go back to this world. Glad to know there was someone else who treasured this book too!

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    1. Yes – I just got a chill reading this. I love that last part.Love it. I also love the part where Miss Alice talks about how she and Christy were raised in an ivory castle and then goes into the fighting of evil and how we don’t have it in our selves but only through God can we do it. I’m so glad you love the book as well.

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  20. After spending about 25 years in 2 West African countries where our two daughters, now 20 and 18, were born, I LOVE reading your insightful blog and often send the link to my daughters in college. My husband and I are now based in the States with him continuing to make pastoral/theological training trips to francophone West Africa and Caribbean. It’s a different life for me and your help in navigating the emotional rollercoaster of transition to the States is very much appreciated! I will certainly be buying a copy of your book if I’m not one of the winners for a free copy!

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  21. I also love Christy, and I love your description of getting lost in books! That was so me. School years found me working hard, too hard for pleasure reading, but all summer long I would read books, sandwiched in between bike rides to our neighborhood pool. But seriously, those two things were all I did during the summers!

    Your book news is really exciting, and now I’ve commented so I’m in the drawing :)

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  22. It’s always fantastic to see when someone has the dedication and drive to write a book. All of the hours writing, editting, rereading, it must take a lot of courage and will-power to go to the end. If we don’t win the book, could you tell us where we can purchase it? Looking forward to reading it. Have my own blog on third culture kids and global nomads http://tckdating.wordpress.com/ and who knows some day maybe I’ll give the whole book thing a go! Congratulations again; I look forward to reading it.

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    1. I’m so glad you have this blog/website. This is a huge topic. Thanks for coming by and for your words. Would love to feature you in a future post talking about relationships.

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    1. Jeff – you were one of the first people that I got a comment from when I started blogging 3 years ago – it was so good to hear from you then – it’s so good to hear from you now! Thank you.

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