Books and My Moral Dilemma

English: All 24 John Griham novels as of June ...

I remember the first time I did it. You do it once and you can never go back.

It was a John Grisham novel – The Firm. We were living in Cairo and my husband was traveling. I had little kids — four at the time. I had bathed, storied, and kissed them and as I passed bedrooms I could hear their soft, rhythmic, innocent breathing.

This was My time.

I lay in bed and picked up the book. The only reason I hadn’t read during the day was time. And now I had time.

I began reading. And I read, and I read, and I read some more. I was deeper and deeper into the novel. I knew it was late but I avoided the clock. When I finally looked, it was already 2 in the morning. I knew I had to go to sleep. But I also had to know the end. I had to. I couldn’t stay up reading — I was single parenting, making sure four children were where they were supposed to be, when they were supposed to be there. But I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I didn’t know what happened. Would the lawyer and his wife make it?

It was a moral dilemma. I knew that ‘real book lovers’ don’t read the end of books. I knew it was a moral code that could mark me for a long time.

So I did the unthinkable – I skipped to the end. I read the end of the book.

Even now I feel the shame of it, the magnitude of that one act, that one time. Because I knew if I could do it once – I’d do it again. And maybe again. And then maybe I’d do it one more time…..

I would be whispered about and bear the shame and humiliation of being one of ‘those’ people, one who reads the end of books. “Who does that? Who reads the end of books?” would be the conversation and I would shake my head and say “I don’t know! Who does that?” While inside I would hang my head and pray they never found out.

What about you? Have you ever skipped to the end of a book? Did you break the unspoken law of book reading? Tell all through the comments.


Readers – Today Communicating Across Boundaries celebrates 1000 posts! You helped this milestone happen by reading, contributing guest posts, and interacting with pieces that you read, posts that resonated in your heart and soul. Thank you! Here’s to 1000 more! (If blogging even continues as a ‘thing’, right?!)


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Wrapping up the Week

20121029-093828.jpgIt’s Saturday and I’ve become remarkably good at making homemade lattes. This sitting on the couch on a Saturday morning? It’s a gift. A huge gift.

And as a new addition to Communicating Across Boundaries, Saturday mornings I’ll be providing some links to sites and books that I’m reading. I’d love to hear through the comments what has captured your attention!

On books vs. e-readers: Don’t Burn Your Books – Print is Here to Stay! Evidently sales for e-books are slowing – people just love the feel of curling up and turning the pages of a book. You can read some thoughts from readers on the post Who ‘Kindled’ Your Parents?

On rape and surviving: I was Wounded; My Honor Wasn’t – a brave article from the NY Times.

On Words: Do you ever feel like English is too limited in expressing your emotions? Turns out that it is! Take a look at this Infographic: 21 Emotions For Which There Are No English Words. I found it on Cultural Detective – a wonderful company and website that helps inform on all things cross-cultural.

On Books I’m reading: Open City by Teju Cole. This novel is a poignant look at identity, belonging, feeling other, and more. Set in New York City the protagonist is a young Nigerian doctor who wanders the city. Through his wandering he discovers more about his journey and the reader gets a window into his world. Along with that, Crime and Punishment sits on my bedside table but it’s a slow read.

Finally – On Egypt and God’s love reaching across the Muslim-Christian Chasm: I cannot begin to tell you how this video moved me. It’s long – but if you can, take the time to watch it and please share!

What are you reading? Would love to hear through the comments.

Have a great weekend!

“Who ‘Kindled’ Your Parents??”

“My parents got a Kindle for Christmas”, I said to my husband. It was, I thought, an innocent statement.

“WHAT??” Who ‘kindled’ your parents?” He demanded indignantly. “Let it be known that I will never, ever have a Kindle.”

The Kindle is not a popular concept in our house. Books pile coffee tables, night stands, and book shelves. The feel of a book, the turning of pages, the cover pages with their enticement to look inside – all of it, all that represents a physical book, is loved. We are all avid readers, but my husband is the most avid of all.

My parents love books as well. As much as us. But they have progressively moved into smaller homes where too many books, instead of comforting, can suffocate. So they have slowly and I might add, painfully, had to get rid of books. They have parted with them a bit like they would a beloved pet, hoping they will find a good owner, sometimes even handpicking the owner. This is what inspired the idea to give them a Kindle. A place where they can still read and enjoy those beloved books, without the space and difficulty in moving them.

But the indignation the Kindle raised in our house last night was strong. Family members had Kindled my parents and they were now on the dark side of technology.

Worse yet, living with a bunch of haters, how can I admit that I really want one?! What about you? Kindle lover? Kindle hater? Neutral (if there is a neutral, which I doubt!)

The Book Giveaway!

If you’re just tuning in this week then you aren’t yet aware of the book giveaway in celebration of a year of blogging!

Here are the rules:

  1. Comment on this post giving the title of your favorite post, perhaps a reason why it’s a favorite and suggestions for future posts…..or
  2. Invite someone to read Communicating Across Boundaries who you think would enjoy the blog.  Make sure they comment and let me know that you recommended the blog. If you choose this way to participate,here are some of the choices that readers have picked as their favorite posts:

A New Kind of Mommy Blog  – picked by Christi-Lynn Martin

Hookah Hypocrisy – picked by Cary Schulte

The Benediction – Picked by Wilma Brown

Chocolate Jesus – picked by Petra Riggins

Angels from the Rooftop – picked by Tiffany Kim

I will put the names of those who take part into a hat and randomly select three. Those three people will have their choice of one of the books I love and have talked about on this blog.

Here are the books you can choose from:

You have until Tuesday, December 20th to participate. I’ll send out a couple of reminders as a way to tell you how much I want you to take part!

Books and an International Community

Sitting on the bed of a friend of mine in Cairo, Egypt, nursing my baby as the rest of the group discussed a theological point in the living room, I began looking at the books on the night stand. I was delighted to find that we had the same taste in books. There was the book “A Street in Marrakech  and Middle Eastern Muslim Women Speak“, both written by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea. There was “Who are God’s People in the Middle East” by Gary Burge and another whose name I don’t recall. As I sat looking at the inside flap of one of them, I was happily contemplating our similarities, until I saw the name of the owner on the upper right corner of the page. It was then I realized the book was ours. It had made the rounds of an international community in Cairo and had ended up on the shelf of our friends.

Books in expatriate communities are used efficiently. They don’t sit comfortably on shelves surrounded by other books, collecting dust and cobwebs. Instead, in the absence of public libraries and readily available book stores, they go from individuals to families, forgetting that somewhere in the community there is a rightful owner.

Here in the U.S. it’s rare that someone wants to borrow one of our books. They either check out a copy at a local library or buy one for themselves through Amazon or the rapidly closing Borders chain.

One of the gifts we received at our wedding many years ago was a set of book ends accompanied by a card that said “Wherever you go, Whatever you do, always take your books! Love from Dr. Ann”. We did and we have.

When our children were little, on the rare occasion where they would chew on a book, my husband would look at them and say “Books are our friends! We don’t chew on our friends, so we don’t chew on our books!” (Although one of our sons did, in fact, chew on his friends or anyone in the nursery that he could find).

Bookshelves line the walls in our family room and a tall bookshelf is in our living room. Bedside stands overflow with our favorites as does our coffee table. But it has now come to a point where, no longer part of an international community, we are going to begin the overwhelming and potentially explosive process of sorting and getting rid of books. For some this would be an easy task. They like books but they don’t find a part of their identity in books. When they read a book at night, they don’t feel like they are curling up in bed with their friends.

For us it’s different and we know it could be a long process. Because with the sorting comes the memory of places and characters long forgotten and the huge possibility that we end up curled up in a corner with one of those books, one last chance to spend time with a friend.