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Fresh Views for Spring – Reading Recommendations

April 14, 2021

Annie Nardone

Spring is the time of plans and projects.

— Leo Tolstoy


By way of a recap, in our current Resources article “Awaken to Literary Connections,” we feature several authors who have been interviewed in past issues of Cultivating. Discovering the author behind the words enhances our love of the books that they write. We hope you enjoy getting to know Andrew Peterson, Malcolm Guite, Ned Bustard, and Karen Swallow Prior. The links to these interviews are listed below, and look for more interviews with our current authors in this and upcoming issues of the magazine.

Malcolm talks about his latest book of poems, David’s Crown

Ned Bustard, artist and publisher for Every Moment Holy — Volume 2, discusses the calling to work in the arts.

Andrew Peterson is a singer, songwriter, and author of Adorning the Dark. He encourages us to use our gifts to glorify God.

Karen Swallow Prior, author of On Reading Well, shares about the formative power of good books, well read.


I read The Lord of the Rings every year, so it is safe to say that I am a Tolkien fan to my very core. Any well-researched book that delivers new insights into J.R.R. Tolkien’s life is a delight to those of us who love Middle-earth. But what did the author read? Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Silmarillion, so it is easy to assume that he focused his personal reading on medieval books. For over ten years, Holly Ordway focused her research for Tolkien’s Modern Reading to address this notion. She discovered that Tolkien actually enjoyed an expansive range of contemporary literature including: James Joyce, Kenneth Grahame, Longfellow, and Beatrix Potter. As she researched Tolkien’s life and work for her book, Ordway created and hosted a series of on-location videos that share a wealth of background information about his childhood, Oxford, The Inklings, and his connection to other authors. I hope you enjoy this virtual tour at and perhaps you will be inspired to pick up a new book or two that Tolkien enjoyed. This link also contains two wonderful and informative interviews.



The past year found most of us searching for a comfortable place to rest our minds. What is lovelier than listening to someone read through poetry or part of an old book, adding interesting bits about authors along the way? “Spell in the Library” is a weekly-or-so YouTube series that will inspire you to fill your shelves and nightstand with great literature. Malcolm Guite invites you into his cozy, crowded library as he pulls a book off the shelf and introduces you to a classic essay, piece of art, or poem.  On a recent episode, Hilaire Belloc’s short work, “On the Pleasure of Taking Up One’s Pen” inspired me to rummage around and find my old fountain pen. (My  ode to my own fountain pen is found elsewhere in this issue of Cultivating.) Each episode, located in YouTube under the title “Malcolm Guite Spell in the Library,” is 10-15 minutes long and might become the best part of your day!


Many people keep a diary at hand, adding to the pages either daily or weekly. Many others would love to start journaling, but the thought of how to organize the writing is daunting enough that the idea is set aside. Journaling can encompass many ideas, from making notes on gardening plans to doodling, recording family milestones, or maybe a poem or Bible verse. Ink and Willow Press offers the 40 Days of Intentional Living: A Challenge to Cultivate Faith Through Devotions, Journaling, and Prayer as a helpful resource to anyone who desires to deepen their faith. There are eight themes dividing up the days, quotes from heroes of the faith, and prompts to help you write. Intentional writing, filling time with beautiful words, can be a light for your soul.

Perhaps you would like to add to your music library. Steve Bell recently released his 22nd CD entitled “Wouldn’t You Love to Know?” Steve’s album comes with a beautifully designed book of 12 chapters that describe the inspiration and meaning of each song. Cultivating magazine featured him in a four-part interview series, with the first of the articles here. Follow through to Steve’s website  for a set of song samples from this new work! 

Now we begin a new season of spring, awakening with a fresh hope and an awe of God’s merciful renewal. I pray that we are mindful of the wonderful gifts that are found each day on a bookshelf, in a garden plot, or in stories we share around the table. Live always amazed.


The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

— Lamentations 3:22-24 (ESV)


The featured image is courtesy of Annie Nardone and used with her gracious permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project. 


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