In our last not-so-exciting blogging adventure, I mused about the possibility of making my next post about books… since this is kinda-sorta like a writer’s blog typa thing. One of my devoted readers (my sister) commented privately that she liked that suggestion. So I’ll take her up on it.
As a kid, I was an avid reader. It helped that I had the time to just sit and read. Nowadays, I guess I do again! Because when I started jotting down the titles I’ve read in the past month or so, the list turned out to be longer than I’d expected. I might have missed one or two, but these are the ones that I thought of:
Fiction – on Kindle
Crooked Lines, Holly Michael
At God’s Mercy, L. L. Fine
The Dance, Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky (didn’t finish)
Fiction – print books
The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Amy Tan
2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke (based on the screenplay of the film by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke)
The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
Space Captain Smith, Toby Frost
Nonfiction – print books
The Heavenly Man (Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun) by Paul Hattaway
Song of Songs: The Divine Romance Between God and Man by Watchman Nee
Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry
What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung
A few thoughts on each:
I love Kindle because it’s cheap and efficient. Where else can you get so many books for free or 99¢? And how else can you store hundreds of volumes in a space measuring roughly 7.25 x 4.5 x .5”? I mean, seriously! As a book lover, how can I justify not having a Kindle?
And yet… I much prefer reading a print book, and I know many who agree with me. Ebooks certainly have their place, but for the best reading experience, you can’t beat print. For that reason, I find it way easier to acquire ebooks than to actually read them. But every once in a while I’ll force myself to make use of the device.
Back when I was working with The Borrowed Book blog, I met author Holly Michael and was introduced to what was then her latest release, the above-mentioned Crooked Lines. Holly is a very interesting person; I loved the cover art; and the book sounded interesting. So, somewhere along the line, I got myself a copy on Kindle but only got around to reading it last month or so. It was okay. Had some interesting aspects to it, and all in all I’m glad I read it, but it doesn’t make my list of favorites.
Neither does At God’s Mercy. This was one I picked up for free, and it was worth the investment. Or maybe I paid 99¢ for that one. I don’t keep track of these things. But I’m glad I didn’t pay more.
I bought The Dance because I used to rub shoulders with Dan Walsh on Novel Rocket, and many years ago at church, we went through a film series by Gary Smalley that I thought was quite good. So when I saw Walsh and Smalley collaborated on a novel, I took the opportunity to get it on the cheap. Though it’s not the sort of thing I’d ordinarily read, it was quite well done. Smalley is a well-known family counselor, so there’s no surprise that family issues are the basis of the story—nor is it surprising that it has a happy resolution. If that type of tale is your cup of tea, you’ll enjoy this one.
Awhile back I had a discussion with someone about The Brothers Karamazov (how do you pronounce that, by the way? What syllable gets the accent?), and remembered that I’d downloaded a free Kindle copy—English translation, of course—quite some time ago, but hadn’t read it. So I pulled it up, read about 20% of it, and decided to let it rest for now. It’s not terrible, but finishing it didn’t seem to be the best use of my time.
After that I deemed it time to do a little weeding-out of my physical to-be-read shelves. I think the first thing I grabbed was The Bonesetter’s Daughter. I loved Tan’s debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, and this, her fourth, was equally a delight. I believe was Stephen King in his book On Writing who said that no amount of training or practice can turn a mediocre writer into a great one. The average person can be taught to write competently, but, as with any other endeavor, true greatness is a gift. In that discussion, he mentioned Amy Tan as one who is greatly gifted.
After having read two of her novels, I wholeheartedly agree.
After that, I picked up the old classic-you-probably-can’t-believe-I’d-never-read-before-because-I’m-supposedly-a-sci-fi-author, 2001: A Space Odyssey. (I’ve never seen the movie, either.) It was… well, pretty much as I expected. A good example of the genre.
The White Tiger was an excellent read. It was my first exposure to the Indian/Australian author Adiga, but I’ll keep my eye peeled for more of his novels. A journalist by profession, he made the crossover into fiction with amazing skill in this adroit story of one man’s struggle to escape the constraints of his caste in modern-day India.
I acquired Space Captain Smith some years ago in the course of my membership in The Paperback Swap Club, looking to expand my sci-fi reading. If you liked Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its ilk, you’ll get a kick out of this one.
Now to the nonfiction.
Other than the Bible, I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but I do occasionally indulge. The first on this list, The Heavenly Man, was recommended by my friend in Tasmania. Because I’ve liked her recommendations before, I decided to give it a try—and I was glad I did. The writing style was, in my opinion, clumsy, probably due to geographical differences. But the content made it easy to get past the mechanics. This is the true story of a Chinese man who’s still alive, about my age (a little younger, as I recall) and still active in Christian missions. His experiences put the Christian life in a far different perspective from that which American Christians know. He brings out many points, some obvious and some more subtle, that are well worth noting, and which I’d like to elaborate upon further, but this is already getting too long. Maybe in another post.
In late August, I began a study of the biblical book Song of Solomon and didn’t finish until the end of December. (I’ve been meaning to blog about that for a few months but never have gotten around to it.) After completing the study, I bought this book by Watchman Nee, Song of Songs, for further reading. I’m definitely going to have to talk about all this in another post, or series of them. For now, let’s move on…
My pastor loaned me the two books listed above about homosexuality and the Bible and asked me to read and review them. I’ve done the first part but haven’t written the reviews yet.
Both were good, but I liked the shorter one, Is God Anti-Gay?, better. When it comes to “What does the Bible teach about…” any subject, it makes sense to me to go to the Bible to see what it says. Why employ a middle man?
The author in this case does a thorough job with it, but while reading his scholarly, linguistic, but altogether readable explanation, I couldn’t help but think that the problem isn’t so much knowing, as believing what the Bible says. Quote chapter and verse all you want, and parse it down to a pile of split hairs; none of that matters. What counts is accepting, and submitting ourselves to, the Scriptures’ authority. Apart from that, it’s just old writings.
Brevity was one reason I liked the first book better. Another is that the author gives some very practical things for a Christian to consider when dealing with the matter of homosexuality in the church, in the political realm, in familial and casual relationships, and in one’s own life. But perhaps the most commendable aspect is the author’s perspective. He is a Christian who himself is attracted to people of the same sex. Therefore he knows whereof he speaks, and what he says is well worth listening to.
So that’s my recent reading list. Maybe I’ll do this again sometime.