Sunday, August 27, 2006

2006 Summer Book Report

While I haven't had much ability to move or think this summer, I have had the opportunity to read. Here's a few I've read recently.

Great with Child - by Debra Rienstra
This book was sent to me from a friend, who said "stop reading all those overwhelming statistics about pregnancy and meditate on this instead." What excellent advice! In this book, the author writes a memoir of her third (and final) pregnancy, and the first year of baby's life. Her reflections on life, female-hood, pain, joy, faith, identity, and the experiences of longing for pregnancy, experiencing pregnancy, fearing labor, giving birth, and struggling through the first year is profound, honest, and beautiful. I would recommend this to any woman, regardless of life stage or season.

The Great Giveaway - by David E. Fitch
This non-fiction book takes a look at how various aspects of our culture (for example, individualism, capitalism, etc) have impacted our understanding of and expression of Christianity. While books like this seem to be growing on trees these days, I found Fitch to have a deep and unique perspective. He was able to stimulate my thoughts in a way that was encouraging and inspiring -- and not the "same old thing." If you are interested in culture, theology, or ecclesiology, I'd say give this book a try.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - by Betty Smith
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of those classics that I missed earlier in life and don't know quite know how. It is a fantastically written story of a young girl and her family who come of age around the turn of the 20th century. While it has much to teach about the era it is set in, the core story line and messages are timeless, deeply impacting, and beautiful. I'm sorry to have missed years with this book and its characters, but very grateful to have found it now. If you are like me and never got around to this one -- now is most definetly the time!

The Red Tent - by Anita Diamant
When this book was recommended to me, I protested with a "I don't like that kind of book" - meaning, fictional books that are written about actual people or events. I did go ahead and read the book - and I'm glad I did - but my original opinion still stands. The story line of Rachel and Leah, and ultimately Leah's daughter Dinah caught and kept my attention. I especially appreciate the opportunity to explore what the silent voices of women might add to our historical understandings. But the narrative failed to take into account a number of important cultural dynamics, and a few times went directly against the narrative found in the Biblical account. As a result of a few key changes made by the author, I felt that the entire concept of the Covenant (among other things) was undermined; considering that this is the point of the original story, it did not strike me as a worthwhile trade.

The Giver - by Lois Lowry
This was actually a re-read of one of my all time favorite books, which I have read many times. Lowry does a suberb job of subtling describing a very different society than our own - while making profound points that can apply to us all. I highly recommend this to anyone, or any age!

My Story as told by Water - by David James Duncan
DJD is one of my favorite authors, having written one of my two favorite books, The Brothers K (not to be mistaken for the better known classic, The Brothers Karamazov). Since I loved the two novels he wrote, as well as a few essays I've found, I decided this book of memoirs would be a sure bet - and I have not been dissapointed. As he unpacks the stories of his life, beauty, wisdom, and insights abound. As I read about the author, rather than the characters he created, I see how much his own life is reflected in the fictional characters I already love. While I would recommend his novels be read first (to put this book in perspective) I highly recommend this to anyone who appreciates a different point of view. If you enjoy fishing or nature - even better!