Book List

I love getting book recommendations so it only seems fair that I offer a few of my own. Here’s a list of some of the books that I’ve been reading lately. Feel free to offer your own book suggestions in the comments.

The Little Way of Ruthie Lemming by Rob Dreher. Ruthie Lemming grew up a in St. Francisville, Lousiana–population 2000–and she never left. At age 40, this wife, mother of three girls, and 6th grade teacher developed aggressive lung cancer even though she’d never smoked. Her brother, Rob, who had left his hometown to make a career in the city, shares a love story between Ruthie and the small town she lived in. Along the way we learn about simplicity, the friendships and family that make life special, the value of a teacher, and the disconnectedness that most of us feel in today’s society.

Heroes and Monsters by Josh Riebock. This memoir is a very honest story of growing up in a dysfunctional family (alcoholism, hoarding, etc…) and the author’s struggles as a Christian. The writing style is a bit quirky but that’s also what makes it a fun read (“If you don’t have any quirks, you’re a Volvo”). The best parts of the book come when Josh is able to see the complexity of human beings.

“For the first time in my life, my dad isn’t a hero or a monster to me. He’s something in between; he’s a man. Just a man trying to find his way, a man just like me, a man who maybe isn’t sure how things got to be the way they are, a man who deep down wants them to change, a man who knows we can’t start over but hopes that maybe we can move forward, a man who isn’t sure where or how to start. Like father, like son, I guess.”

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Valliant. A Siberian Tiger breaks its truce with human beings by killing a man. Yuri Trush, government employee, must hunt down the tiger before it strikes again. Valliant alternates chapters between the suspense of the hunt and describing the people and culture of Siberia. I learned a lot including that I’ll never vacation in Siberia.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. With the movie coming out, I decided to read the classic that I should’ve read in high school. The narrator is Nick Carraway a recent Yale graduate who unknowingly moves into the house next to Jay Gatsby an enormously wealthy man who throws lavish parties every Saturday night. When Nick builds a friendship with Gatsby he discovers that he’s not a happy man. It seems that years earlier he’d fallen in love with a woman named Daisy but their relationship had ended with the advent of the war. Gatsby’s pursuit of Daisy causes his life to unravel.

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. A novel about a the Wingo family who lived on the coast of South Carolina. Tom Wingo is a middle-aged man with a wife and three young daughters who has recently lost his job as a high school English teacher and football coach. He learns that his twin sister, Savannah, has attempted suicide yet again. Tom agrees to go to New York City, where Savannah lives, to look after her until she is well again.

In New York Tom stays at Savannah’s apartment (she is in the hospital). He meets with her psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein, and agrees to stay in the city until he has filled Susan in on the ghastly childhood he and Savannah shared. Tom recounts his sad and horrific childhood for Susan in hopes that it might help Susan better help Savannah. Tom spent his youth on Melrose Island with his mother, father, Luke (his older brother) and Savannah. Their father was a shrimper who drank a lot and pushed his family around. Henry (Tom’s father) beat his wife and his children frequently. Tom tells Susan many, many stories of their childhood–some funny and endearing and others heartbreaking.

The Way of the Knife by Mark Mazzetti. Mazzetti, a New York Times reporter, tells the story of how September 11, 2001 changed the way that the United States conducts war. The CIA which had previously been about spying has now become the center of a covert war in which “targeted” drone strikes are done largely out of the public view. If you’ve been following the news, then you know that this is a hot topic.

C. S. Lewis by Alister McGrath. If you have never read a biography, Lewis’ life is probably more complex and interesting than you thought. McGrath’s book might be best for those who haven’t read much of Lewis as he does a nice job of giving an overview of his life. I found the discussion on Lewis’ colleagues jealousy of him to be interesting. If you’ve read a fair amount of Lewis and are already familiar with the basics of his life story, I think that Alan Jacobs book, The Narnian, might provide more depth and insight.

What is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense by Girgis, Anderson, and George. This 100 page book provides a clear and cogent case that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. The authors offer a natural law argument meaning that it doesn’t appeal to scriptural authority. The purpose of this book isn’t to address the morality of homosexuality. The main point is that in order to call same sex relationships marriage, marriage has to be redefined and that is detrimental to us as individuals and society.

Sex, Dating, and Relationships by Hiestand and Thomas. A short, clear, biblical explanation of how Christians should think of intimacy. Highly recommended.

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