Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What books are you reading this summer?

Whatcha readin'? I'm interested in anything you plan to read, have read, think I should read, or think I should avoid! :) I've finally got two minutes to rub together in terms of book material after a laborious semester of doctrine.

I just finished Generous Or+hodoxy by Brian McLaren and am halfway through Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. I want to give my impressions of Brian's book some time later this week and especially am looking forward to writing about Nafisi's book. She really turns the thumb screws on Islamic extremism and I'm amazed that more people haven't been urging the reading of her book in the quarters I hang out. I highly recommend it for those who are trying to sort out how to feel about Islam, Iran and the relationship to the west. Let's just say that my deepest concerns are confirmed by her insights. And her writing is brilliant.

Next on my list is Night by Elie Weisel (who will be on Oprah today) and then another Brian book The Secret Message of Jesus.

After that, I'll be due for some fiction. Any hot tips? I'd also love to hear about other theology books (addict here) that I might not have thought about for awhile or that you really liked.


Dave said...

Other than some work-related clinical stuff, right now I'm reading "Everything Is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safron Foer. I also will be getting into "Secret Message of Jesus" pretty soon. For my "before bedtime reflective reading," I'm working through a book called "Incarnation" which is a collection of literary-oriented essays on each book of the New Testament, featuring novelists like John Updike, Annie Dillard, Reynolds Price, Larry Woiwode, Rita Dove, Frederick Buechner and John Hersey. It was published in 1990 - one of my library-clearance-table specials that I picked up for fifty cents.

I'm also thinking that I'd like to read Jack Miles' "Christ," his follow up to "God: A Biography" and maybe one of the Elaine Pagels books I have sitting on my shelf - Gnostic Gospels, Adam Eve and the Serpent or Beyond Belief.

My wife Julie read "Lolita in Tehran" awhile back for her book club, and my youngest son Derek read "Night" as a school assignment, so they are sitting around my house. Maybe I'll thumb through them a bit to get a sense of what you're finding there.

julieunplugged said...

I have Jack Miles "Christ." I strted it twice. It wasn't as compelling to me as _God: A Biography_ perhaps because I had read so much more by the time I opened it. _God_ was earlier in my deconstructing phase. :) Still, I think I'd like to get through it at some point. He takes a literary approach which I really like.

That book of bedtime essays you're reading sounds great! What's the title? Wonder if it's at half-price books. :)


Dave said...

The title is "Incarnation," edited by Alfred Corn. has some cheap used copies available. Try this link:

I cut it so that the numbers don't fall off the margins. If that doesn't work, just do the search on-line. I really like the book. Good reflective insights on the NT written with literary skill and warmth. I think you'd enjoy it!

Chuck said...

Thanks, Julie, for the query - I love this topic. And thanks, Dave, for the heads up on "Incarnation" - sounds wonderful. I really enjoy Annie Dillard, Reynolds Price and some of the others - I'll try to beat Julie to the local half-priced books (or the library) for this one.

Another interesting connection with Dave's list - I have the film "Everything Is Illuminated" currently checked out from Blockbuster - plan to watch it over the long weekend. I listened to the audio book of Foer's second book, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", and it was amazing. I even checked it out from the library since there were accompanying illustrations.

My current reading list is a bit slim - been spending most free time on some musical endeavors. But at the top of my recreational fiction list are two books by Robert Goddard - "Play To The End" and "Borrowed Time". I really enjoy his characters and plot twists. I'm also a big fan of Michael Connelly's books.

For "serious" fiction, I can't speak too highly of Richard Powers. My two favorite alltime novels are "Operation:Wandering Soul" and "The Gold Bug Variations". Julie, you might enjoy the first title more than the second, as the second is more on the tech/science side. As a writer, I think you would especially enjoy Wandering Soul's sections that retell children's stories (or stories about children).

I'll give some thought to the theology side and post again.

Dave said...

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is about 9/11, right? I know there's a strange "flip-book" at the end of a body falling up from the World Trade Center - like the author is trying to make time go backwards or something? I like Foer's writing though he does lean a bit heavily on the "youthful prodigy" gimmickiness that characterizes some of the work like other wunderkinds like Douglas Coupland, Dave Eggers, etc.

I can relate to that youthful zeal to do something bizarre, clever and innovative, even if it's just for its own sake at times. I can see myself doing the same thing if I had ever gotten my stuff together enough to write a novel in my mid-20's...

Rick said...

Julie, a book that I have fallen in love with is Michael Casey's , "Fully human, Fully Divine". He is a Cistercian Monk/Mystic from Austrailia. It is very Christocentric and for me, he touches places within that are "real".

Chuck said...

Dave, you are correct about the subject matter for "Extremely Loud...". The book is mostly a first-person narrative from the perspective of an 11 year-old misfit prodigy who lost his father in the World Trade Center attack. I would recommend reading it rather than listening to it, due to the "format". I just happened upon it via my local library's facility for downloading audiobooks to my iPod - helps pass the long drive to work.

julieunplugged said...

I'm so excited to ahve new titles to look up and fiction too. Another thing - you're all guys. :) I typically get recommendations from my women friends so I'm anxious to see what it's like reading through my male friends' reading lists. Thanks boys!


Matt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matt said...

Sorry -- don't know what happened. Here is my original post that was deleted (my crazy computer!!).

Right now I'm reading three or four different things (which I tend to do a lot). I'm finishing up James Tabor's "The Jesus Dynasty," which is pretty interesting. I'm also in the early stages of N.T. Wright's "The New Testament and the People of God," a book about the relationship between Jesus and James entitled "Just James," and a collection of sermons by Paul Tillich. I have to have several things going at once!!

jim said...

I read "The Kite Runner" last summer. I'd highly recommend it. Its about the story of two young boys who grow up in Afganhistan. Good tale of redemption in surprising ways. (I think I may have written up a review on it, but it maybe on my old blog.

I'm also hoping to eventually get around to "Gilead" My wife's already read it and I've been carrying it around in my book bag for a while now. I have to read that being a Pastor here in Iowa!

Meredith said...

I ditto Jim, The Kite Runner is a very good read. Excellent depth of character, and full of surprising feelings that come up through them. Through this book I gained a better understanding of what life has been like in Afganistan and the effects of a truly male dominated society.