Well, another month has come and gone and it’s time to comment on June’s books. Sorry the reviews are so brief and vague, it’s five in the morning, I’m in the middle of a set of night shifts, and I think my brain died two shifts ago.
1. Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy by Walter Brueggemann. Simply put, this book blew my mind. Read it. Were I to teach a biblical survey course, this book would be the companion to NT Wright’s The New Testament and the People of God (of course both books weigh in at around 750 pages so nobody would take the course). Brueggemann is the Tom Wright of the Old Testament.
2. Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians by Tom Wright. I decided to work through 1 Corinthians in the Greek text this month. It was heavy slugging and so I picked up Wright’s easy access commentary for some light reading while I waded through the Greek. I’ve got mixed feelings about the “Paul for Everyone” series. I suppose it’s great for those who don’t have a background in biblical studies but, if you’re looking for something with more substance — and less anecdotal sermon elements — I’d look elsewhere.
3. God, Medicine, and Suffering by Stanley Hauerwas. This is now the fourth(?) book I’ve read by Hauerwas and he is quickly becoming one of my favourite and most respected theologians. I already commented on this one in a previous post.
4. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. Lamott writes her story in this book — her upbringing in a wealthy, liberal Californian home, her battle with various addictions, and the struggle she has with her faith and raising a child alone. This book was deeply moving, the sort that makes you laugh but also brings tears to your eyes. A lot of her friends die. It sort of reminded me of a lot of my friends…
5. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. This is the sequel to Traveling Mercies. Enjoyable but not quite as good as the previous book.
6. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I thought I’d give Joyce another chance, I hated Ulysses but I’d heard this book was quite different. Granted it was different, but I still think Joyce writes aweful literature. I don’t have a whole lot of respect for stream of consciousness writers like Joyce (or Faulkner).
7. Persuasion by Jane Austen. My first stab into Austen’s writing, an enjoyable read with a well-developed central character. I’m looking forward to reading more by her.
8. A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy. Quite a simple story but I love Hardy and I love the way he writes female characters.
9. The Immoralist by Andre Gide. A short French novel that sparked quite a bit of controversy some time after it was published. The prose is pretty stark and I can’t say that I was able to empathise too deeply with the protagonist.
10. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi. Finally, I find an illustrated novel that is close in caliber to Blankets (well, perhaps it is closer to Art Spiegelman’s Maus). The art isn’t as good (it’s much more influenced by the French style — it was, after all, originally published France) but the story is great. Marjane talks about what it was like growing up in Iran in the 1970s and 80s. A great work that challenges the stereotypes that dominate Western discourse about Iran.