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reading suggestions

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Hey guys,

I need some book suggestions. I mostly like non-fiction, but I guess a little fiction wouldn't hurt. I usually enjoy books in the vein of Buechner and L'Engle, and all those cool kids.

Thanks!

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Welcome, ezz!

I don't read as much non-fiction as I probably should, but Philip Yancey is my favorite there. His What's So Amazing About Grace is fabulous. Ever read it?

And what better way to work in some fiction than by starting with Flannery O'Connor's short stories? See the thread where I rave about her works here.

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Hey, thanks, Diane :)

Yup, I've read Yancey's book, and I have a book of Flannery O'Connor's short stories waiting to be read on my desk.

I guess I need new writers or underrated writers I've yet to discover!

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I have a book of Flannery O'Connor's short stories waiting to be read on my desk.

Hey! Why are you even here now?! You should be reading! :wink:

I guess I need new writers or underrated writers I've yet to discover!

Well, if you find some, please be sure to share. Sorry to only throw out oh-so-very-obvious suggestions, but knowing so very little about you, I had to start somewhere.

It's surprising how many well-known writers are actually new to me (and I was an English major). Take Walker Percy, for example. I'm currently reading my first Percy book, The Moviegoer. I'm certainly enjoying it, although I'm not certain where it's going or if it's going anywhere (repetition and rotation, anyone?). I hope to weigh in on it shortly at the Percy thread that's around here somewhere.

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How about Leif Enger's Peace Like a River or Helprin's Soldier of the Great War for fiction starters?

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As I was scrolling down, I was thinking 'Peace Like a River.' Alas, Baxter beat me to it.

Some other book recommendations:

My wife and I just finished Edwidge Danticat's 'The Dew Breaker,' a beautifully crafted, intertwining set of tales of Haitian life.

I'm planning to start McEwan's 'Atonement' in the next few days, and I would read 'Life of Pi' if I could find it at my local library. I'd be happy to keep you posted.

David Malouf's 'The Great World' is a gem of a book, previously brought up by me on this board, as perhaps my favorite work of fiction.

Evan S. Connell's 'Mrs. Bridge' and 'Mr. Bridge' are wry, easily digested tales of suburban quiet desperation in the 1930's - also highly recommended.

If you like Buechner, I take it you've read 'Son of Laughter' and 'The Book of Bebb,' both of which I enjoyed very much.

Oh, and welcome, Ezz! biggrin.gif

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My fiction reading has been relatively sparse since I started my seminary studies in the late 1990s, and the little that I've done has been rather unrewarding.

But that changed last week, when I picked up a copy of "The Sleeping Father." I'm almost halfway through, and so far, this is the best fiction book I've laid hands on in several years. Young teens and adults dealing with a father's illness, but laced with sarcasm and humor that is at once biting and compassionate. Plus, the religious angle -- the main character's sister is a Jew, in the process of converting to Catholicism -- is deeply insightful. It makes me wonder where the author, Matthew Sharpe, is spiritually. He grasps the struggles of faith -- deep and in-process -- with an expert eye.

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Yeah, that's my problem. I don't find very much rewarding fiction. Lately, I've just been on a theological/thinker kick. But I guess I need to diversify.

Here are a few writers I need to get started on:

Henri Nouwen

Shusuku Endo

Simone Weil

Jacques Ellul

Douglas Coupland (yeah, I'm real behind, I know.)

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You need to read Silence by Shusaku Endo so we can discuss it.

For fiction I would recommend the novels by Wendall Berry, especially A Place on Earth and Jayber Crow. Those were really well written, and the characters come alive. They could have been my relatives from the South.

Nonfiction that I've read recently has been mostly Philip Yancey and Ravi Zacharias. Rumors of Another World is perfect to read with Recapture the Wonder and Jesus Among Other Gods. They all have a similar theme.

I also liked Scribbling in the Sand by Michael Card.

And one of my favorite books, and one that anyone who likes Madeleine L'Engle should appreciate, is Triumphs of the Imagination edited by Leland Ryken. The original book, which included all the arts, has recently been revised and expanded. It now has essays mostly on the practice of faith in literature and writing.

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I just finished Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. It's nothing short of fantastic. The author spends the time telling his entire spiritual journey through Christianity as he's experienced it. It really comforted me to see someone else who struggles with his Christian walk in the same ways that I do.

Another good author is Harold Best. He only has two books, Music Through the Eyes of Faith and Unceasing Worship, but both are so mind bending that you have to put the book aside and think about what he's written.

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Morality Play, the novel by Barry Unsworth that is the basis for the movie The Reckoning is better than the movie (as usual :wink: ) and well worth reading just because it's well-written and for its ponderings about art and faith.

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If you like Buechner, I take it you've read 'Son of Laughter' and 'The Book of Bebb,' both of which I enjoyed very much.

I loved Son of Laughter. It's been five or six years since i read it, and i think it may be the only book of its length i read in two days. (i'm not a very quick reader, i get too bogged down in details.)

I would like to recommend Buber's The Way of Man, which i read a few weeks ago. (m) has been trying to get me to read this book for quite some time and i have to say that he was rignt and it is a perfect read. And it's readable in like, an hour, tops. It addresses individualism from the hasidic view, that we are a unification of body and spirit that when brought together in perfect harmony show us that we are completely unique and set apart from anything else in history and nature.

The greatest sentences in the book, though, would be the perfect capsule for how we at Promontory look at film. "Any natural act, if hallowed, leads to God, and nature needs man for what no angel can perform on it, namely, its hallowing."

I guess Buber didn't believe in Christ, and there are times when i become confused as to how far i should go in my resonance with an unbeliever, but wow. There's some great spiritual insight to be gained in this book. I wish we could get Ted Baehr to give it a read.

-s.

Edited by stef

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Ellul is one of my favorites. The best titles are available on half.com or used book finder

He writes in two veins if you are just begining. An excellent intro would be either What I Believe or In Season/Out of Season

Then you will find two threads sociology and theology

Sociology

Most start with Technological Society but it is a bit dated and unless it really grabs you it might be better to start with Autopsy of Revolution or Betrayal of the West. TS is vital to getting Ellul but some never make it past the slog. From there the other two of his soc. greats are Political Illusion and Propaganda.

Theology

The Presence of the Kingdom and the Subversion of Christianity are good foundations in Ellul. Meaning of the City is also a fine intro. Ellul sometimes uses overstatement that he balances in another work and rarely repeats himself so you must read many of his works before he comes clear. After a few the Ethics of Freedom will be seem more balanced than if you start there. But chucking these suggestions and reading what grabs you is good also.

My favorites are Anarchy and Christianity and the Betrayal of the West.

Sadly only 30 of his fifty works are in english and I can't read french.

Simone Weil is very excellent though I only resonate with her political stuff. Probably you have read it but if not grab her Iliad Poem of Force essay. Very timely. Her political stuff is available in a few collections thought the titles escape me. Probably something imaginative like SIMONE WEIL A Collection of Essays smile.gif

Along with Ellul, Hannah Arendt is a great one. I also can't keep from rereading Camus' stuff from Combat (available in Between Hell and Reason) and Resistance,Rebellion, and Death. His approach to Algiers and the violence there is also very timely.

Would love to start an Ellul thread to talk if interested.

Only Nouwen I remember loving was the Way of the Heart.(about the wisdom of the desert fathers)

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Simone Weil is very excellent though I only resonate with her political stuff. Probably you have read it but if not grab her Iliad Poem of Force essay. Very timely. Her political stuff is available in a few collections thought the titles escape me. Probably something imaginative like SIMONE WEIL A Collection of Essays

I came across a quote from Simone Weil that intrigued me, which led me to a collection of her writings entitled Gravity and Grace, which has been very rewarding & thought-provoking.

This was the quote--very relevant for the board as a whole:

Literature and morality.  Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring.  Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.  Therefore "imaginative literature" is either boring or immoral (or a mixture of both).  It only escapes from this alternative if in some way it passes over to the side of reality through the power of art--and only genius can do that.

Brilliant.

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Just picked up a number from one of my fave PI series by Jon Katz (the suburban detective) called The Last Housewife. My brain is not processing heavy reading at the moment so I am taking a break. Kit DeLeeuw is a former CID officer from his Army days who got kicked out of Wall Street in the late '80's, having been a scapegoat for an insider trading scandal. He turns back to the other thing he knows and works cases in suburban New Jersey. A different take on the down and dirty PI thing and rather intellegent social commentary (since John D. MacDonald's "Travis Magee", this is absolutely essential to the memoirs of the post-modern PI).

Oh, his wife has a similar job to the one Andrew is considering leaving. Might take the edge of of things Andrew.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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Simon Winchester is a current favorite for nonfiction. I've read three of his books so far (The Professor and the Madman, The Meaning of Everything, Krakatoa) and loved them all.

And I'm a Buechner nut. If there's a Buechner book you haven't read, find it and read it. The first novel, A Long Day's Dying, was recently reissued.

Anyone heard anything about Buechner recently?

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Thanks for thinking of me, Rich. I may pick one of those novels up.

Re: Buechner -- I greatly enjoyed his interview with Ken Myers, on Mars Hill Audio. I think it goes back a few years, but it's still available at their website (the shockingly titled www.marshillaudio.org).

Edited by Andrew

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Thanks for all your suggestions so far, guys! Feel free to keep 'em coming :)

I actually started Flannery's short stories the other day. Good stuff so far!

I've read Telling Secrets by Buechner, and bought The Eyes of the Heart, which is still waiting to be read a couple months later. And I started on Nouwen's Seeds of Hope reader. All great stuff.

I also bought Coupland's Generation X, The Best American Non-Required Reading 2002, and Dave Egger's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, since I've heard nothing but great things about them all.

I'm unemployed at the moment so I'm trying to enjoy all this free time to read, write, do pilates, cook, take walks, make art and enjoy life! :)

Edited by ezz

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And about Buechner...a local film company is making a documentary on him! You can get more info at buechner.newlifefilms.com

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the penultimate paragraph of douglas coupland's 'life after god' says this:

'now here is my secret. i tell it to you with an openness of heart that i doubt i shall achieve again, so i pray that you are in a quiet place when you read these words. the truth is that i need god. that i am sick and can no longer make it alone. i need god to help me be kind, as i seem to have forgotten how to be kind. i need to god to show me how to love, as i have forgotten how to love. i need god to help me give, as i no longer seem capable of giving.'

and so is probably worth reading.

also:

psalm 18 by king david

the satanic verses by salman rushdie

thus spoke zarathustra by frederick nietzsche.

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Don't forget Mein Kampf, Moby Dick, War and Peace, and Prometheus Unbound.

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the penultimate paragraph of douglas coupland's 'life after god' ...

I *Loved* Life After God. And Generation X, now that i think about it..

But Life After God was magnificent. And yes, especially the ending. I remember that i finished it in a park by a little pond, under a clear blue sky on a lazy, quiet Sunday afternoon. I remember that it struck a chord with me, and that it's stuck with me ever since. I remember thinking that i wanted to read more Copeland, but haven't really gotten around to it yet.

-s.

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This hearkens back to a former thread on Coupland (I'll leave it to Peter to do the 'ahem' thing). I'll just mention that, FWIW, I much preferred 'Girlfriend in a Coma' - I found its theme to be just as compelling, with a much stronger narrative accompanying it. Oh yeah, and I liked the sci-fi elements in it, too...

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Hmmm.

'Girlfriend..' I have read twice now, and I can't work out what my verdict is. I have a feeling that he tries to impose too much meaning on it all, if you see what I mean. I think maybe the story is a little too confused, and he felt he had to tell us a bit too much what it all meant. It's very interesting, mind, especially the very end - the idea that the redemption they are offered is conceived as a mission and purpose, it's not something self-centred. To put it in more obvious terms - they lose their lives and in doing so gain their lives. That said, I still think that the story as a whole has a slightly disjointed feel.

But lots of Smiths references, which is no bad thing.

'We can go for a walk where it's quiet and dry, and talk about precious things.'

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The recommendations are coming fast and furious, Ezz. If you need a few more, each week the Washington Post's Michael Dirda carries on an online chat with readers. These are chock full of recommendations, mostly for books I've never read. The link will take you to transcripts of all those conversations. You might want to bring along a notepad and pen, and keep a list of titles. cool.gif

Also, I've been thinking of picking up Susan Wise Bauer's The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, which includes recommendations for the best books in each of several categories (Biography, History, etc.).

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