March 20, 2013 In life

Recently Read: 5 Titles

Akpan, Tozer, Gopnik, Manning, Lamott

I had awesome intentions on keeping up with my Recently Read series on the blog. But here’s the thing. I read a lot. I like words, I like books, I find reading relaxing AND I read faster than I write. In addition to the 6 books I’ve blogged about since the New Year, I’ve also read 5 more. Rather than waiting to type an extremely detailed review for two hours each, I thought I’d get these titles out there with my rating, a quick summary and a few of my thoughts.

“Say You’re One of Them” by Uwem Akpan
I bought this book used because it had Oprah’s Book Club sticker on the front cover. Not the best strategy for book buying, I found out, but it was better than a blind guess on a book shelf. This work holds a handful of short stories, about brutal conditions in Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ethiopia. I found many of the stories hard to read, in a good way. The poverty, slavery and religion hatred written about is eye-opening and horrifying. It hurts. I also found the book hard to read, in a negative way–too many words for the final message communicated. I wasn’t engaged or impressed and… felt like something was lacking. 3/5

“God Tells the Man Who Cares” by A. W. Tozer
The more I read Tozer, the more I like him. He’s a hard-hitting theologian and I can’t read his books without feeling rebuked and simultaneously drawn closer to the grace of God. He’s brutal, in the best way. Some of the short chapter titles include: we must be still to know, the church must not conform, the best things come hard, we need sanctified thinkers, evangelical snobbery and faith without expectation is dead. “Honesty in Prayer” was my favourite chapter. Sometimes I find myself coming to God with the “right things to say” when really, what God wants is a living, breathing relationship with us. If the only thing I pray in the morning is, “God, I am MAD at you. I don’t understand what’s up and I am not feeling you here,” God is happy about that. Read the Psalms. David did it all the time. This is a book I will be keeping on my shelves for years to come. 5/5

“Paris to the Moon” by Adam Gopnik
Once again, this book was purchased at a used book store because the cover looked cool and the review on the front said “The best book on France written in years!” That’ll preach, okay. When I started the book, I realized it wasn’t fiction, but instead, a memoir! I love memoirs. In 1995, a New Yorker writer named Adam Gopnik moved his wife and their baby son to Paris to “live the beautiful life.” The book is a compilation of his observations about Parisians and Parisian life, specifically in contrast to Americans/American life. I found this book SO interesting–especially being a Canadian. I believe Canadian culture is somewhere in between an American and a European so I love this kinda culture analysis. Especially his observations on food, lifestyle, entertainment, health care. Great book. 4/5

“Ragamuffin Gospel” By Brennan Manning
This is the first book I’ve read by Manning and I really enjoyed it. This book is a simple, but profound meditation on grace. From the book’s epilogue, Manning writes, “Most of us believe in God’s grace–in theory. But somehow we can’t seem to apply it in our daily lives. We continue to see Him as a small-minded bookkeeper, tallying our failures and successes on a score sheet. Yet God gives us His grace, willingly, no matter what we’ve done. We come to Him as ragamuffins–dirty, bedraggled, and beat-up. And when we sit at His feet, He smiles upon us, the chosen objects of His furious love.” We can never come to the end of God’s grace for us. I firmly believe there is no “danger” in preaching grace either. True grace leads us to repentance, thankfulness and service. Only when we lack a true understanding of God’s grace do we run from Him. 4/5

“Joe Jones” by Anne Lamott
Straight up warning: I like Anne Lamott’s writing. She’s a Christian, but a liberal one. She loves Jesus, but doesn’t conform to “neat church culture.” I like her writing because it’s raw. This was the first fiction book I have read by her (I’ve read her non-fiction book on faith)–and if you’re going to read this book, you have to be okay with a lot of swearing. Because she loves her f-words and she loves characters that are messed up. That being said, once I was into the book, I found her character development and the quirky small town feel enjoyable. But just saying, this wasn’t the cleanest novel. 3/5

  • I’ve read half of Say You’re One of Them… for a few years now it’s gone unfinished. I picked it up for the same reason… Oprah :). Totally agree: What I read was pretty sad/horrifying. Almost impossible to pick it up again because the writing itself, even though there is a lot of value in the message.

  • THANK you for your reviews! Always looking for the “next” book to read, but sometimes it’s difficult to know what the content is — love hearing your thoughts on them. Planning to read numbers 2, 3, and 4. :)