Friday, November 5, 2010

Summer Reading Highlights

I hope the lazy days of summer found you surrounded by books. Here are summaries of some great ones I read during those hot months.

Home, by Marilynne Robinson - This one gets five, no make it ten, stars. A gorgeously constructed companion to Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead, Home is the story of a wayward son who cautiously attempts reconciliation with the family he left decades earlier. The writing is just breathtakingly beautiful, and the plot is one that is easily grasped. Home addresses forgiveness, judgement, prejudice, history, and religion, but the overarching theme is that of grace withheld. My God-phobic friends will enjoy this, despite the repeated religious references. Read it, and search your soul for the person from whom you are withholding grace. This one had a profound impact on me.

The Power of One, by Bruce Courtenay- My family has been raving about this movie for over ten years, so when I saw it in the Classics section of my used bookstore, I grabbed it. The Power of One is set in South Africa in the 1940's. It attacks prejudice head-on and shows how just one person can make an enormous difference in the midst of cultural practices that seems insurmountable. The book was significantly better than the movie, but the music in the movie was so good that it is worth seeing the movie as well.

Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay- This has spent some time on the New York Times' Bestseller List, and after reading it, I know why. The writing is, well, marginal. However, the story is one that needs to be read. Sarah's Key tells the story of the persecution of Jews in Paris, focusing on the raid in which Paris police ripped Jewish families from their homes, separated parents from their children, and sent them all off to concentration camps. This historical event is one that is not well known, but should be.

Lit, A Memoir, by Mary Karr - This one knocked my reading glasses off. Mary Karr's retelling of her journey into alcoholism, divorce, and motherhood is in astonishing account of self-reflection. Her writing is superb, and it should be; she is an award winning poet. I loved Glass Castle, but this was so much better. It is not a pretty or clean story. It is a look into someone who assess her life with brutal honesty, something that we don't see very much in our culture. The story becomes even more beautiful as she describes how her life is turned around. I highly recommend this one.

The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell - It's a long story as to how I ended up reading nutrition books this summer. Suffice it to say that this one was the best of the stack. The China Study is the compilation of one man's work over an entire career that shows how a vegan diet is the very best way for humans to eat. It had such an impact on me that I am now eating and cooking only plants. Many of my extended family members read it and have followed in my vegetable-loving footsteps. I'm not here to try to convince you to walk over to the dark side of vegan, but if you are worried about any kind of health issues, this is the book to read.

More reviews coming soon, I promise.


  1. I was wondering where you had gone to!

  2. You have reading glasses? How old are you, anyway??

    Welcome back.

  3. Ha! No, I don't have reading glasses. I was going for wit. Plus, I don't wear socks. :-) I'm a few months shy of 40...ack.

    Thanks for the encouragement to "be back".

  4. This is so great! Thank you so much for posting this. I’m definitely sharing!