Book reviews

I’m going to try to review more books on my blog. I read a lot and probably half of the books aren’t worth mentioning, but I hope to review the ones that were particularly interesting or unusual.

Speaking of unusual, my sisters thinks I read weird books. It’s probably because I do. I recently finished a book entitled “Garbology” and it dealt with the subject of waste, consumerism and the throw-away mindset. I found it fascinating and convicting, and I determined to do my part in contributing less to the problem.

The following book is one that I recently finished reading, at the recommendation of a friend, and is quite different stylistically from my usual choice of fare. It is the story of a missionary family who lives in the Congo, each chapter written by a different family member. I enjoyed the African nuances and flair, because I too lived in Africa. When you give yourself to the people and land of Africa, she never gives it all back.

The Poisonwood Bible is the story of the misguided spiritual fervency of  a man who refused to understand and accept the native culture and was set on presenting God’s story in his familiar, and understood way. The story chronicles the discouragement, the heartbreak and eventually the destruction of the family as  they battle Africa. Africa eventually wins and the family falls apart.

The book is somewhat cryptic, and portrays religion and Christianity to be something of a farce. Obviously, I don’t agree with that portrayal, but it is healthy and sobering to understand why people have this perception and the damage that misguided religious fervency can cause.

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When I get asked to name a favorite book, it feels like choosing a favorite child. But my all-around favorite, which I read once a year is The Hawk and The Dove Trilogy by Penelope Wilcock. I may have reviewed this before on here. I apologize, but I just can’t help it.

If you must have action, and a fast-paced story line, this book is not for you. The story is set in England in the confines of a monastery and describes the human struggle in the lives of the brothers who had taken the  vows of poverty and holiness. Under the careful leadership of Father Columba, who was both like a hawk and a dove, the brothers learn about relationships and brotherhood and what it means to master oneself in order to give God his best. The stories are beautiful in their stark simplicity and I’m usually reduced to tears at about page 38. And then I’m crying in the next chapter. And then in bed as I replay the scenes in my mind.

It is the story of the struggle of humanity. How greatness isn’t about discovering or expressing oneself, but in mastering it. How to love generously and the vulnerability of letting oneself be loved in return. How to face your personal Gethsemane instead of walking around it. How the raw wounds of stripped away pride and fears can find healing in the tenderness and care of God’s forgiveness and love. How loving and being loved can rip the soul right out of you. How to cope with failure as well as victory. How hope can spring out of even the driest of deserts.

This book stirs the deepest parts of me. It makes me ashamed of my pettiness and calls me to more Christ-like living. It calls me to a higher way of life and mindset.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Please, order a copy or reserve it at your local library and then let me know what you think.

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What should I read next? What have you been reading?