Two books

by Jess

I’ve recently taken a little job at my church, and that, combined with two boys under the age of five and the arduous task of making another human being, has left me with quite a bit less free time on my hands. To get you up to speed, I’m going to give you two books at a time, with a thought on each book, and one striking line from each (that’s a freebie). Don’t say I never gave ya nothin.

Two books I am currently reading:

1. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
I’m not very far into the book yet, but Greene’s prose strikes me as very strong and, for lack of a      better term, masculine; it also seems to me to be written in much the same way as a person really thinks, not stream of consciousness so much as just very real. The narrator’s hatred is so heavy, I have to put the book down every so often and look around.

“It occurred to me with amazement that for ten minutes I had not thought of Sarah or of my jealousy; I had become nearly human enough to think of another person’s trouble.”

2. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson
I don’t read that many Christian books because I believe many of them are garbage. This one is not. It is engaging and enlightening and funny, even. I haven’t read anything in this book that I haven’t technically heard before, but it’s presented in such a fresh and new way that I’m seeing everything with new eyes.

“You cannot scare people into loving God. You just can’t do it. You can scare them into moral acts of goodness. But that’s not salvation. That’s not even Christian.”

Two books I have recently loved:

1. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. You should read it.

“The world was such an incredibly lonely place, and to lie down beside him, skin to skin, seemed the only cure.”

2. Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
This book, about South Africa during apartheid, is as beautiful as a poem, or a prayer. It is filled with love. You should read it also.

“The child coughs badly, her brow is hotter than fire. Quietly my child, your mother is by you. Outside there is laughter and jesting, digging and hammer, and calling in languages that I do not know. Quietly my child, there is a lovely valley where you were born. The water sings over the stones, and the wind cools you. The cattle come down to the river, they stand there under the trees. Quietly my child, oh God make her quiet. God have mercy upon us. Christ have mercy upon us. White man, have mercy upon us.”

Two books by which I have recently been disappointed:

1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
An interesting enough read, and certainly laboriously researched, but for me it just hits slightly wide of the mark. It left me feeling strangely unaffected.

“I will pour out everything inside me so you may leave this table satisfied and fortified. Blessings on your eyes. Blessings on your children. Blessings on the ground beneath you. My heart is a ladle of sweet water, brimming over.”

2. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
The ending! The atrocious ending! Not to mention that I find even my own teenage diaries whingey and annoying.

“God, I sound like a goddamn Establishmentarian, and I haven’t even got a pill to tie the taste out of my mouth or drive the bull shit thoughts away.”

Two books I’m excited to read:

1. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
2. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower