Rating system: 5-MUST read. 4-GREAT read. 3-GOOD read. 2-OKAY read. 1-DON’T read.
- 4-A Song I Knew By Heart by Brett Lott
Not a light read, but very worthwhile as a deep, powerful story of forgiveness. One of the few books that makes me cry.
- 3-Ancient Highway by Brett Lott
A powerful story of family: four generations of failure and the forgiveness that gives them hope. No profanity; light crude language, sex, drugs; deep, probing; God is the answer implied but not explicitly stated (through role of Christians, their prayers).
- 2-Jewel by Brett Lott
Well known (Oprah’s Book List) and well written, some marital sex, too little resolution/growth in the end.
- 2-The Man Who Owned Vermont by Brett Lott
- 3-Blindness by Jose Saramago
I am drawn to this book solely because of its biblical view of sin. It is not a nice book. It is not a light read. Yet it is a fairly significant work culturally–Saramago is a nobel prize winner and international best selling author and the book has also been made into a movie (which I do not plan to see–there are things that I can safely read about that I cannot handle on the screen). Blindness offers an intense look at human depravity–a grown up version of Lord of the Flies. It contains many negative elements, including a vulgar scene of group rape, some extramarital sex (mostly implied as opposed to graphic) and lots of violence (murder, stabbing, shooting); what makes all these things even worth considering is the repulsive way in which they are presented. The reader (in this case, me) is repelled by sin rather than drawn to it. It is disgusting in the ‘bad guys’ and heartbreaking in the ‘good guys’ (the doctor’s infidelity). Yet despite his grasp of the human condition, Saramago offers absolutely no hope (in keeping with his own atheistic religious views). How sad! “Why did we become blind, I don’t know, perhaps one day we’ll find out, Do you want me to tell you what I think, Yes, do, I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.”
- 3-Songbird by Lisa Samson
A thoughtful, clean, lighter-style read that deals with some of the difficult realities Christians face, including broken families, hypocrisy in the church, and emotional imbalances.
- 2-Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson
I really appreciated this book’s anti-materialistic message. I think it’s desperately needed in today’s Christian culture. I didn’t at all appreciate its anti-church message–not all religions are the same; home-church is not the answer; etc.
- 3-Atonement Child by Francine Rivers
A thoughtful, clean, contemporary Christian work addressing some very difficult (and culturally apt) themes including unconditional love and unwanted pregnancy.
- 4-How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
A classic chronicling a life (from boyhood to old age) and all the lessons learned along the way. Beautifully written and full of thoughtful insights into many aspects of life. Influenced by a Judeo-Christian culture with good moral values in many areas–making the exceptions (a one night stand and an implied affair) all the more regrettable. This book is one of only two currently on Tim’s list to read and also one we will probably read aloud as a family when the time comes.
- 3-The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
See “Advanced Readers”. A look at Japanese American tensions during WWII. Clean.
- 3-I’ll Watch The Moon by Ann Tatlock
See “Advanced Readers”. A look at human suffering and God’s goodness set just after WWII.
- 3-And Now Tomorrow by Rachel Field
An entertaining, engaging, unexpected, and beautifully written journey of a prosperous young woman in the Industrial Revolution. I loved how this was written, but I didn’t agree with all the book’s conclusions re: God and unions. However, I did appreciate her honesty! By the author of Hitty, Her First Hundred Years.
- 4-Choosing To See by Mary Beth Chapman
Contemporary Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman’s wife shares her life story, which she only half-jokingly refers to as “Mary Beth vs. God”. How often God’s plans differed from hers, and how difficult the lessons she had to learn: to trust and surrender to Him. I really appreciated her honesty. She has experienced God’s grace amid her brokeness, and she’s not afraid to share either aspect of her experience. While often difficult to read (her story will bring tears!), I highly recommend this book as an honest look at the pain and suffering of this life through the lens of God’s sovereign love. You won’t find easy answers to sin and sadness–but you will find the truth: one day, we will see Jesus–and He will make everything right.
(Remember, the opinions expressed in this ever-growing booklist are mine and mine alone. Still, I welcome your feedback! )