Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
My good friend Jen (Hi Jen!) gets the most credit for introducing me to this book so thanks Jen!
Jen (and others) knew of my love for C.S. and that I had never actually gotten around to reading Mere Christianity, one of his most widely read adult books. Last summer Jen and I took a little girlfriend trip to our fair nation's capitol. We spent the days pounding the pavement from metro stops to museums to eateries to the Pentagon and all places in between.(All of these places were open when we went.) In the evenings we would put on our swimsuits,gather our entertainment and sit next to the pool on our hotels rooftop deck. (It was awesome. The Liaison Hotel in DC if anyone is looking for a lovely reasonably priced place near Union Station). So we set up shop (for hours) on comfortable lawn furniture with chips and guacamole and an adult beverage from the rooftop bar (holla!).
I cracked Mere Christianity and within minutes of starting it began interrupting Jen's reading usually with "Holy crap, listen to this..." and reading her a passage from the book. I was stunned by this book. Rocked back in my proverbial spiritual shoes. The things that he talks about (Christian struggles with our faith in this world, etc.) felt like it was written just to me and my heart. I own 2 copies of this book, one with all of my highlighting and scratching and a second new one. That way when someone is at my apartment and says they haven't read it I can instantly put a copy in their hands (because I'm pushy like that).
Since I can't really do a 5 second summary on Mere Christianity here is my favorite quote.Its weird to read out of context but the metaphor is that life is represented by a hallway and various faiths by the doors:
"The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling. When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house. "
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
As I mentioned in my Part 1 post, I was late to the Neil Gaiman party. The first book I read by him was "The Graveyard Book", which is technically a kids book (judge me, do it).I liked it and went on the prowl for another of his books, maybe something meant for adults. I found American Gods.
It was a shock to the system. The story is complex and wide reaching and has a lot of characters. It was also incredibly sexual and violent and sometimes super confusing but it was worth every minute and re-read page. And as I mentioned before, the man can write a great character. You are still trying to decide who is the bad guy and who is the good guy, and then are there really any good guys or bad guys? How long is Shadow going to stay angry at Zombie Wife? I don't often buy books, as a devoted library user, but as soon as I finished I went to my closest Barnes and Noble and got my grubby hands on a copy.
Also a lot of it is set in Wisconsin. (I want to do a AG road trip sometime).
5 second summary: A guy (Shadow) gets out of prison the day after his loving wife dies in a car accident.He starts working as a bodyguard for a con man who is super skeezy and shifty (as con man often are) and then Shadow finds himself caught in a battle between old gods and new, American gods. Totally nonsensical right? I know, but it's worth it.Give it a shot.
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
I don't remember where I first read this book. And I don't really have any good stories about this book. Even though Ray is most well known for F.451 I think that this book embodies all of his great qualities.Wonderful characters, relationships (friend/friend, son/parent), how relationships change, and the biggest fear of all: getting exactly what you want. As we know, sometimes that ends poorly. My favorite scene is in the beginning with one of the boy's father talking about libraries and what makes them so magical. I feel like every time I read this I see something that I didn't see before.
5 second summary: 2 boys (Jim and Will) are so excited to see that a mysterious carnival has set up in their little Illinois town.But then the boys start seeing things that scare and intrigue them and figure out that Mr Coogan and Mr Dark's carnival is more (and much worse) than it seems.
Exodus- Leon Uris
About 7 to 8 years ago I was trying to remember a movie that I had seen a snippet of as a young child. I described the scene I remembered to my mom ("Mom, what movie might I have seen where there's an Arab man hanging somewhere in the dessert and he has a Star of David painted on his chest?"). To my mother's credit she actually knew what I was talking about. She told me it was based on a book about Jews trying to establish the State of Israel in the Middle East after World War II. A lesson I learned quite young was , always listen to Mom when she gives book recommendations.One of the greatest things about Exodus,and Uris books in general, is that he writes strong women characters. Very few fainting violets, lots of girls who can handle a gun!
So in the movie Ari is played by the legendary Paul Newman. The movie is worth watching for the occasional shirtless scenes alone!
5 second summary: An American nurse names Kitty travels to Haifa or Jaffa (I think) to help care for Jewish refugees who have fled Europe and are waiting to get into Palestine. She meets a brash (and super foxy) Jewish man who is fighting to establish Israel, Ari. The story is about their relationship, Ari's relationship with his fellow fighters, what happens when Israel is established and ends with a stunning blow of a loss.
Phew, these posts are long! They will not usually be this long. Thanks for sticking it out!