8 books finished in 2011

8 books finished in 2011
Gilead: A Novel

This one.  It got to me.

In so many ways.

On the first page, I was forced to find a pen and start underlining beautiful phrases.  This is something I usually refrain from doing the first time I read a book – if I don’t enjoy it, and I don’t write in it, I can pass it along through PaperBackSwap.  I couldn’t resist this time.

Two paragraphs in, I’ve made a commitment to this book.

If you’re a grown man when you read this – it is my intention for this letter that you will read it then – I’ll have been gone a long time.  I’ll know most of what there is to know about being dead, but I’ll probably keep it to myself.  That seems to be the way of things.

And then, about halfway through, after I’d littered the book with lines and brackets and stars and questions (the story is presented in a meandering way, so that characters referenced aren’t explained until much later – it felt a bit like a mystery in that way), I realized this book and I were already on intimate terms.

I got a bit worried. Who recommended this to me?  What did they say about the book?  Who is this author? What is her worldview?  Should I give her permission to be influencing my heart and my mind in this way?

[Sidebar: I didn’t used to read books like this – with such a critical voice – and I think we can blame another one of the books of 2011 for this.  More on that in another post.]

So, more than halfway through, I put the book down and set out to meet the author.  Her wikipedia page wasn’t quite enough for me, but her interview on the Daily Show (video) and an article in Christianity Today dubbing her a “Narrative Calvinist” sufficiently satisfied my curiosity.  I dove back in to the book, and finished it that night.

Now I’m flipping back through, looking for one last quote to share.  There are so many, and they all strike different chords!  Since I’ve already dragged Calvin into this conversation, I might as well keep it up:

Calvin says somewhere that each of us is an actor on a stage and God is the audience.  That metaphor has always interested me, because it makes us artists of our behavior, and the reaction of God to us might be thought of as aesthetic rather than morally judgemental in the ordinary sense. How well do we understand our role?  With how much assurance do we perform it?  I suppose Calvin’s God was a Frenchman, just as mine is a Middle Westerner of New England extraction.  Well, we all bring such light to bear on these great matters as we can.  I do like Calvin’s image, though, because it suggests how God might actually enjoy us.  I believe we think about that far too little.

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4 thoughts on “8 books finished in 2011

  1. Pingback: 17 books finished in 2011 | these are the thoughts that fall out of my head

  2. Pingback: 23 books finished in 2012: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek « these are the thoughts that fall out of my head

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