Short May Book Reviews

I failed. I had this great plan, where I was going to start respecting the concept of short-style reviews (Modern Mrs. Darcy’s “Twitterature”), start actually keeping these brief reviews down to a brief length. I would embrace brevity, and along with embracing brevity, I would pick the few where I had the most to say and make actual book reviews out of them.

But a few things happened. Well, two. One, I waited a little too long to write about any of these, and by the time I got to them I didn’t want to write entire posts of any of them. (Although, there is now a draft about evangelical boyfriends and Christian breakup lines that was born from the first bits I wrote about When We Were On Fire. It may or may not ever see the light of day.) And two, I just really, truly, genuinely suck at brevity.

In conclusion, if I ever write a book, it will either never be finished or it’ll end up 900 pages long. Now the books.

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Memoir
When We Were on Fire  Addie Zierman
Zierman CoverSee you at the Pole, evangelical break up lines, and church hunting oh my. The first part of this book tapped so many of my own similar memories: the youth events, growing up running around in a church you had memorized, knowing all it’s nooks and crannies, being part of both the junior high and highschool drama ministries, going to conservative Christian college.

And the later portions, where the author deals with the echoes of that upbringing and the depression that came after, had glimpses that resonated with me as well. Zierman describes the book as a whole as, “…the story of my own particular journey from on fire Christianity to the ashes of Depression and back towards something that looks like hope.”

Decompressing what your particular upbringing meant to you, what it all means now, and piece by piece either throwing it away or integrating it into your life now–this is something I’m starting in on. And while at it’s simplest, this concept is probably just part of what our growing up stories are, I particularly loved the familiar, well-told flavor of Zierman’s.


 

Fiction

The Golem and the Jinni Helen Wecker

Wecker CoverI am still in love with this novel weeks later. It was a strange and perfect blend of fantasy and historical fiction, social commentary and myth. Both main characters had wonderfully complex personhood to them, while still being believably “other” to the humans around them (even while blending in with them).

The novel follows the newly “born” golem (who appears to the eyes and senses to be merely a young woman, newly immigrated to New York City) as she finds herself alone and suddenly without a master in not only a new city, but a completely new world.

Simultaneously, the jinni finds himself in the city as well, with no memory of how he came to be imprisoned in an oil flask for the past several hundred years. I’ll stop there, because I’m terribly at synopsis (unless you want this to take much, much longer), so I’ll end by putting it differently: I will give any future writing of this first-time author a shot.

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

sonofneptune coverOh Greek mythology, how fun are ye! I’ve always been hesitant about the zanier edge of these books (Greek gods being awkwardly proficient in slang, for example) but I always enjoy them anyways. This one was tricky as I read the first of this series (set after the original Percy Jackson books with many of the same characters) quite a long time ago, so I had to piecemeal figure out what had already happened. I’m looking forward to reading the third, Mark of Athena, soon, without that issue!


 

Non-fiction

What a Woman is Worth  ed. Tamara Lunardo

What a Woman is Worth Cover“When little girls are neglected or abused, when teen girls are taunted or assaulted, when women are used or discriminated against, they can’t help question their worth.” –from the back cover

This book was terribly hard to get through; it was also one the books from a week where I was in love with everything on my currently reading list. A couple dozens essays from all sorts of women, ranging from stories of church/spiritual abuse to stories of the ways society regards women. Each woman comes in with completely different styles, from plain prose storytelling to poetic memoir, but all have come to the question of what a women is worth.

Word to the wise, try not to read this one on public transportation.

 

What’s Wrong With Homosexuality John Corvino

wwwh cverIn this short book from a non-religious perspective, the answer is “Nothing.” as Corvino focuses on refuting the various augments against the morality of homosexuality. He spends more time on arguments outside the Biblical ones, but gives those a chapter those as well. The discussion of morality questions without religion for context (focusing more on harms claims, both societal and individual, and “natural” arguments, instead) was really interesting.

Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott

helpthankswowcover A slim (I’m assuming this, because I read the kindle version, but I like the descriptor “slim” better than “short” for a book. I think this is because one seems to indicate conciseness, whereas the other seems to say incomplete, not fleshed out enough, too easy or not meriting a feeling of accomplishment for finishing.) …

I’ll start again: a slim title, and my first crack at Lamott’s vast writing, that covers what Lamott considers the three essential prayers. I’m new to Lamott’s poetic, sometimes meandering style, and I got lost sometimes, but overall a insightful/inspiring/thought-provoking/needed-by-me brief into how absolutely simple prayer can be.

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

jfeministcoverThe funny thing here was that I actually pre-ordered Bessey’s book, was terribly excited when it came, loved the first few pages I read… and then didn’t really read it till now.

The only real explanation is that this was before my big push into prioritizing non-fiction. Last year, I read 45-something fiction books… and Bossypants. Little bit unbalanced.

Jesus Feminist wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was as good as I expected. Don’t go in expecting the logistics of how one can be a Jesus feminist, but do expect a beautiful trip through what being one looks like for Bessey.

 




 

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