Saturday, November 8, 2008

Top 5 Books

I've been watching High Fidelity this afternoon, which always puts me in the mood to make Top 5 lists. Since I just posted an entry about this ridiculously long book that I just finished, why don't we do this: What are your Top 5 books of all time. Don't think too much about categories. Just answer the question at its most basic level. What are the five books that you have enjoyed the most? Understanding that mine is a list that is in a constant state of change, here are the five books that I would list today:

1) The Catcher In The Rye (J.D. Salinger)

2) Blue Like Jazz (Donald Miller)

3) A Man In Full (Tom Wolfe)

4) Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (Chuck Klosterman)

5) Velvet Elvis (Rob Bell)

Of course, I could go on for days about books that I have enjoyed and would recommend that are not on this list (as previous entries of this blog would prove), but in the spirit of the post, we'll keep at five.

So, let's hear it. What are your top 5 favorite books?

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Source

I've been meaning to post about this. I didn't really start this blog to be a series of book reports. Really, I just wanted this to be a place where I could vent some thoughts and wrestle with some ideas that had yet to be fully formed. However, I did feel compelled to recommend this book.

For over a year now, I have been working through a long list of books that I believe will inform and help guide me through many of my questions and help me to have a deeper and more substantive understanding of my own worldview. While most of these books would be categorized as theology or philosophy (e.g., N.T. Wright's The Last Word, Lawrence Kushner's God Was In This Place And I, i Did Not Know It, Rodney Clapp's A Peculiar People, etc.), there are a handful of items on this list that are novels. James Michener's The Source is one of these books.

The Source is, quite simply, a literary masterpiece. While one might typically expect a novel to be a single story existing in a relatively limited span of time, MIchener's writing style is quite different. The main character in this book is neither a single individual nor a group of people. Rather, it is a geographical area; specifically, a fictional region of Israel called Makor (this is consistent with Michener's typical style of storytelling). While the anchor story of the book takes place at an archaeological dig in the year 1964, the book itself spans from the pre-monotheistic era out of which the concept of a Divine Force first emerged all the way until the reinstitution of the nation of Israel in 1948. What exists in between is a series of riveting and historically aware short stories, each of which reflecting with deep accuracy and scholarship the spirit of the age in this most hostile of territories. (think: a fictionalized version of Rob Bell's The Gods Aren't Angry).

If you are looking for an amazing book to read, this is it. The only caution that I would give you is this: It is long. When he was alive, he was often jokingly described as an author who wrote by the pound. This book is 909 pages long, and it does not go quickly. However, it is a deeply satisfying literary journey that is well worth the time that it requires to fully engage the book.

The reason that this book appears on my long list is that, in a narrative fashion, the reader is given a thorough understanding of the history and the worldview of the Jewish people. This is the worldview out of which Jesus would have come. I feel that I have never understood the Hebrew Scriptures like I do now that I have read
The Source.

I think that's enough of the book reports for one day. Thanks for reading my entry. If you decide to read the book, I hope you like it.