Sunday, November 30, 2008

A top ten for readers - play along!

Suppose you have been living in another country far away from your home in the U.S.A (or U.K. or Australia) for the past 3 years.  Perhaps it's a place lacking some of the normal conveniences or access to products and services you knew before. Strange dialects, food, and customs. Not knowing who to trust. A situation where moving about the city is unsafe and your freedom is limited in several ways because of your skin color and nationality. But this is not another post about human freedoms. Just setting up a little contrast about daily life. Things are not so instant. Getting things done is a slooow process requiring repeated follow-up calls and prodding. Online access is sketchy and frustratingly slow. You are removed from American political campaigns, hourly updates detailing the woes of the economy, Black Friday pre-dawn sales at the mall, and so on. Hmm--that's starting to sound better. 

My real friend, Sharon, an avid reader, has been living away from her home country. Here is her real question:
What are the top ten books you would recommend to someone who has had little access to books in the last 3 years?
It's a great question--one that I need your help with! I tend to get a little myopic and think of only a short list of what I'm reading right now. For example, this book by Roger von Oech: A Whack on the Side of the Head, How You Can Be More Creative. It's full of ideas to jump start your creativity and contains great quotes from a variety of thinkers. Here's one from today's reading:
Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.
by Nobel prize winning physician Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Here's your chance to jump in and suggest some books worthy of Sharon's naira (Nigeria's currency.) Give a list or even just a couple of suggestions. You can tell why you chose them, but you don't have to. I will come back and add a few more titles after you.


Blogger Helenloveslife said...

Here's a few suggestions that will keep you busy.

Water for Elephants
A Prayer for Owen Meaney
Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth plus the sequel (can't remember title)
A White Tiger
Tipping Point
A fine balance by Mistry
Eat, Pray, Love
Anything by Annie LaMont
looking for something light, try anything by Elizabeth Berg
Want moral conflict, anything by Jodi Piccoult
Best book read in the last 3 years, The Kite Runner

4:41 PM  
Blogger Tena D said...

I am with Helen on the Kite Runner
Everything by Charlaine Harris pure fun.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
The Prince of Frogtown Rick Bragg and the 2 prior in the series.
Sharon Hersh's new book on Addiction.
Romancing the Ordinary Sarah Ban Brethnach

8:49 PM  
Blogger soul and culture said...

Here are some of my favorites of the last couple of years:

The Friday Night Knitting Club, Kate Jacobs
The Namesake , Jhumpa Lahari
Boomsday, Christopher Buckley

Take This Bread, Sara Miles
Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott

As you know, Lamott is a personal favorite, but I would tell most folks to skip Plan B if they were reading her. And I agree with Tena on Sharon Hersh's The Last Addiction.

7:04 PM  
Blogger soul and culture said...

And we can't forget Haven Kimmel's 'A Girl Named Zippy' and 'She Got Up Off the Couch'.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

by Charles Martin:
When Crickets Cry
The Dead Don't Dance
Chasing Fireflies
Wrapped in Rain
Where the River Ends
One of my "new to me" favorite authors; wonderful use of words to portray heart-rending stories of life and faith; many quote-worthy lines.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Beth had trouble posting her comment, but sends this list:
"I like biography.

Father Arseny :A Cloud of Witnesses Transl. by Vera

Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia: New martyr of the
Communist Yoke by Lubov Millar

Wounded By Love-Elder Porphyrios (semi -biographical
with his teaching for his spiritual children)"

9:32 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I don't think I've read 10 books written in the last three years that I could recommend, but two which I have and do highly recommend are:

The Places in Between - Rory Stewart;
Stewart, a Scot who speaks Farsi, traveled the length of Afghanistan on foot, weeks after the fall of the Taliban in 2002. In his account of the journey, he provides insight into the culture, history, and people groups of the region, and the interaction of Islam with all of these. The hospitality shown to him by the people he encounters is incredible. He also uses the account to sharply critique the callousness of foreign aid agencies.

The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan; Pollan, a professor of journalism at Berkeley, discusses the biology, economy, and philosophy of food in contemporary America, in both an illuminating and an easy-to-read manner. His description of modern industrial farming is eye-opening (and palate-changing), to say the least.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I am grateful and overwhelmed by the wonderful responses to my simple question to my dear friend, Jenny! Thank you one and all!

And, I agree about "A Whack ..." I happened to bring that with me to Nigeria. Superb!

My shopping list is growing faster than tropical plants in a jungle!

7:52 AM  
Blogger Ellen said...

Some were already mentioned but they were my favorites too! So, I’ve mentioned them again.
Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Take This Bread by Sara Miles
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Housseini (He wrote Kite Runner which I agree was amazing)
Surprised by Hope by NT Wright
Into the Dark – Craig Detweiler
Acedia and Me by Kathleen Norris
Salvation on the Small Screen – by Nadia Bolz-Weber – funny but deep kindness and grace
The Road by Cormac McCarthy – not truly a favorite but I mention it because it has been unforgettable– it’s just so dark but when light finally shows up it’s very bright
My all time favorite (a status which no other book has come close to challenging): Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf
I will add The Places In Between to my list and I am also looking forward to reading Toni Morrison's new novel - A Mercy.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Thank you all for your comments! I value your suggestions. I'm having a hard time remembering 3 years of books, but from the last year or so some sentimental favorites are:
The Year of Magical Thinking
Eat, Pray, Love
She Got Up Off the Couch
Secret Life of Bees
because they touched my emotions and experience at just the right time. Having lost my dad last fall and then in the spring taking a road trip that was a personal civil rights pilgrimage there was a lot of emotion stirring and these books were part of my process.
Another book that continues to speak from a couple of years ago is Contemplative Youth Ministry, practicing the presence of Jesus, by Mark Yaconelli. It is so against the tide of rah, rah entertainment-driven programs and pushes toward a spiritual community--a covenant group that is attentive to God, discerning of the Spirit, and caring for one another. I have used the principles and exercises with different groups who are not particularly contemplative and the results are very positive. People feel that they have experienced God together.
I'm looking forward to Barbara Brown Taylor, Kathleen Norris and Frederick Buechner in the near future. Ellen, I'm adding Miroslav Volf now, too.
Thanks again everyone. Others are welcome to add your list. It's never too late.

11:23 PM  

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