Thursday, March 15, 2018
March 2018 Quick Lit: What I've been reading
Today I'm joining in with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit linkup, where we share short reviews of what we've been reading. I read one novel and four nonfiction books since my last Quick Lit post.
Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese. This novel by Canadian native author Richard Wagamese (who died in 2017) tells the story of a native boy, Franklin Starlight, who has been raised in seclusion by a non-native man referred to only as "the old man." When Franklin is sixteen, his father Eldon, a dying alcoholic who has been in and out of Franklin's life only sporadically, asks him to take him out on the land so that Eldon can die like a warrior -- and so that he can tell Franklin his own story of war, love, and shame, achieve some measure of reconciliation with his son, and be free of the demons that have haunted him all his life. A beautiful, haunting book about the cost of forgiveness, the meaning of family, and the power of story. (By the way, I just learned that Wagamese wrote a sequel to this book before his death; it is entitled Starlight and will be published this summer.)
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor. In this book Taylor tells of her time as Episcopal priest in a small-town church in northern Georgia: how the joys and demands of pastoral ministry changed her, revealed her own brokenness and need, and gave her a new appreciation for the church, for the reasons people do and do not gather in Christian community, and for God's presence in the people and places where God is least expected. I just loved this memoir.
Born a Crime: Stories of a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. This book by the comedian and TV host chronicles his life as a boy growing up in South Africa as it emerged from apartheid. Noah was born to a white father and black mother, so his very existence was a "crime," as indicated in the title. He tells hilarious, shocking, and heartbreaking stories of his isolation as a mixed-race child, his life of petty (and not so petty) crime, his strong Christian influence and upbringing (particularly by way of his mother, who is the central figure in his life), and his relationships with his father, stepfather, extended family, and friends. I enjoyed this book, but (although I recognize by the subtitle that it is meant to focus on his younger years) I found myself wishing it had covered Noah's entry into acting, comedy, and broadcasting.
Self to Lose, Self to Find: A Biblical Approach to the 9 Enneagram Types by Marilyn Vancil is one of two books I read recently about the Enneagram system of personality types. This would be a great book for anyone seeking an introduction to the Enneagram that focuses on Christian growth. Vancil is clear and accessible as she explains the types and centers of intelligence; connects the Enneagram to Jesus' invitation to disown ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him; and explores the contrast between our Authentic and Adapted Selves.
(A note re the above picture of the book cover: the book does not have a barn on the front, but I noticed I had a coaster with a barn on it with the exact same colours as the book cover -- so I put the coaster on top to create this effect.)
The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth by Christopher Heuertz. This book is a deeper, more complex exploration of the Enneagram: besides describing the types, centers, and triads, it also addresses the Enneagram's role in helping us engage in contemplative practices of (depending on our type) silence, solitude, or stillness. I appreciated Heuertz's thoughtful, pastoral style. One helpful feature at the end of the book is a chart listing contrasting characteristics of all pairings of types; these succinct descriptions (e.g. Five seeks knowledge while Six seeks security, or One focuses on means while Three focuses on ends) could be very helpful to someone who is not quite sure which of two or three types they might be. I should add, too, that the book is very visually appealing, with its deckle-edged pages and soft watercolour drawings throughout.