A bunch of book reviews

So the past couple of months have pretty busy, so much so that I haven’t been able to do my book reviews like I wanted to. Rather than do a long one separately, I decided to just lump them together in a bunch of mini-reviews so I can get these already-read books off my desk.

Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda

A friend of mine forwarded an unproofed copy to me, so I had a chance to use the skills I learned from workshop this summer to read and analyze this book. A group of strangers become the unlikeliest of roommates: Camille, an artist who barely eats and just beginning to draw again after a relapse; Franck, a gruff chef who works hard, rides his bike hard and wrestles with terrible guilt when it comes to his grandmother’s welfare; and Philibert, an stuttering aristocrat reduced to selling postcards in front of a museum.

This is a dialogue-heavy book, pretty sparse on details. You get to know the characters through internal monologues and conversations with each other. Usually, Gavalda write the dialogue without mentioning who is saying what, so sometimes you get a bit lost. But the interaction between these people is a wonder to behold, as they begin to open to each other and you learn about their pasts. You can feel the intimacy between them as they grow, particularly between Camille and Franck, almost to the point where the reader feels excluded. There’s a scene where Franck shows Camille his knife collection that’s done completely in dialogue. Because we can’t “see” what’s going on, we can only guess what the knives look like from their conversation–and from the casual way they speak, it almost feels like eavesdropping.

I really liked how the relationships played out, especially as you get to know the histories of the people and why they act the way they do. A very nice read. 4 paintings out of 5.

Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas

I first heard of Sacred Pathways from the reJesus blog, where the writer spoke of a test you can take to evaluate your ‘spiritual temperament. I took the test itself, and it so intrigued me, I wanted to know more about the 9 temperaments listed, so I read this book. It completely changed how I view worship.

Thomas’ theory is that there are nine temperaments geared towards worshipping God: intellectual, contemplative, enthusiast, caregiver, activist, ascetic, traditionalist, sensate, and naturalist. Each chapter starts with a description of the temperament, gives Biblical examples, demonstrates the outward actions of such temperaments, and he describes temptations of how not to fall into idolatry.

Thomas has a easy speaking manner that is good on the eyes, and he doesn’t go heavily into Christian jargon. He delves deep into every type of worship, from lifting of hands to the use of rosaries. He explains the history behind certain rituals.

This book really opened my eyes to the different styles of worship, and I can tell that it’s impacting how I do worship now. 5 rosaries out of 5 (and it turns out that I’m mostly a contemplative.)

Real Sex by Lauren F. Winner

Winner is becoming more and more my favorite female intellectual writer. I had read her book Girl Meets God and was really taken by her quest to know God more. Therefore, when we were up in Michigan last week and I saw this book in the library there, I snatched it up.

Winner offers an interesting. take on chastity. Delving into her own history first, she risks much in disclosing that she did have sex before marriage. What comes out of the risk is a very realistic view of a single Christian struggling with chastity, how sex has become far from its original plan not just in the secular world, but in the church as well (I enjoyed her argument on how Christians are hammered so much into not having sex when unmarried, that when the marriage night comes, it’s hard to switch from “no sex!” to “have sex! have sex now!“). She tackles the usual hard subjects about sex, but also talks about being single person living in a time where churches are heavily focused on families.

In some ways, I wish this book was available when I was still single–there’s a lot of hard and honest truths in this book that would’ve impacted me back then. Still, I think this is a great book to read if you’re single or married. 5 rotundas out of 5 (and if you read the book, you’ll understand what I mean).

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