I'm very much enjoying the phenomenon of being able to read anything I want (after 3 years of most of my reading time going to books required for my credentialing as a religious educator through the UUA). I'm enjoying fiction again!
But I have plenty of books on religion-related topics to go through too, especially after our minister brought the gleanings from his bookshelf clean-off to my office. I get first dibs, and if I don't want them, they go to the used-booksale fundraiser my church is doing for our affiliated homeless shelter. So far, I seem to want about half of the books - and there are a lot of them!
So that is a glimpse into the near future for me as a reader, but here is the report of the last week in my reading life:
The public library gave me a wonderful pile for my bedside table:
But I found myself completely engrossed, obsessed, unable-to-stop-reading-into-the-night, one particular book:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a He Said/She Said back-and-forth portrait of a marriage-gone-bad. Very, very bad. On their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick is called home by a neighbor to discover his house standing open and his wife, Amy, gone. There are signs of a struggle, and the police are called. But everything seems to point to Nick, himself, including Amy's diary entries that are interspersed between Nick's chapters.
But wait ... it's not that simple a story. In fact, because I'm bad this way, I flipped to the back of the book and read the last few pages. I thought I knew what was going to happen based on that cheater's glimpse, but then ... no another twist ... wait now ... oh goodness ... I finally got to the ending and NOW, reading it a second time, suddenly it meant something completely different to me!
It's dark, it's sad, it's violent (although not gratuitously so - mostly it's psychological violence), and it does not end with a "and they lived happily ever after". But, wow, I really got sucked in and Flynn's writing at times rose to lovely heights of prose. In short, I loved this book.
Which probably set me up to be disappointed in the next book I picked up after that, but really, The Testing wasn't very good. I'm not even sure why I checked it out from the library in the first place. The premise (very much like The Hunger Games) is a dystopian future after 7 Stages of War have left the world scarred by radiation and chemical damage and the human population a fraction of what it used to be. One central city controls various colonies, and after high school graduation those who are deemed to be potential leaders are sent to the capitol city for "The Testing" to possibly get into the university. But the Testing is not safe ... and blah, blah, blah. A female protagonist must navigate her way through deadly competition to try and survive, etc. It's basically just the little sister of the Hunger Games. But it would be a funny gift to give someone who has serious test anxiety.
On a completely different note, I also read The Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person by Harold Kushner. My Mother-Daughter Bible Study has finally progressed to Esther and Job, so we are also reading commentary on those books right now. And I am so glad I picked up Kushner's book, because I didn't think I was going to enjoy Job. I, probably like many of us, thought I knew the story - and thought it was a pretty stupid story. God does horrible things to Job because of a bet with Satan, but Job remains faithful, so yay for God. I got a little more insight from Marcus Borg, but I still wasn't looking forward to reading this part of the Bible.
Kushner brought it to life for me. He walks, slowly, through the verses, dwelling on some, explicating and explaining, and taking little sidetracks as he pleases. The author, a Rabbi, is no stranger to tragedy, having had his own son die of a rare illness that made him age prematurely, and he previously wrote When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Now he applies that thinking to The Book of Job, in a work that I found intellectually clear and honest, but also emotionally honest and comforting.
Next up for me: I'm starting C.S. Lewis's Reflections on the Psalms and Horns by Joe Hill. An eclectic pairing. :)