So first, the classics:
- Les Miserables: I'm about 25% into this book now and am reminded (as usual) why books are so much better than Broadway and movies. Of course I love the written word, but there's just so much that was truncated from this spectacular novel for the musical version. At the moment I'm in the middle of a long section about Waterloo, which isn't for the faint of heart, but because I am who I am, it's sent me scurrying to the internet to research facts against the fictional account. Hugo is brilliant in bringing the epic (and I use this word purposely!) between Napoleon and Wellington to the present. But my favorite part (so far) is the priest. If you've seen the musical in either version, you know the priest, but you don't REALLY know him. He gave the thief Val Jean his candlesticks after Val Jean had stolen his silver, but that's the tip of the ice-berg of this priest's character. If I could name a fictional person I'd like to grow up in Christ to be, it would be this priest, called Myriel Bienvenu (or Monseigneur Welcome). I am serious. Here are a couple of small quotes as to why: "He did not study God; he was dazzled by him." "He had nothing of the prophet and nothing of the magician about him. This humble soul loved, and that was all. That he carried prayer to the pitch of a superhuman aspiration is probable: but one can no more pray too much than one can love too much; and if it is a heresy to pray beyond texts, Saint Theresa and Saint Jerome would be heretics."
- Middlemarch: This was one of my favorite books when I was in college. I seriously loved Dorothea Brooke and her high-minded brainiac standards when I was young, for all that she made the wrong choice. The whole arc of the story appealed to me, what she wanted, how wrong that appeared to those who loved her, and how she repented of that desire soon enough, but stuck by it anyway. Yes, it's a story about marriage, and as relevant today as ever, even if it's a mid-19th century novel. I can't wait to delve into it again (if I can get through the 950 pages of Les Mis).
- David Copperfield: I read Great Expectations earlier this spring, which made me want to re-read this Dickens tale, which is my favorite. I can't really explain why. David's story, though it has a similar arc as most of Dickens' heroes, doesn't seem quite as ghastly. Great Expectations is full of such nastiness-- nastiness as bedfellow with Pip's rise in fortune--that I want something kinder afterwards. (maybe that's why I turned to Les Mis?)
Short list but these aren't short stories. Now the interspersed non-fiction I'm reading:
- Untamable God by Stephen Altrogge. The subtitle is 'Encountering the One Who is Bigger, Better and More Dangerous than You Could Possibly Imagine.' VERY intriguing, don't you think? I can hardly wait to dive in.
- Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I've been using a devotional this year that quotes Bonhoeffer with regularity, and (obviously) that's made me want to re-read one of the seminal books of my Christian walk. I don't know exactly when I'll start this because it's not a light read; it's more of a 'read with pen and paper for note-taking' kind of book. But there's ALWAYS something new in it, something impacts my life profoundly. It's been at least a decade since I last cracked the spine of my copy, which is so cracked and broken, it's taped and re-taped.
- A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. A memoir of a man who, as a four year old, got separated from his older brother, tried to find the right train back to his village in India and didn't get home again until he was a grown man. It's quite a story. I'm actually having a hard time NOT reading it yet, but I'm saving it for our vacation in California.
- Half The Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This is phenomenally important book about the atrocities being done to women globally. I recently saw a documentary they produced in relation to this book and decided I needed to read the book as well. I can't say more than that at the moment, because this book and its contents deserve their own post, but if you're a human being and you're a reader, you should read this book. Even if you'd rather not, or especially if you'd rather not. And if you aren't a reader, let this be the exception.