Monday, January 12, 2015

Six Books That Blew My Mind (Part II)

Well, howdy! Welcome to Part II of the six books that blew my mind. This post isn't about books I've just read in the last year, they are the books I've read over my lifetime that I cannot recommend enough to you. Scroll down to see the first three, The Gift of an Ordinary Day, Montana 1948, and The Gift of The Sea. Here are the rest!

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What drew me to this book...

It almost seems cliché to even put this book on the list, but I would feel dishonest if I didn't write about it here. It really is a life-changing book.

In 1996, fresh out of college, I was required to teach this novel. I was embarrassed that I'd never read it before myself. But I cracked it open, and finally realized what all the fuss was about.

This book is not only an excellent story about a girl, her father, and a small town in Alabama. This is a story about what it means to be human and walk on this earth with people who don't happen to look like you or live like you.

The book moved or changed me by...

exposing the deep racism of the our country, especially in the south, in the 1930s and 40s. It made me laugh, cry, get angry, and fall in love with literature all over again. And, miracle of miracles, the movie adaptation is just as excellent as the novel. I think everyone reads this book/watches this movie wanting a Daddy like Atticus, no matter how wonderful your Daddy was. (Oh Gregory Peck! Actor of the ages!)

One quote or section that stands out to me from this book is: (This is the scene in the courtroom that always makes me weep. The verdict has been read and almost everyone has left the courthouse. Everyone except Scout, her father Atticus, and the black people in the balcony.)

Scout (Jean Louise)describes the scene:

"Someone was punching me, but I was reluctant to take my eyes from the people below us, and from the image of Atticus' lonely walk down the aisle. "Miss Jean Louise?" I looked around. They were standing. All around us and in the balcony on the opposite wall, the Negroes were getting to their feet. Reverend Syke's voice was as distant as Judge Taylor's: "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'."

5. The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

What drew me to this book?

This is a "Christmas" book for the advent season, but I think a person could read it and enjoy it any time of year. I read Voskamp's first book, One Thousand Gifts, but I was more moved by this book for some reason. I think I appreciated the build-up to the coming of the Savior and the way she opened up my eyes to parts of scripture in a new light.

The book moved or changed me by...

helping me slow down this past advent season and really worship Christ. My December is usually just bonkers: basketball season starts up, the house needs to get "Christmas-y" and I feel the pressure to buy gifts and send out cards, and...oh, you know. A Mama's Nightmare in 3-D.

But this book seriously helped me rise above all that. I wanted a Christmas where Christ really was the center. Could it happen? Yes, but it's a daily battle! It was in the journaling response section after each daily reading that helped center my thoughts on Christ instead of my lengthy to-do list. (I hope that Voskamp's future books have this sort of set-up...)

One quote or section of the book that stands out for me:

You don't need to climb mountains named I Will Perform.
You don't need to climb mountains named I Will Produce.
Every mountain that every Christian ever faces, the Lord levels with sufficient grace: The Lord Will Provide.

6. The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart

What drew me to this book?

I'm so excited to tell you about this author. I have enjoyed her previous novels like Far From Here and Sleeping In Eden, but this book (which hasn't even been released yet!) is by far my favorite. I have a friend who is reading it right now, but I'll try to remember as much of it as possible for you.

I had connected with the author, Nicole Baart on Twitter and she'd been so kind as to send some goodies to my classroom for my students who love her books. I won this book through Twitter when Nicole was giving away advanced copies.

I completely DEVOURED it.

There are several layers and stories going on at once, and it kept me guessing until the very end. It's the saga of best friends who lost touch with one another and reunite through a series of tragedies. I especially loved the vivid descriptions; I feel like I've been "in" this book, if that makes sense.

This book moved or changed me by:

I want to be clear that this isn't "Christian fiction" -- I'm not even sure I know what that genre really means. The story doesn't end with a neat, clean finish. Life is messy. Relationships are complicated. Faith can be hard to hold onto. I do know that Nicole loves the Lord, and writes through that lens. But she's not afraid of hard topics such as sex trafficking or abuse or doubt. 

She writes bravely, which translates into a glimmering diamond of a novel.

I'm sorry; I don't have a quote to share because I don't have the book at the moment.
Look for it in late April!

1 comment:

Nicole Baart said...

I'm speechless! Thank you so much, Jeannie, for this lovely review! I'm ticked to be included in this list among some of my literary heroes. :-)