Category: Books

Stephen King’s Finders Keepers and the place of great literature

Stephen King was among those honored at the White House earlier this month with a National Medal of Arts for their contributions to the arts and humanities. King certainly contributed to my own love of reading. Beginning with Carrie and lasting through The Stand, my vapid, stimulant-seeking teenage self adored King-style gore until I became an English major in college and acquired a taste for finer literature. While…  [more]

What Pet Should I Get? and the well-ordered chaos of Dr. Seuss

It’s been a summer of suspiciously published books by iconic authors. First came the release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman amidst debate over her level of involvement. That was followed by What Pet Should I Get?, a long-completed but never-published book by the late Theodor Geisel – aka Dr. Seuss. Is the belated release of Seuss' work a capstone on his career or a besmirching of a literary…  [more]

Parsing the Parallel Bible

“When the reader hears strong echoes of his or her own life and beliefs, he or she is apt to become more invested in the story.” That line, taken from Stephen King’s On Writing, is a timeless truth that applies equally well to nearly every form of storytelling. But it is also a potentially dangerous truth when applied to the story of the Bible, authored by God Himself. Such is the inherent struggle…  [more]

Go Set a Watchman and “company manners”

"Company manners" is that set of cultural armor black people don as protection against racism. The breastplate is made of “Yes, ma’am” and “Yes, sir.” The shield is comprised of smiles and tips of the hat. The armor goes on in the presence of a person whose trustworthiness is questionable. In Harper Lee’s newly released novel, Go Set a Watchman, the…  [more]

Instead of Facebook, a book of faces

A book of photographs titled Face elicits obvious comparisons to the social media giant. The latest from photographer Bruce Gilden, the collection of portraits might be more appropriately titled Mug Shot. If these folks filled your Facebook news feed with selfies, you’d probably be tempted to click the “hide” option. In a world overflowing with Photoshopped and filtered images, Face stops our…  [more]

You named your kid Atticus?! Relax

We knew we wanted our son to have a Swedish first name. One that would balance out the very Spanish last name he’d carry through life and would pay homage to the Swedish half of his gene pool. And so my husband and I created a list, culled from the Internet and my grandmother’s family records. We weeded out ones we couldn’t pronounce or spell and ones deemed just too weird. (Sorry, Torbjörn.…  [more]

The withering witness of Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child

In a recent Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross, Toni Morrison remarked that her age has brought her to reflect on her life, and in so doing, her regrets. “It's not profound regret,” she said. “It's just a wiping up of tiny little messes that you didn't recognize as mess when they were going on.” In a way, this illuminates the emotional turmoil that marks the lives of her…  [more]

Little libraries and loving your neighbor

Were I not so lazy, I’d have a Little Free Library perched on my front lawn. Instead of running books I no longer have space for over to the local used bookstore, I’d walk across the lawn to share the “wealth” of a great book with neighbors – with anyone, really, who wanted to take, or leave, a book from my little library. But alas, perhaps it’s best I am lazy and never learned to…  [more]

Finding communal comfort in David Zahl’s Mess of Help

I would say that books like David Zahl’s A Mess Of Help make me feel less alone in the world, if there were any other books like David Zahl’s A Mess Of Help to be found. The fact is, there are not. Conversations such as these are too often relegated to pubs, festivals and backstage green rooms. Few are we who equally obsess over things cultural and theological with this level of passion and borderline…  [more]

The boy who cried heaven – and the belief industry that encouraged him

Last week, Tyndale House Publishers stopped production of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven after Alex Malarkey, the boy in question, announced that he had made up the tale. Cheeky jokes about the family’s surname aside, this is a serious matter that shouldn't go gently away, but rather stand as a reminder of what it means to speak for and about God, the Christian life and the kingdom at hand. Years…  [more]

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