Category: Books

Do Christians underestimate fiction?

I’m not one to worry about those aspects of modern life that threaten good old-fashioned reading. After all, even though I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 7 and though I studied English and writing in college and though I’ve spent a career as an editor and a writer, I wasn’t a big reader as a kid. Though I did read and liked it — the click of the syntax, the weaving of sentences,…  [more]

A president, a Pulitzer Prize winner and the hard work of faith

It’s said that in a meeting at the White House, President Abraham Lincoln greeted Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, with the words, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” The account is apocryphal, as no record of such an exchange was recorded until many years later. Nevertheless, the story was handed down by Stowe’s family and…  [more]

Is the gender-swapping Twilight the best thing to come out of the franchise?

At first blush, Stephenie Meyer’s gender-swapping, 10th-anniversary edition of Twilight - called Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined - is the dumbest idea of all time. High-school girl Bella is now high-school boy Beau and vampire Edward is now vampiress Edythe. A friend who is reading Life and Death would add that even at second, third and fourth blush, it’s a dumb idea. After all, characters are who…  [more]

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]

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