Saturday, July 14, 2007


I need help.

You know what the pile of books on my nightstand are? All brain heavy theological-type books.

Two of them are my favorite professor's. One is Julian of Norwich's Showings, which I can only savor a bit at a time. And anyway, at the moment, we seem to be in the Showings of a very bloody and suffering Christ. Not the best thing right before bed. The other is Constantine's Sword, which we read half of for antisemitism class. I really want to finish it, but have to admit I'm a little afraid; it's already been so disturbing, and we were only up to about the 1800s. It has to get much worse, and I'm not sure I can take it. And again, not good night-time-just-before-sleeping reading.

I need a novel.

The ones on my shelves, all of which I have read, don't call to me right now. Besides, some of them are heavy, too, like this one, and this one, and this one.

So, I'm asking for your help.

In three weeks, I'll be done with summer school AND done (for a few weeks) with HappyChurch. I will have 5 weeks before school starts again -- 10 days of that break will be spent in Guatemala. (Yay, a vacation! I'm considering taking NO BOOKS AT ALL but then what will I do on the plane? Oh, I know -- SLEEP!).

I want some novels. In fact, I want y'all to help me find some novels. I need to visit -- disappear into -- some different worlds and let my imagination play (and my intellect rest).

Here are my parameters.
  • I like well-drawn characters, characters whose humanity is believable even if the story itself is fanciful. Think Barbara Kingsolver, Rita Mae Brown.
  • I like good writing. Bad writing just pisses me off.
  • I appreciate a variety of genres -- mystery, historical fiction, general fiction, even Ursula K. LeGuin- or Madeleine L'Engle-type fantasy.
  • I don't mind "serious" subjects/settings (see those examples of what's on my shelf above) although right now I need something a little lighter. I could use some humor. I could use some (believable) happy endings. I don't need gratuitous violence and death (or at least that being the primary focus of the story), being inside someone's neuroses and never getting out.
  • Good stories, told well.
So, essentially, good stories, good writing, good characters. Preferably some humor. The novel can be recent or old. I don't really care. My brain just needs a rest from reality, if you know what I mean.

So, any suggestions?


  1. OK, Towanda, You have only read one Harry Potter book. . . so what's to decide? My family LOVES all the HP books. I have just started reading #6. Some of the Best Theology I Have Ever Found is from the pen of JK Rowling, so I suggest you pick up Chamber of Secrets (#2) and read.

  2. I'm SOOO not a literary person, but here's my suggestions (which are not very obscure or fringe-y) The Time Traveler's Wife, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Running with Scissors, The Corrections

  3. tngirl,I have thought of that possibility...are you willing to loan out?

    Wait, uh, don't those keep getting darker and more violent and scary? Are you sure that would be good for me?


    SL, I'll give those a look.

    Thanks, y'all!

  4. I recommend the Michael Malone series. Fun mysteries with lots of tongue in cheek humor. Not religious per se, but there's always a clergy person who is treated like not an idiot or a saint.

  5. Here's what came to mind first:

    anything by Arturo Perez-Reverte -- he writes really smart mystery novels

    Bee Season -- sad, gorgeous, and with theological overtones as well

    How about a couple of classics: The Great Gatsby (talk about beautiful writing) and A Passage to India.


  6. Some of my favorites: The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd); Peace Like A River (Leif Enger); Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer; anything by Charles DeLint or Guy Gavriel Kay (both are fantastists with one foot firmly moored in reality); and Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. (Yes, I lurk.)

  7. Have you read Sarah Dreher's Stoner McTavish series? If not start with the first which is simply called Stoner McTavish. It's sort of a whodunnit, but so much more! Oh, except I just checked and it's only available second-hand at huge price. I'll send you mine if you promise to return it!
    Or Fannie Flagg's Welcome to the World Baby Girl. A wonderful successor to Fried Green Tomatoes.
    And if you've never read the Ellis Peters Cadfael series, that's well worth a browse.

  8. There seems to be a "bee" theme going on here! Hmm!

    Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions! These should keep me in good stead for a while.

    Tess, would you really?

  9. Towanda - Shalom! I suggest parsing out the entire BHS. Totally kidding. I suggest anything by Flannery O'Connor...especially her short story collection "A Good Man is Hard to Find" Don't judge a book by its title, these stories are literary, haunting, hilarious, theological and Southern. I think you'll love it! ~Greta

  10. Greta! Glad you found the window! You crack me up...Flannery O'Connor is a great idea.

  11. YES!!! I can help you!!!!

    -Anything by Jennifer Cruise, but particularly Fast Women, Bet Me, and Faking It.
    -Anything by Miriam Keyes, but particularly Rachel's Holiday.
    -One can never, ever go wrong with John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany.
    -I'm re-reading L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, and it's even lovelier from an adult perspective.

    I could go on and on and on. I'll stop, though. Unless you want more. No, really, I'm stopping now.

  12. I recently got Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier from the library, and enjoyed it quite a lot! Great characters, beautifully drawn landscapes. It isn't comedy, but it has some great absurdity that made me chuckle to myself.

  13. I read that Vision of Light book that is going to be on the Book Discussion next week on the RevGals and loved it so much I ordered the next two books.

    I liked "Between, Georgia" and "Like Water for Chocolate" this week.

    2 cents worth.

  14. I don't know if you like hard science fiction, but if you do, read anything by Asimov (the original Foundation trilogy is one of his best).

    For a completely different genre, check out The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. She also has a few short story collections that are excellent.


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