Note: I realized this was still in my “drafts” folder for April and was never published. As I am going over the books I read for 2011, I wanted to have this here as reference. I’m posting under May 1, 2011, but if you subscribe to this blog’s RSS, it may show up for you now.
The Water is Wide: A Memoir (Pat Conroy) (audio, narrated by )
The Water is Wide is a memoir of Pat Conroy’s brief experience teaching a group of 18 impoverished, black children on Daufuskie Island. Prior to his arrival, the children were kept in a cycle of guilt and lack of proper teaching to learn the educational skills they needed. The general thought was that blacks were not as mentally fit to learn as whites. In the story told here, Conroy poured himself into the students and they made drastic improvement and were eventually able to move forward with their education. That’s the short story. Although it had some minor colorful language, I really enjoyed Conroy’s writing style. I read this book in April, because we planned a trip to Daufuskie Island in May.
Add: Since I’m posting this in
June, I’ll just add that we did visit Daufuskie Island. While there, one of our travel assistants (not sure what the official word is for the guy who gets you off the boat, takes you to your golf cart, takes you to your condo) was making casual conversation with us and I mentioned I’d read the book. It turns out he is a part-time teacher at the island. He, of course, was offended by the book and said that Conroy just made it all up for hype. My take is that he likely added details and made himself look better (still, you can tell even from his own portrayal that he was a bit of a rascal), but that Daufuskie Island faced the integration problems that the rest of the state faced at that time. I would still recommend this book.
Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian (Gary A. Haugen)
An okay book on the needs for emphasis social justice in conservative Christianity. Some helpful resources, but there are far better books on the subject.
This is a brief book by Alcorn that plays out as a survey on joyful giving. I greatly appreciated Alcorn’s emphasis on the joy of giving and the eternal significance of giving contrasted with temporary wealth. However, he also emphasized the spiritual value of not having savings accounts or investments, but simply giving that money away. While I believe that believers who deal with their finances in that manner help round out the body of Christ, I also think the body is equally rounded out by godly people who may have large sums in investments and savings that may be used in their own way in the advancement of the kingdom. In this, I believe it helpful for the reader to realize some of the emphases Alcorn made are from his own experience, rather than Scripture. Still, I believe it is a valuable book.
The Mark of a Christian (Francis A. Schaeffer)
My husband read this book about two years ago, and at the time told me it was a life-changing book. (You would think I would have read it sooner.) Looking back, it was life-changing as the impact it made in our lives eventually led us to make decisions that redirected the path/movement through which our lives would go. It was paradigm-shifting in taking down so much of the confusion that we had previously been taught the mark of the Christian to be: standards, morals, and affiliations. Schaeffer uses this brief work to emphasize what Jesus called out as the mark of a Christian (John 13:35): love. There is a free version of this book online, here.) I quoted from this book here.
Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (Tullian Tchividjian)
An okay book on God’s grace, but nothing that really stood out to me. Maybe I read it too fast.
Made me think about a lot of things. Helpful book, but I believe Bell is making some theological errors.
Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls (Gary Thomas)
Overall, I found this a helpful book. Unlike many parenting books in its field, it discusses the way that God uses parenting changes us as parents, rather than placing an emphasis on how it is a parents duty to change their children. A lot of thought provoking material, but nothing extrememly profound.
What I take major issue with in this book is the author’s writing parenting into Christ on the cross. Thomas is certainly not the first to do so, and most assuredly will not be the last.
This was a helpful following reading Slavery by Another Name, and really rounded out the further racial injustices that have haunted African Americans wishing to integrate into the Southern American culture and cities.
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (John J. Ratey)
This was a fascinating book on how exercise helps further brain development. That’s a rather simplistic view of things, but it’d be too complicated to go into the details of it all here. (Such as exercise=more oxygen intake, better heart rate, etc… which leads to more oxygen to the brain, increased growth, etc…) At this time, I was really picking up my exercise routine that would eventually lead me to lose about 30 pounds. This book encouraged me to give it an extra push and make sure I was exercising enough to get my heart rate up. Unfortunately, it also encouraged me to stop listening to audio books while exercising, as it’s not the best time for brain intake (immediately following exercise is), but clearly I’m still able to keep up with reading. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in exercise and how it affects brain development and intellectual stimulation..