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I don't think I've gotten such pleasure from a book about everyday people doing everyday things since Anna Quindlen's Blessings. It's a difficult book ...more
Oct 15, 2005
Aug 06, 2009
The High Divide
This novel by Lin Enger, brother of Leif Enger, the author of the wonderful Peace Like a River, is reminiscent of that one. Set in 1886, it's the stor ...more
Sep 13, 2014
Sep 13, 2014
The Solace of Leaving Early
A miraculous book, but so heavy on theology, philosophy, literature, art, & the other liberal arts that it's a hard book to recommend to most casu ...more
Jul 15, 2006
Aug 05, 2009
Acts of Faith
This long but rewarding book is not particularly well written, but it's a compelling story (or set of stories), with complex characters dealing with a ...more
Sep 20, 2007
Aug 04, 2009
The Jewel Trader of Pegu
A (mostly) epistolary novel, with letters sent from Abraham, a Venetian Jewish merchant from Pegu (in present-day Myanmar [Burma]) to his cousin/frien ...more
Nov 20, 2010
Aug 13, 2009
What an unusual, if not unique, premise for a contemporary novel! In the first third of the 5th century, an intellectually curious, troubled Christian ...more
Sep 17, 2013
Sep 13, 2013
East of Eden
My daughter Jessica has been trying to convince me for years that I should read this novel, and I'm glad she was finally able to do so. It's a novel a ...more
Sep 05, 2014
Sep 01, 2014
Jewelweed is set in the same place (southwestern Wisconsin) and employs some of the same characters as appeared in Driftless, a book chosen several ye ...more
Jul 26, 2014
Jul 17, 2014
Flight Behavior
What a beautiful, terrifying novel! This is my sixth Kingsolver novel. Beginning with the masterful Poisonwood Bible, she has mostly written morality ...more
Nov 16, 2013
Sep 04, 2012
The Secret Magdalene
**spoiler alert** This novel imagines the life of the character known in the Gospels as Mary Magdalene. The story as told here is an improbable one--t ...more
Jul 30, 2011
Nov 10, 2010
Little Wolves
Like Ordinary Grace, which I just read shortly before this one, this is a story of violent death set in a small town in southwestern Minnesota, with a ...more
Jun 02, 2013
May 30, 2013
The Sweetness of Tears
This moving, wise story is a multigenerational story about mothers & their children, though not like what one might expect from stories in that ge ...more
Oct 06, 2013
Jun 01, 2011
The Signature of All Things
What a magnificent novel this is, one to rival one of my all-time favorites, Ahab's Wife, for its story, characters, & ideas (though not for its p ...more
May 27, 2014
Dec 02, 2013
A difficult, rewarding novel whose flaws are as interesting as its strengths. Set in a London high church parish of the Church of England, it has a mo ...more
May 23, 2010
May 11, 2010
Running the Rift
This is a beautiful, touching, terrifying, heart-rending story of a young Rwandan man, a Tutsi who, in the years leading up to the genocide of his peo ...more
Feb 22, 2014
Feb 09, 2012
Mary of Nazareth
A translation of a novel by a Polish Jew who has written best-selling novels about several women from the Hebrew Bible. An epigraph from David Ben-Gur ...more
Sep 13, 2009
Sep 11, 2009
The Office of Desire
I couldn't imagine why I had put this mediocre novel on my list until one of the characters got religion a third of the way through, but even then I d ...more
Feb 15, 2009
Aug 01, 2009
The Heretic's Wife
Despite (1) a cover that made me embarrassed to read this in public because it makes this look like a historical romance novel--and there were element ...more
Jan 21, 2012
Mar 22, 2010
The Search for God at Harvard
A promising but ultimately disappointing book. The author was a New York Times religion writer who requested & received a year's leave of absence ...more
May 15, 1994
Aug 14, 2009
The Fall of a Sparrow
A great book on many big topics: love, death (& grieving for the death of a loved one), sex, family relationships, politics, justice, forgiveness, ...more
Jan 18, 2000
Aug 12, 2009
Gob's Grief
A very strange & probably very good book whose strangeness did not particularly appeal to me. Three different characters who have lost brothers in ...more
Nov 07, 2003
Aug 10, 2009
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
A delightful, unique love story, with keen insights, delivered with a light touch, into issues of race, class, gender, duty, obligation, honor, extend ...more
Mar 05, 2011
Jul 23, 2010
The Good Luck of Right Now
This novel by the author of Silver Linings Playbook has its charms and will appeal to many readers. It's entirely in the form of letters written by Ba ...more
Jun 08, 2014
Jun 07, 2014
The Illuminator (Illuminator, #1)
By most of my standards, this is not a very good book, but it certainly made me want to read & keep reading--it's a real page turner. Set around 1 ...more
Jan 20, 2007
Aug 05, 2009
The Promise of Rest
A marvelous book about a father's troubled love for a son who is dying of AIDS. Though it deals with issues of sexuality, race, & class, it never ...more
Jan 07, 2001
Aug 12, 2009
Hero of the Heartland: Billy Sunday and the Transformation of American Society, 1862-1935
One of Iowa’s most colorful native characters—and one of the nation’s most popular Protestant evangelists—is the subject of Hero of the Heartland: Bil ...more
Dec 15, 2002
Oct 23, 2009
Measuring Time
A long & demanding novel, it's also a slow starter, & I kept being tempted to bail out until, at midpoint, I figured out what it was about, &a ...more
Oct 10, 2008
Aug 03, 2009
Joy Comes in the Morning: A Novel
The main character of this remarkable novel is a very theologically reflective female rabbi. If a book about a Christian clergy were this positively t ...more
Dec 30, 2006
Aug 05, 2009
Lying Awake
A wise, gentle book with a very different feel from Salzman's earlier book, The Soloist. It is unashamedly filled with religious language, rendered fa ...more
Dec 18, 2000
Aug 12, 2009
The Race
Another page-turner typical of Patterson's style & approach, allowing the reader to engage a range of deeply flawed characters empathetically. It' ...more
Mar 20, 2009
Aug 01, 2009
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