Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Live Coal in the Sea by Madeleine L'Engle

"But all the wickedness in the world which man may do or think is no more to the mercy of God than a live coal dropped in the sea."
--William Langland

This book traces the family history of Camilla Dickinson. Her granddaughter begins to question if Camilla is truly her biological grandmother and this is the story that comes out.

I think the author intended for this book to illustrate a human's capacity to extend mercy and forgiveness. And she did communicate that and actually, the first half of the book was quite absorbing. However, the characters were very flat and the storyline was pretty predictable. So the best thing about this book was the quote above from which the title came.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Reading books by Chaim Potok feels like coming home to me. Which is strange because I've never lived in New York City and I'm not Jewish. But it does make sense when I consider how accurately Potok writes about the human experience. When I read Potok's books (my favorite is My Name is Asher Lev) I feel more deeply connected with myself and with life. I'm also reminded, because of the many references in the book, that God is the Master of the Universe.

This is the story of an unlikely friendship between two boys: Reuven, an Orthodox Jew, and Danny, a Hasidic Jew. The story takes place in New York during the 1940s and traces Reuven and Danny's friendship through adolescence and college. They struggle with all aspects of life (relationships with fathers, politics, academic goals, career aspirations) and really engage in finding out who they are, what they value, and how to support each other.

Re-reading this book last week made me think about when I first read it, back in the fall of 2004. It's one of the few books that I associate with a specific period in my life. I re-read Potok's books, and will probably continue to do so, because the feeling of coming home is one that always brings comfort no matter what else is going on.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

One of the best books I've read this year.
An engrossing tale of a Depression-era traveling circus full of performers, workers, and animals with distinct personalities. Secrets, adventures, and humor. Very satisfying.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

A short, sweet book about listening to our hearts, following our dreams, and enjoying the journey.

An excerpt:

"Well, then, why should I listen to my heart?"

"Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet. Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you're thinking about life and about the world."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007