My friend Bainy and I were chatting the other night, and the topic wandered into the realm of books. She said "I think God wants me to start reading again." I told her that God had told me to tell her yes. Later I felt that in truth, God had not specifically told me this, and that perhaps I should not lie about what the Lord God is saying. False prophets seem to have a great deal of trouble coming, according to the bible....
But I digress. Here for Bainy, and anyone else's viewing pleasure, is Bainy's Book List. I challenge any who reads this...yes, all three of you....to read any book on this list, and then call me. We will go have coffee, tea, beer, or perhaps some nice tap water, and discuss them. I will buy.
First, a list of one's that most have heard of, classics if you will, that must be read:
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
1984 by George Orwell
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is not exhaustive by any means. I love the classics. If you have read all of these, I have more.
Now, onto some specific books. Some are serious, others less so.
Love in The Driest Season by Neely Tucker
To begin with, a book that will wrench your heart in half in the first few pages and spend the rest of the book rebuilding it. Neely Tucker is a journalist who, with his wife, traveled to Zimbabwe in 1997. There he saw a country devastated by AIDS and poverty. They also fell in love with a baby girl they knew was to be their daughter. As Tucker revisits the trials and tears of trying to adopt this beautiful baby girl, you will get a look at what real love is. The sacrifices and troubles he encounters will cause you to weep. The joys and love he experiences will cause your heart to soar. I start with this book because it is one all should read.
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
A memoir of sorts, this is a fictionalized telling, in essay form, of the lives of soldiers in the Vietnam War. It is guaranteed to broaden your perspective and touch your heart. Read it without crying, laughing, and cringing, and you must be a robot. In which case go read some Isaac Asimov.
A Man Called Peter by Catherine Marshall
While technically a biography, this is also a love story written by Peter Marshall's wife. It is a love story that involves not just a man and a woman, but a man and God. Peter Marshall was a man who knew how to be in love with God, and how to experience God's love. And he was Scottish. His wisdom, tenderness, passion, and fervor come through in a personal telling of his life that only his wife could tell. If you love a good love story, read it. If you love to read about real people who chased the Lord with all they had, read. Just read it.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
First, go and purchase a box of soft Kleenex. You will rub your eyes and blow your nose raw with the store brand stuff. This novel explores the world of Afghanistan and war, but more importantly the world of man. It challenges its reader. It will make you want to curl up in a ball and stand up against evil all at once. The "hero" of the book is no hero at all, but his journey throughout the novel creates in him the ability to become one. If you read this, be prepared to come face to face with humanity at its ugliest. But do it, be brave. Perhaps you too will come out prepared to be a hero.
The Brothers K by David James Duncan
Baseball, family, and religion. Need I say more? Three of the world's most powerful forces circle each other in this book, changing lives and hearts. Reading this book is like sitting down with your grandparents and listening to them tell stories about their crazy cousins. You grow to love them, and kind of want to be a part of their adventures. Just a good old classic American tale. Thus, if you don't read, you are un-American. And foolish. And maybe smell slightly. Okay, I take back the un-American....and the foolish....but seriously....deodorant....
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I know what you are thinking. What this list is missing is a fantastic Gothic mystery novel. Well worry no more. This book has murder, sex, deceit, and mystery. You are in for a fantastic ride through Barcelona's underworld as you try to discover the secret behind the mysterious destruction of...books. That is right. But don't worry. People apparently get murdered, fall in love, and have fantastic secrets in Spain's book selling world. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
Round Ireland With a Fridge by Tony Hawks
What would you do if I bet you that you could not hitchhike around an island with a refrigerator. If you were Tony Hawks, you would take that bet. You would lose money, because the bet won't cover expenses, but then you would write a hilarious book that would make you more money. So you would be okay.
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
This book contains some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read. The story that Rushdie weaves about the set of children born at midnight on the eve of India's independence is both hilarious and sobering. He weaves history with fantasy to create a world of ancient mysticism and modern realism. I guarantee that reading this will add to your wisdom AND imagination. A twofer.
The Drowned and The Saved by Primo Levi
Primo Levi, an Italian Jew who was sent to Auschwitz during the Holocaust, wrote several books on his experience. This was his final book, written 40 years after his incarceration. In it, he does not attempt to tell of what happened to him (I think he assumed he had done that with his past books), but rather to understand the life in the Lagers. This amazing memoir explores who survived, how they survived, why they survived, and what they became. He explores how such atrocities can come about, and how people can allow it to happen. He was convinced that without such analysis, and without constant reminders as to what happened and how, that the world could easily descend into madness again. This is one that I believe is a no brainer. Read it. You will be a better person for it. Just read it.
Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie
I will end with a collection of short stories from an amazing writer. He is a Spokane Indian who blends his life experiences into stories that comfort and haunt. His stories will make you laugh out loud, while causing you to question the world you live in. He writes with a passion and wit that will keep you looking for more and more of his works. Start with this one, and then just keep going.
Alrighty, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Read away. Tell me what you think. And of course, add to the list. If you have a book that you think I should read, let me know. I will add it to the stack, and the YOU can buy me coffee.