Here’s what I read in 2017…
First things first, I’m a sucker for any “Best Of” lists. Best Albums of the Year. Best Movies of the Year. Best Books of the Year. Which is how I found myself poring over 2016 compilations as I rounded the corner into the new year. This book kept popping up, so I picked it up from the library and dove in. The writing is beautiful, creative and compelling. Anyone who has such an unusual mastery in of the English language gets points in my book. The story was a little much for me – a whole lot of gratuitous sex and partying, but with a mid-way shift in perspective that makes the marriage on which the whole story is centered much more nuanced.
Everyone should read this book. Granted, I realize I say that about a lot of things, but this one really struck a chord with me, especially as I read it while simultaneously attempting to re-acclimate to life in the USA. It’s about our brokenness and the world’s brokenness and Jesus’s brokenness – and how those three things together point us in our direction forward. It’s largely about koinonia – community – and how we could be regularly, always, laying down our lives for each other. That is how we move forward. That is how we handle our own brokenness – by pouring out into others. I promise I didn’t think this was a socially-justice-y, hands-and-feet-y book when I started, but apparently I just can’t avoid those themes!
After starting this book, I couldn’t stop talking about it. It’s short, so you can finish it quickly, but the concepts it presents are fascinating. It’s about how we relate to each other, how we support one another, and how the shift toward an individualistic culture may be hurting us just as much as it is helping us. While he focuses a lot on the mindset of military folks coming home after war, I’ve seen similar experiences play out in my own travels to more communal cultures (particularly in the developing world) and then my return home to “regular” life. I think he articulates so well some of the frustrations of coming to the US (or anywhere in the west) and feeling remarkably isolated in your experience. Highly recommend this one.
If choosing a favorite author means choosing the person you read most often, then Jodi wins for me, hands-down. I read everything she writes, and she writes a lot. So it’s saying something when I feel like this is one of her best – and hardest – books yet. Centered around race in modern-day America (hello, relevant), it tells a complicated story from several points of view, including a white supremacist, a well-educated Black woman, and a do-gooder White woman who is outwardly “not racist”, but also has to come to terms with her own privilege. To me, that was the scariest and most convicting character of all – because I am that. Certainly not trying to be racist, but also living an experience that is so unlike the daily reality of many of my neighbors and peers. It’s fascinating and hard. And so important for a time like now.