Scott Black Johnston: Summer Reading 2015

The days are lengthening. T-shirts are appearing on Fifth Avenue. Summer is around the corner.

In transitioning to this welcome warmth, tucking away sweaters and hauling out sandals and straw hats, we cannot forget a crucial pre-summer task. It is time to think about and assemble your book list.

What will you read in the park, at the beach, and on the bus this summer? Here are a few suggested additions for your hammock-ready stack:

Marilynne Robinson, Lila

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014)










We first met Lila in Gilead - a novel this congregation read together in 2010. Now, Marilynne Robinson gives us the backstory on John Ames' much-younger wife. 

 Raised on the road by a group of migrant workers in the 1920s, Lila is a self-sufficient, homeless woman with little trust for other people. Yet the twists of grace bring her to the small town of Gilead, where she finds herself falling in love with the local preacher and considering the ways of God. 

Once again, Robinson gives us a luminous portrait of faith informed by her own Calvinist piety. Of course, I realize that it is somewhat suspicious for me to recommend a book that features a preacher as a main character. So let me direct you to a second opinion in a review of Lila from The Atlantic


James Carroll, Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age

(Viking, 2014)










Carroll's book rigorously crisscrosses among history, theology and Biblical interpretation in considering the question, "Who actually is Christ for us today?" To answer, Carroll challenges us to look afresh at the Jewish identity of Jesus.

This book opens with a scholarly tone, but poignant payoffs await those willing to work with the author. This short piece in the New York Times will give you a sense of Carroll's style. 


Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

(Scribner, 2014)










I just finished reading this remarkable novel - winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and a finalist for the National Book Award. It is the story of a young, blind French girl and a young, orphaned German boy prior to and during World War II.

I don't want to spoil anything about Doerr's captivating plot, except to say that this is one of the most beautiful and moving books I have ever read. 

If you have a book to recommend to me, I still have room on the stack. Please post your faves and raves hereon this blog.

Like introducing someone to a new friend, there are few things better than the suggestion of a good read.

From Scott's blog, Sharp About Your Prayers.