Fiction Read in May:
Children of God by Mary Doria Russell
This sequel to Russell’s first novel, The Sparrow, was excellent. The Sparrow tells the tale of a failed Jesuit mission sent to another planet to make first contact with extraterrestrial life. The Sparrow ends with a lot of unanswered questions. Children of God picks up where it’s predecessor left off and attempts to answer some of those questions. The main theme of these books is the question of evil in the world. Why do bad things happen to good people? Is God really in charge? How do we discern His will? I really appreciated the unanswered questions in the first book but in the end I liked more the way Russell fleshes out the answers in the second book.
The other theme of these books is really the idea of cultures clashing. They look at two cultures that are completely different and how someone who has completely good intentions may cause major harm because of a complete cultural misunderstanding. Neither of these books are easy to read (both have some disturbing plot elements and are not for the squeamish) but I would highly recommend them both.
1984 by George Orwell
Another classic on my list of “why haven’t I ever read this” books. I can see why it’s a classic and can easily see how this is the granddaddy of the dystopian fiction craze. It was interesting to me how unlike its modern offspring, this book had such a hopeless and negative ending. I kept waiting for Katniss to burst onto the scene and kick some butt.
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
Unbelievable that this book was written by an under 30 year old. It reminded me a little of The Book Thief, a little of something by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and a little of the few things I’ve read by Orhan Pamuk.
The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood
Read with John for school, prior to attending our co-op’s annual Shakespeare play. It was a fun read.
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Audiobook)
This is a re-read (or a re-listen). I’ve previously enjoyed these modern takes on the Sherlock Holmes legend and decided to listen to them again in the car during my morning rounds.
Non-Fiction Read in May
Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal-the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
Also read with John for school. This was a fantastic book. It won a bunch of awards (Newbury Honor, Sibert, National Book Finalist, Cybils) and deservedly so. Sheinkin makes the science of how the atomic bomb was developed understandable and accessible. He weaves in the story of how the Soviets were attempting to steal the secrets to the atomic bomb. I have a weakness for spy stories and science non-fiction and this book was an absolute page-turner for me. Oh, and John loved it also.
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
Another terrific non-fiction read. Cahalan was a young bright journalist living in New York City when she was struck by a mysterious illness manifesting in hallucinations, seizures and paranoia. After a month of medical investigations ( a month of her life she ultimately lost as she was left with no memory of it) the doctors finally discover the rare autoimmune encephalitis that was the cause of her illness. This book was both fascinating for me to read as a doctor and also horrifying. The horrifying part comes from the way her symptoms are sometimes dismissed, overlooked or mis-interpreted. It’s a book that should read as a warning to anyone in the medical community about how to keep looking for an answer when faced with a mystery that doesn’t add up.
Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
I would highly recommend this rich book of sermons. I read it as a daily devotion and plan to go back and read it again to glean even more wisdom from it.