70. Sundays in America: A Yearlong Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith by Suzanne Strempek Shea
After reexamining her Catholic faith after the sex scandel, the author spent a year of Sundays visiting different churches across the country. She visited a variety of churches of different denominations and sizes. I found the book entirely fascinating. Because she is covering 52 different churches in about 300 pages the entry on each church is fairly short, but they all provided a good glimpse of her experience at the church as well as background on either the denomination, the church itself, or both. Her basic conclusion was that faith and its practice is a very personal thing and a church that appeals to one person may not appeal to another. I found myself pretty much agreeing with her opinions on various churches based on her descriptions of their services and literature.
She sums up her experience by saying this:
“I don’t know what the others are finding in their travels, but the past year has distilled for me the qualities I’d need in a new church home: a community that welcomed me warmly, didn’t give a whit about my politics or lifestyle, gave tons of whits about the social justice needs locally and beyond, contained little-to-no hierarchy, allowed congregants a say in decisions large and small, offered a spiritual message inspired by love rather than by fear, and did all this in an art-filled space that range with awesome music.”
She says that says that no church is perfect and none of the ones she visited met all her criteria but some met the most important ones. If you’ve read my blog at all in the past you should be able to tell that her ideal church comes pretty close to mine. As she says no church is perfect, and I don’t think mine is either but it comes pretty close to meeting all my ideals for a church. Definitely a recommended read for anyone interested in seeing how people practicing the same religion of Christianity can do it completely different ways. I give it an 8 out of 10.
69. American Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent
This book was not really what I was expecting. Now that I’ve read the book, I don’t really remember what I thought the book would be about, but this book wasn’t it. The author spends the first part of the book looking at the history of the word nerd and pulling examples of nerds from literature. The second half of the book was seemingly supposed to be about specific nerds, but I felt like he strayed from that. And then interspersed throughout the book was stories from the author’s own nerdy childhood. I quite honestly found the book rather boring, and I didn’t really buy everything he was saying. I give it a 3 out of 10.
68. Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble
This novel takes place in Britain (because it was obviously written by a British author) over the course of a year. The book begins with the death of the mother and chronicles the experiences of her 4 daughters over the year following her death interspersed with excerpts from a diary the mother wrote for her daughters after she found out that she was sick with cancer. It was an enjoyable read. I give it 7 out of 10.
67. Life Disrupted: Getting Real About Chronic Illness in Your Twenties and Thirties by Laurie Edwards
I felt like this book had sort of an identity crisis. It mostly seemed to be a memoir of the author’s experience with chronic illnesses that she had since birth but trying to focus on experiences that chronic illnesses affect in young adults. However, it was clear she was trying to make it more of a self-help book hoping to use her experiences to illustrate how to cope with these issues. She also interviewed people with some other illnesses such as cystic fibrosis and fibromyalgia, but these people’s experiences were mentioned merely in passing throughout the book. Although she did have some good things to say I had a hard time relating to this book. Most of the people in this book including the author herself had actually been sick since they were kids, which I think give them a different experience than someone like me who actually got sick in her 20’s. I feel like for the other people she interviewed she should have had more people like that instead of almost solely people who had been experiencing illness almost their whole lives like she had. I give the book a 5 out of 10.
66. Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk
Although Palahniuk often writes about odd subjects and create outlandish stories I just could not get into this one even though I’ve enjoyed others in the past. This book is about a porn star who is trying to make one last hurrah by setting the record for having sex with the most men in one sitting, the number being 600. The story is told from the prospective of the woman organizing the event and three of the men involved: a kid who thinks he is the biological son of the porn star who was given up for adoption, the man who fathered the rumored kid also a porn star, and a homosexual man who is trying to his television career back on track by being involved in this record breaking event. I didn’t buy it, I didn’t care. Not really a good book, but at least a quick read. I give it a 5 out of 10.
65. Doing Time Together: Love and Family in the Shadow of Prison by Megan Comfort
This book is based on Comfort’s doctoral dissertation. She studied the lives of women whose significant other was imprisoned in San Quentin. She discusses such issues as how the lives of the women are affected in terms of finances and living situation as well as how they too in some respects become part of the prison system having to follow it’s not always consistent rules to visit and keep in contact with their partners. She also gives time to such issues as why women choose to stay with men after they go to prison or even begin relationships with men who are already in prison. I found it to be a very interesting book. Parts of it are very filled with theory and references to other studies, so it’s not a light reading book. But well worth reading if you’re interested in a sociological study of this population. I give it an 8 out of 10.
64. Resistance by Anita Shreve
This book takes place during WWII in Belgium. An American pilot goes down in his plane while trying to bomb Germany. He is rescued by a group of resisters in the small town where his plane crashes. I found the book pretty boring, and I didn’t really see why I was supposed to care about any of the characters. If it hadn’t been really short I don’t think I would have bothered finishing it. I give it a 3 out of 10.
63. This Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation by Barbara Ehrenreich
This book is really just a compilation of columns and short articles Ehrenreich has written for other publications collected together under topics such as the economy, politics, healthcare, and religion. Although I agree with a lot of her points, I don’t agree with everything. But that’s okay because it’s always nice to get another viewpoint on things. A lot of the essays made me angry about things that have happened and are happening in this country and how we treat many of our citizens. It is not nearly as profound as Nickel and Dimed, but it’s a good quick read. It give it 7 out of 10.