Monday, December 14, 2009

Broadly appealing & moderately challenging contemporary lit appropriate to a church group ...

Mannie (taken from Mannie's most recent e-mail to the group): And finally, since my brain hurts and I'm willing to say "tomorrow I'll look at Matt's awesome new blog," I must post a question here:

I'm deciding on books for the ward RS book group for next year. Any suggestions? I'm looking for contemporary lit (past ten years) that is church group appropriate, but will be liked by a range of people. And, something that will stretch them a bit, but not throw them off completely.

Matt: Wow ... broadly appealing and moderately challenging contemporary lit appropriate to a church group? That is quite a challenge.

Initially, I would say "The Road," because the more Cormac McCarthy I read, the more convinced I am that he is one of the truly great authors writing today. The tale is touching, tragic and haunting. Actually, though, the more I think about it, the more I realize it will potentially turn off some of your audience. You should definitely read it first.

You could also try "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" by Sussana Clarke. Incredibly well-written, interesting character development, and fascinating concept: England in the early 1800's as if it had a shared past of actual magic. Imagine Britain post-Austen, pre-Dickens with magic - so good.

Finally, consider "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon. It is a story told from the perspective of a boy with high-level autism. Absolutely fascinating concept ... well-written ... and definitely mind-expanding. This one may be my top pick of the bunch.

Mannie, I know this is way late but I'd recommend The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd( I love this book, but you might want to check with someone who's read it more recently to see if it is church group appropriate) or The Color of Water by James McBride (this one is just a tad more then 10 years old, try 13 or 14, but it is a great memoir of a mixed race family, I loved it!).

Also, would you mind posting the books you pick. I'd love to look into the ones I haven't read.

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