Time to Read?

John Frye has been going to the gym with me. Sue Monk Kidd was going, but I made her wait in the van for a few days.

I just finished John’s book, Out of Print. I am going to write a very brief review because I dislike fiction reviews which give away too much of the story.

First, I already told you the book would be wonderful, and it was. The general idea of the story has to do with the disappearing of the written Scriptures.

John does a brilliant job of carefully dissecting the God of the Word from the Word of God without diminishing either, but rather leaving the reader with a greater appreciation for both – God beyond the written Word and the Word itself written on the hearts of His people.

He also does a masterful job of “fleshing out” the concept of incarnation. While he weaves various theological ideas throughout an interesting story, I believe the picture of incarnation that he depicts is most valuable. During this season of focusing on the Word made flesh, I especially appreciated the nuance and clarity with which John describes incarnation.

John, I enjoyed your story and smiled at the surprising little twist at the end. Of course I would have loved a few hundred more pages. Thank you!


As long as I am writing about books, I thought I would write about the books I have open at the moment. Some of you may remember my scattered style of reading multiple books.

As I said, I just finished John’s book, and now going to the gym with me is God’s Joyful Surprise by Sue Monk Kidd. This is an older book that I happened to pick up somewhere. It is the right book at the right time for me today.

On the night stand is Living in Dependency and Wonder by Graham Cooke.

In the living room, Everything Must Change by Brian McClaren. I will post a review of this some time after the holidays.

In the kitchen, Unveiled at Last by Bob Sjogren. I’m not sure how that one ended up there. I must have been carrying it around with me and stopped for a minute. It’s not likely to get read much in the kitchen.

Finally, as a PDF on my computer with a hard copy on its way in the mail, That You Might Believe by Brother Maynard.

So how about you? Read any good books lately?


9 thoughts on “Time to Read?

  1. I just finished Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard. Didn’t really want to read it but a friend asked me to.

    On the couch, I’m reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Himself. Fascinating look at slavery in the US. That will be a forerunner to reading Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals.

    On the nightstand (and idle) is The Bruised Reed by Richard Seibe. I started this a while ago but now probably have to re-start it.

    My books-on-the-go have been the Vatican II documents. ” Gaudium et Spes” now, “Lumen Gentium” before that. The Pope’s encyclical “Spe Salvi” in the wings.

    The next fun one will be The Golden Compass which the wife is reading right now in our effort to conform to “don’t believe the hype”.

  2. Bob, you read some interesting things. It is not clear whether you liked Renovation of the Heart. Dallas Willard, through his The Divine Conspiracy, has been one of the most influential on my thinking about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Later, I had the opportunity to hear him speak a few times and visit with him on some of these issues. He is the most humble and kind person I have ever met. If anyone looks like Jesus, Dallas Willard does.

    Grace, the ones I have just finished are “A Community Called Atonement” by Scot McKnight, “Heaven is Not My Home: Living in the NOW of God’s Creation” by Paul Marshall. In the process of reading “Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation” by Miroslov Volf, “The Jesus Way” by Eugene H. Peterson, and “Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present” by Michael B. Oren. About to start “The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narative” by Christopher J. H. Wright and “Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt and Certainty in Christian Discipleship” by Lesslie Newbigin.

  3. Dude, I want Sue Monk Kidd to come to the gym with ME!!!!!!!!! :)

    I’m reading Anne Lamott, fiiiiiinally, and just cracking up and wishing I’d not taken so long to hunt her (3) books on faith down at the library (she was shelved in the writing section, not the faith section–weird). She reminds me so much of Donald Miller, that same irreverent wit that somehow just makes me just crave more of God…

  4. hey grace, i’m a multiple book person,too, to my chagrin, and it seems to be getting worse as i get older!

    ok, great reads this past year that have kicked my guts, The Road by Cormac McCarthy. A devastating and beautiful novel of despair and hope that still haunts me many months later.

    Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. Though this book was written many years ago I only just stumbled onto it, just in time before the film was released. A great read. Krakauer is the master of wilderness writing. His insights are razor sharp. Brilliantly brought to life on the big screen, btw…

    I’m in the process of reading: Called to Question by Benedictine nun and best selling author, Joan Chittister. She is amazing, great writer and spiritual thought leader.

    The Book Thief, a novel that I’ve only just begun. Death is a personified character and main narrator.

    The Shack….ok, ok, only because it was thrust upon me with the admonition, “You have to read this.” So I’ve been trudging through out of politeness, and people, argh, I’m sorry, I just don’t like the writing nor the story. So now I’m just reading it out of sheer fascination with why I don’t like it. It’s become an analysis of what is it about this book that does not compel me to read it. It does not invoke the fictional dream for me. But I do like that the setting is Oregon, my home, so it is interesting to read the author’s description of places that are very familiar to me (even if some of the writing sounds like a travel brochure…argh, I know you didn’t ask for a book review, but there it is anyway…!)

  5. Bob,
    Interesting list. I haven’t read Willard yet. From the quotes and excerpts I’ve seen, I believe I would enjoy his books.

    Book lists are one of my favorite things to know about a person. Thanks for sharing yours. Volf is another author on my list of “must reads.”

    I enjoyed the Anne Lamott book that I read. However, I relate more to Sue Monk Kidd’s writing. It is interesting how libraries categorize books that don’t fall into traditional religious categories.

    I found it interesting that you read quite a bit of fiction. I will have to find The Road. It sounds like something I would enjoy.

    For me, I felt like The Shack was overhyped and over-reviewed. I don’t like knowing that much about a book before I read the story. There were concepts and phrases within the story that I really enjoyed. I felt like perhaps my expectations from reading the views of others in some ways hindered my experience of the book.

    I gave a copy of the book to my new-agey hairdresser yesterday. However, I told her she might like it, and she might hate it. She is interested in spiritual things, so I will be curious to learn her reaction to the book. She was flying to NY today and said she planned on bringing it along to read on the plane.

    I do feel a little weird about being one of those people who pushes books on people. I hope it doesn’t have the effect of handing her a tract.

  6. I only started reading fiction this past year. I have been a non-fiction snob for twenty years. But after taking a two year writing course my mentor gushed all over me about my fiction writing….this dismayed me, for I want to be a non-fiction writer. All of my non-fiction assignments were critiqued with “not bad” type commentary. But when I got to the fiction unit – and mind you, I hadn’t written fiction since high school – my mentor suddenly became overly enthusiastic and gave me glowing feedback. He has encouraged me to pursue writing stories. This actually bummed me out, but in an effort to take his advice to heart I decided I should start reading novels and see what all the fuss is about. Slowly I am being taken over to the dark side. I am learning what a local novelist here in Portland said at a writing workshop I attended a while back: “Fiction is the lie that tells the truth truer.”

    The power of a good story is finally getting through to me and at long last I am respecting the art form of the novel.

  7. I’m still trudging through The Shack, and yes, it is trudging…I have yet to see what the fuss is about over this book. It seems so contrived. The characters unbelievable. Shallow development. ARgh, I don’t like to be negative about a book, but this one is just not grabbing me. I am only reading it out of sheer niceness to the person who gave it to me. And because Jane, a woman I love and admire, told me to read it.

  8. Grace,
    Thanks for the encouraging words about *Out of Print: A Novel.* You nailed it—God always has longed for his Word to be flesh (incarnate), and not only in Jesus–the Exemplary Word. BTW I have been able to get some radio time (Christian stations and NPR) and a brief TV local interest spot and some newspaper coverage about the book here in the Grand Rapids, MI area.

  9. John,
    I’m glad you found this post. I was going to point you to it. Your book was a pleasure to read, and I hope that you are blessed with the response of those who read it.

    Having written both nonfiction and fiction now, how did you feel about both? Was the process for you similar or completely different?

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