Friday Five: Books! and Book #5

As posted by Jan at RevGalBlogPals:

I hope some of you received books for Christmas presents; I did and have been reading ever since. Then I discovered a new author from those recommendations that pop up on Instead of buying those books, I’ve been checking them out at the library, which will not help Amazon’s future recommendations for me at all.

So tell us what you’re reading, what you would and would not recommend–five books or authors! And if you don’t want to do that freestyle, here are some questions:

1. What books have you recently read? Tell us your opinion of them.

Here’s my Book #5 for 2011: The Truth Shall Set You Free, by Sally Lowe Whitehead. A parishioner passed this book along to me to read, and I thought it was wonderful. Sally Lowe Whitehead tells the story of her life and her marriage and her faith journey, the latter through many versions of 1970s-80s fundamentalist Christianity. As it turns out, her husband’s motivation for being in legalistic sects was to try and talk himself out of his sexual orientation. At first I wondered about the detail she gave of their sexual life together, but eventually I realized she wanted to paint a broad picture of their lives together and her understanding of herself, God, marriage and yes, intimacy, at each step along the way.
My sympathy was with their children, who were raised in a legalistic framework and did not have the benefit of knowing how their parents began to question its value until they were also being told their parents were divorcing (a huge taboo!) and their dad was gay (the worst sin ever!!!). What a hard transition that must have been.
One of the author’s mentors was Madeleine L’Engle, and I would love to know how SLW felt about the New Yorker piece a few years ago that gave the lie to L’Engle’s romanticized version of her marriage as described in Two-Part Invention. It had inspired SLW to want things she thought L’Engle had. And me, too. 
This book was published in 1998, and I am surprised the author has not been published again. I would love to know about where life has gone for her in the past dozen years or so, and for the other members of her extended family, which include a new husband and her first husband’s partner. 

2. What books are awaiting your available time to be read?

I’m keeping a list on Goodreads; if you’re a member, send me a friend request!

3. Have any books been recently recommended?

Yes, Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis, came up in the comments here just the other day. And I’m looking forward to reading Bulletproof Faith, by Candace Chellew-Hodge.

4. What genre of books are your favorite, along with some titles and/or authors you like best?

Oh, that’s hard. I love memoir, novels, children’s books, fantasy of some kinds. Favorite authors are definitely the ones I return to: Jane Austen, Barbara Pym, C.S. Lewis, even Laura Ingalls Wilder.

5. What have you read lately that you have a strong urge to recommend? (or to condemn?)

Over the past year I’ve read several books from the British Persephone Books, which I highly recommend. They are republishing 20th century titles by (mostly) women authors that have been forgotten. The books themselves are gorgeous to hold in your hand, really high-quality paperbacks. Delicious!

12 thoughts on “Friday Five: Books! and Book #5”

  1. I re-read a couple of Laura Ingalls Wilder books last year. It was especially fun, as we ended up (kind of accidentally) in a spot very near where the "big woods" was supposed to be!

  2. Your 2011 fifth book sounds very interesting. The title might not have lured me, but it with your description sparked my interest. Thanks for the titles, authors, and thoughts about books. So good!

  3. And I want to know how you got that cool goodreads widget. I spent two hours the day before my surgery on GoodReads trying to fashion one just like yours.The fifth book sounds interesting to me as well. I'll pick that one up.

  4. Boy, SLW's book sounds a lot like my childhood. I'm intrigued by it, and also a little scared of reading it.

  5. I will add SLW's book to my list of to-read books. It sounds fascinating, and I've been very pleased with other books you've liked.

  6. I've read that New Yorker piece on ML'E a few times, and it didn't bother me nearly as much as it did many people whom I've read write about it. (Ugh–that was a poorly constructed sentence.) L'Engle never claimed that her non-fiction was fact. She talks a lot about the difference between Truth and Fact. So I guess the question is how much is Truth and how much is wishful thinking or truth as she re-shaped it. I don't know…something I'd like to have a long conversation with someone about someday.

  7. Wendy, that's a point well-taken. But this author really seemed to idolize not just L'Engle, but the marriage, and that's why I wonder about her reaction.

  8. Songbird, a I was writing my comment, I think I realized you were being more specific to this writer's reaction as someone who had known and idolized something that was not how it was painted. I think in part L'Engle came from an age and society that was not as blatant about sensationalism as ours has become. She really hated sensationalism, I think. She talks about that in both A Severed Wasp and A House Like a Lotus, I believe, 2 not-as-well-known fictional books.I do wonder if Two-Part Invention would be even richer if it were a little more authentic. Hmmm…Okay–I'll stop taking over your comments now. It;s just something I've thought about quite a lot.

  9. I had never read or known about that article concerning Madeline L'Engle. So, I looked it up today. I have to say it set me day's tone into a very, very sad place.

  10. just read the L'Engle profile. HUM, she said. Maybe this explains why I've enjoyed her children's books but her adults' fiction and nonfiction give me the PIP? (I believe that is the technical term?)

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