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09 November 2012

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The Disreputable History of Frankie Landeau-Banks by E. Lockhart is a young adult fiction book. I think what I said to my friend when I recommended it was, "It'll make you feel very much like, 'Yeah, the Spice Girls were right! Chicks kick ass.'" It had a strong feminist message that has stuck with me.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I've been trying to get you to read for years, and which you'll probably hate, because it's my tied-for-favorite novel ever. If you cock your head and squint your eyes, it could pass for Christian fiction. Shifted my worldview, that book did.

I'm a Christian; not a scary Jesus-camp type who speaks Christianese, but my love for The Big Guy is often a cause of guilt when I can't identify with some of my religion's most powerful influences.
I agree wholeheartedly with your evaluation of The Shack and to expand on this topic, the fact that Joel Osteen has written a shocking EIGHT bestsellers makes me question the judgement of my fellow Jesus lovers.
If you're looking for inspiration, I might recommend reading a piece by Mr. Osteen. Reading his work will neither offer intellectual stimulation nor provoke theological conversation, though it can inspire. If Mr. Osteen can craft a bestseller, then so can you.

Do all you can to make your dreams come true. ~Joel Osteen

Emily,
I like any book recommendation that somehow involves the Spice Girls. (It's a long story, involving my love for the BBC program The Vicar of Dibley.) Thanks for suggesting ti!

Lesbrarian, my friend,
Christopher Moore and now John Irving? You're killing me. But another trusted librarian friend has also been working on me to read APforOM; perhaps I will. Or can I just watch the movie?

Kerri,
Please forgive me if I'm a bit confused--you're shocked that Joel Osteen is a bestseller but you suggest I read some Joel Osteen? I have had one of his books around, I think, out of curiosity, but found I couldn't continue after the Joel/Victoria Osteen case where they were sued by a flight attendant for assault. Sure, she was cleared, but I just couldn't take them seriously after that:
http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=5586434&page=1#.UJ3aNobDCmE

But thank you for the suggestion nonetheless.

Don't see the movie. John Irving hated it, and from what I understand, it isn't faithful to the book. And you may pass on Christopher Moore. I like him well enough, but I'm not crazy about him.

Read the first chapter of Owen Meany. If you're going to hate it, you'll probably know within those first few pages.

I haven't read Owen Meany yet. If Lesbrarian says it's good, then I must follow where she points.

"Straight Man" by Richard Russo was very spiritual.Interestingly enough,I read it shortly after I read "The Shack." In then novel,Hank's in mid-life-crisis mode, so is evaluating his life choices. Here's a great quote: "No,youth is the season of Deeds. The question youth asks is: Who am I? In the Season of Grace we ask: What Have I Become?" Agree that Shack has its share of purple prose,but read it on the heels of "Love Wins," by Rob Bell, and they both offer a more hopeful and relatable version of heaven.

Bybee,
I too like to follow where the Lesbrarian leads, but mainly in NF. We know and accept that we are polar opposites in fiction tastes, but we love each other anyway.

Brenda,
Actually, I really enjoy all of Russo. I don't know that I found "Straight Man" very spiritual (I think I found "Nobody's Fool" more so, actually) but I can see where you would get that. Have you read his new memoir "Elsewhere"? I really want to. And thank you for the other suggestions as well--I am not well read in Christian fiction or NF.

I recently read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and I thought it was inspirational (but not religious). I had a few quibbles with it, but overall it gave me hope for relationships and humanity.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion was very meaningful to me about death and recovery.

Laura,
Thanks for the suggestion--I've never heard of it. Novel or NF?
I never mind having a few quibbles with a book.

Melanie,
Oh, second that. I found "Blue Nights" to be good for that too, but not as good as TYOMT. Love Joan Didion in general. Her writing's so good you can tell it really took something out of her to produce it.

CR: I haven't read the new Russo memoir; it wasn't at my library yesterday. It will be interesting to read about his mother, as I read a review on Russo recently painting him as misogynistic. I never thought that. Love Russo too!

I am passionately fond of Louisa May Alcott, and while she's not marketed (to my knowledge) as inspirational, she is often treacly and almost always incredibly moralistic, which kind of puts her into the inspirational fiction camp in terms of writing style and overall goals. But I can, despite that, still trace a lot of what I think about what is good and right in the world to some of those books.

I'd also include JD Salinger's Franny & Zooey. There's a great line toward the end where Franny, who's been collapsing, is on a "no one is doing anything for me/no one is doing the right things for me!" kick, and her brother points out that while he gets that she feels that way, but that their parents are actually doing everything they can--and that, for instance, her mother brought her chicken soup. And the Salinger manages to have Zooey explain that this is a great gift of love, that it's consecrated chicken soup, only he does it in a way that doesn't make me want to puke but rather does actually remind me to try to recognize these things in my own life.

Brenda,
Huh, Russo as misogynist. I don't really see that. But I think any man who writes male characters (especially older ones) is in danger of getting called that, almost. What do you think?

Laura,
Can you believe I've never yet read "Little Women"? I missed a lot of those classics when I was a kid (although I did see the horrible Winona Ryder movie version and haven't quite recovered yet).
Couldn't agree more about Franny and Zooey. (I think I actually gave it to my poor niece, maybe as a baptism present to grow into?) Do it for the Fat Lady, kid. Seymour Glass is quite the weird inspirational character in his own right, isn't he, although he's almost always present only in someone's memory or letters? Salinger always made me wonder. He seemed like such a yuck in real life, how could he write such beautiful things? I haven't quite figured that out yet.

CR, "He seemed like such a yuck in real life, how could he write such beautiful things? I haven't quite figured that out yet." Yes. Exactly.

At one point in high school I actually decided that every member of my family was represented by a member of the Glass family, I suppose because my father was a brilliant man who killed himself and because my grandmother had a certain resemblance to Bessie, and because, in general, we were all very close and all sort of obsessed with the idea of ourselves as a family and with the people we knew who had died.

Anyway, yes. A million times yes.

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