Turning the Page: A (belated) Summer Reading List

I just read a book called The Orchardist that Amazon reader reviews assured me was wonderful!

It wasn’t. Actually…it was really wonderful until the last and then the ending just…wasn’t. To me, a story needs a good, round ending to make it worth the journey. When it doesn’t end right, I want those two weeks of my life back. Not to mention the $9.99 I paid for the download. (I’m looking at you, Gone Girl! Worst. Episode. Ever.)

That said, here’s some other stuff that I’ve read lately and/or am reading this summer. With high hopes for better endings, here goes

Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver. Sure, it gets a little preachy about climate change. And ok, there’s this section about 3 quarters of the way through that REALLY drags. But I still found it worth the read. If nothing else, cause it was like a trip home to Appalachia. And much cheaper than a plane ticket.

The Round House, Louise Erdrich. Full disclosure, I didn’t love the ending of this one either. But, the rest of it was SO dang good, it was still worth the trip. Just be prepared to wish there were a few more pages. And, if you like it, go back and read The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. (Yes, that’s really what it’s called.) It’s about the same reservation community, two generations earlier. Not much direct cross-over, but some of the same names and places are mentioned. Also, it’s just a fabulous story. Woman disguises herself as a dead priest and proceeds to perform mass on the rez for 50 years, without anyone knowing she’s not a dude?? Awesome.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess!) Fair warning: do not read this with other people in the room. You will embarrass yourself by laughing out loud. I literally—literally—hurt myself one night, because my family was all sleeping and I didn’t want to wake them with my hysterics. I like, tore something in my throat. It hurt so good… Also, it has some definite strong language, so if you have delicate ears/eyes for real and actual curse words–cause she doesn’t pull punches with the %*&#@ business–be forewarned.

For something TOTALLY different: The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson. As I try to end this part of my own story well, it’s a blessed reminder that I’m on a spiritual journey here. And, that the first line of my job description is NOT to maintain the expensive programs that make people comfortable in their suburban faith. Good and very challenging stuff.

Along the lines of coping with transition periods, more than one person told me to read a book aptly called–go figure– Transitions. (William Bridges) It is a non-churchy book about dealing with big moves and changes, and how healthy closure of one phase of life makes room for more growth in the next. (I know some authors who could benefit from reading this book!!) It’s a little more inspirational and self-helpy than I usually enjoy, but I’m finding it helpful.

My husband downloaded Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) and then stole my kindle, and then read the whole thing in about 2 days. Since it’s basically the first book he’s read since Harry Potter, I figure it must be pretty great. Sounds like the Hunger Games, but for dudes and techies. I’m neither, but ima read it anyway.

At the moment, I’m in the middle of The Light Between Oceans. Childless lighthouse keepers in 1920′s Australia find a baby literally washed up on their shore; in a boat with an unidentified dead guy. It is beautifully written, compelling stuff. Jury’s still out on the ending…

My friend Stephanie said I had to drop whatever else I might be reading and start The Fault in Our Stars (John Green). Started it. Finished it. Loved it. Despite the fact that it’s very much about death and dying, she was right. It is powerful, beautiful, and ultimately life-giving stuff.  Hey, I’m into books with crummy endings, right?

Thing is–death does not always make a bad end. Sometimes, dying is much better than just wandering away… (again, I’m looking at you, Gone Girl!)

Happy page-turning, folks. Let me know if there’s something I’m not reading, but should be!

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About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • http://www.kewp.blogspot.com/ Katherine Willis Pershey

    Gosh, we are such kindred spirits. Have read or plan to read most of these – including Eugene Peterson and the Bloggess! :)

  • James Gawne

    As soon as it gets in from Amazon, I will be reading “Star Wars: A New Hope”, re-written in Iambic pentameter and in Shakespearean language.
    On a more serious note, I have been reading “The Leftovers”, by Tom Perotta – it’s a non-preachy book about a great disappearance of people that they’re not really sure if it’s the Rapture or not (mostly because not all Christians were taken, and not all taken were Christians).

  • Teri

    adding to my reading list!! And oh, John Green…oh. yes.


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