Six Mini-Book Reviews, Jan 2013 Edition

My Reading Life, by Pat Conroy

A memoir, or perhaps a collection of anecdotes that reveal aspects of Conroy’s life as a writer. The book offers a benefit, as we writers love to commiserate with the evanescence of other writers.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand

My favorite book of the year. Hillenbrand is the author of Seabiscuit and now this harrowing, soaring tale of Louis Zamperini’s life. Seven years in the making, Unbroken has spent – as of this writing – 113 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller list, and in two years will be a major motion picture from Universal. My church, Peachtree, brought the subject of the book in to speak in worship on Sunday, January 27, 2013. He had just turned 96 years old. It was amazing.

A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan

Postmodern family life. I picked this book up because it won several awards and was promoted for his deconstructionist flourishes. (It has a chapter written in PowerPoint.) I believe it’s important for believers to read books by and about non-Christ followers. It keeps believers grounded, inside the mind of someone lost and hurting, and aware of the oppression the world creates. Having said that, the characters in this book were oppressive. I never cared for any of them.

Deep & Wide, by Andy Stanley

This book has been called the perfect church leadership book by some. It is good, though I wouldn’t go that far. The best part for me is the beginning, when he recounts his relationship with his father that led to the growth of North Point, now one of the largest churches in America. The second half covers the usual church leadership principles, with the added gravitas of North Point illustration. Sometimes, Stanley looks for principles and propositions when a story does just as well.

Less Clutter. Less Noise., by Kem Meyer

One of the most well known church communications books of the last decade, Meyer is the message keeper at one of my favorite churches, Granger Community Church in Indiana. The proof of her wizardry is in the church’s success, so I recommend the book to anyone wanting to understanding how to communicate more effectively.

The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen

Franzen’s 2010 book Freedom was a masterpiece of characterization. I’ve been eager to pick up this previous work, a bestseller that launched him to great heights. The same characterization is evident here, though not yet as consistently. A chapter on a dutiful husband and father beset by family skirmishes is remarkable.