Tuesday, August 5, 2014

High Fives for Summer: Books

As I've spent most of my summer cooped up in my apartment, occasionally doing laundry but mostly just reading, listening, and watching, I thought I might pass along the media highlights that I've come across. To do so, in this four-part blog series, I'll list five of my favorite TV shows, books, albums, and movies that I've consumed this summer, thus creating my "High Fives" for each medium.

(Below my "High Five," I've listed a few books that certainly got a passing grade and come with a recommendation.)


I like to read books and the summer (usually) provides ample time to do so. This summer has been no different. Here were a few of my faves.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? || Beverly Daniel Tatum
1997 || Anthropology, African-American studies || Amazon
I'm not sure why I've waited until now to read this classic guide to understanding race relations, specifically for kids, adolescents, and students. The book helped me understand much, specifically things that, as a white person, I am ambivalent towards. Perhaps most importantly, it caused me to further realize that our society is not inherently moving towards a more racially sensitive and welcoming place but we, conscientiously or subconsciously, move the other direction. Thus, the emphasis must be put on actively working towards better understanding our own prejudices, allowing space for those of color in my own world, and intentionally working on dialogue with those other than me.

The Fault in Our Stars || John Green
2012 || Young adult || Amazon
Read in two days time, this young adult fiction novel, like the movie made after it, is filled with half-cheesy quotes of love and carpe diem living and a desire for understanding how to deal with grief. If all the kids are reading this one, I'm fine with that. And if all the adults who read young adult fiction are reading this... there could be worst things, I suppose.

Gone Girl || Gillian Flynn
2012 || Fiction, Thriller || Website
I'm going to go ahead and say this was the most exciting read of the summer. Definitely the biggest page-turner. Clocking in at over 400 pages, I read it in a three or four days, even as a dreadfully slow reader. This story of a marriage and of suspected murder is intriguing on multiple levels. Split into two parts, the story is told from both husband and wife, past and present, leaving the reader in constant suspense as to what really went down and, eventually, unbelief as to how things unfold. Of course, one could read the whole thing as allegory for relationships/marriage or conspire down a lot of other rabbit trails. Suffice it to say, I'm pretty stoked for the David Fincher directed film-adaptation coming this fall.

Torn || Justin Lee
2013 || Biography, Gender & sexuality || Website
Justin Lee recounts his experience growing up in a Christian home, stable family, leader at school and youth group, and, eventually, coming to terms with his gay identity. The book primarily focuses on Lee's experience in working through his identity, specifically as it relates to the Church, though he also touches on the nature/nurture, Biblical commentary, and appropriate response topics as well. Ultimately, Lee creates the Gay Christian Network, an organization hoping to spur dialogue and support for LGBTQ people and the Church. In the book (and elsewhere), he has helped people converse with each other, even with strongly held oppositional viewpoints. Way to go, Justin.

The Complete Stories || Flannery O'Connor
1971 || Southern gothic || Amazon
You can't argue with Flannery. Admittedly, I'm not as well-read with short stories but Flannery is able to pack more description, character depth, and life commentary into twenty pages then most fit into full-length novels. Mostly set in the South, most characters are both sympathetic and hypocritical and full of surprises.

Honorable Mention: A Storm of Swords, The Violence of Scripture, A Walk in the Woods

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