Some of you may know that I am an avid reader and I keep a list of books that I want to read. Once I complete a book, I write down the date I finished it and my thoughts about it. Today I thought I would share some feelings with you about my latest reads.
The first book I want to talk about is Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage. This book was chosen by my book club, but it was not one that I wanted to read at all. A true story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's expedition to cross Antarctica by land in 1914, it was written by Alfred Lansing, who got his material from diaries and interviews of the men on the ship. It quickly became a book I couldn't put down. I was so addicted, I would bring it to work with me every day (which was no small feat, as it's closer to the size of an encyclopedia than a normal paperback), read during my breaks and any downtime I had during the day. If people tried to talk to me while I was reading at lunch, I would shush them. Seriously! The action starts on page one, and doesn't end until page 288. It tells a tale of courage, heroism, forgiveness, and most of all endurance. I would say this is one of my top three favorites. Highly recommended!
Coming down off the high I got from reading Endurance, I decided to pick up Atonement by Ian McEwan. Atonement is a book that's been on my list for over a year, and probably the one out of 130-something titles that I was most looking forward to. I was so excited after reading all of the reviews of the book that I went ahead and bought it, assuming I would want a copy to keep. Wrongo! My first issue with this book is the language. There are a couple incredibly risque scenes in the beginning, and I should have known that it wouldn't be getting any better. All of that could have been made up for by a good ending, but I'm sorry to say that didn't happen. Maybe if I had stopped 40 pages from the end, I would have read a story of redemption and forgiveness, of the resilient human spirit triumphing over all. Instead, because I was foolish enough to actually finish the book, I read a story of cowardice and hate. Sorry if this is a spoiler, but I had to warn you all: DO NOT read this book, even if your life depends on it. If you don't heed my warning, at least do one thing for me- put it down before you get to the epilogue! Just trust me on this one.
Finally, we come to C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. Oft quoted by prophets and general authorities, I have always wanted to read this book. I actually tried once before, when I was about 15. It was a little over my head then, so I dropped it after about 10 pages. Now that I'm in charge of the book club, I thought I should give this one a try again. As long as you understand what the story is about before you start, it is a lot of fun to read. The narrator of the book is Screwtape, a senior tempter who is writing letters to his nephew Wormwood, instructing him on how to properly manipulate humans into turning away from "The Enemy" (God). It's almost like reverse psychology; everything Screwtape suggests to Wormwood, you want to do the very opposite thing. I'm not quite finished, but so far it's fabulous. It's easy to get so caught up in it, that you don't even realize how much you've read. It helps that the letters are only a few pages each, so even if you don't have much time you can still get through at a nice clip.
Phew! If you actually read this whole post, congratulations! If you have read or plan to read any of these books, let me know what you think. If you disagree with me, don't be afraid- I welcome dissent!