Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book 16/60: Through Painted Deserts by Don Miller

Somehow, I'm now reading five books at once.

Should be good, though. I'll be through with The Stand soon, and I may read Woyzeck during my lunch break tomorrow.

This book I would have waited until I'd finished the others, but my church ordered it specifically because I'd asked about it, and they want me to write a review for them, so I'm going to go ahead and get it done sooner than later.

Don Miller is most famous, I suppose, for Blue Like Jazz. I've had quite a few friends recommend BLJ (though none for this particular projetc). I read about half of that book one night while waiting for Hurricane Rita (she stood us up) and, while it was an enjoyable and engaging read, I didn't really see what the big deal about it was. I didn't think that anything the man was saying was wrong, but I guess I didn't think it was particularly novel, either. I'm not sure, either way, I wasn't that impressed.

Through Painted Deserts is a republishing of Miller's first book: observations and ruminations during a soul-searching cross-country road trip Miller took at age 21 from Houston (hey!) to Oregon. The book is subtitled "Life, God, and Beauty on the Open Road." Seems a bit like A Walk Across America for today's youth. (I remember Walk Across America as being beautiful; however, I was in grade school when I read it and my standards where much different in those days. I should revisit that someday)

Anywho, interesting thing is that Miller's less-formulaic, more-relational approach to the gospel has made him a favorite in the emerging church movement, though Miller doesn't really consider himself to be emergent. (Indeed, what I remember from BLJ didn't seem to fall too far into the emerging line of thought, though I can totally see how that movement would love most of what he has to say)

The book is published by Thomas Nelson publishers. Miller's also written BLJ, Searching for God Knows What, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and To Own a Dragon (which may find its way on the next list) His web site is http://www.donaldmillerwords.com

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Books 13, 14 and 15/60


So I'm really digging The Stand, and I'm not putting it down for awhile or anything. However, it is 1,100 pages long, and I like to feel like I'm making progress, so I'm going to tackle a couple shorter books while I'm still working on the one larger one.

I'm told real readers do this sort of thing all the time.

Second note: I'm making a change to the list, because the cheapest I can find a copy of Fool's Gold by Doug Tjaden for is $27.00 plus shipping. For a book that it didn't really look like I was going to be able to get into anyway...maybe next time.

Replacing Fool's Gold will be Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. I need to be reading this anyway, since I'm currently in rehearsals to perform in it. Plus, it's a great, great story of renewal and redemption. And those stories are always my favorites. Interestingly, this was not considered one of Burnett's better stories at the time of the author's death, and now it's possibly the best-known thing she's ever written and is often considered one of the best children's books of the 20th century.

Go figure.

The second mini-book I got with my Power Card today is Powers, a graphic novel by Brian Michael Bendis. I really enjoy Bendis' work in the mainstream blockbuster comics (specifically his stuff with Secret Invasion and New Avengers, so it will be cool to see what he did with his "own" stuff, since this is a creator-owned property, I believe. Basically, it's kind of a detective story set in a world where super-powers are fairly common, though not omnipresent. Should be cool.

The third and shortest entry in this list-within-a-list is Georg Buchner's play Woyzeck. I know nothing about it going in other than that it's German, and I really don't know a lot of German theatre. Also, the playwright died before he finished it, so if there's an ending to the translation I'm reading, then somebody else wrote it for him. And, unlike certain tales of Tolkein, there isn't one definitive posthumously-written ending; apparently various editors and translators have taken a stab at it.


All right, that's what I'm up to. Stand, Secret Garden, Powers, and Woyzeck. Awesome. Reading is cool, kids.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book 12/60: The Stand by Stephen King

And not just any The Stand, but the complete and uncut The Stand. The The Stand which is five-hundred pages longer than the originally-published The Stand, which was something like six-hundred pages long.

A little over a year ago, a couple of friends got me to read King's post-apocalyptic western/fantasy/sci-fi epic The Dark Tower. I'd never read King, but I think I assumed he was strictly a writer of disturbing horror stories (It, Carrie, and things like that came to my mind) I trusted these friends, however, and dove into DT. It was incredible. I loved it. I actually find myself wanting to read it again, and it hasn't even been a year since I finished the seven-book epic. I discovered that, first and foremost, King is a great storyteller with an incredible imagination and a knack for writing great characters. And that his stories often contained uncannily disturbing images, and that he was very good at describing these dark and disturbing scenes, but the storytelling was always at the forefront.

As I confessed my enjoyment of DT, friend and trusted literary critic Dave-o told me I needed to check out The Stand at some point, not only because it was one of King's better novels, but also because of the epic good-vs-evil struggle that was the heart of the story. All I knew of the story was from commercials for the made-for-TV movie: there is a super-flu, and it kills millions of people. That fit pretty well into my It-writing view of Stephen King, so I figured it was yet another grotesque horror novel that I needed to avoid.

So, after a bit of a disappointment with Nick Hornby's book, I decided I wanted something I knew would be quality, something I could really sink my teeth into as I read it. Some "meat". And something long, too.

The 1100-page complete and uncut The Stand ought to fit that bill perfectly.

Don't expect my closing thoughts on this one any time soon.