books i read on my sabbatical, part 3

and, finally, books that disappointed for one reason or another:

da vinci code, by dan brown. after reading the prequel to this book (angels and demons, see part 1 of this series), i had huge expectations. and i couldn’t have been more disappointed. in angels and demons, i thought the author treated people of faith with respect. but in this book, it seemed like he had an axe to grind against us, portraying us as non-thinkers with only political motivations. everything about the church and scripture was treated as a lie and a false front for political motivations, and that this portrayal was indesputable fact. then, in a parallel fashion, the alternative explanation provided in the book was also treated as indesputable fact. if he had done what he did in angels and demons, and treated both with a bit of reserved respect, a bit of distance, it could have been a wonderful book (of course, the mystery part of the book is good). it was really hard for me to buy into much of it, and even left me a bit freaked out (i had a hard time sleeping after reading the book). i know it’s just fiction, and i don’t have a problem with an author weaving a tale that has some unorthodox views in it — but the fiat positions taken about both “sides” really left me in cold.

divinity in disguise: nested meditations to delight the mind and awaken the soul, by kevin anderson. this is an interesting concept: little poems for meditation that are “nested”. first one line, followed by that line and a second into a couplet that slightly changes the meaning of the first, followed by adding more lines, which continue to nuance or shift the meaning of the overall. my spiritual director gave this to me — and i really like the concept. and a few of the meditations were really beautiful (maybe i’ll post one seperately). but the book was way too inconsistent for me to connect with. meditations about his wife were thrown in next to meditations about God or solitude or peace.

mcsweeney’s quarterly concern #13: an assorted sampler of north american comic drawings, strips, and illustrated stories, etc., ed. by chris ware. so i love those illustrated books. and when i saw dave eggers’ conglomerate, mcsweeney’s, was issuing one of their quarterly concerns compilations on cartooning and graphic novels, i thought it would be the best thing since amway. but i was wrong. to its credit, the book is gorgeous to look at — so many styles of cartooning and illustration, so varied. amazing. but most of the bits are excerpted from other works, and don’t have a complete story. i got so tired of reading partial stories. then there are just some really, really odd little pieces here and there that i didn’t ‘get’. finally, the book is peppered with articles (mostly on the history of stuff like this), set in about an 8 point font, i swear. i almost went blind reading the thing. big, big disappointment.

superstud, by paul feig. paul feig is the creator of the amazing (but short running) television show, freaks and geeks. and he wrote an almost perfect, hilarious account of growing up called kick me: adventures in adolescence (a must read, especially for youth workers). this is the sequel: subtitled, how i became a 24-year-old virgin. there were certainly funny bits. but overall, i just got really tired of his obsessions and whining and addiction to self-disclosure. dude, you can only tell us so many times about your masturbation obsession. stop with the exhibitionism already.

4 thoughts on “books i read on my sabbatical, part 3”

  1. Marko, I liked Angels and Deamons much better as well. I didn’t really pick up on the differences in the way Brown treats people of faith in the two books, but now that you bring it up, i can see that.

    i just thought it was a way better book in general. After reading the two, it’s very easy to see the prequel as the better by far. It’s interesting that the controversy of the Davinci Code has brought it more attention even though it’s the weaker of the two novels.

  2. Da Vinci Code was very frustrating for me as well. I hate that it opens with a statement to the effect that it is based on historical fact – people think it is accurate and true! However, I am looking forward to the release of the movie in that it will open up many opportunities for discussion.

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