I hate that I went completely MIA for months here. It is not that I haven’t been reading. I have read a lot. However, I took 12 hours for school this semester, and 12 graduate hours are way too much for outside writing.
However, the semester is over, and I am back. I will not be taking quite so much school next semester, so I should have time to share my thoughts about some of the books I am reading, and hopefully, to interact with those books a little in various posts on my blog. At the very least, I plan to post “My Week in Books” each week.
This week, I decided to start the #vtreadingchallenge that Tim Challies offers, even though there’s still a week or two before January. I’ll be sharing which prompt on the reading challenge that I have keyed each book to as well.
I read three books this week, which was great considering that it was the week before Christmas. So, here’s what I’ve read.
The first book that I completed this week was God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible by Adam Nicolson. This was the “a book about history” prompt. This book discusses King James I and the culture that produced the King James bible. There is some discussion of the men who translated the Bible and the tension between the Church of England and the Puritans. It is this tension, and James distaste for the revolutionary nature of the Geneva bible, that leads them to creating a more neutral translation that would be the authorized church translation to use.
Nicolson has an obviously deep love for the KJV translation and the men who made it, and he allows this to shine through in his book. However, my real takeaway from this book was that James I was the consummate politician. He was able to control the process and the translation of a new version of the Bible so that he, in many ways, could stem the loss of authority and doubt in authority that the reformation was creating.
As far as the translation and translators, I found that there are a large cast of translators, even though Nicolson only focuses on a few. I found it difficult to really feel a connection with any of them, and perhaps that’s appropriate in a book about a translation that bears a king’s name.
The next book I finished was Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? Who They Were and Why You Should Care by C. John Collins. This one is “a book about theology,” and specifically about the historicity of Adam. Collins believes that Adam and Eve did really exist, and he takes some time to interact with some other writers on the topic. He considered whether it is a historical possibility for Adam and Eve to be real people, and also examines scripture to see whether or not the scripture demands Adam’s historicity.
The arguments are themselves interesting and scholarly, which truly is a nice and fresh voice when compared with the shrill and extreme voices on each side of the debate. It should be noted that this slim volume only deals with the historicity question. Collins does not deal with creation and he barely scratches the surface of sin and its transmission. Collins is also given to interacting with large blocks of quoted text, making this, in some ways, feel like a review of literature on the topic more than the author’s own arguments.
The other book I read this week was Jodi Picoult’s Handle With Care. This was my “a book with at least 400 pages” prompt. In this book, Picoult takes the story of a very special girl named Willow. She is as smart as can be, funny and loving. However, she has a disease, often known as “brittle bone syndrome,” where she breaks bones throughout the normal course of her day. She might break a bone with a fall, but sometimes she might break a bone by something as simple as rolling over in bed.
At five, Willow has broken her bones around sixty times, placing a great strain of personal care on her mom, Charlotte. The family is also carrying immense financial burdens from the portions of Willow’s care not covered by their insurance. This means that Willow’s father, Sean, is constantly away from home, working many overtime and extra shifts in an attempt to financially fill-in-the-gaps.
Through a series of unexpected circumstances, Charlotte and Sean realize that a medical mistake might have been made in their obstetric care. If this mistake had not been made, they would have had more options in making a decision on whether or not to terminate this pregnancy. However, the obstetrician in this case is Charlotte’s best friend. Should the couple move ahead with a wrongful birth lawsuit? What would this move do to Charlotte’s friendship, to their marriage and to their daughters?
I seem to have several of Picoult’s backlist novels collected around the house from used booksales, but this is actually my first of her books that I have read. The questions Picoult raises are good and valuable. These questions include: What is a doctor’s responsibility? What makes a life valuable? What should be the grounds for pregnancy termination? How does care for the handicapped affect the family? What happens when a husband and wife are not united in a major decision? What makes a family?
These are all good questions. The book is also very well-written. However, I had several areas that I struggled. First, I did not find Charlotte very sympathetic. In order to pay her medical bills and to provide a better future for her daughter, she is destroying her relationship with her best friend and with her husband. She is also allowing her other daughter to completely self-destruct. As a woman, I found that I struggled to find her believable. Women, in general, long for relationship and put relationships above money, gain and, often, justice. It was difficult for me to see it as realistic that she would do this.
I also truly struggled with the ending. I found the ending to be unrealistic as well. It was almost like the author was looking for a specific emotional twist to make the entire lawsuit ironic and useless. While I was not necessarily looking for a “happy” ending, this was not an ending that I felt like fit the book. Hoping for better things from my next Picoult read.
So, that’s my reading for this week. The my current reading is all non-fiction, but I’m feeling good about it and the prompts right now. Merry Christmas!!