Becky’s Book Picks February 25, 2019 – Posted in: Uncategorized

People always ask how I manage to read so much. I read 2-3 books per week on average and here’s my trick: I multi-task with audio books. I read when I paint, I read when I drive, I read when I cook, and I read when I’m sitting around playing Candy Crush. It’s amazing how quickly books get read when you double up!

Lately I’ve been reading books at the intersection of history, politics and culture. McFaul’s From Cold War to Hot Peace, Roger McNamee’s Zucked and Woodward’s Fear were all great reads. This week I read Ben Sasse’s Them. This is not a policy book per se, but more an attempt to understand how our country has become so divided and what we can do about it. A noble subject.

I like to break up the non-fiction with a good novel and Alex Michaelides’s The Silent Patient did not dissappoint. I also read Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, one of my all-time favorite writers. And of course, Pete Enns’s new book How The Bible Actually Works came out, so I read that one too. Below are some thoughts.

Them by Ben Sasse. What’s a lefty feminist like me doing reading a book by a senator with one of the most conservative voting records? Good question. I share one big thing with Sasse—something his book explores in a really interesting way—a strong feeling that what unites us in this country far outweighs what divides, and that a better understanding of ”them” is what will bring us back together. Sasse is brilliant. He has degrees from Harvard and Oxford and a PhD in history, so that when he talks about the conservatism of Nebraska, the state he grew up in and represents, and the liberalism of the big cities he has lived and studied in he does so with genuine perspective. His take on technology, the media and truth is something we can all agree on. While I will never share Sasse’s politics, I would gladly link arms with him if it means helping our country better focus on uniting what divides—and more importantly, healing what’s broken.

Them by Ben Sasse. What’s a lefty feminist like me doing reading a book by a senator with one of the most conservative voting records? Good question. I share one big thing with Sasse—something his book explores in a really interesting way—a strong feeling that what unites us in this country far outweighs what divides, and that a better understanding of ”them” is what will bring us back together. Sasse is brilliant. He has degrees from Harvard and Oxford and a PhD in history, so that when he talks about the conservatism of Nebraska, the state he grew up in and represents, and the liberalism of the big cities he has lived and studied in he does so with genuine perspective. His take on technology, the media and truth is something we can all agree on. While I will never share Sasse’s politics, I would gladly link arms with him if it means helping our country better focus on uniting what divides—and more importantly, healing what’s broken.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. I am one of those suspense readers who spots the killer early. I’m not bragging, I just do—there’s always a tell, and I’m good at spotting it. But this one twists in on itself like a double helix and I can honestly say the ending was both exactly what I thought it would be and not at all, which was really satisfying. Set primarily in an institution for the criminally insane, the two main characters—a painter who has been accused of murdering her husband, and her eager young doctor—shape the story by switching back and forth as narrator. They are both deeply likable and sympathetic and that, readers, is the trap. Much better than The Girl on the Train (or Gone Girl for that matter) and bound to keep gaining momentum as more and more people read this gem and tell their friends. If you like thrillers, read this one before the buzz gets deafening.

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro. Imagine being a well-known memoirist who has gone into great detail about your parents over the years only to learn from an Ancestry DNA kit that your father is not your biological father. This is the real life plot twist delivered from the memoir gods to Dani Shapiro the minute she opened her test results. She follows the Ancestry crumb trail and does a little Facebook sleuthing and easily figures out who her biological father is. The fertility clinic that helped bring Shapiro into the world in the mid 1960s could never have predicted the sci-fi future we live in today. Truth will out, as they say, and Shapiro and her biological father face their genetic outing as bravely as possible. 

How The Bible Actually Works by Peter Enns. I’m a fan of the whole Enns oeuvre: the books, the podcast, the whole shebang. He has helped me deal with the difficulties of the Bible over the years, or as he puts it, the “ancient, diverse, and ambiguous” nature of this tome at the center of Christianity. His argument is that the Bible must be taken as “wisdom” rather than a frozen-in-amber rule book. The Bible isn’t merely a story about the past, but an invitation to re-imagine God in the present. Indeed, the Bible doesn’t end the process of re-imagining God, it promotes it. Reading the Bible from that perspective changes everything for me. It frees me from having to worry about the inconsistencies and violence, and invites me into a truly living story.

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