Novel Theology

Novel Theology meets throughout the year on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 7pm in the Foster Room—earlier weeks in November and December. Everyone and anyone is invited to attend. The only rule is you must read the book for that month. Come and bring your friends and acquaintances. We have lively discussions.

Blurbs compliments of Wikipedia and/or Amazon.com

2017 Book List

December 19 —  A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas: This gem of lyric prose has enchanted both young and old for over half a century and is now a modern classic. Dylan Thomas (1914–1953), one of the greatest poets and storytellers of the twentieth century, captures a child’s-eye view and an adult’s fond memories of a magical time of presents, aunts and uncles, the frozen sea, and in the best of circumstances, newly fallen snow. Led by Carol Kipp.

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2018 Book List

January 23 – A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery. Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose. Led by Nancy Armstrong

February 27 – The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world. Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Led by Sally James

March 27 – Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
Willa Cather’s best known novel is an epic–almost mythic–story of a single human life lived simply in the silence of the southwestern desert. In 1851 Father Jean Marie Latour comes to serve as the Apostolic Vicar to New Mexico. What he finds is a vast territory of red hills and tortuous arroyos, American by law but Mexican and Indian in custom and belief. In the almost forty years that follow, Latour spreads his faith in the only way he knows–gently, all the while contending with an unforgiving landscape, derelict and sometimes openly rebellious priests, and his own loneliness. Out of these events, Cather gives us an indelible vision of life unfolding in a place where time itself seems suspended. Led by Patricia Devitt

April 24 – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Maynard Pirsig
One of the most important and influential books written in the past half-century, Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live . . . and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better. Here is the book that transformed a generation: an unforgettable narration of a summer motorcycle trip across America’s Northwest, undertaken by a father and his young son. A story of love and fear — of growth, discovery, and acceptance — that becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life’s fundamental questions, this uniquely exhilarating modern classic is both touching and transcendent, resonant with the myriad confusions of existence . . . and the small, essential triumphs that propel us forward. Led by Anne Hanger

May 22 – The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the North Korean state soon recognize the boy’s loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.” Led by Carol Kipp

June 26 – Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
In Breakfast of Champions, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s  most beloved characters, the aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. What follows is murderously funny satire, as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth. Led by David Gray

July 24 – Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jeannine Capo Crucet
When Lizet-the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school-secretly applies and is accepted to an ultra-elite college, her parents are furious at her decision to leave Miami. Just weeks before she’s set to start school, her parents divorce and her father sells her childhood home, leaving Lizet, her mother, and Leidy-Lizet’s older sister, a brand-new single mom-without a steady income and scrambling for a place to live. Led by Jean Miller

August 28 – Thin Blue Smoke by Doug Worgul
This title is an epic American redemption tale about love and loss, hope and despair, God and whiskey, barbecue and the blues. LaVerne Williams is a ruined ex-big league ballplayer, an ex-felon with an attitude problem, and the owner of a barbecue joint he has to run. Ferguson Glen is an Episcopal priest, a fading literary star with a drinking problem, and a past he is running from. A.B. Clayton and Sammy Merzeti are two lost souls in need of love, understanding, and another cigarette. Hilarious and heart-rending, sacred and profane, this book marks the emergence of a vital new voice in American fiction. Led by Oakley Pearson

September 25 – Silence by Shusaku Edno (trans. William Johnston)
Seventeenth-century Japan: Two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to a country hostile to their religion, where feudal lords force the faithful to publicly renounce their beliefs. Eventually captured and forced to watch their Japanese Christian brothers lay down their lives for their faith, the priests bear witness to unimaginable cruelties that test their own beliefs. Shusaku Endo is one of the most celebrated and well-known Japanese fiction writers of the twentieth century, and Silence is widely considered to be his great masterpiece. Led by Maureen Gray

October 23 – The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Though more than seventy years have passed since this remarkable novel won the Pulitzer Prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics. In The Good Earth Pearl S. Buck paints an indelible portrait of China in the 1920s, when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings. This moving, classic story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-Lan is must reading for those who would fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during the last century. Led by Bizzy Lane

November 13 –The Lone Ranger & Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
Vividly weaving memory, fantasy, and stark reality to paint a portrait of life in and around the Spokane Indian reservation, this book introduces some of Alexie’s most beloved characters, including Thomas Builds-the-Fire, the storyteller who no one seems to listen to, and his compatriot, Victor, the sports hero who turned into a recovering alcoholic. Now with an updated introduction from Alexie, these twenty-four tales are narrated by characters raised on humiliation and government-issue cheese, and yet they are filled with passion and affection, myth and charm. Against a backdrop of addiction, car accidents, laughter, and basketball, Alexie depicts the distances between men and women, Indians and whites, reservation Indians and urban Indians, and, most poetically, modern Indians and the traditions of the past. Led by Karen Martin

December 11 – A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time? Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations. Led by John Lane

Blurbs taken from Amazon, Wikipedia, and publishers.