Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gilead: A Strongly Recommended Read

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller (published in 2003) is a nonfiction account of personal thoughts primarily focused on God and Jesus. The subtitle for this book is "Non-religious thoughts on Christian Spirituality."

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (published in 1989) is a fictional book told in the first person voice of an English Butler in his final days of life reflecting on his and his fathers years of service to Lord Darlington. Ishiguro won the booker prize for this novel.


Gilead is a beautiful gem of the book. It's as two of my favorite contemporary books Blue Like Jazz and The Remains of the Day combine with it's own emergent properties to create this rich lush book called Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

Gilead is told as a letter written by a old minister (who's father and grandfather were also ministers). The book is his letter to his young 6 year old son.

The book is highly reflective in a manner similar to the remains of the day. It is particularly similar because both Reverend John Ames (Gilead) and Stevens (Remains of the Day) both lived their lives in a way of service in a way that was a family tradition.

Yet, Gilead is also similar to Blue Like Jazz in a way that the character Reverend John Ames (Gilead) is unpacking his past experiences and thoughts as they relate to his understanding of God, just as Donald Miller does in Blue Like Jazz. Ames does not write his letter in a preachy way, but rather in a way that admits his own failings and his own lack of understanding, just as Miller does.

Gilead, the 2005 Pulitzer winning novel, is a beautiful gem of a book and one of the richest, most interesting, and touching books I have ever read. I highly recommend this book (as well as the other two books mentioned above).

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Jordan M. Poss said...

I hadn't thought of the connection of Blue Like Jazz, but I can see the similar tone, now.

I think one of the thinks I really liked about Gilead was how pleasant it really was. Ames's narration didn't have any hidden tricks or dark secrets. All in all, a very refreshing break from the typically dark modern stuff, where everyone is crooked and evil. It reminded me, as I'm sure the author intended, of a long, leisurely chat with a wise grandfather.

I'll have to check out Remains of the Day. Thanks for the recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Awesome comparison/equation here, RC. I completely agree!
Three favorite books, all around.

Are you an Ishiguro fan? My wife and I are.

Paula said...

I read "Gilead", and I add my recommendation to yours. It was so gentle and lovely, without ever being boring. Not an easy voice to acquire, I'm sure!

crackers and cheese said...

Sounds very good. I'll recommend it to my friend whom I'm borrowing Blue Like Jazz from, and then when she's done maybe I can borrow that one as well!

Jim Jannotti said...

I'm with you all the way, RC. Gilead was astounding.

Kimberly Ann said...

you gave me blue like jazz and i gave you remains of the day, so i suppose i ought to read gilead too ;-)

Anonymous said...

If you have a chance, you can see a small reflection I wrote on Gilead last summer. See this post: Gilead is a great book, and one I am planning to re-read in the near future.

janamichelle said...

did you check out where marilynne robinson grew up?

did we tell you about that book?

Jon said...

You are one crazy blogger. 4000 something profile views. wow.

Sounds like a great book. If I pick up a 'fun reading' book, this might have to be it...

Martha Elaine Belden said...

wow... i really want to read all of these books now. i've heard a lot about Blue Like Jazz, but this is the first i've heard of the other two.

thanks for the recommendations!

Dad said...

That's so weird. Jana and I picked up the book because the author grew up in Coeur d' Alene. We both read it and thought we were the only ones. We fully intended to hardily recommend it to everyone, but I think we forgot. I need to read it again some time.

crackers and cheese said...

Four months later, I remembered this book review and decided to purchase Gilead as a Christmas gift for a close friend, who usually reads thoughtful Christian non-fiction, but is currently going through a period of doubt and questioning. It seems like an entertaining, intelligent read that isn't too preachy.

Thanks for the review!