What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Novels – I spent a lot of the year reading Les Miserables, Victor Hugo’s long, in-depth epic set in the days of revolutionary France. His description of how the French lost at Waterloo reminded me of Tolstoy’s description of the battle of Borodino, another Napoleonic battle just outside Moscow. Hugo suggested that in addition to the intelligence of the British commanders, the influential factors were a French general who turned up late, leaving Napoleon short-handed, and a sunken road which was not on the maps and which ended up swallowing a whole legion of french cavalry. Besides this, Les Miserables is of course wonderful and uplifting tale of faith, forgiveness, redemption, law and grace. It’s central character is unexpectedly given a second chance and uses the rest of his life making up for his past mistakes and showing the same grace to others that was shown to him.

I elso enjoyed a few more John Grisham novels – the Chamber, the Rainmaker – but the highlight being his debut, the Firm, which is excellently written and which keeps the suspense going all the way through. It’s quite different from the film so is well worth reading.

I would also highly recommend Enduring Love by Ian McEwan – an explosive beginning giving way to a tense tale of obsession – all the characters demonstrate their own obsessive behaviour with the ultimate being against the main character. The movie, which stars Daniel Craig and Rhys Ifans, maintains the same degree of tension but changes some of the circumstances to better fit the movie format.

Non-fiction, I’ve enjoyed getting into Donald Miller’s insights into Christian Spirituality. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is about his search for a narrative out of the chaos of his life. I then read his earlier book, Blue Like Jazz: Non-religious thoughts on Christian Spirituality, which is about as accessible an overview of Christian living as you might find (although he comes at it from a different angle to most).

I did read Love Wins, the book that made all the fuss for Rob Bell back in March. I read it in August (but have not blogged about it since I read it!). It’s worth reading, if only to find out what the fuss is about. I think he only really steps outside the bounds to orthodox Christian belief in one chapter, but alludes to it is several others. The trouble with Rob is that he doesn’t like to be pinned down to any precise viewpoint in order to bring the most people into the conversation.

That’s about it. Check out my books tag for what else I’ve been reading this year.

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