Month: December 2017

  • Heartlands Best Reads of 2017:#4 Wolf Whistle

    Heartlands Best Reads of 2017:#4 Wolf Whistle

    If I told you there was a laugh-out-loud book about the murder of Emmett Till, the black teenager killed in Mississippi in 1955 after he allegedly whistled at a white woman, you’d call such a thing, at the least, in poor taste. Yet the late Lewis Nordan, who lived through that episode as a teenager […]

  • Heartlands Best Reads of 2017:#5 The Crucifixion

    Heartlands Best Reads of 2017:#5 The Crucifixion

    Fleming Rutledge is having a long-overdue moment in the wake of her 2015 book, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ.  I finally finished it in 2017, qualifying it for this list, and gushed about it in my review, (which you can access through the title link in the previous sentence). Rutledge sees her book as […]

  • The Greatness of the Small: A Review of Love Big. Be Well.

    The Greatness of the Small: A Review of Love Big. Be Well.

    When Amy Quitman writes a letter to the unknown pastor that the Pastoral Search Committee hopes to call to their Presbyterian church in the small town of Granby, she includes an invitation that would set the hearts of potential candidates like me aflutter: We want theology, but we want the kind that will pierce our […]

  • Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #6 Sing, Unburied, Sing

    Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #6 Sing, Unburied, Sing

    Mississippi has many layers.  William Faulkner knew this and crafted his intricate tales of Yoknapatawpha County with characters haunted by the past, spurred by subterranean passions, and trapped in violent, tragic relationships.  Jesmyn Ward claims Faulkner as an literary influence and it shows in her rich novels of Bois Sauvage, like Yoknapatawpha, a fictional rendering […]

  • Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #7 All the Pretty Horses

    Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #7 All the Pretty Horses

    I’m sure Cormac McCarthy has been dying to see if this accolade would come his way.  His 1992 novel, All the Pretty Horses, is now 25 years old, but I just got around to it this year.  Something about spending a month in West Texas made it seem like an appropriate companion. And it was.  McCarthy […]

  • Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #8 American Fire

    Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #8 American Fire

    Of course, it had local appeal for those of us on the Eastern Shore, but Monica Hesse’s exploration of the 2012-13 arson spree here that damaged 60+ structures was masterful writing.  In American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land, the Washington Post reporter used the window of the crime to explore what […]

  • Why Katherine Sonderegger Gets 10 Pages a Day: A Review of Her Systematic Theology

    Why Katherine Sonderegger Gets 10 Pages a Day: A Review of Her Systematic Theology

    If your fine-grain theological vocabulary has grown a little rusty with lack of use, as I’m afraid mine has, you will find Katherine Sonderegger’s Systematic Theology: Volume One, Doctrine of God [Fortress, 2015] daunting.  I’m not ashamed to say that it took me nearly a year to get through it.  By this fall, however, I […]

  • Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #9 Can You See Anything Now?

    We continue the idiosyncratic countdown of best reads of 2017 with all its caveats: not all published in 2017, not limited by genre but limited by Alex having to have read them.  Don’t let my limitations keep you from Katherine James’ debut novel Can You See Anything Now?–a book with the rich texture of human tragedy […]

  • Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #10 Strangers In Their Own Land

    Heartlands Best Reads of 2017: #10 Strangers In Their Own Land

    It’s been a great year for reading.  I credit Sarah Willson Craig for inviting me into a real mid-life reading renaissance.  She’s the one who posted the Better World Reading Challenge on Facebook in 2016 and got a group of friends committed.  I’m grateful. Since everyone else is doing their end-of-the-year list, I decided to […]