Choosing a new book can be daunting. There are so many choices, and if you're like me and refuse to purchase books on an e-reader, the stakes are even higher. If I'm going to fork over $15 and sacrifice another two inches on my ever-shrinking bookshelf, it better be worth it. Let me save you some of the hassle this year, and just say... GO GET THESE BOOKS NOW. I've read them. They're worth it.
This debut novel by Kevin Powell follows two enlisted soldiers as they fight to survive the war in Iraq. Powell's writing is compelling, heartbreaking and understated. He's being compared to Hemingway, and rightly so. The book has won the PEN/Hemingway award, The Guardian First Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Not too shabby. (Originally recommended by: The NYT.)
And speaking of Hemingway... read A Moveable Feast, a memoir of Hemingway's early writing years in Paris, from 1921-1926. I packed this book in my carry-on bag to Europe, and devoured it alongside a few buttery croissants. How's that for Parisian? My favorite parts were reading that even Hemingway and his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald suffered from insecurity and doubt. Go figure. (Originally recommended by: a friend.)
I've never read a book about Jesus that touched me so deeply. Tim Keller, the teaching pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, wrote this study of the Gospel of Mark in small digestible chapters that make you underline and star until your hand wants to give out. Made me fall in love with Jesus all over again. (Originally recommended by: my pastor.)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and teacher during the time of World War II. In this biography, excellently reported and written by Eric Metaxas, readers follow Bonhoeffer as he tries to dismantle the Nazi party from the inside, in the famed Valkyrie plot and in his attempt to smuggle Jews through Switzerland. It's a compelling look at how religion can fall victim to the power of the state, and how one man can choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. It's long, but worth it. (Originally recommended by: my mom.)