God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison

Spring books

In her 11th novel Toni Morrison returns to the foundation of most of her fiction: childhood and its traumatic effects.


Accidents of Providence, by Stacia M. Brown

Paul Elie has lamented the absence of serious engagement with Christianity in contemporary fiction. He should read Stacia Brown.


The preacher’s wife

In a crucial scene of Marilynne Robinson’s new novel, Lila spends the morning thinking, has lunch, then thinks some more. Why isn’t this boring?


All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews

Fall books

This is a book about deep, protracted, unrelenting sadness, and it knows it.


The Childhood of Jesus, by J. M. Coetzee

J. M. Coetzee reportedly wanted readers to discover the title of The Childhood of Jesus after reading it. I thought of this often as I read it.


Dust, by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

Owuor's novel wrestles with Kenya's bitter remnants of colonialism. Yet it suggests that the future can be shaped by people who are willing to incorporate the past with honesty and integrity.


Paul: A Novel, by Walter Wangerin Jr.

The uneasy genre of biblical fiction often includes what Flannery O’Connor called the “shoddy religious novel,” filled with shallow characters and plot structures as clichéd and melodramatic as 1950s biblical films.


Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick

The title of Nathaniel Philbrick’s slim new meditation foregrounds the questions at the heart of every assignment made by every English teacher: Why read this book? Or that book? For that matter, why do we assign reading in the first place?


Back to nature

Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver
A Friend of the Earth, by T.C. Boyle