Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mini Reviews (Part 1)

I've had several books that I read (mostly while doing bus reading) on a pile for about a month now to review here and have finally realized that I'll never make the time to write full reviews of all of them.  So, I'm going to break them into a couple of posts, and do mini reviews/recommendations for you instead.

Muslims, Christians and Jesus (Carl Medearis)
I ordered this one because it came highly recommended from two very divergent sources.  The first source was someone I met who works in the Muslim world.  The second source was a Mid-western American woman from a fairly conservative evangelical tradition.  Because I'd suddenly been exposed to the Islamic world, I was looking for a fairly straightforward introduction to the Muslim faith, without all the "this is evil" rhetoric that seems to be far too commonplace.  This book served that need nicely, providing an introduction to the foundational principles of Islam, and then focusing on how a constructive dialogue can be established, rather than on the things causing polarity.   I particularly appreciated the chapter that talked about what the Qur'an says about Jesus, and walked away from the book very much open for the first time in my life to ordering a copy of the Qur'an to read and explore more thoroughly for myself.  This book definitely whetted my appetite for future reading about Islam and relationships between Muslims and Christians.

Dancing With Max (Emily Colson)
This book was the account of the author's experiences raising her severely autistic son as a single mom, and came to me via a recommendation from a dear friend who knew of my interest in autism and love of memoirs, and had recently read the book.  I read it in one session of bus reading (about three hours) and was fascinated by the story.  I'm a lover of memoir anyway, and have recently been reading a bit about autism and related disorders and this memoir was at turns poignant, funny, challenging and deeply touching.  I definitely worked to hide tears at various moments as I sat on the bus and read.  I was moved by Colson's account of her quest to find ways to communicate with her son, and also by her account of Max's relationship with her father, well known Christian figure, Charles Colson.  My favorite story was her account of Max's baptism, but what moved me was the evident love for her son throughout the narrative, and her determination to acknowledge her son's limitations, but also allow him to succeed in all the ways that were unique to him.  I'd highly recommend taking the time to read this beautiful story.