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Teen Reading List

Wanna get some great books to read over the summer (if you’re a bookworm like me)? I love reading about the Catholic Church, but I will admit that I need a break every once in a while. Here are some titles I recommend for fun reading. Hope you guys enjoy and have a great summer! (This list is in no particular order.)

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova   Six stars for this one because it’s awesome enough to earn an extra one! This book is the perfect blend of history with a touch of fantasy. Do you like vampires? Cool stories about historic figures? Odd secrets? Crypts? This is the book for you.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck   In all honesty, you’ll have to read this book in high school (like I did this past year), so why not get a head start? It’s actually a great little book, really short, and an easy read. But it has a TON of stuff in it. For my fellow English lovers, there are parallel scenes, touches of imagery, and interesting universal messages. For those who love a good plot, there are two friends, a desperate wife, ranch workers, and a little accidental murder on the side. This book is a little depressing, as its overall message is about loneliness, but it’s a good read.

A Separate Peace byJohn Knowles  This book has a bit of everything. It was also assigned reading for our English class this past year, but I honestly enjoyed it. Two friends, betrayal, jealousy, trees, accidents, fake wars, loss of innocence, mock trials, and a sad death…and a Christ figure. Sound interesting?

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury   You guys already know how much I love Ray Bradbury from my tribute post, so I won’t go into that again. But this book is truly FABULOUS. Each time I read it, I find another reason to love it all over again. One of my absolute favorite books EVER. Let me be clear, though: it’s not sci-fi! This book has something to tell us now, not something to tell us in 100 years. Read it and see what you get from it.

Daddy’s Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clark    I have been a devoted Mary Higgins Clark fan for many years, and this is my favorite book that she’s written. It’s about a girl who grows up after the murder of her older sister when she was small…and she uncovers thereal murderer. Wonderful…and scary. Seriously, this book terrified me during some parts. You’ll see.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott   This is a classic and it’s a great book. I know some of you guys are thinking, “Gee, what is WRONG with this kid?!”, but you just don’t know what you’re missing. This book contains beautiful writing and beautiful lessons within its pages, so I highly recommend it to everyone.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini   Brought me to tears a few times! This book is about pride, fear, betrayal, and forgiveness.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini   Strong women who live through a tough situation in Afghanistan. Wonderful story!

*The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson   The author’s idea of what really happened to the boy king. Great historical fiction!

*A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George   This woman is Mary Higgins Clark for the U.K.! Any of her murder mysteries are amazingly well-written and have great plots with characters you’ll love and enjoy (at least I did…).

Anyway, those are just a few suggestions to get you started. Let me know what you guys think of these books!

* I recommend these books and anything by these authors, but I wanted to caution you about something. These authors (in these particular books and in their other works) use sex scenes frequently. Now, the plots are great because they’re both brilliant writers…but the sex scenes are pretty involved (for lack of a better word). So I encourage you to either skip over these scenes (which you can easily do) or to not even buy the books if you will be tempted to read those scenes because reading them might open up the occasion for lustful thoughts. Just a warning.

Ray Bradbury: A Tribute

One of my all-time favorite authors passed away this week (Wednesday, June 6, 2012), so I thought I’d do a little tribute post to him.

I don’t know if you guys have ever read any of Bradbury’s work, but let me be the first to tell you: if you haven’t, you really should. His books and short stories are absolutely incredible and they’ll capture the imagination of people of every age. His work takes you to different worlds and different times. You’ll meet aliens, a world annihilated by nuclear wars, and firemen who start fires instead of put them out.

But I know what some people might be thinking: I don’t like sci-fi! Well, there’s your first mistake. Bradbury was not just a science fiction author…that’s what makes his work so great. Those Martians? They represent the native people who were run off their land by settlers. The desolated world? That’s a statement about environmental issues and the consequences of war and hatred. The fire-starting firemen? All a commentary on McCarthyism.

I LOVE Ray Bradbury’s writing because it’s so full of awesome imagery for one thing, but also because all of his works carry with them messages about society, about people. And yes, even about God (believe it or not).

This past school year, I wrote a paper about Ray Bradbury’s use of religion inThe Messiah, one of his many short stories. If you ever have the chance to look up Bradbury’s views on religion, you should really check it out. Many people have the tendency to say that he was against belief in God because he was constantly writing about aliens and space travel, but Bradbury himself stated that he didn’t see science and religion as enemies. According to Bradbury, space travel will increase our belief in God, not diminish it, because through space travel we will be able to see more of what He has created.

Here’s a short (very short) reading list for those who would like to pick up some of Bradbury’s work. I highly recommend the following:

Fahrenheit 451     This is the story with the firemen who start the fires. I’m not going to say too much about it…half the fun is reading it for yourself and picking it apart until you figure out what it means. Suffice it to say, though, that this is my hands-down favorite Ray Bradbury book.

Something Wicked This Way Comes     Do you like storms? Halloween themes? Creepy carnivals? You’re in luck.

The Martian Chronicles     This is a compilation of short stories about Mars expeditions. GREAT stories, GREAT messages.

The Messiah     If I have a favorite short story by Ray Bradbury, it’s this one. So. Amazing. The moral to the story? We human beings know nothing about God.

Downwind from Gettysburg     History, drama, and an odd twist. Wonderful short story…with more than a few messages, I think.

Anyway, those will get you started…but they’ll only whet your appetite for more. Happy reading!

Christology in Harry Potter

Okay, I know that title sounds a bit random…but I thought this was so cool that I wanted to share it with you guys. I take theology classes offered by our diocese, and our homework for this past month was to do a review on any movie we chose and to then analyze the Christology in that film. I, being a Harry Potter fan, chose to do my assignment on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II…and it was actually a really fun project.

I guess I sort of considered the idea of biblical references in the Harry Potter books and movies, but I’d never had the chance to actually sit down and analyze them. So, this was part of my response in the assignment:

This movie included aspects of both high and low Christology. The Christ figure in this movie is the main character, Harry Potter. Elements of low Christology emphasize Christ’s humanity, which is seen in Harry’s sorrow over the deaths of his friends. This scene in the movie echoes Christ’s sorrow over the death of Lazarus (John 11:32-37). Low Christology can again be found in Harry’s fear as he goes to meet Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest, which is a parallel to Christ’s fear during His agony in the garden before His betrayal and arrest (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42). High Christology emphasizes Christ’s divinity and is shown in that Harry is not defeated by death or evil, which is represented by Lord Voldemort. This element of the story hearkens back to the Resurrection because Harry effectively “rises” from the dead like Jesus (Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-18, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18). The final battle between Harry and Voldemort also contains elements of high Christology because this scene represents the final and definitive battle between good (Harry) and evil (Voldemort). This scene takes the viewer back to the Book of Revelation where Christ’s divinity is shown in His victorious defeat of evil and those who oppose God (Revelation 19:11-21). This film, then, represents a Gospel harmony because it contains elements from all of the different Gospel accounts.

Any other Harry Potter fans reading this? I thought it was really cool…but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, just thought I’d share.

Elie Wiesel Speech

I don’t know how many of you guys have heard of Professor Elie Wiesel. He’s the author of Night, one of the (if not the) most famous accounts of the Holocaust. If you’ve never read it, it’s a great book with a lot of material for reflection. I both highly recommend it to you and highly caution you: it has a great message, but it’s very real and very sad (to say the least).

 

Earlier this year, I had the great opportunity to go and hear Professor Wiesel speak at a local college. I don’t want to go into everything he said because I don’t think I could accurately put it down for you guys to read, but there was one point he made that I want to share. A friend of mine wrote this quote down after we got back from listening to his speech:

“The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness; it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy; it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death; it’s indifference.” -Elie Wiesel

I just found that really interesting. Maybe the worst thing in the world isn’t war, death, bombs, or hunger. Maybe the worst thing in the world is the human indifference that allows these things to happen.

Just something to think about.

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