Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Favorites: Gilead

On Fridays I post a little shout out to one of my favorite books and explain why I love it so much. It gives me the chance to fangirl over books I never reviewed on this blog and lets me post about some not-necessarily-YA books I love.

Which book?
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson

Literary fiction

Summary? (from GoodReads)
Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart. Writing in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Marilynne Robinson's beautiful, spare, and spiritual prose allows "even the faithless reader to feel the possibility of transcendent order" (Slate). In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and the often unbearable beauty of an ordinary life.

When did I first read it?
Four or so years ago.

Why did I first read it?
I used to read this magazine called the Week, and it had little blurbs about new noteworthy books as well as recommendations from famous people about their favorite books. I don’t remember which of those categories this book fell in, but I do remember reading about it in that magazine and being intrigued enough to check it out from the library.

What did I think about it then?
Have you ever found a book that makes your heart ache a little from its sheer beauty? That was me with this book. The writing and even the storyline are quiet and understated and so, so lovely. I immediately fell in love with the way the book was written, and almost as quickly I fell in love with the characters and their . . . ordinariness, I guess. They lead quiet, simple lives, yet they manage to make their lives mean something within their own small sphere. And I thought it was wonderfully bittersweet that the book is set up as a letter from a dying father to his son—it just makes everything in the book feel so much more meaningful.

What do I think about it now?
This is one of those books that I read when I need something to center me or ground me, when I need something that’ll make me think without going over my head. Religion and faith play a big role in this book, and usually that’s something I shy away from in fiction. But for whatever reason, those themes in this book are beautiful and soothing to me, rather than being preachy or grating. I’ve read the sequel, “Home,” and while it’s really good, it doesn’t hold a candle to this one, in my opinion.

Have you read this book? What did you think?


  1. I'm always curious about books when I see them recommended in magazines as well. There are some books that I read over and over again which will still move me. This sounds like it could be one of those.

  2. I remember hearing a lot about this book in high school and thinking I should read it, but I've never actually just settled down and done it. This post reminded me that I should get to it one of these days.


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