Yesterday, I listed my top five theological books of the summer. Today, I list my top five that do not fall under that category.
1) Branded Nation by James Twitchell. This book explores the marketing practices of what is commonly conceived as the cultural institutions – churches, colleges and universities, and museums. Twitchell believes that the practice of marketing and branding is unavoidable in the United States today and the cultural institutions that we have thought to exist above marketing are actually adopting the very techniques that businesses have been using. I had a difficult time putting this book down. There may be a little bias in this selection – I was in New York City at the time I was reading about the marketing of museums. Twitchell focuses on Museum Mile for most of that chapter and I was able to see it all firsthand.
2) The Chosen by Chaim Potok. A story about two Jewish boys (one Orthodox and one Reformed) and their fathers and the struggle and search for identity out of this religious and social upbringing.
3) The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama. An insider’s look at the life of our current president. But it’s much more than that – I feel like I garnered loads of information regarding the history and practices of Congress.
4) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I admit, I read this one a few years ago for a class. But when a friend told me this was her favorite book, I decided to read it again. And I enjoyed it more this time around. An adolescent named Charlie writes letters to an unknown friend, chronicling his transition into high school and his search for an identity.
5) High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. A novel about a middle-aged man who finds himself in a life that he never expected. Another book in which the main character is in search of his identity, only this time, it’s not during adolescence. A good reminder that our idealistic notions of what life is to hold seldom come to fruition and yet, there is still meaning and joy to be had in the messiness of real life.