Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Books: Two Little Gems

I'm about twenty books behind in posting about books I've been reading. I'll be trying to catch up in the next couple weeks. I'll prime the pump today with a mention of two little book gems I enjoyed in recent months.

The first is an old devotional classic by Henry Drummond entitled The Greatest Thing in the World. The book is really more like a long essay--only 55 tiny pages in all. Drummond was a 19th century Scottish preacher, and the book reads like a sermon from those days. It's really a collection of sermons on the preeminence of love. I found it to be a beautiful and inspiring reminder and I would encourage everyone to read it. Thanks to my friend, Kelli Fredin, a fellow book lover who was nice enough to give me a copy of the book for my library.

The second is a book of essays (and one short story) by Joey Earl Horstman entitled Praise, Anxiety, and Other Symptoms of Grace. Joey Horstman is a professor of English at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. More importantly to me, he is the son of my good friend Jerry Horstman who serves as an elder in the church I pastor.

The book is a collection of entertaining and insightful essays and stories that first appeared in The Other Side magazine. Horstman has a wry sense of humor--think Dave Barry--and a keen, no-nonsense approach to faith. Many of the cultural references are a bit dated by now (the book was published in 2000), but the insights he wrestles out of everyday experiences are timeless.

My favorite part of the book was the short story, "Pete's Dig." Putting aside the demeanor of a witty columnist, Horstman demonstrates he is a first-rate storyteller (move over Dave Barry and make room for Flannery). That story alone was worth the price of the whole book. I say this with absolute conviction even though I didn't have to pay it because, as I said, I mooched my signed copy from the author's dad.

Bottom line: I want an entire book of short stories from Horstman. I'm sure you've written them, Joey. I hope you're trying to publish them. I'm ready to buy, unless I can get your dad to get me a free copy.

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