Review: Gilead


Marilynne Robinson

[xrrgroup][xrr rating=4.5/5]
[xrr rating=3/5 imageset=grenade label=Manliness:][/xrrgroup]



Sometimes a book is so good we find ourselves turning pages without conscious, burning through to get to the end. We get done and we think, “what a good read.” But then every so often there comes a book that we find ourselves not wanting to end. We turn the pages slowly and absorb the words with care, knowing that it’s really connecting to something more. We get done and we think, “what a good book.” And then we usually want to read it again.

Gilead is just such a book. Don’t try to read it fast. Don’t start it thinking your going to sucked into a page-turning story. It is a book to sit with and take in. It is an invitation to really get to know John Ames, the older pastor in his final months, writing a letter to his young son. To see through his eyes. To get to know his life and who came before him. To see the ordinary world in a deeper way. To see your father or your son in a deeper way.

Marilynne Robinson spent twenty-four years between her first novel and Gilead, and the time and care really shows in the writing. At times you’ll forget that John Ames is just a character she created and that the letter you are reading is not a real history. His voice throughout the book is entirely authentic and unique. There is just one of the reasons this book won the Pulitzer.

Admittedly, this book isn’t for everyone. Many will be frustrated by the slower pace and lack of explicit conflict and story arc, and Ames’ musings might not connect with everyone. It’s somewhat of a demanding read and should not be picked up for light entertainment. But those who connect and make the investment to really listen will be richly rewarded. This is not just a book to be read, but a gift to be received.

About Luke

Luke learned to read at the age of two, whereupon he decided, like much of the male population, that it was a chore to be done only when absolutely necessary. Then suddenly at age nineteen, he discovered good books—he has been reading voraciously ever since, earning multiple literature and writing degrees. At any given moment you'll find him reading at least one book, smoking a cigar, up fifty feet in a tree he free-climbed.

Currently Reading:
Collected Stories by Alexander Pushkin
-Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
The Mystery of Being by Gabriel Marcel


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  1. […] up because you are looking for the quality or depth of writing a book like Shadow of the Wind or Gilead. And if you want to read about true-life events, I suggest Devil in the White City or Blind […]

  2. […] on a five-star system for overall quality, and on a five-hand-grenade system for “manliness.” “Gilead,” by Marilynne Robinson, for instance, earned four and a half stars and three hand […]

  3. […] on a five-star system for overall quality, and on a five-hand-grenade system for “manliness.” Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, for instance, earned four and a half stars and three hand […]

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