Mark’s #14 – Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (270 pages)

Gilead is a Pulitzer prize winning book, and was voted as one of the 100 greatest novels of all time. I was interested in Marilynne Robinson’s novels after reading a blog about how they are all heavily influenced by Calvinism. I also heard the author, Marilynne Robinson speak as a guest on the White Horse Inn podcast… at the time I remember thinking, “This woman is really smart… much smarter than me.”

As I began to read Gilead, I realized that this was indeed very good literature… and that I do not yet have the mental faculty to process and appreciate such literature.  I was the kid who never read any of the assigned books in high school – the best I could muster at the time was the cursory glance through some ‘Cliff Notes’…   I now realize that I have only harmed myself as I missed an opportunity to learn the art of literature.

In college and seminary I worked hard to train my mind for reading other material and studying theology… yet, I still fall short in apprehension of great literature… I hope this begins to change as I read through 52 books this year.

Back to the review… I almost gave up on this book… after 100 pages, I scratched my head wondering where the plot was…  I tossed the book aside for a month or two…

Then I read a blog about Gilead written by John Piper entitled, “I love this book”.  Dr. Piper wrote about how he often reads through Gilead and savors the rich imagery and storyline.

Since John Piper is one of my theological heros, I decided to give Gilead another shot… I’m glad I did.  As I pressed on, the plot did indeed emerge, subtly, but powerfully and engaging.   The literature was still above my pay grade, but I could feel the way the book was moving me in deep and emotional ways…

As I don’t feel qualified to accurately rate this book, I won’t.   I am committed to growing in my appreciation and appetite for well-written literature.

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