Three more books down in my quest to read 36 this year.

First is East of Eden by John Steinbeck (I read it the old fashioned way). On the dust jacket of One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ masterpiece) is the following quote from the New York Times Book Review: “One Hundred Years of Solitude is the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.” I think that quote could be more properly used to describe East of Eden. This is a lush work of fiction. I found the characters to be very real and like friends by the time I finished the book. This story is essentially a study in the divine story of free will. This is introduced by a conversation that three main characters had about the story of Cain and Abel as told in the book of Genesis. One character is taken by the universal truth of the story and, we find out later, devotes two years of his life to the study of this passage — and in particular the words which he ultimately translated as “thou mayest”. The character, Lee, found this to be the foundation of the human spirit — that every person can choose to rise above circumstances and live a good life. As a morailty tale, this was a good story. As a piece of fiction, it is the best book I’ve ever read and I would strongly recommend it to anyone.

Next up I listened to an audiobook by Rob Bell called Jesus Wants to Save Christians. I generally find Rob Bell to be an excellent communicator. He is one of the best public speakers I’ve ever seen. He also has an engaging, verbal, writing style which makes his writing a very quick read. I also think he’s kind of a weenie. In his previous book, Sex God, I was extremely disappointed that he did not attempt to discuss homosexuality. To write a book about the connection between human sexuality and the spiritual nature of all humans and not even mention homosexuality is a weird decision.

In Jesus Wants to Save Christians, Rob tackles an issue which directly impacts a wider audience. He essentially compares modern day America with Exodus era Egypt. This book is thoughtfully confrontational. America loving Christians will not like it.

Book number 4 was the more comfortable but no less stimulating Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. I hope to do a much more significant write up on this book later in the year as it is the December installment my company’s book club and I will facilitate a conversation about it then.

Up next: Past Caring by Robert Goddard, Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam and 7 Triggers to Yes by Russell H. Granger.