Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller.
Wow. I waited a long time before finally buying and reading this book. I had heard nothing but good reviews from people I trust and/or admire, but still, I waited a long time before I bought it and read it. Generally that's a good way to make it nearly impossible for a book to live up to those raised expectations, but this one was even better than I had expected and had been led to believe it would be.
I've read plenty of books on theology.
I've read plenty of books on Christian living.
I've read plenty of books on growing up and learning what it's all about.
This one was different.
Rather than laying out a systematic theology, rather than giving advice on how to live so that my beliefs would show through, this book shows the reader what Christian living can look like.
The friends and acquaintances who peopled Miller's experiences and relationships were real enough to actually matter, and the lessons weren't simply presented as lessons, but rather as stories. There's a power to stories that can't be matched by discussions and arguments, and that power is very much in evidence here.
It reminded me of On the Road, by Kerouac, in that there was a great adventure of a man learning who he really is. At the same time, it's completely different - Miller grows into knowing what relationship is, and how that defines each of us.
Each time he spouted a strong opinion that bothered me, it was quickly followed by something like, "Now wait a minute; that's how I felt at the time. Let me tell you why, and how things changed after that." It was a very effective way to confront the reader with something challenging.
To sum up, this is one of the best books I've ever read - not just on Christian living, or spirituality, or whatever, just one of the best books I've ever read. It's nice to be challenged so much in a loving way.
Highly recommended to all and sundry.