Thursday, March 11, 2010

BTT: Illustrations

"How do you feel about illustrations in your books? Graphs? Photos? Sketches?"

I'm all for illustrations and graphs and such in certain cirumstances. In some types of books, they are really innapropriate and unnecessary.

Illustrations are good when:
-They help break up endless texbook reading

-They fit with the quirkiness and informality of the book. I have several unconventional devotional books that have little doodles in the margins and have words circled and such. this is perfect!
-You wouldn't be able to understand the book without the illustration or graph.

Illustrations are bad when:
-You are so engrossed in the story that it takes your attention away from it.
-The chart is placed in the middle of s sentence so you don't know whether to read the rest of the page then read the chart or read right there.
-They ask questions about the book or recap what was already said. Just ask the question in the text of the book! I don't need a little box.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Review: The Red Tent

By Anita Diamant
321 pages

Plot in a nutshell: The retelling of the story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah in the Bible.

Review in a nutshell: I couldn’t put the book down, but wanted to because it seemed like the author was trying to challenge everything I believe about the Bible. Maybe I’m just paranoid.

This book was great, but so great that I am scared to pick up another book for fear that the new book won’t be very good.

The Red Tent tells the story of Jacob’s family through the eyes of Dinah, the only daughter mentioned in the Bible that is born of Jacob. Dinah’s story is told in Genesis 34. Dinah’s story is one of the longer stories in the Bible about a woman. It was interesting to read this fictionalized account.

The book starts out before Dinah is even born. Dinah tells of how Jacob married four sisters. The reader can tell from the start that the major theme of the novel is sex and childbearing. This book is really sexual. It’s almost like Judy Blume’s Forever, only with Bible characters.

Because the book starts with a detailed ancestry, it is hard to keep track of all the characters. There are so many servants and wives and friends and cousins that it is impossible to remember them all. The important characters show up pretty much constantly, though. But most of the names are hard because they are foreign sounding.

Like The Jewel of Medina, I think Diamant was trying to make some scandalous statement about the Bible by writing The Red Tent. The book suggests even though Jacob worshipped God, that there was a lot of other pagan things going on at the same time in his family.

I felt like I was reading something dirty and bad when I read this. I don’t want to be na├»ve enough to say that the Bible is perfect and nothing bad happened in it. I know it isn’t true, but to suggest that everyone was horny all the time is really uncomfortable for me in so many ways.

In the end, Joseph is portrayed in a pretty negative light as well. Joseph is one of the people I really admire in the Bible and that was probably the biggest problem I had.

Other than those issues, Diamant has a writing style that makes it impossible to put the book down. You know a lot of what is going to happen in the book, but you still want to read on further.

This is one of those books to read if you are in a reading slump and just need something you don’t want to stop reading. For me, I love and hate it at the same time.