Claude and Camille: a novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell
This is a romantic story about the famous nineteenth-century painter, Claude Monet, and the love of his life.
I enjoy reading novels about artists and their struggles, both with their work and with building a name for themselves. The romance added a wonderful layer to this novel. If you enjoy Susan Vreeland, you'll probably enjoy Claude and Camille.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Screwtape is a devil who writes letters of instruction and encouragement to his nephew, Wormwood, who is trying to condemn a man's soul.
C.S. Lewis is a genius. He has a way of explaining his ideas of what makes a good Christian that is solid and resonating. It really made me think about who I am and I recommend it to anyone interested in self-improvement.
By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
Luis de Santangel is a conversos -- a Jew who converted to Christianity -- which is a dangerous enough position to be in during the Spanish Inquisition. When he becomes drawn to the religion he abandoned and then falls in love with a Jewish woman, he puts his very life at risk.
I've always been fascinated by dystopian literature, and what I found most striking about this book is that it had so many similarities to dystopian worlds, except the events actually happened. Not only is this book fascinating and, frankly, horrifying, but it raises some interesting questions. Definitely a good read.
Mama Lola, a Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn by Karen McCarthy Brown
I met Mama Lola in New Orleans during the Halloween Voodoo Festival. (She was the one who told me she was called of the spirits when her mom found her eating trash in a dumpster. The book retells the story in a way that makes a lot more sense.) While this book is structured somewhat haphazardly, which makes it difficult to use as research, it gives an in-depth view into voodoo that I haven't seen before and answered a lot of questions I had about this mysterious religion. Everyone researching voodoo should include this book on their to-read list.