Lit I Love, title 1: The Poisonwood Bible

poisonwoodbibleVery few books will keep me up all night. I love a good story. I am eager to finish a good story, but generally, I won’t give up sleep for them. This one was different. I read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver about twelve years ago. I can remember where I was sitting. I can remember it was extremely cold out but nothing, not even my stinging, watery eyes would keep me from finishing that story. It’s a compelling tale of a family, that travels to the Congo in Africa, as missionaries. Now, some background, as a teenager I really thought that would be my vocation, to be a missionary in the Congo. Gratefully, God and life showed me otherwise, but on that level alone, this book had me hooked. Kingsolver has no trouble sucking me into her fictional worlds regardless of which book I pick up. Her prose, her attention to detail, and her sly ability to weave in culturally relevant and historical events, astounds me. Even her non-fiction Animal, Vegetable, Miracle had my rapt attention. What made this novel special for me though, was being able to see it through the eyes of the four daughters featured in the story. When I heard Kingsolver interviewed about it later, I couldn’t believe she’d written the entire thing from each of the daughters’ perspectives and then went back and chose which chapters from each character suited the story best. It lit something in me that was only starting to flicker. This ember that would grow into me trying my own pen at writing novels. Ever since Poisonwood Bible, I knew that if I wrote a novel, I’d do it with that kind of care. I’d learn what I could from the masters and try to apply it to my work. I can’t claim that I’ll ever come close, but this story is what started it for me. And it’s why it needed to be the first of these entries.

I hope you enjoyed this. If you’ve read The Poisonwood Bible, I’d love to hear your take on it. I’m also curious what authors, books, blogs, poems, and articles have inspired you. Please feel free to comment below. I do moderate them due to the proclivity for spam, but I’ll be quick about approving so they can be posted for others to see and interact with.

Thanks for reading!

    8 thoughts on “Lit I Love, title 1: The Poisonwood Bible

      1. Aww, that’s sweet. It’s definitely worth a read. And if you’re an ear-reader like I often am, Kingsolver often reads her own books and I love listening to her.

    1. I have THE POISONWOOD BIBLE in my book hoard, but have yet to read it; part of me thinks that is because the missionary angle doesn’t speak to me. You are the second person to mention it in a short period, so I’ll give it another go. Have you read her other works?
      Right now I am reading Elena Ferrante’s THE STORY OF A NEW NAME, after hearing an intriguing discussion on NPR about the first book in the series, MY BRILLIANT FRIEND. Very, very good so far.

      1. Chely, I’ve read at least 3 other books by her, but it might be 4 or 5. I’m having trouble remembering whether it was Bean Trees, Animal Dreams, or Pigs in Heaven (they went together) or maybe 2 of those. Poisonwood is still my favorite but it was my first introduction to her.

        And don’t let the missionary thing scare you. It’s a tell it like it is in historical/cultural context kind of book.

        The Story of a New Name sounds good, I just peeked at the blurb. My kind of reading. And I often tell Siri to remind me of whatever title they’re talking about on NPR. Lots of good finds there.

    2. I’ve heard of The Poisonwood Bible, but had no idea what it was about. You made me want to read it. Adding to my ever-growing “to-read” list.

      1. Ha, ha! My plan worked. :) It is definitely worthy of a read. But you need a solid day or two (depending on reading speed) of absolutely nothing on the calendar.

    3. The Poionwood Bible is brilliant. I’ve read it twice, and can’t recommend it enough. It’s one of those stories that stay with you, even if not the actual words, but the images, the emotions, and the “clarification” of faith.

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