Among the books piled close at hand in unwieldy stacks in my office are three strong contenders for the end-of-the-year Top Ten. The first is The Divine Voice: Christian Proclamation and the Theology of Sound, by Stephen Webb (Brazos), one of the most stimulating books I've read so far this year—one that generates so many insights in so many different directions, you feel that your mind is about to explode. Webb is professor of religion and theology at Wabash College and the author of many books, including On God and Dogs (Oxford). He has been in the pages of B&C. If you read Jeet Heer's essay on Walter Ong in our July/August issue, you're primed for Webb's book. We'll certainly be reviewing it (along with some other related books) in a forthcoming issue of the magazine.

Another book that rocked me back on my reading heels is The Great Failure: A Bartender, a Monk, and My Unlikely Path to Truth, by Natalie Goldberg. I picked up the galleys several months ago, not sure how interested I was going to be. I'd read some of Goldberg's writing-about-writing and found her refreshing (her best known is Writing Down the Bones—which, the dust jacket tells me, has sold more than a million copies), but I'm suffering from bigtime Memoir Fatigue, and I wasn't eager to wade into another one. Nevertheless I poked a toe in—and didn't stop reading until late that night, when I'd finished the book. That we can "learn" from failure has become a cliché—remember the freshness of The Wounded Healer when it first appeared, and yet doesn't that phrase make you slightly nauseated now? But this is a book which takes that deep truth and makes it real again. Plenty here to argue with—Goldberg practices Zen, and her understanding ...

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