5 Books I Enjoyed in 2010: Owen Bryant

Posted on December 9, 2010



I just finished The Blueprint by gospel performer Kirk Franklin. It’s a Christian-based text with some practical applications and personal anecdotes from Franklin’s life. I was interested in reading The Blueprint because I read Franklin’s Church Boy and liked the book because it gave me some insight into who he was. I wasn’t really a big Kirk Franklin fan initially but have grown to like his music over the years. The Blueprint was a good read to me as it gave some practical ideas for how a Christian life should be lived from his perspective. I was challenged by some of the material and inspired by the rest.


This summer I read Playing the Enemy by John Carlin. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it gave me some new insight into South African President Nelson Mandela and how he used the game of rugby to shift sociopolitical attitudes in South Africa. I already had a great deal of respect for Mr. Mandela, knowing much of his life story and the struggles he encountered. I walked away from the book with an even greater appreciation for what Mr. Mandela accomplished and a deeper sense of awe about him.

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Anything by Toni Morrison is amazing. I find myself reading her novels again and again because each time I do, I see something new and different (plus she writes in such a rich and complex way that I have to re-read her books in order to make sure I fully understand what she’s trying to say!).  It’s hard for me to narrow down to one Toni Morrison book. Among my favorites, though, are Beloved, The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon.  I love and appreciate the way Morrison can take one simple phrase and turn it into something that can be interpreted in ten different ways. The way she can take a historical event (as she did with “Beloved”) and weave together a fictional masterpiece is impressive. I listened to the book on tape version of A Mercy and absolutely fell in love with Morrison’s voice. What a gift–Morrison should be a national treasure!


One of my favorite books of all time is A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines. Though it is rare for me to be moved to tears from reading a book, this book did it for me. I don’t know if Gaines painted such vivid images or if I just had a vivid imagination the first time I read this book, but it felt to me as if I was sitting right there with these fictional characters as the story unfolded around them. I think that’s what the best authors and speakers do: they paint pictures that allow me to not only read the story but to truly invest myself into each word. I couldn’t stop reading “A Lesson Before Dying” and I try to re-read it every other year. I read it probably ten or fifteen years ago and can still remember Grant Wiggins’ quest to teach Jefferson that he was not a hog.

Owen Bryant is a high school history teacher.