My first one was definitely a 'female' choice! Beyond the Edge by Hazel Rolston is about the author's journey through post-natal depression and anxiety. I ended up reading this in one sitting, I just couldn't put it down (it was a late night that night!). Hazel's story is written very honestly and the reader is taken into the depths with her. She graphically describes her struggles with Despair (with a capital D) and suicidal thoughts, her battles with medication and the side-effects, her disappointment with the lack of support from the Church community and finally her gradual ascent from the depths of the pit. As she finds footholds out of the abyss she is able to see more clearly that her pleadings with the Lord were not in vain and He had not deserted her even when she was sure that He had. It is certainly an emotional story and perhaps because of it's honesty I'm not sure I would recommend it to anyone I knew had suffered post-natal depression - just a little too close to the bone maybe? I think it will be most useful to those who have not suffered post-natal depression - it gives a real insight into the depths that post-natal depression can take someone to and surely can only increase our understanding of the condition and show us how to deal kindly and sympathetically with sufferers of it.
My second book was rather different. Islam in our Backyard by Tony Payne is subtitled A Novel Argument and on first sight I wasn't entirely sure. But, I have finished the book a fan! Payne uses a fictional setting of two neighbours -one Christian the other 'non-religious' - to discuss Islam. The Christian wants to write a simple factual book on Islam and discusses the manuscripts with his neighbour who believes that religion is 'a personal thing and should be kept private'. There are short fictional sections describing the conversations and discussions between the two neighbours and there are longer factual sections (the manuscript) examining the beliefs and teachings of Islam. Payne also touches on bigger issues of tolerance and truth in a multicultural society. I think this unusual format works. It is a clear and concise analysis of Islam beginning with its historical roots through to its position in the world today and I would recommend it as an easy read .
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