Top Summer Reading Pick: A Novel on Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church

July 10th, 2011 7:38 AM

Opening up the Sunday paper might lead you to the national newspaper supplement Parade Magazine, which devoted its July 10 edition to "Summer Reading" picks. Smack-dab in the middle of the issue is "12 Great Summer Books: PARADE's picks of terrific new reads, in no particular order." But that's not exactly true, since the first six are fiction, and the second six are nonfiction. Somehow it's not shocking that the number-one recommended book is "Faith" by Jennifer Haigh, a novel about a Catholic priest in Boston accused of molestation during the scandal's heyday in the last decade.

Publishers Weekly advised, "Although this all-too-plausible story offers a damning commentary on the Church's flaws and its leaders' hubris, Haigh is concerned less with religious faith than with the faith [the accused priest] Arthur's family has — and loses, and in some cases regains — in one another."

The Wall Street Journal didn't find that much hope: 

"Faith" is less about sex abuse than about the existential crisis that the church faces in the wake of the scandals. The priesthood has been shorn of its mystique; a calling that once evoked reverence is more likely to stir scorn or unease. As one of Arthur's colleagues tells Sheila [the priest's half-sister]: "In the current climate, any human interaction is suspect." The picture that emerges from this engrossing novel is of a vocation broken beyond repair.

This book was also touted as a summer read this week on NBC's Today show...and is Oprah-approved. Plus:

Also in Parade, Anderson Cooper says he's reading the Game of Thrones" books, and Stephen Dubner of "Freakonomics" fame (with side gigs at the New York Times and public radio) is promoting the old leftist Neil Postman screed "Amusing Ourselves to Death." Parade recommended Katie Couric's collection of life advice as an audio book, so you can hear Katie be perky in your headphones.