I just finished reading "Lying Awake" by Mark Salzman (Vintage, 2001; Kindle version). It is the story of a cloistered nun who thinks that she is having visions of God, but in reality she has brain-tumor induced epilepsy. Questioning her faith and dedication to her community over the years, she felt that she had found the answer, only to learn that the ecstasies have more to do with the physical rather than the metaphysical. It is not the well-written examination of the human condition that makes this book extraordinary, but the fact that it was written by a man who considers himself an agnostic. His insight and understanding of the situation and his ability to convey the story in a such a minimalist way are brilliant. Highly - very highly - recommended.
I read this for our "Let's Talk About It" book group that our library is hosting along with another library through the sponsorship of the Maine Humanities Council. The theme is "Making a Difference: How Love and Duty Change Our Lives." This is the third book in the series. We've met to discuss Tracy Kidder's book about Paul Farmer, "Mountains Beyond Mountains." Next month is "Plainsong" by Kent Haruf. This will be followed by "Lying Awake," Ann Patchett's "Truth & Beauty," and "The Death of Vishnu" by Manil Suri. This is a very successful program.