On the Bookshelf VIII

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
“The classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse.” This one looks like a fascinating departure from your more typical sci-fi fare. It’s been highly praised by numerous reviewers (and recommended to me by a good friend), so I’m looking forward to reading it.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
I finished this only yesterday, and I give it my hearty recommendation. Part memoir, part novel, and part short story collection, it’s a haunting and brilliantly-written piece of storytelling. Not for the faint of heart, but well worth the time of older readers in search of quality literature on the American war in Vietnam. Here’s one of my favorite quotes: “A true war story, if truly told, makes the stomach believe.”
The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom
“How higher education has failed democracy and impoverished the souls of today’s students.” If I remember correctly, I ran across this title while reading one of Mark Steyn’s books. It looks like pretty weighty stuff, but I’m always up for a challenge. So… let the intellectual workout begin!
Eyes Wide Open by Steve DeWitt
Leland Ryken said of this book, “As a starting point for why and how Christians should value beauty, [Eyes Wide Open] is the gold standard.” I’m only about thirty pages in, but so far it’s excellent – a wise, winsome, and thought-provoking read.
Our Town: A Play in Three Acts by Thornton Wilder
Another title recommended to me by a friend. “Considered enormously innovative for its lack of props and scenery and revered for its sentimental but at bottom realistic depictions of middle-class America, Our Town soon became a staple of American theater.” I’m enjoying this one quite a bit, particularly for its well-written dialogue and quirky characters.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?

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18 thoughts on “On the Bookshelf VIII”

  1. I finished Mockingjay last week-end. I think I liked this one the best out of the series although I still don’t cotton to Katniss and parts of the story seem contrived IMO. I’ve finished up Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton (which was a runner up to World’s book of the year) and Ministries of Mercy by Tim Keller. Just starting Bible Study – Following the Ways of the Word by Kathleen Nielson and trying to finish too many books at once. I get halfway through a set of books and pick up some more and then I”m less interested in finishing what I’ve started. I’m flipping through David McCullough’s bio of John Adams and debating about starting it. I have Bloom’s book on the shelf but unread, It looks very good.

    1. “I get halfway through a set of books and pick up some more and then I”m less interested in finishing what I’ve started.” Ha! I know what you mean, Persis. :)

      Glad to hear you liked Mockingjay – it’s my personal favorite, too. The ending was perfect, I thought, even though I hear a lot of people complain about it. I don’t see how it could’ve concluded any other way, given the set up.

      I wasn’t aware of Toxic Charity until you mentioned it, but it sounds like a great read. McCullough’s book on Teddy Roosevelt is on my list for this year. I hear his bio on Adams is stellar (but then, McCullough’s writings generally are). :)

  2. Just joking. That’s a good list, never heard of some of them but I might look them up. thanks Inkster.

      1. Sorry old pal, but I thought it was funny. I’m also a very active reader too, so I know what you’re sayin’.

  3. I read Algernon way back in high school. I remember the basic idea of it but should probably revisit it some time. I haven’t heard of Eyes Wide Open but it sounds interesting.

    I’m reading Cold Sassy Tree because it was recommended to me, but I am not really getting into it though I do like Southern literature. I’m still giving it a chance because so many people have told me they loved it.

    In just the last few weeks I finished Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter, Beyond the Shadows by Robin Lee Hatcher, and Coming Home by Karen Kingsbury.

      1. I hear Gene Stratton Porter is excellent – did you enjoy her writing? Never heard of Cold Sassy Tree (though the title is intriguing). :) And, of course, Narnia is awesome. The Horse and His Boy is one of my favorite parts of the series.

  4. Closing of the American Mind is excellent, but I seem to recall the last part was tough to get through.

    The Things They Carried sounds really good.

    I’m reading Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island. It’s pretty good so far. I’m also reading Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns, and it’s one I’m sure I’ll be referring to again and again. Dennis Prager’s Still the Best Hope is calling to me, and I hope to get to it before the summer is over.

    1. The Things They Carried is indeed excellent; I started reading Bloom’s book earlier today and I’m already impressed. I’ll probably be quoting from it like crazy for the next few weeks. :)

      Jules Verne always makes for interesting reading – have you read Michael Strogoff? It’s terrific historical fiction, and a top contender for my favorite Verne book. Never heard of Unpacking Forgiveness or Still the Best Hope… I’ll have to do some “sleuthing.” :) Perhaps you’ll do a review of one (or both) when you’re done?

      1. No, I haven’t read — or heard of! — Michael Strogoff. I’ll have to check it out. As to reviews, I can’t promise anything, but I’ll try. :)

  5. Unfortunately, I only made about halfway through The Things They Carried before I bailed. However, Flowers for Algernon and Cold Sassy Tree (Barbara’s read) are two of my favorites. And I thought The Closing of the American Mind was interesting, but I can’t remember much about it now.

    As far as an essay on the importance of beauty, I would suggest this video on youtube: http://youtu.be/RiajXQUppYY
    I was quite impressed with Mr. Scruton’s documentary essay.

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