On the Bookshelf XIII

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Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Forget The Princess Diaries – here we have The Philosopher-King Diaries. I wonder why Disney hasn’t made a movie of this one yet? All kidding aside, Meditations really is a fascinating read, elegantly written and insightful. From a Christian perspective, it’s also remarkably empty: an elaborate house of morality and philosophy built on a sinking sandbank of pure humanism.
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
I picked this up at the library the other day, mainly because I was in the mood for something noirish and this seemed to fit the bill. As I’ve already seen Scorsese’s film adaption, the story itself probably won’t have many surprises for me, but Lehane’s writing is so good I really could care less. Consider: “His small dark eyes sat far back in their sockets, and the shadows that leaked from them bled across the rest of his face.” That’s just brilliant.
Confessions by Augustine
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” If I had to pick one book to call the Most Beautiful Book I’ve Ever Read, this would be it. If you haven’t read it, you can’t imagine what you’re missing. Go buy a copy. Better yet, buy ten copies – one for yourself and nine to give away . Just one thing: don’t settle for any of those “modern English” translations, where the beauty of Augustine’s writing is dramatically lessened. “Updating” Augustine is like “updating” Shakespeare – not cool.
The Travels by Marco Polo
I just finished this, and my one word review would probably look something like this: Meh. The subject matter is (mostly) fascinating, but Polo’s writing isn’t half as colorful as the locales he’s describing. Here’s a warning to potential readers: whenever Polo says something like “What need have I to say more?”, don’t be fooled. He will inevitably say more anyway.
How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer
Marvin Olasky offers an excellent summary of what this book has to offer: “How Should We Then Live? was produced by a genius who cared about the battle of ideas. It’s also the book I still recommend to students for a quick overview of ‘the rise and decline of western thought and culture.’ Schaeffer brilliantly takes readers from ancient times through the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment, then discusses the breakdown in philosophy and science and moves on to art, music, literature, film, and much else besides.”
Peter’s Angel by Aubrey Hansen
Almost a third of the way through this one and finding it quite enjoyable. I have a few quibbles, but these are fairly minor, and I think it’s safe to say that Aubrey has surpassed her debut effort (Red Rain) by leaps and bounds – the writing is better, the characters are deeper, and the alternate history is well done. Look for a more detailed review next week.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?

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16 thoughts on “On the Bookshelf XIII”

  1. I read ‘Meditations’, and ‘Confessions’, and ‘How Should We Then Live’ for school last year. All excellent! :)

    And, on my bookshelf currently:
    Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, and ‘What’s Wrong With the World’ by G.K. Chesterton (as you can probably already tell, I’m just a little bit obsessed with Chesterton :D). Oh, and I’m also reading ‘Christy’ just for fun.
    And ‘Wordsmithy’ is about to join the list as soon as I get it :)

    1. I read Dante’s Inferno earlier this year and quite enjoyed it. I’ll have to pick up the rest of the Comedy soon and finish it.

      Chesterton is always a delightful read – have you read his novel The Man Who Was Thursday? Extremely weird, but thought-provoking, too. I tried listening to Orthodoxy on audiobook, but stopped an hour into it. I realized Chesterton is probably better read than listened to, since I generally go back to highlight/underline/re-read passages. :)

      1. Yes! I have read “The Man Who Was Thursday”! It WAS weird, but I really enjoyed it :).
        I haven’t read Orthodoxy yet, but I have it on my kindle so I’m planning to read it whenever I get the time. . . which might not be for a while :P

        Have you read any of the Father Brown mysteries? They’re pretty awesome. Better than Sherlock Holmes, I think.

  2. First off, thank you. :-D My groaning bookshelf just gained many more hypothetical books. (And I couldn’t be happier, honestly). And I love how Chesterton poked his little nose in here! I am also reading the Father Brown mysteries and, while Sherlock still retains first place in my heart, Father Brown is definitely drawing even with Miss Marple and Hercules Poirot. :-) (Btw, I have so enjoyed your blog and wanted to share the joy. If you get a minute, please head over to my blog – nominated you for a purely optional award).

  3. Bookshelf- Truth of the Cross by R C Sproul in PDF to review, Killing Calvinism from Cruciform Press in PDF to review. Killing Calvinism is really good, written from a man who does not want it killed, of Course!!

    1. I read Sproul’s book and (unsurprisingly) loved it. He’s always worth reading. Killing Calvinism sounds terrific. I read a book with a similar title earlier this year, Against Calvinism by Peterson, Eddings, and Cardwell. As you can probably guess, the title is not what it seems. ;)

  4. I bet reading Marcus Aurelius would be interesting. I thought he was cool after watching Gladiator, but later found out that persecution of Christians increased dramatically while he was emperor. I have Schaeffer on my list of books to read. I understand it’s really great stuff. Any recommendation for a first Schaeffer book to read? I know there are a few. As usual, keep up the good reading/writing!
    -Ben

    1. How Should We Then Live is the first Schaeffer book I’ve read – so naturally, I’d recommend starting there. :) The God Who Is There is also supposed to be very good, and I’ve added Art and the Bible to next year’s reading list.

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