Category Archives: Reading

On the Bookshelf XXXIV

book_shelf_11

The Planetary Omnibus by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday
Nearly halfway through this 850 page whopper and thoroughly enjoying myself. It’s a sci-fi romp with big ideas, an elaborate plot, a colorful cast, and some of the most beautiful artwork I’ve ever seen in a graphic novel. (Seriously. The artwork alone might be worth the price of the book.)

Second Opinion by Theodore Dalrymple
Subtitled “A Doctor’s Dispatches from the Inner City”, this collection of essays is sharp, eloquent, insightful, grim, and grimly funny. It doesn’t quite rise to the sheer and untrammeled excellence of Our Culture, What’s Left of It, but it’s Dalrymple, and Dalrymple is worth a read any day of the week.

Hamlet by Shakespeare
I’ve been intending to read this one for some time now, but Hanna at Book Geeks Anonymous recently gave it such a glowing review that I was compelled to delay no longer.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?

For Want of Wonder (Part 1)

I’m over at Torrey Gazette today with a tribute (of sorts) to G.K. Chesterton and his vision of the ordinary. Go have a look-see.

In her detective novel The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Dorothy Sayers compares books to lobster shells: “We surround ourselves with ’em, then we grow out of ’em and leave ’em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.” The same may be said of authors.

And yet, inarguable as the comparison may be on some level, I think we can all point to exceptions that have achieved a certain “supra-lobster shell” status in our lives. These are the books and authors we can’t seem to grow out of, because no matter where we are in life, they still fit.

Chesterton is one of those for me. I discovered his writing six or seven years ago, and much as I’ve come to dislike the phrase “love affair” as a descriptor for things other than actual love affairs, it hits fairly near the mark. I’d like to think I’m proof that one can be staunchly Reformed Presbyterian and still count G.K.C. a defining influence in one’s life. (There is, of course, the distinct possibility the old papist would throw an ink blotter at my head if he knew, but you can’t win ’em all.)

Continue reading…

On the Bookshelf XXXIII

book_shelf_11

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
Not just one of the best war novels I’ve ever read, but one of the best novels I’ve ever read, period. Tender, cruel, horrifying, tragic, and beautiful by turns. A must-read. This is my second time through.

What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes
Another Marlantes gem. Listening to the audiobook as time allows. The New Yorker: “Marlantes brings candor and wrenching self-analysis to bear on his combat experiences in Vietnam, in a memoir-based meditation whose intentions are three-fold: to help soldiers-to-be understand what they’re in for; to help veterans come to terms with what they’ve seen and done; and to help policymakers know what they’re asking of the men they send into combat.”

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
“… you can’t save people from the world. There’s nowhere else to take them.” Violent and chilling, yet smart and unexpectedly warm. Well worth a read, particularly if you like your post-apocalypse with a Matheson-esque flair.

Against Heresies by Irenaeus
Contemporary Christian writers could learn a thing or twelve from Irenaeus’ utter unwillingness to ‘play nice’ with heretics.

A Humane Economy by Wilhelm Röpke
Joel Miller explains why you should dump Ayn Rand and give this chap a shot instead: “… unlike Rand, Röpke grounded his critique of socialism and his defense of free markets in a thoroughly Christian understanding of man and his world.” Free PDF version here.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?

On the Bookshelf XXXII

book_shelf_11

The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell
Ostensibly like Flannery O’Connor with zombies. That’s all I needed to know before buying a copy, and it’s pretty ruddy great so far.

To A Thousand Generations by Douglas Wilson
“In arguing for biblical infant baptism, it is not sufficient for us to say that infant baptism is merely consistent with the Scriptures, or that a biblical case can be made for it… we must be content with nothing less than a clear biblical case requiring infant baptism.” Read it once already. Time for another go.

Macbeth by Shakespeare
To read or not to read: there is no question.

The Case for Covenant Communion edited by Greg Strawbridge
A sterling collection of essays from the likes of Tim Gallant, Jeffrey Meyers, and R.C. Sproul, Jr. (Hardcopies are pricey, but a PDF version is available here.)

Men and Marriage by George Gilder
According to a less than favorable Amazon review, Mr. Gilder is something of a chauvinist pig. Eager to see just how sexist this proponent of family/marriage/traditional gender roles really is.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?

A Tribute to the Man in the Awesome Hat

85610That would be Sir Terry Pratchett (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015).

My tribute is late, and by now I’m certain everyone who is anyone has said everything there is to say about Sir Terry’s life and legacy and how generally smashing he was. But since adding to the noise is what writers do, I’d like to say a few words in honor of the man who gave me more belly laughs than any other writer on God’s green earth. Yes, even Wodehouse.

I read The Color of Magic when I was fifteen and became a fan of the Man in the Awesome Hat instantaneously. Forays into Discworld are now a literary staple for me. It’s a bonkers place – not unlike a Monty Python sketch from the hand of J.R.R. Tolkien, assuming the latter had been smoking something besides tobacco while writing it. (This is where everyone raises an eyebrow and wonders why this blog isn’t rated R for drug references, too. “Mercy!”)

Sir Terry – like his friend Neil Gaiman, like Lewis and Chesterton and Alexander before them – was a reminder to me that the imagination is a terrible thing to waste. Feed it well. Gorge it. Make it fat. “Stories of imagination,” Pratchett observed, “tend to upset those who don’t have one.” For the love of God, don’t be one of those people. It’s a sorry way to think.

Another thing: laughter really is good medicine. I’m not talking about school girl titters, either. I’m talking about busting an almighty gut. I’m talking about dropping the book because your stomach hurts and you can’t read through the tears. Cue howls and labored breathing. People look at you with a mixture of wonder and alarm because, let’s be honest, you appear to be dying and having the time of your life doing it.

Cracking the cover of a Discworld book is a one way ticket to all this and more. Abdominal pain guaranteed. It’s a great feeling. You should try it.