Sunday, December 23, 2007
A couple additions to the list:
Prioritize your reading. It's easy to think that just because you're reading, it's a good thing. But are you reading the BEST things? I need to ask myself this question often. If my reading time doesn't constantly include Bible study, then something needs to change.
Use waiting time to read. If you're downloading a big file, don't just stare at your computer screen. Grab a book.
What has helped you "find time" to read?
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me; the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart.
You cannot give me too much work; to accumulate work has almost become a passion with me; my study is so full of it now, that there is hardly an inch of room for any more. I shall have to throw out a wing soon.
And I am careful of my work, too. Why, some of the work that I have by me now has been in my possession for years and years, and there isn't a finger-mark on it. I take a great pride in my work; I take it down now and then and dust it. No man keeps his work in a better state of preservation than I do.
But, though I crave for work, I still like to be fair. I do not ask for more than my proper share.
But I get it without asking for it-at least, so it appears to me-and this worries me.
George says he does not think I need trouble myself on the subject. He thinks it is only my over-scrupulous nature that makes me fear I am having more than my due; and that, as a matter of face, I don't have half as much as I ought. But I expect he only says this to comfort me.
--Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Elizabeth Yates, Beloved Bondage
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Something like: The niggardly neo-platonist committed a nefarious travesty which caused the hoi polloi to fall into conniptions...
Surely someone can do better than that?
Friday, December 07, 2007
I've been trying to remember which books I liked to hear the most as a young girl. I thought it would be a small list, but I keep remembering ones that just MUST be added. So think of this as just a small cross-section of the books that started me off on my literary adventures...
Honey Rabbit by Margo Hopkins
One of my first board books. "What is spring?"
Daddy didn't read this--he sang it. "I'm a rootin', tootin' cowboy, and my name is Cowboy Dan. I can ride a horse and rope a steer as fast as any man..."
Ten Apples Up on Top by Theo Le Sieg (Dr. Seuss)
The pictures still make me laugh.
The Bear's Picnic by Stan and Jan Berenstein
Sometimes I think of this book, when we're on a long road trip and trying to decide when and where to stop for lunch. ;)
All of Beatrix Potter's animal stories
Hop on Pop
My favorite page: "Night, Fight: We fight all night!" And of course, that wonderful run-together list of words at the last. I still try to read them as fast as possible.
Fox in Socks
OK. I have to confess. This wasn't a childhood favorite. I just read it for the first time last year. But it should have been! This has some of the best tongue twisters ever!
The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown
This was my little brother Tim's favorite book when he was a toddler. A sweet story.
The Plant Sitter by Gene Zion
I just have to laugh at the dad's dream sequence!
Laurie and the Yellow Curtains by Sara Asheron
I honestly don't know why I liked this. Maybe it was the colours in the pictures. My mom says it's because all little girls want a house of their own to play in.
Corduroy by Don Freeman
Stop that Ball! by Mike McClintock
"I hit my ball. I made it fly.
I hit my ball as it went by.
It went around and then came back.
I gave my ball another WHACK!"
Most of these books I still find a pleasure to read. And that is as it should be, for as C.S. Lewis wrote, "a children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last." --Of Other Worlds
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I wonder if it's true that “Lists are the most necessary literary accessories of all." (Umberto Eco--HT to George Grant) I do know that they are a lot of fun. I'm not the only one to be fascinated with lists: there was a recent book published devoted to the topic.
Over the next few days, I'll share some of my own lists. I intend to focus on those related to books, in keeping with my blog theme, but a few others may make it into the mix. (for variety!) In the meantime, here are some lists others have made:
George Grant's Literary Lists
Top 10 Lists from Buried Treasure Books
(I found several new-to-me authors to check out from here!)
100 Most Influential Books Ever Written
(Interesting from a historical viewpoint...haven't read many of these, and don't intend to!)
Do any of my readers share my fascination with lists? I'd like to hear from you! Do you make lists simply as a way to outline things to be done, or do you make other sorts?
Monday, December 03, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This question was inspired by an appalling poll result reported by the Associated Press: 1 in 4 adults read no books last year. This is quite unthinkable for me, a confirmed bibliophile--but it should be equally disturbing to any Christian, given the fact that God chose to reveal Himself to us through the written word.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
A bit of bad news for those who thought I might have, mercifully, slipped from the blogging scene: sorry, the Biblio-File is back. After an extended break from writing, and a lovely month in the land of Lewis, Shakespeare, Tolkien and Sayers (more about that later), I am back filled with ideas to scribble about. Dusting off my writing notebook having been accomplished, I now take up pencil again to tackle the literary wonders of the world.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
By Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall and Edmund Weiner
Bright is the ring of words
When the right man rings them,
Fair the fall of songs
When the singer sings them.
—Robert Louis Stevenson, British novelist, poet, and essayist, Songs of Travel, 1896
This book interested me for two reasons: first, because I am a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s work, and secondly, because I’m fascinated by etymology, and my dream dictionary is the Oxford English Dictionary. (OED)
Divided into three sections, the Ring of Words covers Tolkien’s short stint as a lexicographer for the OED, examines his use of words as an author, and finally covers in depth the history of many of the more unusual words contained in his writings.
Tolkien was unique in his approach to storytelling. As a philologist, Tolkien was very much word-driven. An example of this is the word “Ent”. In a letter, he explained: “As usually with me they grew rather out of their name than the other way about. I always felt that something ought to be done about the peculiar A[nglo] Saxon word ent for a ‘giant’ or mighty person of long ago-to whom all old works were ascribed.” (p.119) From this small seed of a word grew the odd tree-herders of the Lord of the Rings. Examples of other words discussed in this book include farthing (did you know this originally meant something divided in four?), malefit, mithril, smial, unlight and wose.
In The Hobbit, the main character taunts a bit of what I always thought was poetical nonsense:
Won’t you stop,
Stop your spinning and look for me?"
I now know that Attercop is an ancient word for spider, coming from the Old English“attor” (poison) and “coppa” (spider). Ever seen a cobweb? “Cob” is simply a variant, as is “lob”. (As in Shelob, the monstrous female spider in the LotR)
I recommend The Ring of Words as a treat for anyone interested in Tolkien’s ability as a wordsmith, as well as for anyone interested in words in general.
This story was a little disappointing. I’d already guessed the identity of the criminal even before the murder was committed. I kept hoping I was wrong, but no. It’s an interesting story with many twists in plot…but not exactly subtle.
Most of the Hercule Poirot mysteries are written in the first person, narrated by the sleuth’s friend Hastings. This is no exception; however, there’s a twist: interspersed throughout the narrative are short sections written in the third person. I did not care for this at first—I, like Poirot, enjoy consistency of style. It was not until the end of the story that I glimpsed a possible reason for Christie’s decision. I cannot reveal my guess, however, without giving away the solution to the mystery. Suffice it to say that I was led down the proverbial path. It’s a good thing I don’t read mysteries in order to feel smart!
Thursday, September 06, 2007
I discovered Wodehouse's works a few years back and have been laughing ever since. Well, not exactly non-stop. There are other books to read as well. ;)
My favorite quote? From The Butler Did It: "Poverty is the banana skin on the doorstep of romance."
Currently reading: Bertie Wooster Sees it Through
Monday, September 03, 2007
Here's an excerpt:
So what is joy to the chronically ill and suffering or those who are
under the burden of a heavy load? It is remembering and taking comfort
in the fact that God is good to all His children, that He is faithful,
kind, and loving. It is knowing that this earth is not our home, and
that He showers down blessings even in the midst of storms. It is
embracing the fact that He truly cares for us in these hard
circumstances, and it is believing beyond a doubt that all that happens
to us is for our good. When we remember who He is, we are reassured that
He will somehow make all things right in the end. In this is joy.
No situation is so dismal that we cannot look up through a dark sky and
still know that there is a sun coming. We believe anyhow, even when we
see no hope. We hope anyhow just because we are His children. Like the
psalmist says, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I
would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. 27:13).
I have often said that it is seeing life through the rose-coloured glasses of God's sovereinty that keeps me going in the midst of struggle. Truly, the joy of the Lord is my strength.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
I really did like this, despite the fourth word of my review. (I was using an older definition, by the way.)
Glory and Honor: The Musical and Artistic Legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach by Gregory Wilbur
I like Bach...but this book was just sleepy.
With Pipe, Paddle, and Song by Elizabeth Yates
Another great story by one of my favorite authors. This one is about French Voyageurs in 18th century Canada.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
I should read this every six months! Valuable, succinct writing advice.
Who Should We Then Read? by Jan Bloom
I picked this one up at our local homeschooling conference after hearing the author speak. Mrs. Bloom's enthusiasm for good books is catching! This book covers many authors of children's literature, providing short bios and lists of their works. There is also a section with complete listings of the books included in series such as Landmark and Signature Books.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
All Things Bright and Beautiful by J.H.
All Things Wise and Wonderful by J.H
These books are a hoot! I didn't know reading about animals would be this fun. Great storytelling.
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn
One of the very best books on education that I've read. Look for a review eventually. ;)
I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah by Ravi Zacharias
Another book I intend to write more about.
The High School Handbook by Mary Scholfield
Very helpful info. for homeschool record keeping and course planning.
Knitting Pretty by Kris Percival
Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson
You can tell I'm in a crafty mood lately... :-P
Well, that's it for now. I can't decide what to read next. Any suggestions?
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Recently, my friend Crystal over at Biblical Womanhood Online has been having giveaway drawings quite frequently.
This week, the giveaway is a $25 gift certificate from Vision Forum, one of my favorite places to find good books. As a bonus, Crystal is also giving away some CD's of thought provoking messages by such excellent preachers as Voddie Baucham and Douglas Phillips.
Interested? Find more details here.
A giveaway not related to books but nonetheless worth checking into if you're a young woman wanting to add something new, modest and fashionable to your wardrobe is over at Christa Taylor. The clothes aren't exactly my style...but then, I've never been one to be exceptionally "trendy". :) However, many of the outfits were right up my sister's alley.
I won't give the details here; my friend Lydia already has done an admirable job. Or, of course, you could go directly to the giveaway source.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Here's something that has helped: Bloglines. By setting up an account with this feed reader, I have cut down my wasted time considerably. Now I don't have to try to remember whose blog I read last. I also won't miss important posts, because Bloglines notifies me whenever a site is updated. If I don't have time to read it right then, I can save it for later. If you haven't already found a similar service, I highly recommend checking this one out. It's very simple to use, and you don't have to provide any personal info apart from an e-mail address. Read more here.
After resisting the urge for quite a while, I finally set up a Facebook account. This is one of those things that can be a great tool or a great time waster. Here's what I like about it: no pressure to write long personal updates, easy contact with friends, ability to control my privacy, and photo sharing---all in one place. It's handy for all these things, however I must mention that browsing groups entails a certain amount of risk. I was disappointed to see a fair amount of foul language displayed. But most of that is easily avoided by staying in your own "circle" of contacts.
Guess who's been writing more than big sis lately? Here's Tina's latest report:
My second book review, the second book in the Peabody series: A DANGEROUS GAME by Jeri Massi
This book is narrated, believe it or not, by the former neighborhood bully, Scruggs. Scruggs is a new Christian. He has been a foster kid for most of his life and now he has a chance to have a real mother. That is, until his Aunt Caroline (who no one knew existed) shows up and decides to take him in.
Her home is in San Francisco, California, far from Peabody, Wisconsin, the only home Scruggs has ever known. Now he must decide who he can trust, and who he can’t. Would a real aunt say that you didn’t belong to anybody, that you were alone, so you had to trust her?
“When an aunt or foster mother loves you, she doesn’t tell you you don’t belong to anybody. She tells you that you belong to her… when an aunt takes you on sight unseen because she loves you, she doesn’t laugh at you. Nothing seemed to match with Aunt Caroline. Supposedly she had sent for me because she loved me—a big sacrifice for somebody who wasn’t used to having a kid around. And she had promised the Agency to take care of me and be a mother to me”
So why does Aunt Caroline really want him? She said that she was Scrugg’s father’s sister. So how did she end up so rich? Scrugg’s father was dirt poor. And what of this mysterious note posted on his door: “Beware the Juggler”. There are plenty of jugglers in San Francisco. Why is he even in San Francisco? Why did his Bible mysteriously disappear? What happened to those things in his wallet and pockets?
I find this mystery very intricate, but it’s not hard to follow. Jeri Massi is very talented at writing in the first person, and by doing so, she helps her readers understand the character much more. I love her style.
by Christina A.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Today I am introducing a new feature of my blog: guest book reviews. At this time, my “guests” will be limited to my immediate family; in future I may extend the circle to include others. My first guest writer is Christina Hope, my younger (and only) sister. She is an avid writer of stories, an accomplished violinist, and my opposite in personality: outgoing, effervescent and giggly. This is her first book review.
Derwood Inc. A Peabody Adventure by Jeri Massi.
I’ve read this book more than ten times. It says it was written ‘for grade four’, but honestly, I’m in 9th grade and I still think it’s great. The title gives you no information of what this book is about so I’ll have to tell you myself. This exciting mystery (which is written in two parts) takes place in Peabody, a fictional place in Wisconsin. Penny Derwood, the oldest child in a Christian family of eight, is the narrator. She is about twelve years old, her brother, Jack, is eleven, there’s Freddy and Renee the five-year-old twins, and little Marie.
My favorite character is Jack, an exceptionally smart eleven-year-old. Sometimes even his older sister Penny can’t understand him.
“I had the idea that he (Jack) had just said something impressive, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.”
But somehow, while being very clever and quick thinking, he has a hilarious streak of ignorance.
“ ‘What’s pluck?’ Jack whispered. ‘Isn’t that for turkeys and geese?’ ‘It’s guts,’ I whispered back.”
I love his imaginative stories about the ‘fifty-ton, mile-long, giant killer octopus’.
Penny and Jack are partners, and they stumble into a mystery together. But Criminals don’t really hide out in run-down mattress stores do they? Who is this Moses? What will it be like spending the summer with Aunt Irene, the crime buster?
I like part one better than part two, but you’ll never figure out the entire mystery unless you read both parts."
by Christina A. , July 2007
I can’t post this without adding some comments of my own! This was one of my childhood favorites, and still holds a high place on my list of good children’s books. The humor employed throughout is the biggest drawing point for me, but I also enjoy its (mostly) realistic portrayal of life in a family with many children. Derwood, Inc. is the first in a series published by Bob Jones University. The others are nearly as good, and definitely worth reading at least once.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Have you ever wished you could travel to that castle in the air? Our protagonist Milo does—but first he has to make it past the maddening Senses Taker. Anyone who has had to fill out numerous forms will appreciate Juster’s jab at the bureaucracy. How about taking a trip to the Island of Conclusions? It’s easy to get there; simply jump!
Such are the little jokes scattered throughout the story of jaded Milo and his travels through the realm of Knowledge. He meets many curious characters on his journey; some of my favorites include Faintly Macabre, Mathemagician, and the Awful DYNNE. At the end of his quest for Rhyme and Reason, Milo is no longer a sad boy bored with the world, instead, he is eager to study and explore the creation. And it all started with that mysterious package containing the Phantom Tollbooth.
An interesting interview with the author can be found here.
Since attending the conference, I have listened to a CD recording of his message, "Multigenerational Promise"(disc 3 of the Family Driven Faith set) , several times. This is one of the most powerful sermons I have heard. I will not look at Jeremiah 29:11 the same way again. Dr. Baucham uses this verse as a springboard for a discussion of the sovereignty of God and His plan for families. After confronting the common, “myopic” Christian view of life as something to consume and enjoy, he states his conclusion: walking with God is not a guarantee of an easy and prosperous life. It is about a long-term view—you walk with God so that generations to come will hear of your godly legacy and stand strong for Christ. “Those who plant trees are not interested in shade for themselves.” I don’t often cry, but I did the first time I heard this message. It is well worth hearing.
I mention this now, because I recently became aware of a new book. If it is anything like the messages I’ve heard, it may very well change your life!
Hat Tips to Lydia and Crystal
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Here's an excerpt from a recent Highlands Study Center newsletter. Mr. Sproul gives a reminder that God is truly in control of all. This is something I know intellectually but often fail to live up to...and thus need to be continually reminded!
God in the Details
I’m on hold as I type. I’m waiting to find out if my riding mower is fixed. After eleven years of faithful service, my previous mower finally went the way of all flesh. In February (see how prudent I am, buying in the off-season?) I bought a new mower, and an expensive warranty. During my fifth mow something went wrong, and my mower has been in the shop now for three weeks, awaiting a back-ordered part. Boy howdy is it frustrating.
At the same time we have been going through a dry-spell around these parts. To call it a drought would be to give the wrong impression. There are no tumbleweeds rolling down the street of Mendota. But we haven’t had much rain, and so my grass hasn’t grown much at all. There’s some tall weeds here and there, but the grass is just fine.Now I bore you with lawn talk not to delay the inevitable, where I give in and go out and try to mow three or four rather vertical acres with a push mower. Instead I have a point. Just as we are willing to “allow” God to reign over certain parts of our lives, that is our own personal “spiritual realm,” so we “allow” Him to reign over certain parts of the universe. Wars, and rumors of wars are appropriate objects of His attention. Rain also, because there’s not much we can do about it, is something we are content to leave in His hands. Mower repair, or parts procurement, however, that’s a human thing.
When Abraham Kuyper first thundered, “There is no square inch in all reality over which Jesus Christ does not declare, ‘MINE’” we all stand up and cheer such grand and eloquent insights. We stand ready to storm Washington , Hollywood , perhaps even Amsterdam , having heard such rousing speech. That’s a good thing. But it also means that the three or four square inches that are the missing pulley on my mowing deck are missing because the King of the Universe has so declared.
Understanding that God reigns over the details not only should give us greater wonder, it ought also to give us greater peace. When you get cancer, when you go through the Internet treatment, when you deal with a sick child, it is actually comparatively easy to remember that God is in control, and to rest in that truth. When you just miss the green light, when your luggage gets lost by the airline, or when your mower quits in the middle of a mow, it’s a little harder. Which challenge then has the greater power?
--R.C. Sproul Jr, Kingdom Notes, Number VII
Friday, June 01, 2007
...simply means that real life has taken precedence over blogging!
Reading has taken a back seat recently to online research, as my sister and myself are taking a class on Regency Film Costume.
Historical costume is fascinating to me, so when I heard that Jennie Chancey was again offering this class, I was thrilled.
Our assignments include watching Jane Austen movies (not hard) and then finding period fashion plate documentation (harder). I never realized how much variation in costume can be found in a mere 30 year time period!
Two weeks more, and then perhaps I'll have time to begin posting more book reviews.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
It wasn’t until I reached the final 50 pages that the light began to dawn. Lewis used this pagan myth and transformed it to show the dramatic contrast between sacred and profane love. Never before have I seen a more powerful illustration of self-deception. And this is why I am recommending this book: it is storytelling at its’ finest.
“Lightly men talk of saying what they mean. … When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”
--C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Being a music teacher brings many joys. I have the pleasure of helping others experience beauty in new ways, and not only to experience it but also to create new beauties themselves.
Being a music teacher also means having a large library of sheet music. And while this is a great thing, it can also become a problem as storage space becomes scarce. How to organize, store and keep track of all of it is a continual problem I face.
On being prompted by my mother to take charge of the growing piles beside the piano and elsewhere, I finally took some time to add some decency and order to this area of my life.
Here’s how it worked:
I took three file cabinet drawers, and designated one for Piano methods, one for Beginning classical, and one for Advanced music.
My piano methods I organized first by level, then by publisher. So, for example, in the level 2 section I have folders for Alfred, Bastien, Schaum, and Keys for the Kingdom, among others.
The Beginner’s drawer is similarly organized, with the addition of Duets, Christmas and Sacred music by level.
The advanced classical drawer I organized by musical era. (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern) Within each era, I have separate files for composers. (Such as Bach and Chopin) For this particular drawer, I used Legal size folders instead of Letter, because the books tend to be larger.
I’m finished with the project for now, and am enjoying the extra floor space, as well as the ability to find specific books more easily.
Later on, I may consider cataloguing the music electronically, as I have just done for my reading library.
This was a fun project that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, partly out of curiosity to know how many books I own. (Upwards of 330, as of last week) The other reason I wanted to do this was because it has become increasingly hard for me to remember which books I have by particular authors. Now that the list is made, I can sort the books with the click of a button.
Here’s how I did it:
Using Microsoft Excel, I designed a worksheet with 8 columns:
Year (originally) published
It took all of two afternoons to finish typing the data in. Very simple!
Has anyone else tried this project? I’m interested to hear how you went about it. Has anyone organized his or her books on the shelf? I have yet to attempt this, and would be glad for any tips.
Friday, May 04, 2007
"I call architecture frozen music" --Goethe
"The difficult is done at once, the impossible takes a little longer." --Arabian Proverb
"Yesterday is already a dream and tomorrow is only a vision, but today well-lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope." --Sanskrit Proverb
This one is a little longer, but I love the imagery:
"On the train from New Delhi bound for Bombay, a stranger boards, bearing the aroma of spices and exotic teas. His eyes, brown as cinnamon, smile as they slip across my face. He places a worn leather case beside his feet, and I glimpse the aging label that decorates one side. The label bears the image of a majestic elephant--a great, gray, tusky beast adorned in crimson blankets edged with gems. I wonder at this stranger's journey, what tales he might tell if only I dared to ask. The rocking of the train lulls me to a dream-filled sleep, where princes wearing gilded smiles guide elephants across the shifting sands. When I awake, the stranger has departed, leaving me with mystery and the promise of adventures still to come." --Debra Bokur
Thursday, April 26, 2007
“When I get a little money I buy books, and if any is left I buy food and clothes.” –Erasmus
Every bibliophile wants to find new books to add to their collection. However, this could easily become an expensive hobby. For someone with a limited income, it is nice to know that good quality books can be found for much less that the retail price!
My dad is a great bargain hunter. He’s one of those people who can find amazing deals in the most unexpected places. (Of course, it helps that he can talk to almost anyone. I’ve always said that even if he went to the moon, he’d find someone he knew!) Growing up with him has been one long adventure. Early on, daddy began filling our house with books and helping each of us to begin building our own libraries.
Here are some of the places we’ve been:
Garage sales are one of the cheapest places to buy used books. A very large portion of my personal library came from garage sales. The selection is totally unpredictable, so if you want something specific this is probably not the best way to find it—unless you don’t mind looking forever! But if you like surprises, going to garage sales can be great fun.
One of my favorite parts of the shopping is bargaining. If I don’t like the price, then I’ll ask the owner if they will take less. How to do this takes a bit of discerning guesswork: some people are very firm in wanting what is marked, and may even take offense if you offer less. But I’ve found that most simply want to get rid of their excess stuff. It’s not unusual for sellers to accept 50% of their original price. I usually buy books for $1 or less.
Libraries are always trimming their selection to make room for new acquisitions. The “unpopular” books that are discarded are very often just the ones I like. The bad thing about discarded books is that they are often in very poor condition. The best books I’ve found are donations that never made it to the shelves.
Many times the books are sold by donation, instead of a fixed price. Our local library recently had a special “Fill a bag for $1” sale.
The selection at thrift stores such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army is usually very slim, and limited to paperback novels and dated self-help books. I have found the occasional treasure, such as my nearly-new hardback copy of Lord Peter. Prices range from 29 cents to a dollar.
Used Book Shops
If I ever make a trip across the U.S., I want to browse as many bookshops as I can. Each one is unique and, (hurrah!) most have some semblance of order. I have found decent hardbacks for as little as $4.
Most books at antique shops are pricey. ($10 and up) I don’t like to pay more than $7 unless it’s a book I really want. The real reason I frequent these stores is to window-shop: so many old books have beautiful, unusual covers.
E-Bay is a great place to find specific books. I don’t care for bidding, however, and tend to look for “Buy it now” listings.
I’m sure there are many other good places to find used books. Would anyone care to share his or her favorites? I’m curious to know if anyone has used Internet swap sites? (like Bookins or Titletrader)
Saturday, April 14, 2007
“We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading. Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust, has been given its sop and laid asleep, are we at leisure to savour the real beauties. Till then, it is like wasting great wine on a ravenous natural thirst which merely wants cold wetness.”
--C.S. Lewis, “On Stories”, in Of Other Worlds
Finally, I have finished all 11 of Dorothy Sayers’ “Lord Peter” mysteries. But that doesn’t mean I’m finished with them. Not at all! Now, I will be able to go back and read them slowly. I’ll pay attention to the literary allusions. I’ll observe characters more closely. Now comes the real fun!
Here are my first impressions of the two I’ve read most recently:
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club
“What in the world, Wimsey, are you doing in this Morgue?” demanded Captain Fentiman, flinging aside the “Evening Banner” with the air of a man released from an irksome duty. –opening line of chapter one
Captain Fentiman’s jest about the somber atmosphere of the club becomes surprisingly true just minutes later. A bit of unpleasantness is discovered, in the form of an elderly gentleman apparently deceased in his sleep—right there in the smoking room. An unpleasant enough situation for the management—think of the publicity!—becomes worse when the question of murder is raised.
This book kept me guessing: each time I thought I’d found the solution, I discovered that there were way too many pages left for me to be right in my conclusions. Then, when I finally found out what really happened, I felt I should have known all along.
The Five Red Herrings
Red herring: something used to divert attention from the basic issue.
One body. Six suspects. Only one is guilty. Which?
Don’t get skip all the talk about railway timetables, bicycle tires and painting techniques. Take your time and be observant. Don’t rush breathlessly to the end like I did. I felt a bit of a fool!
There are two more Lord Peter stories, written by Jill Paton Walsh, but I don’t have very high hopes for these. I’ve always been leery of series continued by other authors. However, I am giving Thrones, Dominations a chance.
*Edit* I gave Thrones, Dominations a chance. I read about half, which was more than it deserved. Yuck. There are some things I don't want to read about. I'm all for mysteries without character's lustful ruminations and innuendo. Don't even bother with it.
Here’s a list of the books in order of their printing (courtesy of Wikipedia), with links to my reviews:
* Whose Body?, 1923
* Clouds of Witness, 1926
* Unnatural Death, 1927
* The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, 1928
* Strong Poison, 1931
* Five Red Herrings, 1931
* Have His Carcase, 1932
* Murder Must Advertise, 1933
* The Nine Tailors, 1934
* Gaudy Night, 1935
* Busman's Honeymoon, 1937
* Thrones, Dominations, 1998 (not finished by Sayers -- completed by Jill Paton Walsh)
* A Presumption of Death, 2002 (written by Jill Paton Walsh, based loosely on The Wimsey Papers)
I have also commented on Lord Peter, a short story collection.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The first is from a pastor, who calls fathers to fast and pray for their daughters on this day, that “God would bless them mightily by providing marriages for them for the glory of Jesus Christ.”
The second is from a single young woman, who encourages young women to pray as well:
“Dear sisters, I feel too many of us are sitting idly by, contentedly refining our homemaking skills while completely oblivious to the spiritual battles the young men of this generation are facing. Contentment is needful. Patient waiting on the Lord is needful. But it's not enough! If you honestly believe the Lord has called you to marriage and a godly family, there is a battle to be won right now on your knees for your future husband and home. The statistics of godly young men should be enough to show us that Satan is trying to destroy the home before it's even begun. Are we neglecting earnest interceedings for that man we will call our own someday? Are we sitting contentedly by in our single life, while our future husbands fight desperately against the countless things that seek to tear down their fervency for God?”
We are called to be “constant in prayer”. (Romans 12:12) Let us pray that God will raise up a generation of young men, exemplary in their youth (1 Timothy 4:12), sober-minded (Titus 2:6-8), and strong in the Lord (1 John 2:14).
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
By Debbie Maken
Crossway Books, 2006
This book comes at a crucial point in my life. Over the past few years, I have gradually become aware that many of my firmly entrenched beliefs and pet philosophies have absolutely no Biblical basis. This is quite a painful thing for my prideful self to admit, for agreeing with God has meant that I’ve had to restructure my life in almost every area.
One major area that I have had to rethink is life purpose. As God has opened my eyes to see more clearly His design, I find myself becoming distressed as I see how far the world has strayed. Speaking candidly as a twenty-four year old woman longing to follow God’s pattern of marriage and family, I am saddened to see the many other singles who wait…and wait…and wait for that special someone to drop on their doorstep. I’m horrified at the rampant immaturity of young people who put off responsibility in favor of self-indulgent autonomy. And I have a bone to pick with today’s stupendously protracted, ineffective educational system.
It’s been said before that the Christian’s theme song shouldn’t be "Que Sera, Sera" (What will be, will be). And yet many seem to embody this lackadaisical attitude in regards to marriage. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered people who refuse to think or talk about it for fear of discontentment or disappointment. They would rather suddenly experience the Big Surprise: one day, poof, they’ll get married. Permit me a cynical laugh.
After reading this book, I don’t feel any better. If anything, the situation is worse than I’d imagined. Debbie Maken doesn’t hesitate to make some rather bold statements about current popular teachings on singleness. She’s not just being a reactionary. She’s careful to point out that what she has to say is nothing new, rather, it has strong Biblical, as well as historical, basis. On this point, of course, I must encourage my readers simply to read the book in its entirety, and to study their Bibles for themselves. I’m not foolish enough to miss the fact that there are plenty of books that say exactly the opposite of what Mrs. Maken sets forth.
The first surprising idea that Mrs. Maken suggests is that marriage and singleness are not two equally valid options for the Christian. In fact, she believes that marriage is God’s normative pattern for His children, with only a few clearly defined exceptions.
“Marriage remains God’s revealed will (revealed in his Word, the Bible, as what he wants), even if as a culture we have made its attainment an elusive, secret, perpetual guessing game. Scripture states that ‘God created man in his own image…male and female he created them’ (Genesis 1:27). This means that the male-female union is for God’s own glory; marriage reflects his image far better than either sex individually.” (p.22)
Second, she posits that intentionally prolonged singleness (as distinguished from celibacy—see chapter 10) is sin. “…The belief that remaining single is legitimate and godly is a work of the devil. Read that again: Satan dishonors marriage by fooling us into believing that singleness is okay.” (p.43) While discussing the meaning of Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that man should be alone”, she quotes Martin Luther:
“It is not good…[this means that] God knows what is better for you than you yourself…. If you deem it otherwise…you neither understand nor believe God’s word and work. See, with this statement of God one stops the mouths of all those who criticize and censure marriage.” (p.24)Third, she states that a lack of male leadership in both families and churches is a major reason that there is such confusion about what God says about marriage and life purpose.
“ It is no longer considered cowardice not to take on responsibility. Many men wish for a return to their collegiate days, preferring to live in an environment requiring little responsibility, maximum autonomy, and few, if any, expectations of family or for family. They want all the pleasures of childhood and the pleasure of being treated like an adult without the pain of adulthood.” (p.72)
Many other equally explosive observations and conclusions are contained in this small volume. But most revolutionary of all, Debbie Maken actually suggests that the Christian’s life and thought should be based soundly on the Bible and not on what’s currently popular, socially acceptable, or traditionally taught. Biblical Christianity is not defined by what makes us feel the most comfortable.
It’s much easier to point out a problem than to present a solution. I would have liked more elaboration from Mrs. Maken on this point. But perhaps she is wise, for what she suggests is hard enough: a radical change in our thinking. As A. W. Tozer said, “The dearer the error, the more dangerous and the more difficult to correct, always.” (The Divine Conquest, p. 16)
It is humanly impossible to write a book free from error or omission. In this respect Debbie Maken is no different than any other author. I think she has more to learn regarding the differing, yet complimentary, design of men and women. She greatly underestimates the effect of radical feminism on the church and fails to fully delineate the paradoxical nature of Biblical contentment. But these are minor faults compared to the great service she has done in issuing the call for a return to a Biblical understanding of marriage and singleness. I am extremely grateful.
Go here for a Q&A session with Debbie Maken.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
If anyone cares to, I'd like to have your imput on the questions I've highlighted in purple.
Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?
Hardback, unless it’s a book I read often and want to take everywhere with me.
Online purchase or brick and mortar?
Online if I know exactly what I want. Otherwise, browsing through old bookstores is the way to go.
Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Don’t care for either, really. Not much of a selection and ridiculous prices.
Bookmark or dog-ear?
Bookmark. I have one that I use often. Although it’s only a scrap of pink paper, I like it because it’s from my brother, Matt. He wrote some very nice sentiments and a verse in calligraphy on it.
Mark or not mark?
I’d love people’s input on this. I used to have a horror of marked books. It seemed almost sacrilegious--like drawing mustaches on paintings of famous people.
Then I discovered that it really helps to underline important points/quotes so I can find them later. Currently I do this in non-fiction books that I’m studying in depth or planning to write a review on.
Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
By subject, actually.
Keep, throw away, or sell?
Keep. Unless it was rotten.
Keep dust jacket or toss it?
Read with dust jacket or remove it?
Crack the spine or leave it unbroken?
That sounds so cruel. However, I do habitually crack spines…on books of sheet music.
Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)?
Collection, if I like the author. Anthology, if I want to find something new.
Short story or novel?
I like both.
Fiction or nonfiction?
Fiction. This because it is the genre in which authors have exhibited the most excellence. Who ever heard of a nonfiction book that could be appreciated for it’s literary quality alone? How many times have you read a nonfiction book remarkable for original metaphor? It is in nonfiction that I find the most glaring grammatical errors. It’s sad, really.
One book at a time or have several in process at the same time?
It is very rare to find me reading one book exclusively. This said, I must admit that I do not possess the mental gymnastic ability required to read more than one book at the same moment in time. ;)
Lord of the Rings or Narnia?
LotR, hands down, no question about it. That is one great book. I need to write something about it on here!
Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
I hardly even notice chapters.
“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
Depends on the story, doesn’t it?
Buy or Borrow?
Borrow first. Then if I like it, I’ll try to buy it eventually.
I can’t imagine what my budget would look like if I had to buy all the books I read!
New or used?
Don’t really care. I just want books that aren’t falling apart.
Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?
Browse. I might pick up a book because I’ve heard about it somewhere, but I (usually) won’t buy ‘til I’ve had it in my hands first and glanced through it.
Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Tidy. Unless there’s a sequel. Then it doesn’t matter so much.
Morning reading, afternoon reading or night time reading?
All of the above.
Stand-alone or series?
I don’t mind short series—three or four at the most. But most series can’t stop there. (gotta keep a “good thing” going!)
Oh…the Little House books, I guess. Anne of Green Gables and the Happy Hollisters come pretty close, though.
Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Heiland, by Franklin Sanders. It’s a book about America in the late 21st century, as it would be if the country keeps going in the direction it’s headed morally. Scary.
Favorite books read last year?
Dorothy Sayers’ mysteries.
Favorite book of all time?
The Bible. It changes my life daily.
For uninspired literature, I must again mention The Lord of the Rings.
Friday, March 16, 2007
G.K. Chesterton was a British journalist and thinker who wrote voluminously during the early years of the 20th century. He is famous because of his witty attacks on the many erroneous philosophies of the day, such as atheism, socialism, feminism, and teetotalism. He was not one to hold back where falsehood was concerned, and had a very robust and forthright style. Any reader of his many essays cannot stay comfortable for long, no matter how much he is in general agreement with what is said. No one can leave his books without their toes being stepped on!
Chesterton did not confine his writing to the newspapers. He wrote many books, including the ever-popular Father Brown mysteries. (Which are personal favorites of mine.) Whatever the medium, whether literary criticism, biography, essay or mystery story, he strove to recommend a Christian way of thinking to the reader.
It has been my experience that it is always best to read a writer’s own thoughts, rather than first going to a “Reader’s Digest” type of biography/commentary. However, I did find one book at our local library which would be helpful if read alongside “the originals”: Battling For the Modern Mind: A Beginners’ Chesterton, by Thomas C. Peters.
This book is primarily an overview of G. K. Chesterton’s major ideas. The author discusses many of his major works and also gives a brief biographical sketch. It is unique in that it gives a Protestant perspective on the Catholic Chesterton. Peters addresses the question most likely to pop into Reformed minds: “Why should I read an author who embraced such obvious theological fallacies?”
For those ready to read Chesterton for the first time, I’d recommend reading a collection of sparkling literary gems, Tremendous Trifles, as well as a few Father Brown stories. I particularly like “The Blue Cross”. There are also several good compilations, one of which is The Man Who Was Chesterton, by Raymond T. Bond. Be prepared to be challenged in your thinking, and to come away from your reading seeing the world in a new, and happier, light.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
We'll start with the mysteries:
The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories
By Agatha Christie
I shunned this author for many years, believing her books too popular to be good. My philosophy is that if a large portion of the population likes something, then there must be something wrong with it. This considering the state of rampant immorality we have fallen into.
This idea effectively narrows my reading list, however, I do sometimes branch out into the mainstream. In this case I was pleasantly surprised. Christie writes with an easy wit and moves her stories at a quick pace. They are simply, yet well, written. The murders are described in a restrained fashion, and not, I think, for thrill or sensation.
The Clocks by A. C.
I almost finished this in one evening; my eyes gave out before my interest!
It seems a very complicated mystery, and so, says Hercule Poirot, it must therefore be simple. And so it is, in the end. But not before many rabbit trails have been followed, and the readers’ suspicions placed on many different characters.
The Mirror Crack’d by A. C.
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
‘The curse is come upon me,’ cried
The Lady of Shalott.”
I like Miss Marple. Who would’ve thought that an eighty-year-old spinster would be the one to solve a crime that puzzled even Scotland Yard? She looks frail, but she’s hardly the child her nurse so condescendingly treats her as. She knows human nature, and she’s observant. Those qualities serve her well as she finds her way through an endless maze of gossip, clues and misinformation to find out who poisoned that harmless soul, kind Mrs. Badcock. Not to mention who’s been sending threatening notes to the newest owner of Gossington Hall, film star Marina Gregg.
Ever since we watched the charming movies based on the Miss Marple books (starring Margaret Rutherford), I’ve wanted to see if the novels were just as good. I can’t speak for the rest (yet!), but this one was!
At this point, I think I will always prefer the more stylish mysteries of Dorothy Sayers and the philosophical turn of Chesterton's Father Brown. On the whole, they have much more substance. However, I did enjoy my foray into the unknown and highly popular works of Agatha Christie.
Friday, March 09, 2007
I’ve been reading a lot by and about G.K. Chesterton recently. Standing above the many good qualities exemplified in his life and writing is his exuberant joy and grateful spirit. He believed that the Christian should be the happiest person in the world, because he had the most to be thankful for.
Looking at my life, I am shamed to find that often I am a poor example of the happy Christian.
So I asked God to help me see more clearly His goodness in everyday life…. and He sent me a weeklong illness! That unpleasant experience brought an unexpected result: a renewed appreciation for that often unnoticed blessing of good health.
Because of that sickness, I am still praising God for health three weeks after the fact. Trials are a good anchor for memory. And because of that, I thank Him.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
"...the chief assertion of religious morality is that white is a colour. Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell. Mercy does not mean not being cruel or sparing people revenge or punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun.... God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously..., as when He paints in white."
--G.K. Chesterton, "A Piece of Chalk" in Tremendous Trifles
Thursday, February 08, 2007
'Bout a lazy farmer who wouldn't hoe his corn.
The reason why I never could tell,
That young man was always well.
He planted his corn in the month of June.
By July it was up to his eyes.
Come September, came a big frost.
And all the young man's corn was lost.
His courtship had just begun.
Said: "Young man, have you hoed some corn?"
"Well I tried and I tried, and I tried in vain.
"But I don't believe I raised one grain."
He went down town to his neighbour's door.
Where he had often been before.
Sayin': "Pretty little miss, will you marry me?"
"Little miss what do you say?"
"Why do you come for me to wed?
"You, can't even make your own corn grain.
"Single I am, and will remain.
"A lazy man, I won't maintain."
He turned his back and walked away.
Saying: "Little miss, you'll rue the day.
"You'll rue the day that you were born.
"For givin' me the devil 'cos I wouldn't hoe corn."
Lyrics as performed by Alison Krauss and Union Station.
Thanks to my daddy’s generosity on my birthday, I can listen to this album whenever I like!
Ever since I heard this song last year, it has been one of my favorites. It’s a simple story that effectively demonstrates the evils of slothfulness and the necessity of prudent planning for the future.
The farmer boy’s excuses sound familiar, don’t they? He tried and he tried, but circumstances were against him. He had a run of “bad luck.” Well, I don’t know much about farming, but I don’t think it’s standard practice to wait til June to plant a crop! Here in Kansas, the wheat is planted in the fall/winter and it’s the harvesting that’s done in June. No wonder he lost his crop: there wasn’t time for it to mature!
There might have been hope for the man if he’d taken his lesson seriously. But instead, he again got in a hurry and with a cocky and self-assured attitude headed over to propose marriage to the “girl next-door”. The errand was doomed from the start. I’m reminded of the Biblical injunction to “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” (Proverbs 24:27)
Here’s my favorite line: “Single I am and will remain: a lazy man I won’t maintain.”
How’s that for plain speaking?
I admire the courage of that young woman. She wisely recognized in the young man’s laziness the seeds of a deeper problem. Prudently, she saw bigger dangers ahead and took steps to avoid them. (Proverbs 22:3)
The final verse of the song is a sad revelation of the true character of the man who at one time must have held some attraction for the farm girl. He lacked the foundational qualities necessary to any successful relationship: selfless charity and humility. Unwilling to admit his error, he instead lashed out in bitterness towards the one whose advice he should have cherished.
Funny how many things one little song can teach, if you think about it!
I could go off on a dozen different tangents of thought inspired by this song, but the folks at the Highlands Study Center have already done it. If you want to read some interesting and convicting articles all related to the subject of work, go here.
My favorite article, exhorting young women in godliness, is here.
(Note that the title should be “Ladies in Waiting”… not “House of Mourning”. Who knows how that happened!)
Does anyone else have a favorite song that tells a thought provoking story? I'd love to hear about it!
Friday, January 26, 2007
"...He saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; ... by the breath of God frost is given: ..."
Job 37:6a, 10a
After my dad and brothers shoveled the snow away from our driveway, we were left with large piles of snow: perfect for making tunnels!
Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Job 38:22a
The Picture that isn't here:
Here's a portion of a poem that I found in a magazine once. It's a beautiful description of a winter afternoon:
And the thick flakes floating at a pause
Were but frost knots on an airy gauze,
WIth the sun shining through."
Sunday, January 21, 2007
So. Time for some reader participation. What books do you want to read this year?
Here's what I'm thinking of trying:
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Pebble in a Pool by Elizabeth Yates (bio of Dorothy Canfield Fisher)
Getting Serious About Getting Married by Debbie Maken
Till we have faces by C.S. Lewis
Eternity in our hearts by R.C. Sproul Jr.
The School of Obedience by Andrew Murray
Poetry (Robert Frost, Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
While being a bibliophile is a defining characteristic of my life, it is not the only or primary one. First and foremost, I am a Christian girl committed to learning more about God, growing in a deeper relationship with Him, and conforming every area of my life to His will.
I want to be able to share what I learn along this path and be an encouragement to others as I do so. I hope by becoming more personal and varied in my approach to more effectively reach this goal.
I find it an almost humorous evidence of a mind fond of clear-cut boundaries that before changing direction I must make a formal statement of my intentions! Yet there it is.
For those of you who enjoy book reviews, etc-- don’t worry! I doubt I’ll ever run dry on subject matter there. I like this quote by Elizabeth Goudge:
“…When people once begin to read they go on. They begin because they think they ought to and they go on because they must…. They find it widens life. We’re all greedy for life, you know, and our short span of existence can’t give us all that we hunger for, the time is short and our capacity not large enough. But in books we experience life vicariously.”
It’s true! I must be very greedy. ;-)
The focus here at the Biblio-File is not shrinking, but broadening.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Some enthusiastically champion the practice, lauding the benefit of added focus to their year. Others shun it like the plague, citing the depressed feelings that set in when the resolutions are not kept.
I’m not a resolution maker. The traditional list of New Year’s resolutions has always seemed to me to be a frivolous substitution for true commitment. I don’t want to look back at the end of my life and see a trail of broken promises. I want to be faithful in the things that truly matter, things like building my relationship with God and with people.
This isn’t to say that I don’t have goals and dreams. I do, as the many lists filed in my notebooks will testify. But I want to keep things in perspective. Most of those things are nice, but not top priority. And my brain doesn’t like clutter; I’m not a very good multi-tasker!
Several days ago, I began to think over the past year. It was a hard year, probably the hardest yet of my short life. There were many times when I became so mentally bogged down in troubles that it was hard to do anything else but anguish. Yet whenever things looked blackest, God was faithful to remind me that He was the One in control. I remembered how many times I worried about what people thought instead of what Christ thought. Then I remembered the peace that came when I finally gave things up to God. And almost before I realized it, I’d renewed an old “resolution”: in the words of the hymn-writer, “I am resolved to follow the Saviour.”
Life as a Christian isn’t always pleasant. But we look forward to Joy.
Life as a Christian isn’t the way we would have planned it. It’s infinitely better!
Charmed by the world’s delight;
Things that are higher,
Things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
I am resolved to go to the Saviour,
Leaving my sin and strife.
He is the true One;
He is the just One;
He hath the words of life.
I am resolved to follow the Saviour,
Faithful and true each day,
Heed what He sayeth,
Do what He willeth;
He is the living Way.
I am resolved to enter the Kingdom,
Leaving the paths of sin.
Friends may oppose me,
Foes may beset me;
Still will I enter in.
I will hasten to Him,
Hasten so glad and free.
Jesus, Greatest, Highest,
I will come to Thee.”
Palmer Hartsough, 1844 - 1932