Friday, September 17, 2010

John's September Reading

Currently Reading:

Selected Essays of G. K. Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton wrote around 4000 essays in his lifetime. This collection includes classics such as "On Gargoyles," "A Piece of Chalk" and "On Turnpikes and Medievalism".

Tulipomania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions it Aroused by Mike Dash

At the peak of tulip mania in February 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. And then the bubble burst. The fact that this occurred during the Dutch Golden Age makes it all the more interesting.

I started reading this book in Canberra last month, and when I visited Sydney, I had to take some pictures of tulips in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

A Food Lover's Treasury, edited by Julie Rugg and Lynda Murphy

This is a discerning collection of literary quotes about food. Some are quite lengthy excepts from novels, such as this one from Alduous Huxley's Crome Yellow:
In the middle of a pleasantly sunny little room—'it is now Priscilla's boudoir,' Mr. Wimbush remarked parenthetically—stood a small circular table of mahogany. Crystal, porcelain, and silver,—all the shining apparatus of an elegant meal—were mirrored in its polished depths. The carcase of a cold chicken, a bowl of fruit, a great ham, deeply gashed to its heart of tenderest white and pink, the brown cannon ball of a cold plum-pudding, a slender Hock bottle, and a decanter of claret jostled one another for a place on this festive board.
Evangelical Concerns by Melvin Tinker

This book is in the same genre as the Carl Trueman books I've read lately. Tinker writes in an irenic and polemic style on a number of doctrinal and practical issues - euthanasia, science, death, the Lord's Supper, territorial spirits, etc. The wikipedia article on that last mentioned topic needs more work, so I will probably add some quotes by Tinker when I've read his essay.

Finished Recently:

Love Rules

This is a series of short essays on each of the ten commandments, written by luminaries of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria. The title is delightfully ambiguous: does it refer to the rules of love, or is it telling us to have an affection for regulations, or is it saying that love is the best?

Revelation by C. J. Sansom

This is the fourth Shardlake novel, and a worthy successor to Dissolution and Dark Fire. Shardlake is a hunchbacked lawyer investigating murders in the time of Henry VIII. This time, all the murders are inspired by the seven bowls of Revelation 16.

Primer on Worship and Reformation by Douglas Wilson

Kara read this recently as well. It's a good summary of some of the ideas I've picked up from Wilson and friends - books like The Lord's Service and Deep Exegesis. Wilson's view of worship emphasises Psalm singing, expository preaching, rejoicing on the Sabbath and covenant renewal.

One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters

This book is evidently inspired by Chesterton's The Sign of the Broken Sword. The theme in both stories is that of a corpse being hidden in a battlefield. In Chesterton's story, Father Brown asks, "Where does a wise man hide a leaf? In the forest. But what does he do if there is no forest?" He answers his question by saying in an obscure voice, "He grows a forest to hide it in. A fearful sin." In fact, in The Sign of the Broken Sword, the murderer started a battle in order to cover his tracks. Peters uses the metaphor of the leaf also: Brother Cadfael says, "There is a murdered man among your executed men, a leaf hidden in your forest."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kara's Winter Reading

I stopped reading for a while, because of sickness. Then we had company. Then we went on vacation. Lots of normal things in between. Here are a few comments on the books I've enjoyed since my last post.

Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner

A small book of meditations on things like candles, prayer, and weddings. Winner muses on how to celebrate God in a Christian way, after her conversion from orthodox Judaism.

A Wrinkle in Time
and A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle

L'Engle is fast becoming my new favourite author. In both these books, I was immediately drawn in to the story by her compelling picture of homelife. She has a knack of writing about things that are so ubiquitous as to become unnoticed, i.e. the creak of a stairstep or the sound of a house when the refrigerator is off. These bits of the ordinary are what help me get into stories that might otherwise seem too outlandish.

Pajama School by Natalie Wickham

It's always fun reading books by friends. I am able to get a glimpse of another side of a person, through her writing. So because of this, I found this faith memoir hard to put down. However, the average person might not find it so engaging.

The Chase (A Long, Fatal Love Chase) by Louisa May Alcott

I expected this to be a bad book, and so was able to thoroughly enjoy it. It's one of those novels that would have been better left unpublished in an attic. It reads like a teenager's first effort, full of smudgy crayon characters, melodrama and with a plot guessable from the beginning. As long as you don't take it too seriously, it's great fun.

Monsoon Diary: Reveries and recipes from India by Shoba Narayan

This is my favourite sort of food book: half memoir, half cookbook. This gave me a taste of life in India, in more ways than one! I've added her recipe for Channa Masala to my regular repertoire.

Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller

Not nearly so good as Blue Like Jazz. He lost me a few chapters in, probably right around the spot where he starts having an imaginary conversation with an angel. Or something. I would have preferred more talk about God, and less about people.

Turkish Cooking by Ghillie Besan

Full of tasty recipes. I tried hummus, menemen and spinach salad, among others.

Repairing the Ruins, the classical and Christian challenge to modern education. Edited by Douglas Wilson

A mixed bag of essays, focused on classical education in a private school setting. One of the best talked about how to teach mathematics in a Christian manner.

Honey for a Child's Heart
by Gladys Hunt

I read this while on vacation in Sydney. Hunt writes winsomely about the importance of reading aloud as a family, and gives many interesting book recommendations.

Psmith Journalist by P.G. Wodehouse

Note that the 'P' is silent. :) According to Wodehouse, New York City is full of people who read newspapers non-stop. There are also swarms of thugs with guns. Sometimes the two overlap. Not having been there myself, I have nothing to say on the matter.

Watership Down by Richard Adams

I was a bit skeptical of a novel featuring rabbits. Especially rabbits who see visions. However, I kept at it, and soon couldn't stop til I reached the beautiful conclusion. This is imaginative writing at its finest. I especially like the alternating chapters of rabbit mythology.

A Primer on Worship and Reformation by Douglas Wilson

I end up reading one of Wilson's books every month or so. He makes theology and Christian living beautiful. This is a very small book advocating a return to God honouring worship as an antidote for the ills of modern, man-centered evangelicalism. Highly recommended.

Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett

I love this picture book: beautiful illustrations, not too long, and fun for adults as well.