Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kara's Spring Reading

A Walk with Jane Austen by Lori Smith

A combination travel book and spiritual memoir, this book kept me interested even though I was occasionally annoyed by the author's retelling of her love-life dramas. (I should have guessed they were coming from the sub-title, which in the British edition is something about a "search for my own Mr. Darcy." Blegh.) Smith, a 20-something girl battling chronic illness, decides to travel to England and visit all the places connected with Jane Austen. In the process, she learns more about Austen, herself, and God.

A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L' Engle

How could I help but be intrigued by a first line like this: "There are dragons in the twins' vegetable garden..."?

Eating with Emperors
by Jake Smith

A collection of menus from various world leaders, from Queen Victoria to J.F.K., combined with recipes and historical trivia. Fun to read, but I don't think I'll try any of the recipes. Foie gras just isn't my kind of thing.

Around the World in 80 dinners
by Bill and Cheryl Jamison

A great idea for a book is hampered by the attempt to narrate from the point of view of two people. Some of the sentences are truly cringe-worthy. It's bogged down by too many details--did I really need to know exactly what went into the suitcases? And the worst thing about this combination food and travel book is that it didn't make me hungry.

An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'Engle

The last in L'Engle's Time Quintet, it is interesting, but too long.

The Age of Kali
by William Dalrymple

Not your typical travel book. Dalrymple's tales of India are weird and heart-wrenching by turns. In this wide ranging collection of essays, he tackles the plight of widows (including an apparent modern occurrence of sati), and interviews terrorists, politicians and a cricket star. These are tales I will not soon forget.

On Rue Tatin and Tarte Tatin by Susan Loomis

Memoirs of an American food writer who moved to France, along with her husband and son, and started a cooking school. Each chapter concludes with a recipe or two. I loved these books! Loomis' rambling style is charming, and I found her observations on settling into another country and culture particularly insightful.

Amy's Bread
by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree

I'm a bread lover and a bread baker on the search for the perfect loaf. Something beautiful, crusty and full-flavoured. This book is helping me reach that goal, with lovely pictures and detailed instructions.

The Italian Baker
by Carol Field

Another good baking book, this one was especially helpful to me because of the sweet short pastry recipe, which was broken down into parts by weight. (making it easy to memorize)

Blessed are the Hungry: Meditations on the Lord's Supper by Peter Leithart

During the past year, I've been reading this as a devotional during the weeks preceding communion. This method works particularly well with this book, as each chapter is a stand-alone meditation on a single Bible passage. Leithart helped me gain a broader understanding of the sacrament, in particular the aspect of a joyful feast. Highly recommended.

Cat O' Nine Tales by Jeffrey Archer

I came to John one day, wanting to read a mystery but bemoaning the fact that I'd already read all the Sayers, Chesterton and Christie in the house. He gave me this collection of short, humorous stories to try. Enjoyable and unpredictable.

Monday, November 01, 2010

John's November Reading

Finished Recently:

Jeeves in the Offing by P. G. Wodehouse

I enjoy all of Wodehouse's work, but Jeeves is the best. This novel was written in 1960, around forty years after the first Jeeves stories, and surprisingly, Bertie becomes friends with Sir Roderick Glossop. Apart from that, everyone is just the same.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

This is the fourth book by Miller that I've read. It was a bit disappointing compared to Blue Like Jazz and Through Painted Deserts.

A Reformation Debate by Jacopo Sadoleto and John Calvin

In 1538, Calvin was asked to leave Geneva and moved to Strasbourg. The following year, Cardinal Sadoleto took the opportunity to write to the Genevans and urge them to return to the Catholic faith. Geneva then asked Calvin to write a response to this, and this slim volume contains both men's tracts.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

The last line of this book is "I'll pray, and then I'll sleep." I read Gilead on Jean's recommendation. The narrator is a third generation preacher, who has experienced all the familial dysfunction that this entails. He comes from a fictional town in Iowa called "Gilead". This a lovely portrait of grace and forgiveness, and a book that I would particularly recommend to pastors. It won a Pulitzer, and looking at that list I think it's the first Pulitzer Prize-winning novel I've read. (I've read two such non-fiction books: Gödel, Escher, Bach and Guns, Germs, and Steel.)

Currently Reading:

Dutch Color by Douglas Jones

This is a good example of Christian historical fiction for children. I read it some years ago, and I thought I'd read it again after finishing Tulipomania. It's all about painting and tulips in the Dutch golden age. To be honest, though, it doesn't have the same magic it did the first time I read it.

Outgrowing the Ingrown Church by C. John Miller

This has been helpful, inspiring and challenging to me. It argues that every church ought to be a missionary church, explains what that looks like, and suggests steps towards gospel-centredness.

A Son to Me: An Exposition of 1 & 2 Samuel by Peter Leithart

Prudent Abigail by Juan Antonio de Frías y EscalanteMany of you will know that I have started a Doctor of Theology degree at the Presbyterian Theological College. My thesis topic is "The Portrayal of Women in the Book of Samuel". This is a very helpful overview-style commentary on the book. Can you guess which woman is in this picture?

Christian by Degrees by Walton Hannah

I thought it was time to read up on the issue of Freemasonry. Hannah describes many masonic rituals in order to demonstrate their religious and quasi-Christian nature. Hannah argues that Freemasonry is an apostate Christian sect.