Books Read: May and June 2019

Dear Reader,

I didn’t post my booklist from May because I only finished two books that month. I more than made up for that in June . . .

Books Read: May 2019

The Luggage of Life by Frank Boreham — Boreham was a pastor in Australia and New Zealand in the early 20th century. I love his books which are all collections of short essays. I do find some of his volumes are better than others. As will most prolific authors, he seems to have gone on past the point where he had much to say. This volume was new to me and I’d rate it in the middle — not his best but not his worst. Favorite quotes from this book: 

“And the birth within me of the man He means me to be necessarily implies the burial within me of the man I have actually been.”

“Our fiercest fight, he tells us, is not with the coarse sins of the flesh mad dogs but with sins that are insidious and ubiquitous and invisible as mosquitoes in the night.” 

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote — This is one of those books everyone has heard of and I confess that I didn’t really realize what it was about. It turns out is a crime story — a family is murdered and the killers must be tracked down — and it is a trei crime story which I didn’t realize till I was some way in. In the beginning the first 100 pages or so, I found the book fascinating and couldn;t put it down. But as it went on I was less enamored. Capote for whatever reason, has a horse in this race. He has opinions on how those who appear conscious-less should be treated by the law. So the book becomes a bit moralistic towards the end. And frankly, as true crime stories go, it’s just not that great. The way the killers are identified is underwhelming. Suspense is built but not sustained. I guess this was the first of a genre and as such is an important book but the genre has since been developed and the original falls a little flat now. 

June 2019

The Chosen by Chaim Potok — Another not-too-old but well-known book that I had never read. This one is the story of two Jewish boys in New York, one Hasidic, one faithful but more run-of-the-mill. It was interesting to get a glimpse into their lives. There were parts where I couldn’t put it down and parts where it dragged. It reminded me initially of A Separate Peace which I read earlier in the year in that there are two boys who are close friends and you can see one of them heading for a fall. In this one the fathers are involved though which was kind of sweet. I found the ending rather anticlimactic and not satisfying but it is a book worth reading, if only for the glimpse into another culture. 

A Christian Paideia: The Habitual Vision of Greatness by D. Bruce Lockerbie (Colorado Springs: Purposeful Design, 2005) — I have done a series of 4 blog posts on this book so I will not say a lot here. If you are interested in education, the first two thirds of the book are well worth reading. The last third is probably only necessary is you actually administer a Christian school.

The Pattern of God’s Truth: The Integration of Faith and Learning by Frank E. Gaebelein — Another good book on education which I will do a blog post on. This one is only about 100 pages and is not a hard read so it is a good place to start. Gaebelein has a lot of wonderful things to say about truth. His explanation of his approach to education seems a bit fragmentary in this book. 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker — This is another in the “everybody has heard of it but I had never read it category.” The first thing I will say about this book is that I cannot in good conscience recommend it. I certainly would not give it to a young person and would say only reda it if you are married. There is a lot here that merits a parental warning: sexual language, sexual situations, lesbianism, bad theology. The story itself is somewhat engaging. It was not a hard or a slow read and I did to some ext5ent care about the characters. It is very modern, ahead of its time probably,  in the sense that romantic relationships and preferences are very fluid. It is hard for me to believe people can move in and out of relationships with such ease and for that reason I found the story implausible.

The Professor and the Madman: The Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester — I really liked this book. The subtitle kind if sums it all up. This is the story of two men who worked for decades on the Oxford English Dictionary, one of whom was certifiably insane. The story is engaging and well-written. I am on the fence about having my teen reda it as there is sexual content (which is integral to the story).  It’s a great read for an adult though. 

The Quail, Robert by Margaret Stanger — This was a lovely, highly enjoyable book about a couple that takes in a little lost quail. Reading level is probably middle school and up but this would be a great read-aloud for the whole family too. 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote — My second Truman Capote of the year. At 86 pages, this one is barely more than a short story. It was engaging enough. A fairly typical boy comes under sway of and semi-loves girl who is wild and has lots of men story. I don’t know if he established this genre as he did with In Cold Blood and true crime stories. Like that book, I thought, well, it’s an okay member of its genre but nothing in particular to write home about.  

A Passion for Learning: A History of Christian Thought in Education by D. Bruce Lockerbie — I will have a series of blog posts coming out on this book so I won’t say too much about it. If you are looking to get the scope of Christian thought on education, this would be a great place to start. 

A Lost Lady by Willa Cather — At about 170 pages this is a quick and easy read. The story was engaging and I lied the characters, to some degree. Like Breakfast at Tiffany’s it is the story of a young man who comes under the sway of a charismatic woman, though in this case there is no sexual tension between the main characters. The man, the narrator, is a likeable, admirable fellow. The woman has some issues that come out. I enjoyed the book  but was left feeling a little unsettled, not knowing how I was meant to feel about her. This could be a good book for high school and up. There is nothing overtly inappropriate but there is adultery which is implied rather than shown.

Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education by David V. Hicks — I will have a couple of blog posts coming out on this book so I will be brief. If you want to understand classical — real classical, not modern classical — education, this book will get you there. I am less enamored of Hicks’ own philosophy of education. 

A Reformed Christian Perspective on Education: Fifty Years of Footprints by Donald Oppewal — Again, I will have a couple of blog posts on this book coming out. This is a collection of essays and some are a bit dated. I like some of what Oppewal has to say, particularly on epistemology. He comes from the Dutch reformed side of things and is a member of the Christian Reformed Church. He does seem too liberal and unbiblical on some issues.

What have you been reading?


One response to this post.

  1. I like your summary of ‘The Color Purple.’ I read this as a young teen, and now, as a parent, I doubt that was healthy. Probably a good book for adults to read, if you want to be familiar with what is often assigned in schools. But very questionable in the morals it normalizes.


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