Book Read January 2020

Dear Reader,

With the new year, I seem to be picking up speed again. Here are the books I finished in January:

Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham — I really liked Maugham’s Moon and Sixpence which I read at the end of 2019, so I jumped right into Maugham’s most famous book, Of Human Bondage. I liked this book too in terms of its entertainment value. Maugham writes well and his descriptions of the main character’s insecurities were too painfully real. I was a little less enamored of the overall message. At times it seemed like it would end up being quite insightful, but in the end, I felt it fell a little flat. I don’t want to say too much more than that as I don’t want to spoil the book. It is well worth reading and I hope that if you do, you will tell me what you thought of it. 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte — I had read Wuthering Heights twice in my younger years and always remembered hating it. It was recommended by someone I respect recently on a podcast so I thought I had better give it another try. I listened to it as an audiobook on Librivox. I will say for it that the story keeps going. It is not a dull book. There are no likable characters, however, Those who are “good” are downright annoying and whiny and I spent most of my time wanting to slap them. It’s hard for the parent in me not to think that none of this would have happened if all the characters had been appropriately disciplined as children. Perhaps Bronte was trying to say something insightful about evil but it is lost on me. 

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad — I had some problems with the Kindle version of this book and wasn’t actually sure that I had read the whole thing. I looked into it though and found that I had indeed. Having heard of Conrad’s book, I didn’t necessarily expect to like it but I did expect to find it thought-provoking. On actually digging in, I thought it fell a little flat. Perhaps this is because it has a reputation and I had expected it to be more pivotal but I just didn’t think there was much there. 

God Breathed by Rut Etheridge III — (I have done a brief post on some aspects of this book with regard to my main topic which is education; you can find that here.) Etheridge is a (former?) chaplin at a Christian college who writes to college-age students disillusioned by Christianity as they know it. Specifically, he writes to those raised in Christian homes (these are no doubt what he encounters in his work). I am not the intended audience for this book. I picked it up because I have college-age kids and I thought it might be good for them to read or to give to their struggling peers. Neither of my currently in college kids is at a Christian college, however. They have a lot of peers with a lot of weird ideas and a lot of issues but most of them have no church background and they would not start from the same place that Etheridge’s intended audience does. I wasn’t overly enamored of God Breathed. I will start with the pros: Theologically it is sound (not surprising since we come from the same denomination) and I like that he makes a plug for Psalm-singing. In the first third or so of the book especially, Etheridge discusses the philosophical foundations of modern thought, I found these (scattered) sections particularly good and helpful (and I may have my high schoolers read them). Cons: I found the book rambling. It is very stream-of-consciousness. I just like to be able to see where an argument is going and I couldn’t here. There is also a lot of modern language and allusions which I didn’t like. I know he is trying to appeal to a younger generation so this could be a me-issue but I would think a teen/20-something would find them patronizing, like when an adult tried to sound cool. Overall, my main objection s are stylistic and, as I say, I am not the intended audience. I do think this could be a good book for its audience and it certainly couldn’t hurt to give it to them, but it was not my cup of tea (a metaphor which probably shows how dated I am).

What have you been reading?


3 responses to this post.

  1. FUN!
    Willa Cather’s Song of the Lark
    Miss Read’s Village Diary (re-read)
    Nancy Guthrie’s The Son of David
    Rebekah Merkle’s Eve in Exile (re-read; listening on audio with husband while we run errands)
    J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism


  2. […] Yet there is material here to make you think. It reminds me a bit of Of Human Bondage (which I read last month) in that the author seems to be saying something profound but then the end falls a little short. It […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s