Books Read: May 2020

Dear Reader,

Quarantine is quite a productive time for reading, isn’t it? I find it helps to have a lot of books going at once, especially now. Here is what I finished in May:

Books Read May 2020

Main Travelled-Roads by Hamlin Garland — Another of the books I’ve been reading that could be called American provincialism, i.e. they give a picture of life in the US in one particular region and time. This one is a collection of shorter stories, almost all set in Wisconsin and the midwest in pioneer times (one story is clearly Civil War era; the others are more vague on decade). Settlers of Scandinavian descent are frequent characters. I almost dropped the book after the first two, they were so depressing. But others are more cheerful. Overall I would say it was an okay book but as with the others of this genre I have read there is a lot of “American values are to be nice and pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and not a lot of real character presented.

Johann Sturm on Education (ed. Spitz and Tinsley) — Part of my continuing series on reformed Christian education. Sturm is an older writer, like contemporary of Luther and Calvin old. His approach to education is classical. In all honesty I did not read the whole book but it is a collection of letters and the like and a few key ones serve to give a pretty good overview of his approach. He was quite influential, on both Portestant and Catholic education, though I found a lot of what he had to say dated. Read my full review here

Alfred North Whitehead The Aims of Education — I had seen Whitehead quoted by a number of classical educators and decided if he was so influential I needed to read him. His book gave me a lot to ponder but in truth he is not Christian not classical and his philosophy is very modern and a little weird. I am not really sure why he gets quoted so often (it is just one line that they particularly like). Read all my thoughts on Whitehead here. An interesting read but not essential.

H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” and “At the Mountains of Madness” — I heard someone on a podcast say that Christians don’t have horror, that it doesn’t work in a Christian worldview in which God is in charge. I am not sure that is true but it inspired me to read a little more Lovecraft. These are two of his longer (though still fairly short) and more famous stories. There are distinct similarities between them. The worlds and beings Lovecraft created inspired a kind of religion but as I read them (and from what I read about him) Lovecraft himself has being facetious and critical of those who look for deep meaning in old tales and mythical creatures. They are interesting stories though. Maybe not action packed enough for kids but I enjoyed them.  And if you have thoughts on Christian horror I’d love to hear them. 

Middlemarch by George Eliot — I listened to this one as an audio book and it took months. Not a bad story, a little slow at points. It turns out to be quite a bit about marriage which I didn’t get till the end. I am not sure I could have made it through in book form but I make myself a bit of a captive audience with the audio books. 

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan — True confessions time. I had never read this all the way through. So I force myself too (well, part 1 at least which is about Christian). I had never made it through because I could never quite get into it. And (sit down for this one) I am still not a huge fan. I think it is the allegory that just doesn’t appeal to me. I find something like Crime and Punishment or Anna Karenina just has a lot more moral complexity. I find Pilgrim’s Progress a bit like one long sermon example. Sermon examples have their place but they don’t make good books.

What have you been reading?


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mks on June 27, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    I read Middlemarch maybe twenty years ago and for 9/10 of the book I thought it was one of the slowest, most boring books I’d ever read. Then the last 1/10 was so great it almost made up for the rest. And I don’t really care for PP either – I completely agree with your assessment. I’m currently reading (among other books) Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It’s been fascinating so far.


    • I recently finished Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and I have a review of it coming out soon. I’ll be interested to hear what you think. I had some mixed feelings.


  2. […] Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper — After having finally finished Middlemarch (see “Books Read May 2020”), I wanted a short audiobook. My daughter recommended this one and it was a pure joy. Set in a […]


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