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Kristin Lavransdatter (Kristin Lavransdatter, #1-3)
Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize in 1928 largely on the strength of her 1,100-page trilogy of Medieval Norwegian life, Kristin Lavransdatter. I recen ...more
Jan 2009
Jan 19, 2011
The Pilgrimage

As I prepare to walk the Camino de Santiago with my daughter, I am reading a few of the better selling books about this 1000-year-old pilgrimage route
May 02, 2012
May 01, 2012
All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age
As a former book publisher, I know the severe limits of book review space in major newspapers. So when the New York Times publishes an op-ed piece and ...more
Jan 08, 2011
Jan 21, 2011
The Panther  (John Corey, #6)
This was my first Nelson DeMille thriller, and it will be my last. There's just not enough time in life for a novel that is 500 pages old before it ge ...more
Nov 02, 2012
Oct 29, 2012
The Imitation of Christ. A Modern Version Based on the English Translation Made by Richard Whitford Around the Year 1530
It took me 33 years to read The Imitation of Christ. I know the exact date when I first heard of this devotional manual by 15th-century monk Thomas à ...more
Feb 07, 2011
Feb 01, 2011
Lord of the World (Dodo Press)
Being Catholic today is a challenge. It can be awkward talking about one's faith in polite company—at the average Boston-area cocktail party, for inst ...more
Aug 13, 2011
Jul 20, 2011
The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage
I have decided that instead of a patron saint, my blog will have a patron book, this one. (My blog is called "Witness,", a ...more
Feb 11, 2011
Jan 19, 2011
My Life With the Saints
When I was in fourth grade at The Blake School in Hopkins, Minnesota, I met my first Catholic. He was a boy in my class, who invited me over to his ho ...more
Oct 2007
Jan 19, 2011
The Ionian Mission (Aubrey/Maturin, #8)
If you’ve thought about jumping aboard Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, which follows a British ship’s captain and doctor through the Napoleon ...more
Jan 22, 2012
Jan 09, 2012
Richard Ford's new novel, Canada, is a disappointment from the first paragraph on. No, from before the first paragraph. My disappointment was set up b ...more
Jun 18, 2012
Jun 12, 2012
The Axe (The Master of Hestviken, #1)
The Catholic Church is under attack. Secularists control political power and public opinion. Traditional marriage is being undermined. Terror is on th ...more
Oct 29, 2011
Sep 29, 2011
It's been a while since I disliked a book as much as I did this surprise winner of a 2009 Pulitzer Prize.

Paul Harding's first book, "Tinkers," is a s
Jan 11, 2012
Jan 11, 2012
Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths
We don’t take reality seriously. We don’t open our minds and hearts to the totality of experience. We accept certain preconceptions and plunge ahead b ...more
Jan 02, 2012
Dec 30, 2011
The Lord
This is the best book I’ve ever read, or can imagine reading, about Jesus Christ. It is also endlessly surprising.

Ever finish a book and say to yourse
Aug 22, 2012
Jun 30, 2012
The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

This slim bit of hokum gets a second star only because I found it powerful 40 years ago. Unfortunately for the book, I am 40 years older, and Watts, w
Apr 28, 2012
Apr 23, 2012
The Great Leader
“There’s a reason Shakespeare kills off his characters at the end of his tragedies,” I told my daughter this morning. “What’s that, Dad?” she asked. I ...more
Oct 09, 2011
Oct 03, 2011
Eating Animals
Last Thanksgiving, our nuclear family ate a vegan dinner planned and cooked by our two grown daughters, both vegan. Now, after reading Jonathan Foer's ...more
Aug 31, 2011
Aug 11, 2011
The Surgeon's Mate (Aubrey/Maturin, #7)
There is a moment of great beauty in The Surgeon’s Mate, 7th of the historical novels by Patrick O’Brian known as the Aubrey-Maturin series. Ship’s do ...more
Sep 25, 2011
Aug 25, 2011
Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith
Two Episcopalians whom I respect told me I should read this book. Both said that it frames Jesus in a way that makes sense to them. It does not make s ...more
Oct 04, 2012
Sep 02, 2012
Gunnar's Daughter
This strange and striking short book by Sigrid Undset is part novel, part saga, and all Undset. Published in 1909 when she was 27, before the author w ...more
Aug 13, 2012
Aug 07, 2012
Jesus: A Pilgrimage
The most inspiring book this year is also one of the more amusing. Jesuits Jim and George on pilgrimage sometimes sound like "Abbott and Costello in t ...more
Dec 10, 2014
May 27, 2014
Jayber Crow
This is a revised version of a review posted on my blog "Witness"

For over a year now my friend Suzanne has been t
Nov 11, 2012
Oct 24, 2012
Blue Highways
An elegy for back-roads America before its surrender to Walmart, this so-called "deep map" travel writing includes wonderful profiles. Quoting Whitman ...more
Dec 26, 2014
Nov 15, 2014
Religion and the Rise of Western Culture
"Religion is the key of history," said Lord Acton, and Dawson, awesomely learned Catholic convert, made it his life's work to explain.

From the fall o
Jan 27, 2015
Jan 23, 2015
Holy Eucharist Our All
I picked up this short booklet by a 19th-century Benedictine father from the Adoration chapel at our church. (For the non-Catholic, Adoration is the p ...more
Aug 26, 2014
Aug 20, 2014
The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day
Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker, kept sporadic diaries from 1934 until her death in 1980. Open to the public only in 2005, the personal no ...more
Apr 19, 2014
Mar 26, 2014
The Snake Pit (The Master of Hestviken, #2)
I’m starting to think there may be a good reason Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. She did so largely on the strength of seven ...more
Nov 14, 2011
Oct 23, 2011
Lumen: The Catholic Gift to Civilisation
Page for page, no work of Catholic apologetics could possibly pack as much punch per pica as this 100-page booklet written by two English priests. Nee ...more
Jan 25, 2015
Jan 22, 2015
St. Joseph: Man of Faith
Because everything known categorically about St. Joseph can fit in a paragraph or two, books like this are mostly records of devotions to the foster f ...more
Dec 21, 2014
Dec 18, 2014
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace
Now that I've finished the first major biography of the author of Infinite Jest, I have reduced my rating from 5 stars to 4.

First, if my previous pos
Sep 05, 2012
Aug 23, 2012
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