This is a personal memoir/collection of essays on Christian spirituality, and I really loved it. I hesitated to give it 5 stars because it is not on t...moreThis is a personal memoir/collection of essays on Christian spirituality, and I really loved it. I hesitated to give it 5 stars because it is not on the same literary or cultural level as the other things I usually give 5 stars, but my personal reaction to the book was definitely dramatic. I think the most fundamental way I could characterize this book is relevant; maybe somebody who doesn't share the generational and cultural background of Donald Miller the way I do wouldn't feel it so strongly, but this book felt immediate and pertinent and utterly relate-able. The weak chapters were the two on romance and marriage (why is this bachelor dude writing about this?) but his reflections on the problem on pain in the world, the concept of grace, the person of Jesus, and church as an institution were amazing. My favorite chapters were the ones toward the end about loving your fellow man and the one called "Church: How I Go Without Getting Angry". A funky, anti-establishment-yet-sympathetic consideration of Christianity with a definite Gen-X vibe.(less)
This is the 4th entry in the Aubrey/Maturin series of British naval novels set during the Napoleonic Wars. This book is more focused on actual militar...moreThis is the 4th entry in the Aubrey/Maturin series of British naval novels set during the Napoleonic Wars. This book is more focused on actual military actions than the immediately preceding HMS Surprise as it chronicles the conquering of French islands in the Indian Ocean. I think I liked the 3rd book a bit more, but this was still a completely engaging and exciting tale. I continue to be impressed with the wonderful characters along with the layering and depth of historical and period detail in these books; this story was even based on an actual campaign undertaken by the British Navy.(less)
This is a memoir written by the son of the late Francis Schaeffer, the famous Christian writer and thinker of the 60s and 70s. It's a compelling pers...moreThis is a memoir written by the son of the late Francis Schaeffer, the famous Christian writer and thinker of the 60s and 70s. It's a compelling personal story, and I have a hard time picking the section that was most interesting and absorbing. Frank Schaeffer's childhood growing up in Switzerland with his cultured, brilliant, kind-of-crazy parents was so interesting, as were the stories of the later influx of hippies and thinkers into L'Abri, the Schaeffers' educational center. Schaeffer's life in the late 70s and early 80s as a golden boy of the emerging religious right was also just fascinating. As someone also from a conservative evangelical background, I so appreciated his reflections on how that shapes your thinking and what that world is like. His portraits of Christian powerbrokers like Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and Jerry Fallwell are captivating and chilling, and he certainly captures what's wrong with the excesses of American evangelicalism. I found this book really moving because of Schaeffer's transparency about his personal journey, his obvious love for his complex parents, and his unsparing account of America's religious right. In one of his final chapters, Schaeffer says, "Honesty is the only thing that is satisfying about writing." I hope that he is fully satisfied with this book, because I read it at its core as an honest, nuanced, moving personal story.(less)
I've read this book before but it has been several years, and what an utter delight to experience it again! I am, of course, like most people, a big f...moreI've read this book before but it has been several years, and what an utter delight to experience it again! I am, of course, like most people, a big fan of the movie but the book is much better. The character of Westley is funnier, stronger, and more human-seeming than in the movie; actually, all the characters are more richly drawn. I love the pretend abridging of "Morgenstern's classic tale" with the modern-day narration interspersed. I've been reading several books lately with odd, gimmicky narrative devices like that, but this is surely the happiest result of it. This time around I noticed that there aren't any really important strong female characters, which seems a bit lopsided, but probably in keeping with this tale's pretend-fairy-tale roots. Buttercup comes across as somewhat inconstant and quite dense and the narrator's wife is brilliant but cold; it's all very skillful and funny but paints a picture of men being the source of all bravery and goodness. Anyway, that is a mere random pondering which did not interfere with my enjoyment of this thoroughly funny and moving tale.(less)
This is the 5th book in the Aubrey/Maturin series of British naval novels set during the Napoleonic ear and it is WONDERFUL. The 4th installment (The...moreThis is the 5th book in the Aubrey/Maturin series of British naval novels set during the Napoleonic ear and it is WONDERFUL. The 4th installment (The Mauritius Command) didn't entrance me quite as much but this one was stay-up-too-late marvelous. Typhus and spies and icebergs and other various Antarctic adventures... I am again struck by how unlikely it is that these books would charm me so thoroughly; something so military and adventure-y is not my usual gig. I think it must be the richly drawn, appealing characters and the erudite tone and level of detail.(less)
Here is one of the oddest of the odd inventions which man has sought out, this conveying to one another by marks scratched on paper thoughts privately...moreHere is one of the oddest of the odd inventions which man has sought out, this conveying to one another by marks scratched on paper thoughts privately conceived in the mind. It shows, as all the arts show, the infinite publicism of humankind, the sociability, the interdependence, which cannot endure to have a thought, to conceive a tale, a tune, a picture, an arrangement of words, or anything else, but all must forthwith be informed of it.
These opening lines to the essay titled "Reading" from this book really struck me; what an insightful comment that applies to blogging, Facebook, Twitter, or heck, even writing a book review on GoodReads! These phenomena were all scarcely a dream when Rose Macaulay wrote this compendium of essays on pleasurable things in life, but my reading of this book struck me with how unchanging many of life's pleasures are. The book is an alphabetical arrangement of wry, witty, short essays on pleasures stretching from "Abroad" (on traveling outside your own country) to "Writing". Some of my personal favorites included "Not Going to Parties", followed immediately by "Parties", the chapter on "Bed" which has two sections ("Getting into it" and "Not getting out of it"), and of course I have a soft spot for the chapter on "Astronomy". The author is British, living from the 1880s into the 1950s, and spending a good part of her childhood in Italy, so it was interesting to notice which pleasures struck an immediate resonance with me (despite the chasm of time and location that separate our experiences) and which seemed unfamiliar. Some of the most evocative and lovely chapters that made me respond, "Yes! Exactly!" were on the smell of bread baking, swimming in the ocean, and taking a hot bath on a cold day. As I write this, it is 100 degrees outside on a hot Texas afternoon, but the bath chapter made me shiver with the damp London winter fog and long to slip into a hot, hot bath.(less)
When I picked this book up browsing at the library, my first thought was that it was going to be about Zelda Fitzgerald, the mad, wild wife of F. Scot...moreWhen I picked this book up browsing at the library, my first thought was that it was going to be about Zelda Fitzgerald, the mad, wild wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. It's not, though; it's a fictionalized account of Fitzgerald's first love affair in the months leading up to WWI with Ginevra, a wealthy, privileged Chicago teenager, and the rest of Ginevra's life. I've always liked Fitzgerald's world of flapper-era rich girls and poor boys made good and whatnot so I enjoyed this book's picture of a bit of what was behind it.(less)
This memoir of a young woman's struggle with eating disorders is absorbing, disturbing, and really well-written. I think it's pretty clear that the au...moreThis memoir of a young woman's struggle with eating disorders is absorbing, disturbing, and really well-written. I think it's pretty clear that the author wasn't really "recovered" yet when she wrote this, but maybe EDs are one of those shackles that are often never truly shaken off. I am someone with more garden-variety food issues (and not any real self-destructive tendencies) but even so I found her accounts of the motivations and feelings behind her behavior compelling and understandable. There were numerous instances of me thinking, "Yes, I have felt EXACTLY like that." Of course, then there was plenty of me thinking, "Holy cow, this girl is RAVING MAD." Part of me is ashamed to admit the voyeuristic appeal of smart-but-crazy-chick books like this or Prozac Nation but this one is certainly a top-notch, thoughtful example of the genre.(less)
Fun diary-style novel of middle-class domestic life in 1930's England. I found the main character utterly charming and funny with her daily struggles...moreFun diary-style novel of middle-class domestic life in 1930's England. I found the main character utterly charming and funny with her daily struggles with the minutiae of household life, although her world also struck me as a bit sad with her blank, distant husband and sweet son sent off to boarding school. Funny, intimate, mostly gentle, slightly biting-- an entertaining glimpse into a different time and place.(less)
Another great installment from the Aubrey-Maturin series. Here the War of 1812 has broken out and we find Aubrey & Maturin prisoners captured by t...moreAnother great installment from the Aubrey-Maturin series. Here the War of 1812 has broken out and we find Aubrey & Maturin prisoners captured by the Americans. A good chunk of the book takes place in Boston, crawling with American-allied French, where Maturin deals with enemy French spies and runs into the love of his life, but there are still a couple of very exciting naval battles. I was struck in this book by the violence and ubiquity of death, both at sea and on land. Death in these books is sometimes casual and sometimes tragic, but there is plenty of it. This book is again so, so funny and delightful and gripping. I was reading part of it waiting for a doctor's appointment and I was so engrossed that I literally started and couldn't quite remember where I was when they called my name.(less)
Wow, I found this short book (written by an Old Testament academic but for a general audience) really interesting and really helpful. Enns advocates "...moreWow, I found this short book (written by an Old Testament academic but for a general audience) really interesting and really helpful. Enns advocates "a more open and curious posture toward the challenges contemporary readers of the Bible face" as he discusses three main issues: archaeological/literary evidence from ancient Near Eastern cultures, theological diversity within the Bible, and the way the New Testament uses the Old Testament. All of these make it difficult to hold a typical evangelical view of Scripture with anything approaching integrity, and Enns presents an alternative "incarnational" view of Scripture where the reader fully acknowledges and embraces the profound humanness of Scripture, in an analogy to the way Jesus is fully God and fully man.
I did not know much about the ancient Near East literary stuff, and that was fascinating and challenging. The other issues, theological diversity within the Bible and the weird way the NT authors use the OT, are things that I have struggled to understand as a modern reader of the Bible; the approach in this book is freeing for me. I would highly recommend this book to anybody who struggles to make sense of the Old Testament, and let's be honest-- that's probably everybody who has read it seriously.(less)
This is the 7th book in the Aubrey/Maturin series, and another fantastic entry. I started reading this one at the end of my pregnancy with my 2nd baby...moreThis is the 7th book in the Aubrey/Maturin series, and another fantastic entry. I started reading this one at the end of my pregnancy with my 2nd baby and my copy from the library sat idle for about 3 months after my daughter was born before I got around to reading again. It was such a delight to pick it up and rediscover how utterly engrossing and funny these books are. There's lots of espionage in this one, some new places, a giant smash-up of a ship, and other various enjoyable hijinks in Napoleonic era Europe. At this point, I am really glad that there are still a dozen more books in this series-- I don't want it to end.(less)
Super imaginative, hilarious book of tiny little vignettes about everything from Dracula's match.com profile to the inner lives of free-range chickens...moreSuper imaginative, hilarious book of tiny little vignettes about everything from Dracula's match.com profile to the inner lives of free-range chickens to why we eat too much at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I think my favorite bits were about childhood-- the indignities, the fears, the magical thinking. Very short (I think I read it in half an hour) but also very good.(less)