I picked up this book pretty much at random. Frances the Badger was one of my constant and best friends as a child, but I knew nothing about this one...moreI picked up this book pretty much at random. Frances the Badger was one of my constant and best friends as a child, but I knew nothing about this one and had no expectations either good or bad.
Wow. This is one of the best novels I've ever read.
I don't rate books on this site very often simply because I forget, but I felt impelled to rate The Mouse and His Child. You have to read this, I don't care who you are.
Hoban manages to reinvent the Classical epic genre: instead of a hero trying to get home, you get animals (some of them toys, others real) looking for a homeland. The author doesn't try to make the world less dark than it is. There's violence, double-crossing, eccentricity, death, and sorrow aplenty, mixed with some of the most poetic prose in all of literature and a fair amount of genuinely funny humor.
There isn't a scrap of cheesiness here. I cried as I read the final page because it ended so beautifully. This is a true work of art.
Is it for kids? Not all kids, certainly. This is a dark book, but it doesn't end dark, and there's plenty kids will enjoy. But whether you read it as a child or as an adult, The Mouse and His Childneeds to be on your list.(less)
One of the greatest compliments I can pay a book is that, while reading it, I laughed out loud. If that compliment is also a litmus of the book's qual...moreOne of the greatest compliments I can pay a book is that, while reading it, I laughed out loud. If that compliment is also a litmus of the book's quality, Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming is one of the best books I've ever read.
I used to like Good Omens quite a bit, until I realized it was largely a pilfering of this book by Zelazny and Sheckley, at least of its attitudes and preoccupation with the Apocalypse. Okay, Good Omens is still pretty good, but Bring Me the Head is better and funnier.
The parts with the dwarves and the episode concerning Excalibur's blood lust are amazing.
Five stars were withheld because a couple of jokes concerning Christian doctrine and practice go too far. Other than that, this is a fantastic book. Also, I will never think of Santa Claus the same way again (don't let your kiddos read this till they're able to deal with the cold hard facts of life).(less)
This book is seriously messed up. It's a trickster tale set in the East L.A. barrio and featuring a (and I quote directly) "low-riding cat" whose Span...moreThis book is seriously messed up. It's a trickster tale set in the East L.A. barrio and featuring a (and I quote directly) "low-riding cat" whose Spanish-infused slang is, to say the least, fairly stereotypical. He's ghetto proud, as his friend Novio Boy (whose novio is he, anyway?) who sports bling and fancy talk. They want to eat the mice next door. The story is pretty typical folklore ala street legend, but this book's shamelessness puts it way ahead of similar fare. If Soto is being ironic, five stars; if not, cero.(less)
This is an important document not only for the history of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, but in the chronicles of the fight between secular Moderni...moreThis is an important document not only for the history of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, but in the chronicles of the fight between secular Modernism and orthodox Reformed Christianity. Robert Churchill was an early pastor in the OPC who knew J. Gresham Machen and other luminaries personally, and who took part himself in the break from the Presbyterian Church in the United States on doctrinal grounds.
I'd rate Churchill's content 5 stars; the fact that an editor collated much of his original material and therefore sacrificed a degree of readability earns it 4-1/2. If you're an Orthodox Presbyterian, you need to read this; if you're a Christian of any stripe who eschews the encroachment of secularism in any form and on any front, you need to read this. Churchill's love of the pure Gospel is heartening, and his passion for truth is convicting. All around, a very good inside look at the formation of a denomination and the defense of God's Word.(less)
This is one of the clearest and most complete presentations of the Gospel ever written, and should be used in evangelism as well as for personal devot...moreThis is one of the clearest and most complete presentations of the Gospel ever written, and should be used in evangelism as well as for personal devotions and study among believers.(less)
I agree wholeheartedly with Beisner's assessment of Moral Government Theology (a shadowy if too-influential entity); however, the text was ponderous a...moreI agree wholeheartedly with Beisner's assessment of Moral Government Theology (a shadowy if too-influential entity); however, the text was ponderous and there was an immoderate use of repetition.
150 pages could easily have been reduced to half that length, or increased and filled out with a more in-depth look at the views of MGT proponents as a group rather than focusing almost entirely on the ideas and writings of Olson. Still, the method of contrasting MGT thought to that of Wesley and Arminius (to whom MGT theologians claim allegiance) was excellent as it demonstrated true Arminian/Wesleyan doctrine to be within the pale of orthodoxy, and MGT to be hopelessly outside it.
Overall this book needs to be read by anyone with a love of the true Gospel and a desire to root out heresy and blasphemy from among the people of Christ's universal Church. Hopefully Beisner will consider a revision/expansion in the future.(less)
This isn't the most well-written book I've read by a long shot. BUT, it is the only book I've read that interprets every human communication difficult...moreThis isn't the most well-written book I've read by a long shot. BUT, it is the only book I've read that interprets every human communication difficulty through the filter of the Gospel.
Tripp repeats himself a lot, and some of his examples are corny, but he understands the Gospel and our need for it. He also understands the nature of human communication, its inherent selfishness, its sinfulness and capacity for evil. These insights together result in a book that is biblical and applicable without being a self-help guide, heretical, or pointless.
My fiancee and I read this as part of our premarital counseling. I'd certainly recommend it for any serious couple (whether engaged or otherwise), but it should be essential reading for every Christian who can't control his tongue at all times (that is to say, every Christian).
Be prepared for some frustration; hearing the same thing over and over and over for 250 pages can get a little tedious. It's a message we all need to hear, however, and one we constantly forget; in the end, our frustration is probably less with Tripp and more with our own wayward selves.(less)
It's the last story in this volume, a novella called Taras Bulba, that I really love. I remember the others were funny, and not much else.
Taras Bulba...moreIt's the last story in this volume, a novella called Taras Bulba, that I really love. I remember the others were funny, and not much else.
Taras Bulba is about two Cossack brothers who go to war against Poland with their comrades. It's not really much more than historical romance, but the ending is one of the finest in literature.
None of these stories capture the scope and grandeur of Gogol's Dead Souls, about the plight of the Russian serfs, but they're all immensely smart and entertaining; Taras Bulba is the only one that can be described as heartbreaking.
There are two important strands in the story: Taras' love of Russia and willingness to preserve her at all costs, and his younger son Andriy's love of a Polish girl and willingness to abandon his heritage to be with her. The two loves are masterfully contrasted, and neither is maudlin or contrived.
Not enough people have read this short work. It predates War and Peace and And Quiet Flows the Don, but explores the same themes; in many ways, it surpasses both of them.(less)
This is one of the few novels I'd classify as positively brilliant.
Two Jewish boys in 1940s Brooklyn—one Orthodox, the other Hassidic—become best frie...moreThis is one of the few novels I'd classify as positively brilliant.
Two Jewish boys in 1940s Brooklyn—one Orthodox, the other Hassidic—become best friends. And then. Every time I read The Chosen, I cry. The first time I bawled so hard my shoulders shook.
Summarizing the plot of such a novel is an injustice. It encompasses the best and worst of brotherly and fatherly love, of devotion to tradition and yearning for change, of the defense of goodness against the encroachment of evil.
Potok is one of the few genuinely great novelists of the last century, and this is his masterwork. It stands among the truly immortal works of all time.
It won't do merely to recommend The Chosen; it must be read. But then, the book's own majesty commands a readership its human proponents never could.(less)
Occasionally you'll find a line or phrase in Rumi that causes the heavens to part and the earth to rumble and a single flower to emerge out of thin ai...moreOccasionally you'll find a line or phrase in Rumi that causes the heavens to part and the earth to rumble and a single flower to emerge out of thin air.
But trudging through all the others to find those really isn't worth it. Rumi was a Sufi mystic, and so you get a lot of goofy spiritualism without much content. It's surprisingly like a lot of modern poetry—aesthetically pleasing, but lacking much real content.
My favorite line: "There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth."
My least favorite: "Lovers don't finally meet somewhere, they're in each other all along."
If you have a high pain tolerance, or don't gag every time you hear bleeding hearts talk about their feelings, the lovely moments are worth wading through the soppy marshes; otherwise, read some Li-Young Lee and you'll get a lot more mystic beauty with a lot less garbage.(less)
I don't care so much for Aristotle's assertions that poetic works must have certain elements: it's his idea that art must delight and instruct to even...moreI don't care so much for Aristotle's assertions that poetic works must have certain elements: it's his idea that art must delight and instruct to even be considered art that moves me. Once prevalent, this idea seems to have died almost completely in our modern/postmodern context, thus leaving us without objective measures for evaluating art.
It's time this idea was rediscovered. Aristotle's book is short and easy to digest, and while his dictum that the greatest works are always tragedies is a bit heavy-handed, there's plenty for both artists and art lovers to appreciate.
But it's not just for some elite class: the idea that art can be objectively good or bad has implications for all of society. There's a very real sense in which proper catharsis (as outlined in this book) cannot take place when artistic expression becomes simply personal release (on the part of the artist) or worse, mere entertainment, thus leaving audiences/readers/etc. with a surplus of unreleased internal tension that must then be directed outwardly in increasingly negative ways.
Whether we want it to be so or not, art is a vehicle for the direction of human morality and social behavior. Aristotle is far from my favorite philosopher, but I think he got it nearly completely right in Poetics, and it is to our own peril that we refuse to heed the warnings this little masterpiece so strongly implies.(less)
Part of me wants to give this book more than one star because it was so entertaining. A four-year-old boy supposedly underwent surgery, and though his...morePart of me wants to give this book more than one star because it was so entertaining. A four-year-old boy supposedly underwent surgery, and though his vitals never flatlined, he claims he died and went to heaven. He was there quite awhile; only minutes passed on earth.
Among the things he saw: the once-human inhabitants of heaven wear giant wings; Jesus teaches day-school to the kiddos and lets them hang out in his lap; a war is coming between Christian men (women and children are apparently spared) and monsters, and the Christian soldiers will be armed with swords and bows; God the Father is enormous and apparently at least generates the illusion of corporeality.
I wasn't sure whether to gag, laugh, or be angry, so I opted for all of the above. The Burpos (ironically named, I must say) betray the Gospel in favor of either A) outright lies, or B) some kind of acid flashback involving a child's imagination and planted "memories." I genuinely hated this book, including the audacious assumption of the kid's parents that a child who'd been to heaven and back wouldn't be constrained to a straightjacket, or reduced to permanent despondency at having been sent back to this place. The fact that author Todd Burpo is a pastor is both humiliating for serious Christians, and tragic for his congregation.(less)
Bryson doesn't take the "Shakespeare wasn't Shakespeare" conspiracy seriously, for starters. He makes a formidab...moreOne of the best biographies I've read.
Bryson doesn't take the "Shakespeare wasn't Shakespeare" conspiracy seriously, for starters. He makes a formidable case that only Shakespeare could have written Shakespeare, and in the last chapter he basically lampoons the chief naysayers.
Also, he's forthright about what we know and don't know about the elusive Bard. He presents the facts, and doesn't needlessly fill in gaps with supposition. At just under 200 pages, this is about the perfect length for a biography of a shadowy figure.
There's a significant amount of information about Elizabethan England, which helps us understand both the man and his plays better, and which helps us see just how wacky Shakespeare's milieu was. Science and magic existed side-by-side. It was rowdy, bawdy, pious, dirty, and bloody.
True to form, Bryson is hilarious and reads easier than most novels. I got through this in a lazy day; then again, I couldn't stop once I'd been drawn in.(less)