Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ten Books Read in September


Voices of the Faithful, Book 2, ed. Kim Davis and Beth Moore - I got a copy of this missionary-authored devotional book free from the publisher as part of their "book blogging" program, but instead of writing about it here I reviewed it for Missions Catalyst. I wondered if it would feel too much like a "women's book" or sanitize away too many of the details of cross-cultural living, but it doesn't have either of those flaws. It's quite good. I think I'm going to make it part of my schedule starting in January (as it's set up for daily readings over the course of a year).

Walt Disney, An American Original, by Bob Thomas and Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears look at Disneyland, by David Koenig - Some folks in my small group gave me these two volumes to enjoy during my trip to Disneyland this month. Mouse Tales was light-hearted and fun, full of anecdotes and trivia about the place and the people who work there.

The biography, though, I found rather disturbing. Though sanctioned by his family and organization and created with their complete cooperation, it paints a picture of a man I have a hard time imagining other people could love and admire. What a difficult guy he seems to have been. Oh, he accomplished a lot, broke through barriers, and did quite a few good deeds along the way, but everything had to be his way. He had a knack for bringing out the talent of others, true, but was very stingy with praise and insisted on control, demanding but not extending freedom and respect. Made me realize how difficult it is for me to honor anyone who leads with a heavy hand instead of fostering mutual respect and collaboration. Am I the one who needs to lighten up and agree to accept that there's more than one right way to lead?

Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton, by John Piper - The fifth in a series of volumes, each containing meditations on the lives of three great men to illustrate a certain theme. (Sadly, Piper limits the women to supporting roles - as their own societies probably did in most cases.) Piper and his staff are great researchers and always cite their sources, so their work is very easy to use for reference. In this case at least some of the books are available for free download, as well as purchase on paper. Nice. Each of these three men was able to survive and be at peace in the midst of lives with great danger and suffering, by resting on God's sovereign control. Inspiring.


Birds of a Feather, by Jacqueline Winspear - The second in a series about the very sympathetic character Maisie Dobbs, a psychologist and investigator in post-war England. Very good read. I've just picked up volume 3.

Sherlock Holmes and the King's Evil, and Other New Tales Featuring the World's Greatest Detective, by Donald Thomas - Written by a skilled fan, but not really as good as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Like the originals, this is a series of slightly linked short stories, a mix of intellectualism, crime, and creative storytelling.

Shadows of Lancaster County, by Mindy Starns Clark - Melodramatic Christian novel about a young woman who grew up in Pennsylvania and had tried to put her misspent youth behind her, but was drawn back when her brother disappears. Pretty standard Harvest House fare, but I always enjoy and learn something in MSC's books: she's playing to a lowbrow crowd but is really smart and does her research. This one weaves together gene therapy, identity tracing, the social dynamics of the Pennsylvania Dutch, and the lost jewels of an obscure European royal family. Somehow.

Unveiling: a Novel, by Suzanne M. Wolfe - Rather atmospheric tale of an art restorer grappling with restoring her wounded life while working on a project in Rome. Pretty good. More description than action, but well written. Paraclete Press always publishes thoughtful books, so I have requested several more of their novels from our local library.

The Fiction Class, by Susan Breen - I loved this well-written and clever story of a fiction instructor, struggling to come to terms with her own story and her family. Includes writing exercises you might get in Susan's classes... yeah, she teaches writing, too!

My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult - I'd never read anything by Jodi Picoult, who has a tremendous popular following. This one is the powerful (if wrenching) story of a girl whose parents had her specifically to be a donor for her sister, who had leukemia, and how the illness shaped all of their lives. As can be expected in most best-selling fiction, includes some graphic sexuality and language (in Breen's book as well, but milder). Too bad.

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