Wednesday, October 01, 2014

September reads

I always seem to be almost done with one more non-fiction book just at the end of the month, but it doesn't quite make it in. This month is no exception. If I'd made it, it would have been four of each. Can't complain, as I'm still quite a few books ahead of schedule for the year. I make it 45 read, with 13 weeks yet to go in the year. I could read a book every other week and still reach the goal of fifty-two books read for the year. Unfortunately, the book backlog on the kindle seems to be going in the wrong direction...


Fighting Chance, Jane Haddam - This is another in her excellent series featuring Gregor Demarkian, the "Armenian-American Hercule Poirot". Her novels begin slowly, often focusing on the inner workings of each character's mind. The ending of this one rather shocked me; it has more shock value if you have read a number of the preceding books in the series. Not a Creature was Stirring is the first book; this one is number nineteen, I believe.

Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good, Jan Karon - Ms. Karon's Mitford series books are delightful reads, and this is no exception. As a general rule, I'm much more likely to enjoy mysteries and novels with a definite issue or question to resolve that propels the action forward. In the Mitford books, things meander a bit around town and through lives, but they are so gentle I can deal with it.

The Aloha Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel, Jennifer Chiaverini - I've read a number of the Elm Creek novels. They are well written, and the fact that the author lives in Wisconsin gives a local touch. A number of the novels are set in previous ages via flashbacks to family of the characters - not my favorite technique (if I wanted to read historical fiction, I would). This is not one of those, thankfully, but is set entirely in Hawaii. If nothing else, it was worth it for the in depth discussion of Hawaiian quilting, an art form only slightly related to the quilting the missionaries first taught the Islanders oh so long ago.

Bones Never Lie, Kathy Reichs - Ms. Reichs' books are the novels on which the television series "Bones" is based, though aside from the name and some characteristics of Temperance Brennan, the two are fairly dissimilar. Yes, the books are better. This particular novel actually loops back to events in one of Ms. Reichs' first books, and a series of murders that were solved, but whose perpetrator escaped.


Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, Francis Chan - This was a huge seller when it was first published, I believe ten years or so ago. This version is updated and revised a bit. Chan's central idea is that since we have a God who is incredibly, unexpectedly, sacrificially in love with us, our response should be a proportional outpouring of over-the-top, generous, sacrificial, crazy love. So far, so good. Where I take a bit of issue with him is his contention that by living that type of life, we can fix the problems of the world. He gives the impression (and this update was written to specifically counter this impression) that unless you sell all you have and use the proceeds to support those less fortunate, you are not living an "authentic" Christian life. He is quite careful (and rightly so) to separate salvation, which is by faith, from these works, which are a response to that salvation and the love God lavished upon us. While I fully support helping out any way we can, I don't believe we will ever be able to "fix" the world - that's an eventual part of God's plan, but in that plan, it's not our works that accomplishes it. If I sound confused, that would be about right...the book has spawned whole ministries to the less fortunate, which is good, but I think it may have an entire generation focused more on outward works than character building.

The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer - This book is considered one of the "classics' of the faith, and rightly so, I think. Tozer's central thesis is that we have a wrong view, a too small view of God, and that hinders our spiritual progress. He says, "It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power into our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is." He goes on to examine some attributes of God, defined as whatever God has revealed to be true about Himself. While Tozer wrote in the middle of the last century, much of what he says is even more true of the church today: we've simply lost the concept of an awe-inspiring God. While the theological concepts discussed are weighty, the book itself is easy to understand, easy to think on.

The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful, Myquillin Smith - Loved this book. Design. Color. Using what you have, or ordinary things, in unexpected ways. How having surroundings that reflect you and your family impact your lives. Making home a sanctuary. Daring to try something, learning from mistakes. I've put a couple of her concepts into practice, and the place looks - and feels - better already (yeah, yeah, pictures coming...some day I'll be taking hundreds of pictures that I've said I would, and putting them up on the blog all at once...).

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