Friday, August 26, 2011

The Story of English

by Robert McCrum, William Cram and Robert MacNeil

This is an enjoyable survey of the English language from the mid 1980s. It starts with the birth of the language--how the events of the history of the people of Britain (especially all the invasions) served to create a unique branch of the Germanic languages. As the story progresses, the authors then show the modern results of these historical influences, not only in England, but also in all the places where the English people have settled and/or conquered. As this is a companion book to a television program, the book is amply illustrated and fairly easy to read. There are many points when I could visualize (auralize?) how the TV series must have presented the same information. It would be interesting to read/see an update, to see if there have been any noteworthy developments in the past 25 years.  

I'm keeping it on my shelf.
LibraryThing link


Monday, August 22, 2011

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by J.K. Rowling
(first read in November 2007)

Like last time, I think the second Harry Potter novel is a comedown from the original. It definitely didn't seem better on the second read. Still, there's a lot worse out there.

Check it out on your way to volume 3.
LibraryThing link

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Revolution in World Missions

by K.P. Yohannan

I've mixed feelings about this one. I can't figure out if it's a 226 page sermon or sales pitch. Dr. Yohannan is of the opinion that the era of sending missionaries from the West to third world mission fields is over. It's time, he argues, for Western Christians to finance evangelists from the third world instead. It makes sense. After all, someone from the third world is more able to adapt to a simplified lifestyle that's in line with the people he or she are trying to reach. Also, they don't have the taint of Western imperialism that sticks to us folks from America and Europe. I have to agree. However... I couldn't quite get behind the book. I'm sure part of the reason is that Dr. Yohannan's criticisms of the typical American Christian lifestyle stung a bit. I can never be faulted for spending too little on myself and not enough on charity. But I think a deeper reason is that Dr. Yohannan sounds like he has discerned God's mission for his own life, and now thinks that it's also God's mission for the rest of the Church. Me, I'm not convinced. Still, it definitely is a book we Christians should read, if not to challenge your own lifestyle, than to hear yet another way God is spreading the Good News.

Check it out, I dare you.
LibraryThing link


Friday, August 12, 2011

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

by J.K. Rowling
(first read in October 2007)

After viewing the last Harry Potter film, I felt inclined to reread the first book in the series. It was a lot more delightful that I remembered. It's probably due to my greater familiarity with the series--I could pick up little details that are insignificant to the first story but are built upon in subsequent books. Of course, if Ms. Rowling hadn't crafted such a good series, there wouldn't be so much to enjoy. Anyway, this is a rare case where rereading a book has caused me to revise my rating. I realize that I now need to keep this tome on my shelf.

LibraryThing link

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

by C.S. Lewis
First read in the Summer of 2002

I recently saw the latest film version of this tale. I knew they had messed with the story, as Hollywood types are wont to do, but I couldn't quite remember what they changed. So I figured I'd reread the book and see how it was supposed to be. Meaning no slight to the filmmakers, the book is better and my opinion hasn't changed in the past nine years: I still want this one on my shelf.

LibraryThing link

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Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Presidencies of James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur

by Justus D. Doenecke

In an effort to supplement the scant biography of Chester A. Arthur I had read, I picked up this book as well. It focuses specifically on the terms of each, as per the title. It's informative, albeit a little dry. It's a book about politics and since I'm more looking for personalized view of history, it's not surprising that I found it less than ideal. As presented by Professor Doenecke, the administrations of Garfield and Arthur were notable not for what they accomplished but for how they laid the groundwork for future accomplishments, mostly civil service reform and the modernization of the American Navy.

'Twas like waiting room material.
LibraryThing link

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