Books Read in September, October, & November – Simply Convivial

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Ok, so I got a little behind on my book notes. :) I’m not even going to try to tally the books the boys have read, but they have been reading folk and fairy tales and myths from the library, including this one they say they like: Twenty Scottish Tales and Legends by Cyril Swinson. And, with schoolwork being light this month, they’ve also been reading numerous Hardy Boys.

And, before I get to my own reading log, I wanted to let you know about Westminster Seminary Bookstore’s current clearance and deals. I just ordered all 4 volumes of Starr Meade’s The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study. We probably won’t use it until 6th or 7th grade (i.e. 2014-2016), but it was $22 for all four books, so it seemed prudent to purchase it now. I also noticed they had the audio CDs of Pilgrim’s Progress clearanced for $11 (a “slightly updated” text, but narrated by Max McLean), and Read Aloud Bible Stories Volume 1 is on sale for $6. An order of $50 ships free media mail, but upgrading to UPS is only 99-cents, so if you order now it should come in time for Christmas.

And, no, I am still not done with Christmas shopping. Let’s not talk about it. My order included a book or two for a certain January birthday, though, not Christmas.

Alright, so, on to the [few] books I’ve read during this last part of the year. Usually the end of a pregnancy means I read a lot as I lay on the couch, but this year I spent more time zoning on the computer than with a book.

Books Read in September

From the Garden to the City by John Dyer

Own. Purchased and read on Doug Wilson’s recommendation.

This was a good, brief book that accomplished much with clarity and brevity. In a conversational style geared for an average reader, Dyer starts with clear definitions. He then leads the reader through a history of technology, from Adam and Eve to the present time, showing that creating, having, and using technology is not itself a problem, but what we are, in fact, designed to do. He shows how historically every new development in technology leads to fear, anxiety, and outcries, but how societies adapt both themselves and the technology after a period. He posits that we are in the adapting phase right now with the internet and social media and smartphones and that we will, as a society, figure it out if we approach it thoughtfully and remain in charge of our use rather than letting our technology rule us. The book remains balanced between reassuring the angst-ridden technophobe on the one hand and admonishing the thoughtless technophile on the other.

Dyer demonstrates from the Bible and proves from the flow of history that God is working humanity and His people toward a goal: wisdom and maturity. Each level of development, which includes technology, calls for greater and greater wisdom, maturity, and responsibility. The world isn’t going to hell in a handbasket, God is directing it with purpose and vision. To want to return to an earlier phase is to wish society would bury its talent rather than invest and grow.

Technology has never been and is not currently the problem. As it has been and ever will be until Christ comes, the problem is in human hearts, manifested by human use. The solution is repentance of idolatry and dependence on God, not returning to an earlier technological point than today.

Room With a View by E.M. Forster

Own. It’s been on my shelf for over 10 years and I finally picked it up on a whim and hardly set it down once I started.

Despite its now-cliched theme of a woman coming-of-age in the modern, pre-feminist world, this story was not only well-told, but I also really enjoyed it. I thought it was a good treatment of the theme, and one that did not sacrifice the plot or characters to make its point. It begins with the question, outright, should we indeed always tell the truth in all situations? The story then explores that question throughout, but also uses it to show how we often don’t tell the truth because we are self-deceived. “Know Thyself,” another oft-trite and overdone modern theme, is here not heavy handed and, I think, well treated.

It was short, riveting, lovely.

Books Read in October

Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Own. Purchased from Exodus Books on Eli & Amanda Evans’ recommendation.

This contribution to the fantasy genre from the 70s is very good, but also very bizarre. It features many age-old characters: Chanticleer, Pertolet, basilisks, Wyrm, among others, but positioned in unexpected ways. It maintains the epic mode while using very commonplace and even comical characters in its

Villette by Charlotte Bronte

Own. I didn’t even know Charlotte Bronte had any other novels besides Jane Eyre until I saw this at a used bookstore. I like Jane Eyre, but this novel is even more Bronte (that is, too much Bronte) than Jane Eyre. The ending is even more disappointing.

This story is also about an alone-in-the-world woman making her way for herself, but told in the first person by a too-rational character who doesn’t give herself the credit or backstory she should. I think it being told in first person makes it harder to sympathize with her than with Jane Eyre, because we see more of how ill Jane was treated. Lucy is a lady and does not demand the reader’s sympathy or pity, but that makes her story more baffling. Remember when you read a novel with the narrator as a character that you are never, then, being told the whole omniscient “true” story, but are only seeing one perspective and perhaps are not being told the whole story. Both aspects happen in this story, and when you look back and see the truth after the end, and think about what was wrong with Lucy’s perception of herself and others, it’s just sad and depressing and disappointing. At least, it is to me. I am not a melancholic and I take no pleasure in melancholic stories. Hence, I am not a big Bronte person.

Reader beware: there is a lot of untranslated French. I recommend finding an annotated edition if that will bother you. I felt like the gist of the situation was still clear, even if I didn’t know what exactly was being said in the French dialogs.

Books Read in November

Boyhood and Beyond by Bob Schultz

Own. Recommended by Kendra and the Evans.

In short chapters with memorable stories and analogies, Schultz explains the importance of integrity and walking with God. Though written to boys, encouraging them to grow to be men and practice taking responsibility and grow in maturity rather than succumb to laziness and folly, Schultz’s metaphors, analogies, and stories are applicable to all. It’s similar to a grandfather illustrating the Proverbs to his grandchildren with stories from his own life. The themes are very Proverbs-esque, yet the writing is not moralistic. It is centered on paying attention to what God has said and to God’s providential leading and believing it with your life and not just your mind.

I think we’ll read this aloud next year during Circle Time.

That’s all. My book count for 2012 is pitiful. Sigh. Maybe in 2013 2014 I’ll have more brain power back.

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