I’ve noticed, while I go on and on about Movies, TV, and even music, I barely mention books. I suppose that’s because it takes much longer to read a book than it does to watch a sitcom, or even share a movie-watching experience with family and friends, which usually doesn’t last more than a few hours. Books are less of a shared experience, unless you join a book club, and even then, most of the shared experience is still solitary, except when you discuss what you’ve read. While I might watch several TV shows in a single day, it takes longer to read a book, of course.
Yet I still find that, by the end of a month, I may have read parts, or all, of entire books. For this reason, here are a few brief descriptions of my top five, and the one I didn’t care for as much:
1. The Bible (Matthew)
I still read a chapter of the bible every night before going to bed, and this month, it was the book of Matthew. Reading the bible every night keeps me grounded in God’s word, and always keeps the ideas and ideals of Jesus and His Kingdom at the forefront of my mind, ready to pop in and help me make the right, and righteous decisions, in my daily life. Not that I always do, of course. Nobody's perfect, and I still wind up making the wrong decisions sometimes, as do we all, but it also helps more often than perhaps I realize. Put another way, I’d hate to think of all the lousy choices I’d be making if I didn’t have God and His word in my life.
2. Seven Men by Eric Metaxes
Written by another great Christian role model, this book is about seven Christian men he admires and looks up to: America’s first president, George Washington; European abolitionist William Wilberforce; Olympic champion Eric Liddell; Outspoken Nazi protester Dietrich Bonhoeffer; America’s first black Major League Baseball player Jackie Robinson; Pope John Paul II; and Charles W. Colson, who went to prison for his involvement with Watergate, even though he could have plea bargained for a lesser sentence, and there turned his life around and founded Prison Fellowship and Angel Tree. Several movies have been made about some of these men, including Amazing Grace (Wilberforce), Chariots of Fire (Liddell), 42 (Robinson), and a 2005 TV movie titled Pope John Paul II, starring Jon Voight.
Doing a little internet investigating, I have again found some dissenters of some of these men, including the author, and as usual, some of their complaints may even have merit. But I’ll share a quote of Ronald Reagan’s here, he being yet another impressive role model: “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20 percent traitor.”
3. Godforsaken by Dinesh D’Souza
I love some of D’Souza’s books so much, I purchased the audio versions, and have re-read them by actually re-listening to them during breaks at work, when I go for a brief walk. I enjoy being spiritually and intellectually challenged while I get a bit of a break. Now I don’t agree with everything Dinesh says in his books – for one thing, he doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with the lack of fossil evidence that shows one species ever becoming another, and tends to embrace the theory of evolution at the same time he discredits Darwinian atheists, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate his attempt to look at this from a purely intellectual view, and defend a belief in God at the same time. I’ll again use that quote of Reagan’s above, and realize that, despite a few differences in thought, which happens any time any two minds compare notes, D’Souza is still a “friend” and ally in my theological, philosophical, and political "battles".
4. Dr. Sleep by Stephen King
I’ve read a lot of King, and since my Mom’s friends know this, one of them lent me his latest book, which is a sequel to The Shining. Despite being quite morally rough in the first 50 pages, I finally began to enjoy revisiting Danny Torrence and his struggles with the ghosts of his past, in the form of alcoholism courtesy of his father, or literal ghosts from the Overlook Hotel. The new character of young Abra Stone, a young girl with an immense Shining ability, draws the attention of not only Danny, but a group called the True Knot, led by Rose in the strangely tilted top hat, a very long lived band who survive by sucking the Shining out of kids. Although King is very good at developing plot, characters, settings, and even themes, after reading a whole lot of one particular author, you begin to notice the same things over and over again. In this story, not only does it have many things in common with it’s predecessor, The Shining, but there are strong elements of many of Stephen King’s other stories, such as Carrie and Firestarter (since Abra is a little girl with a tremendous, nearly limitless supernatural power growing within her), the ending of It (as the heroes must come together and make a stand against an ancient evil), Dreamcatchers (Danny must “compartmentailize” his mind in order to overcome the evil that threatens them), and The Green Mile (with a plot twist very similar to what happens between John Coffey and the Warden’s wife). I enjoyed this tale, but it took a while to get going, and finding it a bit derivative of some of King’s other work, I just didn’t like it as much as some of those older novels it borrowed from.
5. No Fear Shakespeare: A Companion
Well, I am an English Major. I’d have to say I do love the poetic language, intelligent ideas, intriguing characters, and interesting plots of Shakespeare’s plays. My favorites have always been the ones you might suspect, the ones that are generally considered some of Shakespeare’s finest works: Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, The Tempest, King Lear, Julius Caesar, and Othello. Some others I’ve seen, but they didn’t become instant favorites, such as Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Reading them is all well and good, if a person has the time and wants to devote it to these plays, but I was looking for something that described all his plays in simple language I could use as a quick refresher. This book expertly goes into what life was like back in Shakespeare’s day, and shone a light on what little is actually known about Shakespeare, including all those theories that Shakespeare may not have written all these plays, and it also looks at some other famous writers who didn’t care for him. After that, it covers all his plays in order, from the most popular I mention above, to ones most people, even fans, just never get around to reading, such as The Two Noble Kinsmen and Cymbeline. Hamlet and King Lear are one thing, but who has really ever heard of those last two?
I’m 0ne of those types that never wants to stop learning, and this book covers pretty much everything I'd ever want to know about Shakespeare and his plays in roughly 300 pages. It’s the kind of book I might turn to in the future for a bit of a brush-up.
Not the Best
Of course, there usually always has to be a worst, even if it's just by process of elimination. Every so often, I find a book that I’m (sadly) not really all that fond of, and this time it was:
1. Guilty by Ann Coulter
This is why I don’t think I’d be much of a politician or political commentator. It’s not “in my blood.” I've always believed I’m more religious than political. Although I absolutely loved Ann Coulter’s book Godless: The Church of Liberalism, published in 2007, with most of her other books, I usually find that a little bit of Ann goes a long way. I still like her snarky sense of humor, and when she gives it to liberal dunces who really deserve it. But after a while, all this political fighting just starts to drag. And then there’s the fact that everybody has their opinions, and after keeping up with many of her posts on Townhall.com, I find that she often writes some opinions that cause me to raise just one of my eyes quizzically. Mike Adams may be right. Here, her arguments are often weighed down by too much exposition or bizarre tangents that go one for too many pages. Godless, which I loved so much that I downloaded the abridged audio version read by Ann Coulter herself, wasn’t like that. This book, Guilty, made me realize that, with a few exceptions, Ann is probably best in small little bites here and there, and even then, you might not agree, with either her message or her style, even if you’re a far right conservative. I often think she writes so many books and appears on so many talk shows simply to sell more books and appear on more talk shows. Like many famous people, she seems to suffer from just a tad bit of narcissism.