Saturday, March 09, 2024

An Eclectic Assortment: The Latest Reading Review

The purposes for these book lists are to provide for myself accountability and motivation, to provide for my bookish friends a spur to their motivations regarding reading, and finally, to pass along, when appropriate, recommendations to those same friends.

I begin this brief note with the admission that my reading has been limited this first part of the year. Usually winter provides more time for reading and so my book totals are normally quite high during the months when temperatures are cold and snow is on the ground. But not so much this year -- there have been too many Vital Signs of responsibilities, sermon preparations, quick trips to Kansas and northwest Iowa, and so on. Nevertheless, however busy the schedule, I will always make some time for reading and so I now submit my 2024 list to date.

The most important among the group was a re-reading of Charles Dickens’ hefty novel, David Copperfield. And, no surprise, I still recommend it with a four-star rating. However, the only other four-star reads in these 10 weeks was a manuscript copy of Christy Anne Collins’ riveting account of her pro-life career. The tentative title of her book is From Prison Ministry to Prison. It was excellent and I will certainly let you know when it is published. And then there was this short but very enlightening and inspiring story of Tony McFadden, Redeemed: My Journey After Abortion.

And the others? Well, there was a re-read of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; a re-read of C.S. Forester’s The African Queen; and a re-read of David Karsner’s Silver Dollar: The Story of the Tabors which has had particular interest for Coloradans like myself. There were also a few “pure pleasure” reads as well: It’s Your Turn, Mr. Moto by John P. Marquand, Fear Is the Key by Alistair MacLean, A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh, and the highest quality of this lot, The Romantic Prince by Raphael Sabatini.

And finally, the most unusual book in my recent reading was a book by Nebraska’s former Attorney General, Don Stenberg. It is a book using a Screwtape Letters format. And although the formula is somewhat overused, and Mr. Stenberg’s writing isn’t exceptional, and the ending is heterodox (bizarre might be a better word), I still rate it three stars and recommend it for the important information he imparts, the calls to action he makes, and the moral courage he displays in seeking to make a difference for Christ in a darkened culture. That book? Eavesdropping on Lucifer.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Yes, The Christmas Room Is Seasonal Reading -- All Seasons!

The Yuletide may be behind us but reading The Christmas Room is always in season. Just yesterday a request came in for us to send out a couple of copies. And the day before, we received this very encouraging note:

“Mr. Hartford, I received a copy of your book, The Christmas Room as a gift for my birthday in October. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated so much of it. My husband passed away 3 years ago after being in a wonderful caring center for about 8 months. I actually experienced many of the kind people that you had in your book and it made my Christmas much easier.  Thank you for writing it and I just wanted you to know it meant a great deal to me.”

Many thanks for that kind note.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

The Reading Year in Review

It was an excellent year “between the covers.” Book covers, that is. My total number of books ended up at 71 with several sizable challenges among them. 

The highlights (almost all of them being re-reads) included the whole of the Sherlock Holmes canon; 3 Dickens novels and a couple of Sabatini’s; The Lord of the Rings trilogy (plus The Hobbit, of course); Lewis’ space trilogy and his Chronicles of Narnia; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; Ben-Hur; Cripple Creek Days; Seabiscuit; The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization; a couple of Paul Tournier’s works; Malcolm Muggeridge’s Confessions of a Twentieth Century Pilgrim; 4 of Shakespeare’s history plays; Fahrenheit 451; Killer Angels; Cal Thomas’ Watchman in the Night; 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help; and the massive collection rightfully entitled, The Ultimate Christmas Collection.

And among the books specifically planned for the first quarter or so of this year? We Will Not Be Silenced by Erwin Lutzer; David Copperfield by Charles Dickens; No Little People: Sixteen Sermons for the 20th Century by Francis Schaeffer; Witness by Whittaker Chambers; What’s So Great about Christianity by Dinesh D’Souza; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne; Jesus Is Risen: Paul and the Early Church by David Limbaugh; Heaven by Randy Alcorn; And in the End: The Last Days of The Beatles by Ken McNab; and Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by J. Warner Wallace. 

Want to join me for any of these?

Postscript: The full reading list for 2023 is below with the highest recommendations shown by 4 asterisks. 

*** 1) A Study in Scarlet (Arthur Conan Doyle)
*** 2) The Sign of Four (Arthur Conan Doyle)
**** 3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
**** 4) The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
**** 5) The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
**** 6) The Hound of the Baskervilles (Arthur Conan Doyle)
** 7) The Valley of Fear (Arthur Conan Doyle)
**** 8) His Last Bow (Arthur Conan Doyle)
*** 9) The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
*** 10) The Master of Ballantrae (Robert Louis Stevenson)
*** 11) R.U.R. (Karel Capek)
**** 12) Scaramouche (Rafael Sabatini)
**** 13) Henry VI Part One (William Shakespeare)
**** 14) Henry VI Part Two (William Shakespeare)
**** 15) Henry VI Part Three (William Shakespeare)
**** 16) Richard III (William Shakespeare)
**** 17) The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Anthony Esolen)
*** 18) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving)
**** 19) Confessions of a Twentieth Century Pilgrim (Malcolm Muggeridge)
**** 20) The Old Curiosity Shop (Charles Dickens)
**** 21) The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)
**** 22) The Fellowship of the Ring (J.R.R. Tolkien)
**** 23) The Two Towers (J.R.R. Tolkien)
**** 24) The Return of the Ring (J.R.R. Tolkien)
**** 25) Holy Disorders (Edmund Crispin)
*** 26) Swan Song (Edmund Crispin)
*** 27) Out of the Silent Planet (C.S. Lewis)
*** 28) Perelandra (C.S. Lewis)
**** 29) That Hideous Strength (C.S. Lewis)
**** 30) The Seasons of Life (Paul Tournier)
**** 31) Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
**** 32) Submarine (Edward L. Beach)
**** 33) The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (William Shirer)
*** 34) The Strong & the Weak (Paul Tournier)
*** 35) Gettysburg: The Confederate High Tide (Champ Clark)
**** 36) Killer Angels (Michael Shaara)
**** 37) The Stars in Their Courses (Shelby Foote)
*** 38) Watchman in the Night (Cal Thomas)
**** 39) The Snare (Rafael Sabatini)
**** 40) The Magician's Nephew (C.S. Lewis)
September & October
**** 41) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)
*** 42) Fire Over England (A.E.W. Mason)
**** 43) Shaken (Tim Tebow)
**** 44) Ben-Hur (General Lew Wallace)
** 45) The White Company (Arthur Conan Doyle)
**** 46) 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help (Benjamin Wiker)
**** 47) The Horse and His Boy (C.S. Lewis)
**** 48) Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (C.S. Lewis)
**** 49) Nicholas Nickelby (Charles Dickens)
*** 50) The Johnstown Flood (David McCullough)
*** 51) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (C.S. Lewis)
*** 52) The Shepherd of the Hills (Harold Bell Wright)
**** 53) Bleak House (Charles Dickens)
**** 54) Seabiscuit (Lauren Hillenbrand) 
** 55) The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Joan Aiken)
** 56) The Beast In Me and Other Animals (James Thurber)
57) Cripple Creek Days (Mabel Barbee Lee) 
From The Ultimate Christmas Collection:
**** 58) Christmas story collection (Louisa May Alcott) 
*** 59) Christmas story collection (Henry van Dyke, Ellis Parker Butler, O Henry, et al)
** 60) The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (ETA Hoffmann)
*** 61) Christmas story collection (Self Lagerlof, Washington Irving,William Dean Howells, et al)
** 62) The Nutcracker & the Mouse King (E.T.A. Hoffman)
**** 63) Christmas story collection (Lucy Maud Montgomery)
*** 64) Christmas story collection (Damon Runyan, Frank Stockton, Harriet Beecher Stowe, et al)
**** 65) Christmas at Thompson Hall & Other Stories (Anthony Trollope)
*** 66) Beasley's Christmas Party (Booth Tarkington)
**** 67) The Birds' Christmas Carol & Other Stories (Kate Douglas Wiggin)
**** 68) The Silver Chair (C.S. Lewis)
**** 69) The Last Battle (C.S. Lewis)
* 70) Letter to the American Church (Eric Metaxas)
** 71) The Golden Ring (John Snyder)

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The Very Best of Christmas Reading

4 Star Christmas Reading (And a Few Honorable Mentions)

With no time in this hectic (but happy) holiday season to give individual reviews, I am merely going to list my favorite Christmas reading in hopes that you will find it of value when you’re looking for literature that is high quality, wholesome, inspirational, and satisfyingly Christmassy. You’ll find in my list a wide range of genres including classic novels and short stories, theology, poetry, and history.  

So here to start are (in no particular order) my 4 Star Recommendations.

* Shepherds Abiding (Jan Karon)

* A Christmas Longing (Joni Eareckson-Tada)

* A Christmas Carol, Cricket on the Hearth, The Chimes, The Battle of Life, The Ghost’s Bargain, and The Haunted Man (Charles Dickens)

* Spirit of Christmas: Stories, Poems, Essays (G. K. Chesterton)

* "The Tailor of Gloucester" (Beatrix Potter)

* The Christmas Room (Denny Hartford)

* The Quiet Little Woman, Tilly’s Christmas, Rosa’s Tale, The Abbott’s Ghost, A Merry Christmas, and A Country Christmas, and more (Louisa May Alcott)

* O Little Town (Don Reid)

* Christmas Every Day (William Dean Howells)

* Joy Born at Bethlehem: 19 Christmas Sermons
(Charles Spurgeon)

* Christmas at Thompson Hall (Anthony Trollope)

* God With Us (John MacArthur)

* Snow (Calvin Miller)

* A Treasury of Christmas Stories (Including "The Other Wise Man") (Henry Van Dyke)

* "The Gift of the Magi" and Other Christmas Stories (O. Henry)

* The Freedom Train Christmas, The Winter in the Woods, and Christmas of the Talking Animals (Denny Hartford)

* "The Tailor of Gloucester" (Beatrix Potter)

* Beasley’s Christmas Party (Booth Tarkington)

* "The Beggar Boy at Christ’s Christmas Tree" (Fyodor Dostoevsky)

* Old Christmas (Washington Irving)

* The Bird’s Christmas Carol (Kate Douglas Wiggin)

* Dakota Christmas (Joseph Bottum)

* Christmas Sermons (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

* "A Christmas Inspiration" and Other Christmas Stories (Lucy Maud Montgomery)

* A Child’s Christmas in Wales (Dylan Thomas)

Honorable Mention

* Letters from Father Christmas (J. R. R. Tolkien)

* Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Agatha Christie)

* Christmas Stories (Selma Lagerlof)

* The Drum Goes Dead (Bess Streeter Aldrich)

* The Nutcracker & the Mouse King (E.T.A. Hoffmann)

* Good Tidings of Great Joy (Sarah Palin)

* Finding Noel (Richard Paul Evans)

* The Golden Ring: A Christmas Story (John Snyder)

* Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce (Stanley Weintraub)

* The Christmas Train (David Baldacci)

* "The Little Match Girl" (Hans Christian Anderson)

* Miracle on 34th Street (Valentine Davies)

* "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" (Arthur Conan Doyle)

* From Babylon to Bethlehem, The Original Christmas Carol, and The Chronicles of Christmas (Pastor Stephen Davey) 

* Home for Christmas (Lloyd C. Douglas)

* A Christmas Most Foul: A Collection of Holiday Mysteries (A variety of mystery’s Golden Age authors)

* Gifts for a Joyous Christmas (Fr. Val J. Peter)

* The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas (Madeleine L’Engle)

* The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (L. Frank Baum)

 And don’t forget, of course, the exquisite Christmas-themed poetry of G.K. Chesterton, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, Leslie Norris, Edgar Guest, T.S. Eliot, Christina Rossetti, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Norman Nicholson, Leslie Norris, and many more. 

Also, there are several books I love in which Christmas plays but a part. Still, because of the tender, memorable scenes of Christmas they depict therein, I’ll mention a few of my favorites: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame; Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens; Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte; Little Women by Louis May Alcott; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis; The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder; Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery; Great Expectations by Charles Dickens; and Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Merry Christmas reading!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: The 3rd Lyric Change

Judy Garland’s singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the 1944 film “Meet Me in St. Louis” made the song a Christmas standard. It’s certainly one of the favorites we present in the Christmas version of “When Swing Was King” to senior care facilities. And when we come to that number in the show, I sometimes explain that the lyrics of that song have actually been changed twice -- first at the insistence of Judy Garland herself when the film was still being made and then again in the 1950s at the whim of Frank Sinatra.

Well, here from a memorable devotional from Joni Eareckson Tada comes the very moving story behind yet a third change in the song’s lyrics. Check it out…

Have Yourself a Blessed Christmas 

One of the Christmas classics you hear so often this time of year is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The composer of that poignant song is my friend Hugh Martin. Years ago, when Hugh came to Hollywood after leaving New York, he fell on difficult times, which led this dear man to the feet of Jesus. And sometime after his conversion, Hugh went back to the piano and composed new lyrics to his beloved classic. This time, he wanted his Lord and Savior to be honored in the music. Hugh went home to be with Jesus in 2011 at the age of ninety-six, but before he died, he was a guest on our radio program, and I sang those new lyrics for him: “Have yourself a blessed little Christmas, Christ the King is born. Let your voices ring upon this happy morn.” The old lyrics were tender and sweet; the new lyrics may go on ringing into eternity.

Thank You, Lord, for the story of Hugh Martin’s changed life. It’s a story that can be told millions upon millions of times. You change lives, King Jesus. You lift up people from darkness, heartbreak, and impossible situations and give them hope, happiness, and a new song to sing.

And thank you, Joni, for passing along this wonderful Christmas account.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

"If" by Rudyard Kipling

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (c1895)

If you can keep your head when all about you 
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

An Article for Fellow Book Lovers: 10 Books That Made Us…And 5 Others That Also Helped (Denny & Claire Hartford)

As I mentioned in a recent Book Den post (October 31), I finished a most enlightening and relevant book entitled 10 Books that Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn’t Help by Benjamin Wiker. That book easily makes my Top 10 for the year and I couldn’t recommend it more highly for those who want to know more about why Western Civilization has so tragically “devolved” in the last century. I truly hope many of you will take the challenge and read it yourself.

But reading that book also prompted Claire and me to think about the books that had actually made the world better -- at least, our world. We decided to make it a project, one that would cause us to look back, remember, and evaluate the books that had most shaped our lives for the better. It proved to be a very worthwhile exercise for us both and we have decided to share it. We hope you find our answers of interest even as we suggest that you consider pondering a similar experiment. So, let’s go. Aside from the Bible itself, we are going to tell you the 10 Books That Made Us…And 5 Others That Also Helped. 

You'll find that piece on the Vital Signs Ministries website right here.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

The Incomparable Charles Dickens

I finished my latest Charles Dickens novel last night -- a rereading of one of his longest and, in other ways too, an especially challenging book, Bleak House. But was I wowed once again? Most certainly. Remarkable characters. Captivating plot. The keenest and ever-relevant observations of human nature. And writing skills that are truly unmatched. 

Even amid the corruptive injustice of Jarndyce and Jarndyce (the complex court case which pervades the pages of the novel), I found my journey through Bleak House immensely rewarding.

And how do you follow Dickens? Well, you certainly don’t go to another novel, that’s for sure. So, I’ve opted instead for a re-reading of an inspiring, thoroughly enjoyable book of history, Laura Hillebrand’s classic, Seabiscuit.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

What Recent Reads Earned 5 Stars?

The reading of late has been absolutely exceptional with most of the books of the last couple of months earning the whole 5 stars possible.  Let’s run down the list.

Fire Over England, written by A.E.W. Mason, is an adventure story set against the imminent invasion of England by the Spanish Armada. It is full of page-turning action. There are intriguing parallels drawn between the England of the 16th Century and the England of the 1930s which is facing the threats to its existence from the Nazi ascendancy in Europe. I have read Fire Over England a couple of times before and I enjoyed it once again. Make it a 4-star novel.

Claire agrees with me that Tim Tebow’s Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms is definitely 5-star book. There is plenty of insight, encouragement, challenge, and wise counsel.  Tebow illustrates in various ways his theme that you know “who you are” by knowing “Whose you are.” He also speaks movingly about the necessity of having a tight “circle of trust” for accountability and motivation, about learning the lessons from disappointment that can bring you closer to God, and much more. Claire and I both recommend it highly.

Rereading Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by General Lew Wallace was another re-reading project that both Claire and I undertook this last quarter. My, what a story! What detailed and fascinating history! What spiritual inspiration! Sure, you’ve seen the movies -- 1907, 1925 (MGM’s version that was the most expensive silent film ever), 1959 (with Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd as the lead actors) 2003, and 2016 – but you’re missing most of the treasure if you don’t read the book. 5 stars? Of course.

I found Arthur Conan Doyle’s 14th century military adventure, The White Company, not quite as enjoyable as my first reading many years ago. So, I’m leaving it in the 3-star category.

Next up is another compelling 5-star read, 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help by Benjamin Wiker. It’s a wow, no doubt about it. I spent profound hours carefully reading this excellent and extremely important book. I particularly endorse it as a resource for Christians who desire to know the “whats” and “whys” regarding the de-volution of Western civilization…as well as learning the “hows” of reclaiming some of the authority and relevance the Church has so pitifully surrendered in the last century.

We have taken advantage of travel time in recent months to “read” five of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia via the superb radio adaptations done by Focus on the Family produced between 1999 and 2002.  On our way to Colorado and back in August, we listened to The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Then in October, as we drove to Wichita, then Branson, and back to Omaha, we listened with great delight to The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

These productions, by the way, are excellent adaptations with almost all of the text of the original books kept intact. In addition, they utilize the voices of such distinguished actors as Paul Scofield and David Suchet, a fantastic musical score, realistic sound effects, and more. For fans of Narnia, these productions are wonderful. In fact, we suggest you consider putting the series on your Christmas shopping list, perhaps a used CD set. And ratings? 5-star ratings go to all of the above titles except the Dawn Treader. For though there is marvelous stuff in that book, I’m afraid the chapters about the Island of the Voices, the Dufflepuds, and the Dark Island drop the book to a 4-star for me.

My favorite Charles Dickens novel seems always to be the one I’m reading at the time. But it is certainly true that Nicholas Nickleby stands a bit taller than most. I thoroughly enjoyed evenings at our condo down in Branson with Nicholas, Madeline, Smike, Newman Noggs, John Browdie, the Cheeryble brothers and even the despicable villains Ralph Nickleby, Arthur Gride, and Wackford and Mrs. Squeers. Nicholas Nickleby easily earns 5 stars and then some.

At a discount bookstore in Branson, I came across a new edition of David McCullough’s first published book, The Johnstown Flood. It was an extremely interesting, well-written history about one of America’s horrific and most publicized tragedies. It’s a solid 4-star history.

The last title in this Book Den reading update is the classic novel of the Ozark hills and valleys, Harold Bell Wright’s The Shepherd of the Hills. It made for a particularly appropriate re-read for our Branson getaway but, alas, I didn’t actually begin it until our very last night there and finishing it soon after returning to Nebraska. Not to worry, even sitting in my own living room, Wright’s imagination and literary skills made me feel like I was still down in an Ozark “holler” dodging the Baldknobbers with young Matt, Sammy, Pete, and Dad Howitt. The Shepherd of the Hills is an easy, pleasurable read with action, mystery, and inspiration aplenty that earns 5 stars.

On the list for the next few weeks? Well, the current plan includes: re-reads of Bleak House (Charles Dickens), Heaven (Randy Alcorn), A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens), and the last two books in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. And first time readings of We Will Not Be Silenced (Erwin Lutzer), Jesus Is Risen: Paul and the Early Church (David Limbaugh), and No Little People: Sixteen Sermons for the 20th Century (Francis Schaeffer).

Friday, October 06, 2023

A "Bookish" Invitation

Dear friends,

As you know, the biblical word “fellowship” relates to “things held in common.” Well, over the years I have been richly blessed by “assembling together” with fellow pilgrims (Hebrews 10:25) in order to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:28). This has occurred as we minister together, pray together, bear each other’s burdens, and, especially relevant to this brief letter, as we read together. That particular form of fellowship has involved the 30 years of monthly novel reading by the Notting Hill Napoleons, the Book Brunch discussions sponsored by Vital Signs Ministries which we still host every quarter, church reading projects like those we organized with two different congregations with The Chronicles of Narnia as our project, and innumerable reading covenants we have engaged in with special friends over the years. We have found reading together to be a wonderful enjoyment with profound and lasting spiritual benefits. 

And that brings me to this invitation for you to join Claire and me in an autumn and winter reading adventure. Think of it like the reading challenge you undertook as a kid for the local library. But, in this case, you’re not reading to get a bookmark or a certificate with a gold star embossed on the edge and bearing the signature of Mrs. Succotash the head librarian. No, the prize you win in this program is simply the “iron-sharpening” fellowship you experience in reading quality literature with other serious Christians. 

Here’s how it works -- we are going to list a half dozen books which Claire and I both promise to be reading between now and March 1. We then invite you to join us in reading one, two, or whatever number you desire. Consider it a book club, if you like…a book club that offers reading motivation and accountability, even if we can’t enjoy a direct conversation over coffee and muffins. (Of course, there’s always phone and email.) Anyhow, that’s it; a challenge to make reading fine books one of the “things held in common” these next few months. 

Okay, the booklist. As you’ll see, we’re including fiction and non-fiction. 1) Ben-Hur by General Lew Wallace, 2) No Little People: Sixteen Sermons for the 20th Century by Francis Schaeffer, 3) A Christmas Carol (plus one other of the Christmas books) by Charles Dickens, 4) What’s So Great about Christianity by Dinesh D’Souza, 5) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and 6) Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon.

Well, that’s it. We hope you’ll consider our invitation, at least for joining us in reading one or two of the titles we suggested. Happy autumn!