Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Year (So Far) in Books: Concerned Primarily with Lewis and Dumas

This year’s reading has, to be quite honest, presented quite a challenge.  Sure, there have been some fun, escapist reads along the way (a John D. MacDonald, an Arnold Bennett ghost story, a couple of Ngaio Marsh mysteries, a Mary Roberts Rinehart thriller, and a few others), but most of this year’s books have been in keeping with the New Year’s resolutions I’ve been making for awhile now; namely, to spend more of my evenings with the really quality stuff.  That means the best history, theology, and classic literature.

The theological books read thus far this year have been profound and helpful. There have been a few I had never read before but, as is usual, a lot more which are re-reads. 2016’s list so far includes Heaven by Randy Alcorn, The Snakebite Letters by Peter Kreeft, Fool’s Talk by Os Guinness, Manalive and Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, and I’m still slogging through Augustine’s Confessions.  Perhaps I should also include in this category the “space trilogy” of C.S. Lewis: Out of the Silent PlanetPerelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

Other books? The cold war novel by Commander Edward L. Beach, Cold Is the Sea, was very good as was Jeff Shara’s Civil War story, The Smoke at Dawn.  I also enjoyed The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, Twelfth Night by Edward deVere (aka William Shakespeare), and a reprint of a 1955 classic I picked up in Estes Park, Colorado – Bob Flame, Rocky Mountain Ranger.  Oh yes, there was another truly exceptional book that Claire and I enjoyed via CDs that played while we drove to San Antonio, Texas in our “When Swing Was King” road trip.  It’s a book Claire and I both highly recommend for fun, inspiration, family values, history, and…did I already mention, fun?  The book is Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.

But the most extensive reading so far in 2016 has been my tackling again the immense series of Alexandre Dumas’ d’Artagnan adventures: The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years AfterThe Vicomte de BragelonneLouise de la Valliere, and finally The Man in the Iron Mask.  3,282 pages of swashbuckling action, mystery, patriotism, romance, international intrigue, history (as liberally re-interpreted by Dumas), heroism, humor, and, of course, virtuous and undying friendship.  After going through these books again, Dumas’ place as one of my five favorite authors is more secure than ever. Indeed, Dumas’ place is so secure that my next project is his 1844 classic, The Count of Monte Cristo.  That's another 1,240 pages. Whew!  

But in the midst of this next Dumas novel, the selection for two months of the Notting Hill Napoleons, we are riding into another grand adventure…a summer reading project of C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. We have invited readers of all ages from our church to join other friends in this fun and inspirational series, complete with discussion guides, quizzes, and a couple of parties where we can talk about what we’re experiencing in Narnia. 

By the way, if you’re interested, just let us know.