I think maybe I'll start introducing these posts as they tend to be long and then you won't have to scroll down if you're not so inclined.
This time I'm reviewing a book about the Fighting Parson and his wife and how they reopened the road to upstate New York for Mormons everywhere, Garry Wills's parsing of Jesus's message (unlike me, he leaves off the s on s-terminating names), a crappy comic, a classic (and excellent Mormon novel) and one of the few scary books for children that actually gots the stuff.
085) A Lion and a Lamb> by Rand H. Packer, finished September 20
- This book has a lot of typos, some amateurish touches, is obviously written by a family member, forgets some of its original theses as it goes along.
But this book is also about a fascinating story from Church history, a pair of wonderful characters, and is charming and delightful in the way I praised Added Upon for.
In 1915, Willard and Rebecca Bean were called to leave their Utah home and move to New York, to live in the home Joseph Smith grew up in and make some friends. Which was tough. The people of Palmyra hated the Mormons and weren't shy to show it.
Lucky Willard was a champion boxer.
But, in pure Almaic fashion, his weekly preaching won over way more people than a couple knocked noggins ever did. By the end of their quarter century in New York, they were among the most respected and beloved citizens of their town and the Church was well on its way to the Hill Cumorah Pageant and a Palymra Temple.
The tale is a lovely and kind look at a lovely and kind couple. (And don't pay the $90 dollars you'll be asked to at Amazon. The publisher has a much better offer.)
Thanks, Mom and Dad. Good Coast Guard Day present.
just over a month
084) What Jesus Meant by Garry Wills, finished September 20
- Loved this book. And since Willis has written a couple sequels (What the Gospels Meant, What Paul Meant), you might guess I'll head there next. But that's because you don't know Garry Wills like I know Garry Wills.
My first Garry Wills book, Certain Trumpets, I received from a professor for getting the highest score on a test. (All professors should do this.) Certain Trumpets is a book about types of leadership and it looks at a leader type, someone who exemplifies that type of leadership, and someone who is quite the opposite. For instance, King David was a charismatic leader (someone who comes to power by force of personality) and his son, Solomon, was the opposite --- his kingship was merely inherited and he ran the ship like a dull bureaucrat. Other examples of leadership included JFK and MLK and people known neither by their initials nor in the Bible. It was a great book. I loved it and have been meaning to go back to it since I first read it, about a decade ago.
Wills, at that time, was best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning Lincoln at Gettysburg. I'm a huge Lincolnphile so that book's been high on my list ever since.
But I saw What Jesus Meant on remainder and picked it up (foreward title: "Christ Not a Christian) and loved it immediately.
He starts by laughing at WWJD? because, let's face it, do you want your kid, at twelve years old, disappearing in the big city? Destroy someone's herd of pigs? Hang out with beggars and prostitutes? Allow himself to be killed only to raise himself from the dead (even if your kid could do that)? Obviously, being a Christian doesn't boil down to doing exactly What Jesus Did --- so what does it mean?
Intriguing start. Cheap price. I bought the book.
As a Mormon aside, yes, there are doctrinal points I disagree with Wills about, but in fact these are very few. Mostly I found his book enlightening, inspiring and instructive. I learned things. Plus its short and fun and a good read. I recommend it to anyone.
So which Wills book do I want to read next? Why I Am a Catholic. Because I had no idea devout Catholics could be so incredibly antipapist. And I got to know how he reconciles that.
Buy your own copy. (It's cheap.)
And then as you read, ask yourself: How Christian am I? Jesus gave with no expectation of return. When was the last time I had someone over for dinner that could never possibly feed me back? There's a Christian goal I could obtain. So why does it seem so hard?
The books posits many opportunities for reflection, self examination, and worship. Because, when you and Garry Wills are gathered in his name, he will be there. I suspect. I might be pushing it, but probably not.
I'll stop talking now.....
just under a month
083) The Lost Ones by Steve Niles et al, finished September 18
- So Mr Niles writes the script and different artists draw different portions of the story in different styles. Intriguing idea.
Too bad it sucked.
I mean: really really sucked.
082) Dorian by Nephi Anderson, finished September 17
- I think I just had a Jane Austen experience.
You know how Jane Austen fans just swoon over her antiquated but perfect prose and clever characters and still-real situations?
So before I get too slobbery, I'm going to talk about what I didn't like about this book.
Like Added Upon, Dorian could get a bit preachy. Usually this was done via the longwinded but much beloved Uncle Zed. There were moments it went on a little long, but it was never as bad as in Added Upon or, say, Victor Hugo's rhapsodies about the Parisian sewer system.
I hate hate HATE the word "drugged." The book would have been vastly better without it. Thank goodness it only appeared once in the entire volume.
I could write a paper about the three deaths (four, really, or five --- depends how you count --- if you include the ones that occur offscreen, but I wasn't too enthralled with the final one. I can say much positive about it as a storytelling choice, but in the end it may have been just too easy.
And that's about it for dislikes. There are other elements I might not be able to stand in a modern novel, but it's like listening to foreign pop music: Clichés I would detest in American music become delightful if sung in French or Javanese. (Have you noticed this?) Dorian dates to 1921. It's charming.
Some things not directly related to my liking the book but that were fascinating all the same:
- how the Sabbath was observed by Mormons in 1921
rural attitudes to education in 1921
vestigial class structure in 1921 Mormon society
The title character is a big country boy who lives with his widowed mother and has a penchant for books. If you were ever sent to town to buy some decent shoes and came home with David Copperfield instead, this book is for you.
You could, I suppose, reduce this book to "Dorian's Adventures in Love", but that does such disservice to the beauty of this book. I can understand why other people are angry Added Upon's fame has led to Mormons forgetting Anderson's other books.
The first death shocked me. Horrified me! In fact, I was shocked and horrified many times. But these shocks and horrors felt so true, so honest, so lifelike that I only felt more deeply for the characters. I love these characters. Dorian and I don't have an awful lot in common, but I think highly of him as a person and would love to meet him. And he's so well drawn it feels more like "Too bad he must be dead by now" than "Too bad he never actually existed."
I don't have easy access to other Anderson books, but I'll be keeping my eyes open.
And, in the meantime, I'm returning Dorian to the Berkeley Ward Library. It'll be waiting for you.
about a month
081) If You Want to Scare Yourself by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg, translated by Rene Vera Cafiero, with illustrations by Helga Spiess; finished September 12
- I don't know who's to blame for this volume's remarkably ugly cover (beyond all people in children's publishing back in 1989), but I really thought this book would be a waste of time. I picked it up off a sidewalk because I was about to see a kid I though might like it, but he rejected it straight out. So it's been in the Lapper since then. Until this afternoon, rather, when the Big O and I got in it to move it to the driveway. He saw it and wanted it and I said, okay, sure, whatever, and we started reading it; I read, holding the book with one hand while batting or pitching with the other hand.
And what a wonderful surprise awaited within! First of all, the interior illustrations were pretty darn great--actually creepy, which was a surprise. In fact, the text itself was creepy, which never happens in collections of "scary" stories for kids. (Maybe because this is a German book?) There were moments of genuine eeriness even for me.
The werewolf story in particular really grabbed the Big O.
He's been interested in scary stories for a while, but this is the first one that really worked for him. I hope that doesn't mean he'll end up in our bed tonight....
So! Recommended! And available for practically free plus shipping!
(Incidentally, this is the first "long" book the O and I have finished in quite a while. In part because even though he likes it, he's not that thrilled about Mr. Popper's Penguins (???) and so we've been working on it for almost a year. Lady Steed just started on Charlotte's Web with him however, and that does seem to be going better.)
about three hours
080) Madman Gargantua by Mike Allred with Laura Allred, finished September 9
079) Star Wars by George Lucas, finished September 9
078) Angel Falling Softly by Eugene Woodbury, finished September 1
077) The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin finished August 29
076) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, finished August 25
075) Added Upon by Nephi Anderson, finished August 24
074) The Last Flower by James Thurber, finished August 19
073) Reinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art Form by Scott McCloud, finished August 17
072) The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories by Nicholas Gurewitch, finished August 12
071) The Dreamer by Will Eisner, finished August 12
070) The Blot by Tom Neely, finished August 6
069) Strange Stories for Strange Kids edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, finished August 6
068) Survival Rates by Mary Clyde, finished July 30
067) A Week in October by Elizabeth Subercaseaux, translated by Marina Harss, finished July 29
066) Lehi in the Desert & The World of the Jaredites by Hugh Nibley, Ph. D., finished July 29
065) A Son Is Forever by various, finished July 29
064) Good ol' Snoopy by Charles M. Schultz, finished July 13
063) Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi, finished July 13
062) A Doré Treasury edited by James Stevens, finished July 12?
061) Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; finished July 8
060) The Enoch Letters by Neal A. Maxwell, finished July
059) Sock Monkey: The Inches Incident by Tony Millionaire, finished July 3
058) The Number 73304-23-4153-6-96-8 by Thomas Ott, finished July 2
057) Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi, finished July 1
056) 300 by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, finished June 16
055) Fox Bunny Funny by Andy Hartzell, finished June 16
054) Where Did I Leave My Glasses?: The What, When, and Why of Normal Memory Loss by Martha Weinman Lear, finished June 15
053) The Mystery Guest by Grégoire Bouillier, trans. Lorin Stein, finished June 14
052) The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer, finished June 10
051) Good Bones and Simple Murders by Margaret Atwood, finished June 10
050) Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeney's, Humor Category edited by D. Eggers, K. Shay, L. Epstein, J. Warner and S. Kleid, finished June 9
049) Bikeman by Thomas F. Flynn, finished June 5
048) Fool Moon by Jim Butcher, finished June 5
047) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, finished June 2
046) Sixty Poems by Charles Simic, finished May 30
045) Replay by Ken Grimwood, finished May 28
044) The Age of the Conglomerates: A Novel of the Future by Thomas Nevins, finished May 27
043) W;t by Margaret Edson, finished April 19
042) Halo and Sprocket Volume 1: Welcome to Humanity by Kerry Cullen, finished May 17
041) Storm Front by Jim Butcher, finished May 16>
040) 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill, finished May 9
039) I Am the President of Ice Cream by Geoff Sebesta, finished May 4
038) On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, finished May 3
037) The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester, finished May Day
036) The Drifting Classroom Vol. 1 by Kazuo Umezu, finished April 30
035) The Complete Peanuts 1965 - 1966 by Charles M. Schulz, finished April 29
034) Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E Volume 1: This Is What They Want by Warren Ellis et Stuart Immonen et al, finished April 29
033) Batman: Hush, Vol. 2 by Jeph Loeb et al, finished April 29
032) Batman: Hush, Vol. 1 by Jeph Loeb et al, finished April 28
031) Chéri by Colette, finished April 17
030) Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett, finished April 13
029) Animal Farm by George Orwell, finished April 8
028) Macbeth by William Shakespeare, finished April 7
027) On the Road to Heaven by Coke Newell, finished April 4
026) The Great American Citizenship Quiz: Can You Pass Your Own Country's Citizenship Test? by Solomon M. Skolnick, finished March 23
025) Long After Dark by Todd Robert Petersen, finished March 23
024) The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, finished March 21
023) Robot Dreams by Sara Varon, finished March 10
022) The Complete Peanuts 1963-1964 by Charles M. Schulz, finished March 9
021) Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, finished March 7
020) Unorthodox Practices by Marissa Piesman, finished March 5
019) Happy Hour at Casa Dracula by Marta Acosta, finished March 4
018) A War of Gifts: An Ender Story by Orson Scott Card, finished Leap Day
017) Watership Down by Richard Adams, finished February 26
016) Old Boy Volume One by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, finished February 25
015) Case Histories by Kate Atkinson, finished February 18
014) Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, finished February 15
013) Trusting Jesus by Jeffrey R. Holland, finished February 11
012) Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham et al., finished February 11
011) Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach, finished February 4
010) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, finished February 3
009) American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, finished LDotFMotNY
008) Zombification: Stories from National Public Radio by Andrei Codrescu, finished January 22
007) Marriage Lines: Notes of a Student Husband by Ogden Nash, finished January 22
006) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, finished January 20
005) The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time by Douglas Adams, finished January 14
004) Lord of the Flies by William Golding, finished January 10
003) Rising Sun by Michael Crichton, finished January 7
002) The Marketing of Sister B by Linda Hoffman Kimball, finished January 2
001) Animal Farm by George Orwell, finished January 1
The First Five ( 001 / 005 )
The Second Five ( 005 / 010 )
The Third Five ( 011 / 015 )
The Fourth Five ( 016 / 020 )
The Fifth Five ( 021 / 025 )
The Sixth Five ( 026 / 030 )
The Seventh Five ( 031 / 035 )
The Eighth Five ( 036 / 040 )
The Ninth Five ( 041 / 045 )
The Tenth Five ( 046 / 050)
The Eleventh Five ( 051 / 055)
The Twelfth Five ( 056 / 060)
The Thirteenth Five ( 061 / 065)
The Fourteenth Five ( 066 / 070)
The Fifteenth Five ( 071 / 075)
The Sixteenth Five ( 076 / 080)