I've fallen rather behind on my book reviews, it seems. The list over on the side grows ever larger, as does the list of "books I am currently reading," which is simply a mental note in my head. I'm afraid many of my reviews here will be rather brief, since it's been quite a while since I've read many of them, and I'm doing this from memory. If you will bear with me, here we go!
Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis)
Can anything bad be said about C.S. Lewis? (OK, maybe some things can be said, but the man was incredible, his writing style is beautiful, and his words stay with me for years afterwards...)
My Bible/book study group finished up Mere Christianity about a month or so ago. It was a fantastic read (of course) that gets better every time I go through it. He pulls no punches, and makes me come face to face with the various ways I try to rationalize mediocrity. For those who have never read this book before, he takes us from square one -- is there a God? -- to if so, which one? Why should we believe that Jesus is Who He says He is, and what does that mean to us? And if He is God, what sorts of claims can He rightfully make on my life?
This book does what it's title claims -- it covers the basic beliefs in all Christian denominations, and urges us all, Catholics and Protestants alike, to wake up from our lukewarmness and follow the One who has given His all for us.
The Weight of Glory (C.S. Lewis)
This is a collection of shorter essays that he wrote during World War II. He covered such issues as pacifism, forgiveness, and the immortality of man. As always, he is a brilliant writer!
Miracles of John Paul II (Pawel Zuchniewicz)
Unfortunately, this book was disappointing... perhaps much was lost in the translation from Polish to English, because the writing style was garbled, hard to read, and didn't "flow" well at all.
In spite of the difficulty in reading this book, however, it was amazing and encouraging to hear just a sampling of the stories from those who were touched by John Paul II -- instantaneous healings, peace in spite of tremendous hardship, and miraculous interventions. It comes as no surprise that there are so many who can tell of how the Lord used our beloved Holy Father in such miraculous ways!
The How-To Book of the Mass (Michael Dubriel)
This is a wonderful reference book for anyone who has been asked, "Why do Catholics do [whatever] during the Mass?" From our entrance into the Church, to blessing ourselves with holy water, through to "The Mass is ended. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord," the author covers every aspect of the Mass, quoting Early Church Fathers, explaining each part in sufficient detail, and giving helpful suggestions for entering more fully into worship.
Reasons to Believe (Scott Hahn)
Scott Hahn was an ordained PCA minister who was led by God to come into full communion with the Catholic Church. Since that time, the Lord has used him greatly to share what he has found to non-Catholics, and to wake up cradle Catholics to the richness and fullness of their Faith. This book carries on the same great tradition as he presents a basic apologetics course on how to present and defend the Catholicism to the world around us. The insights he brings to his books -- especially as they relate to typology and covenant theology -- open up Scripture in an amazing way for me. Lest anyone think he is just making up these various connections and correlations, the Church Fathers had said the same things centuries earlier. Scott Hahn just has a wonderful way of distilling these things down and making them a bit more accessible to the modern reader.
Good Omens (Neil Gaiman)
I read this after seeing a great review of this book from Happy Catholic. It had been a long time since I had read a fiction book, and was looking for a fun read.
I was not disappointed.
This was a quick, fun, quirky book that held my attention to the very end. If I had any complaint, it would be that the ending was rather weak, given all that could have happened. If anyone has ever read a Margaret Atwood or Gregory McGuire book only to be disappointed by the finish, you'll get a basic idea of what I mean.
To give a brief synopsis without giving away the plot, I will simply say that it is the story of an angel and a demon who have known each other since the world began. As the Apocalypse nears, neither one is eager to see the world coming to a close, and therefore decide to work together to see if the final "showdown" can be averted.
The Great Divorce (C.S. Lewis)
Can you tell I enjoy reading books by C.S. Lewis?
This is a wonderful allegorical tale in which the narrator takes a bus ride (from Hell or Purgatory... it's called by both names) to Heaven with many others. As they make their way through this strange new land, each one is confronted with those things that have closed their souls to God, and are given the opportunity to let it go and enter into the joy of Heaven. Lewis is at his creative best as he describes the various temptations and hang ups that keep people from the Lord, and how tragic it is to hold on to these things at the sake of their souls. It is easy for the reader to see himself in at least one of the souls who are called to make their eternal decision -- will they let go and stay, or will they hold on to their sins and go back?