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Happy International Literacy Day.

How to read a bookToday is International Literacy Today.  If you are reading this, you are literate.  Many people in the world (even many in the US) are illiterate.  I love reading, and I am thankful that my parents raised me to love reading.  I think literacy-building programs are great.  I used to help elementary kids that struggled with reading, and I recommend for you to do the same.  It is not that difficult to help, and if you have the time, volunteering your time to help the next generation is a very honorable thing to do.  In honor of International Literacy Day, I would like to give you a list of ten of books that I have enjoyed over the past couple of years.

Ten Books I’ve Enjoyed in the Last Two Years (and You Might Like Them Too)

(In No Particular Order)

1. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Non-fiction/Theology)

I have blogged about this book before (Life Together), so I won’t say much about it.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my heroes.  In my opinion, this book is one of his best.  I highly recommend it.

2. The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon (Fiction/Mystery)

Micahel Chabon Final SolutionThis is a great detective story.  Michael Chabon is a superb writer.  There were times that I would interrupt Jen from whatever she was doing to read her a paragraph from this just to share the wonderful prose Chabon had produced (nerdy I know).  This is a detective story set during the Holocaust era (hence “Final Solution).  The detective is a once-great, now old and feeble detective (meant to be Sherlock Holmes), and this is his final case (hence “Final Solution”).  It is a very short book, and it is well worth the time to read it.

3.  American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (Non-Fiction/Biography)

American Lion Andrew JacksonI am not an American history buff, so I can’t really critique the history of this book.  I can say that I enjoyed it, and that it won the Pulitzer.  I have blogged at least twice about the manliness of Andrew Jackson.  Although I differ from Andrew Jackson in some ways politically, I respect him as a man and a leader.

4. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis (Fiction)

That Hideous StrengthI just recently read C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy.  I have been wanting to read them for almost 10 years, and I finally got around to it this summer.  I was not disappointed.  I recommend reading all three.  That Hideous Strength is the third volume, and, I think, the best.  It is a book about the clash of worldviews and the academy.  It is very entertaining, and Lewis’s pithy humor shines forth throughout.

5.  A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken (Non-Fiction/Auto-biography)

A Severe MercyThis book is beautiful.  It tells the story of a couple and their journey of faith and suffering.  It is well-written, and you will cry if you read it.

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Fiction)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows BookI loved reading the entire Harry Potter series (even though most of it was via audio-book). And yes, I am a Christian and I like Harry PotterDeathly Hallows was a great book.  It tied the story together well, and it was LOADS BETTER than the movies.

7. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity by Mark Noll (Non-Fiction/Christian History)

Turning Points by Mark NollThis is my favorite general Church History book.  Mark Noll is a superb historian – and a friendly person.  I have recently been in some correspondence with Mark Noll, and I have found him to be extremely personable.  This book is a great introduction to Christian history.  I have read it twice in the past three years, and I recommend it to anyone interested in Christian history.

8. The Code: Baseball’s Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct by Ross Bernstein (Non-fiction/Sports)

The Code: Baseball's Unwritten RulesIf you like baseball, you’ll love this book.  It answers all the great questions like: “When should you charge the mound?” or “Is it ok to steal signs?”  I love the cover too.  Nolan Ryan is a beast.  There are a score of great stories in this book from former and active players, coaches, and umpires.

9. For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler by Victoria Barnett (Non-Fiction/History)

For the Soul of the PeopleVictoria Barnett’s work on the Confessing Church is great.  This book details the resistance of people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemoeller, and Karl Barth to the Nazi regime.  It has proven invaluable to my research, and I heartily recommend it to you history buffs out there.

10. When Chicago Ruled Baseball: The Cubs-White Sox World Series of 1906 by Bernard A. Weisberger (Non-Fiction/Sports)

When Chicago Ruled BaseballI love history, I love baseball, and I love the Cubs. So, this book was a great purchase for me.  It is very interesting reading about a World series where tickets cost less than a drink at a MLB game now.  This World Series featured Tinker, Evers, and Chance, as well as Mordecai Brown and other great players.

Happy International Literacy Day. Go read a book.

Until later friends…

Links to Get These Books


I have a problem.  I am nearly incapable of resisting DVDs for sale under $5.  I should have learned my lesson after The Fan and Highlander, but I didn’t.  Every now and then I will find a great movie for that cheap, but most of the time the value of the film is closely related to the price charged.  This weekend we got a few used dvds for $1.99 each.  I know we got a winner in The Dark Knight, but I also knew that with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I was getting only action and kitsch – and I was okay with that.

I don’t feel like recounting the plot of this film, which you can read here if you so desire.  I will summarize it by saying, there are a lot of action scenes involving Victorian Era fictional characters.  I think it was a great story idea, but the writing and execution of the film did not rise to the challenge.  I still enjoy the film, because I like people shooting things, stuff blowing up, Sean Connery, and the idea of bringing familiar literary characters into the mix.  I have never read Dracula, The Invisible Man, or King Solomon’s Mines, so I’m not sure where the film took liberty with Mina Harker, the invisible man, or Allan Quatermain.  It has been years since I’ve read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, so I don’t really know if I like the depiction of Captain Nemo either.

I have, however, read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Upon a fresh viewing of this film, I was greatly disappointed by the way both Jekyll/Hyde and Dorian Gray were portrayed.  These novels/novellas deal with the human condition.  Both works explore the human struggle with depravity.  Dorian Gray exhibits the danger of hubris and hedonism.  In the film, he is unable to look at his portrait or it will kill him.  In the book, he can look at the portrait, but he does not desire to.  He does not want to see how wretched he has become.  The film used his portrait as a kitschy immunity charm, but it was something far darker.

I was frustrated with the depiction of Jekyll/Hyde.  It showed a little bit of the struggle between good and evil in the film, but in the end Hyde is shown to be sort of noble and capable of good.  This does not square with the book.  I think ole Robert Louis Stevenson would not be too pleased with this literary license.

I think both of these books hit at something we all know – humanity is dark.  Anyone who is honest enough to examine his life will see wrong motives and actions.  I believe these books were so successful, because they give literary analogies to a truth we all know.  Both of these books led to one singular conclusion: The wages of sin is death.  So, although this film was called the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Gray and Hyde represent something quite ordinary.

Until later friends…


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