The onset of a new academic year seemed to bring a more serious tone to the collection of books I read this month. I looked at the question of what it means to be a saint, a collection of essays around the topic of language and literary criticism, a memoir by a leader of the Tienanmen demonstrations, a factbook about HIV/AIDS, and a challenging book on the nature of Christian love, among others. Not a light reading month! So here’s the recap:
1. Called to Be Saints: An Invitation to Christian Maturity, Gordon T. Smith. Smith explores how sainthood is rooted in union with Christ and works out in holiness in every dimension of life.
2. Language and Silence, George Steiner. This collection of essays written in the 1950’s and ’60’s reflect Steiner’s attempt to articulate a philosophy of language in a post-Holocaust world.
3. A Heart for Freedom, Chai Ling. This is Chai Ling’s riveting account of the Tienanmen demonstrations and its aftermath, including her escape, and life in the West. She includes her concerns and advocacy against forced abortions that result from the “one child” policy.
4. Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat, James D. Bratt. This biography gives us a narrative not only of Kuyper’s life but also an intellectual biography of the thought and writing of this formidable thinker, politician, and church leader.
5. Responding to HIV/AIDS: Tough Questions, Direct Answers, Dale Hanson Bourke. This book is a very helpful introduction to the facts about HIV/AIDS and also the global landscape of the fight against HIV/AIDS. Crisp and concise.
6. State of Wonder. Ann Patchett. This novel is a Conrad-esque type journey up the Amazon where Marina Singh confronts both her past and surprising present realities.
7. The Battle for Leyte Gulf, C. Vann Woodward. Woodward gives us a nearly moment-by-moment account of the last major naval battle of World War II, the near success of the Japanese strategy to divide American naval forces, the inexplicable retreat of Kurita’s force and the heroic defense of the San Bernadino Straits by an inferior force of destroyers and escort carriers.
8. Steelworker Alley: How Class Works in Youngstown, Robert Bruno. Bruno explores how “working class identity” is distinctive from a middle class ethos even though incomes may be similar. He does this through interviews with those working in Youngstown’s steel industry from the 1940’s to the 1970’s.
9. Works of Love, Soren Kierkegaard. A searching reflection on the biblical passages that help define love in Christian terms.
10. Why Church History Matters, Robert F. Rea. Christians committed to the authority of the Bible are often suspicious of “tradition”. Rea explores how this actually can help us to be more faithful to scripture and to extend our “communion of the saints” beyond our own circle to those of other traditions, cultures, and times.
The links will take you to my reviews if you missed these the first time around. If you don’t want to miss them, I would encourage you to follow the blog, either via WordPress or by email (options for both are available on my homepage).
Next month will have a review mix of both theological and lighter books. I’ve begun reading Edmund Morris’s Teddy Roosevelt series and will also have reviews of a book on earthquake storms and some Jeff Shaara Civil War historical novels. Thanks to all of you who comment on reviews and other posts!