Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
“It was the greatest possible relief to get away from Egypt. The place, to me, had an arid feel about it; I never put out any roots there, as I had in India, or made any close friends there, or had any sense of its past – of the great civilizations which had flourished in the Valley of the Nile.”
–Malcolm Muggeridge, Chronicles of Wasted Time
This book has been an unexpected delight. Having read only one of Conrad’s other books, The Heart of Darkness, I shouldn’t be too surprised, but this one has surprised me. It’s a challenging read, but very rewarding. The depth of which he writes pierces the conscience and makes you feel the on-going struggle the characters are experiencing. It is also a sea-themed book whose vastness can only be matched by the presence of the reality. Appreciate these prose.
After these words, and without a change of attitude, he, so to speak, submitted himself passively to a state of silence. I kept him company; and suddenly, but not abruptly, as if the appointed time had arrived for his moderate and husky voice to come out of his immobility, he pronounced, “Mon Dieu! how the time passes!” Nothing could have been more commonplace than this remark; but its utterance coincided for me with a moment of vision. It’s extraordinary how we go through life with eyes half shut, with dull ears, with dormant thoughts. Perhaps it’s just as well; and it may be that it is this very dulness that makes life to the incalculable majority so supportable and so welcome Nevertheless, there can be but few of us who had never known one of these rare moments of awakening when we see, hear, understand ever so much — everything — in a flash — before we fall back again into our agreeable somnolence. I raised my eyes when he spoke, and I saw him as though I had never seen him before. I saw his chin sunk on his breast, the clumsy folds of his coat, his clasped hands, his motionless pose, so curiously suggestive of his having been simply left there. Time had passed indeed: it had overtaken him and gone ahead. It had left him hopelessly behind with a few poor gifts: the iron-grey hair, the heavy fatigue of the tanned face, two scars, a pair of tarnished shoulder-straps; one of those steady, reliable men who are the raw material of great reputations, one of those uncounted lives that are buried without drums and trumpets under the foundations of monumental successes. “I am now third lieutenant of the Victorieuse” (she was the agship of the French Pacific squadron at the time), he said, detachingg his shoulders from the wall a couple of inches to introduce himself.
-Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
I recently finished Anna Karenina, one of the great classics by Russian author Leo Tolstoy. It’s considered by some the greatest novel ever written. What a book. As with all the greats that I’ve read, they are epic in their scope and in their attention to detail across all aspects of life.
What is interesting about the massive 800+ pages of the great novels is that this isn’t how they were originally conceived. Anna Karenina is a novel in 8 parts. According to wikipedia it was, “published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger.”
Such an interesting fact, and one that only makes the process of writing more fascinating to me. I often wonder if writers in the modern era could produce this kind of work. Or has too much changed? I’m doubtful they could.
But isn’t this an amazing commentary on the process of Tolstoy? He wasn’t originally working with all the parts simultaneously. He had to write the later parts of the novel with the reality that what had already been written was written and published and could not be changed. I’m not sure if that’s an advantage or not when it comes to creating a work of this scope.
I’m sitting at a desk beside the Gulf of Thailand. The vast expanse of the sea is like the great novel. It encompasses all of life and flows through every detail, every relationship.
Presently the smell of coffee began to fill the room. This was morning’s hallowed moment. In such a fragrance the perversity of the world is forgotten and the soul is inspired with faith in the future…
The full title being, The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account)
This has been a thoroughly enjoyable read thus far. I had never heard much about this book, sadly I was more familiar with the magician, but happened upon it in a guest house where we were staying and it piqued my curiosity. So, I read the back cover and decided it would be my next book. Not a light decision either. This book requires a serious commitment. Weighing in at just under 1,000 pages, I’m pretty sure it’s the longest book I’ve ever read, not that I am even finished with it yet.
It still amazes me–when I think about it–that works of this length and magnitude were produced before typewriters or word processors. I would love to see the original, hand-written manuscript for this work…
and after a little research, now you can!
How amazing! Follow the link and they have 600 digitized pages (which is only chapters 31-64) of the original hand-written manuscript. Unreal.
What’s ironic, though, is that even with modern technology writers seldom produce works that compare to these old literary masters. Technology has shortened our attention spans, and has reduced the craft of storytelling to cutting and pasting.
Whatever the case, I’m thankful that these works are still accessible, and that I will no longer think of the magician when I hear the name David Copperfield. For this book will be etched in my memory. It will rank up there among my favorite epic tales–not far behind Wilfrid Cumbermede which still holds the top spot.
I know, quite high praise.
He is definitely my “go to” theologian. Primarily because of his excellent Systematic Theology. It’s the most most concise treatment of each topic that I’ve found in a systematic from the Reformed tradition. Granted, the one caveat being his defense paedobaptism that I would not align with.
That said, recently I’ve been working my way through his A Summary of Christian Doctrine. It has reminded me of everything I love about Berkhof. This book is exactly what the title suggests, a summary, but it’s done in such a way that doesn’t compromise on each topic. It’s a beautiful treatment of systematics, and a truly worshipful read.
What’s also nice about a summary is you can read A LOT of Bible doctrine in one sitting, something that is difficult to do with a full-fledged systematic theology, which more often than not you would only consult on one topic at a time.
It also makes for a great gift book, the reason I’ve been evaluating it. I would recommend picking up a copy and becoming familiar with it.
Graham Greene can write some amazing prose. Here’s a paragraph that caught my eye recently
A vulture flapped and shifted on the iron roof and Wilson looked at Scobie. He looked without interest in obedience to a stranger’s direction, and it seemed to him that no particular interest attached to the squat grey-haired man walking alone up Bond Street. He couldn’t tell that this was one of those occasions a man never forgets: a small cicatrice had been made on the memory, a wound that would ache whenever certain things combined—the taste of gin at mid-day, the smell of flowers under a balcony, the clang of corrugated iron, an ugly bird flopping from perch to perch.
-From The Heart of the Matter
I was thinking the other evening while singing MJ to sleep–as she joined in with me–that she’s probably old enough to begin memorizing Scripture and catechism. My initial thought was that it would be a nice idea to work on some kind of design project to accompany the catechism. Then, lo and behold, not even a few hours later I came across this tweet:
Looking for tools to train your children in basics of Christian faith? These North Star Scout Books are what we use: http://t.co/JWaCMYaVST
— Timothy Paul Jones (@timothywashere) June 5, 2014
It has already been done. And done very well I might add. You can order the Scout Book and flash cards from Sojourn Kids. Beautiful.
I had seen the catechism they used from Jared Kennedy before, but thought I would research a few more. I knew Piper had adapted The Baptist Catechism, and while I was searching I came across “A Catechism for Babes or Little Ones” and “A Catechism for Girls and Boys” on the Reformed Reader’s Baptist Catechisms page. It’s a great resource for reformed Baptist documents. They have a lot available.
Not finding the catechisms available anywhere else, I thought it might be helpful to convert the text and format them as ebooks. So, if you would like a copy for yourself, or are just interested in checking it out, here are the digital files:
The second one I am publishing through Amazon. Here’s a link to it:
If you’re not familiar with catechisms or are wondering about using them with your children download and read this helpful article from Tom Nettles: “An Encouragement to Use Catechisms” (PDF)
Have Their Place
I was never too excited about the idea of electronic books. I love print books. Nothing quite compares to the experience of reading a book. It involves all of your senses. And while it’s not often we encounter the “written word” anymore, print is pretty close. From holding the book, seeing the ink, feeling the tooth of the pages, and smelling that distinct book smell–which my wife loves–all factor into the reading experience.
Are these lost with ebooks? I think much of it is. But I also think there is a time and a place for them. I’ve enjoyed reading on my Kindle much more than I thought I would. Part of that is the necessity of it at this stage of our life. Living overseas has severely limited the extent of our library. It was a sacrifice for us. We love books. We wanted our kids to grow up around books.
So, since they are necessary right now, I figured I would learn how to create my own ebooks. Most classic literature is public domain, out of copyright. And while many of the classic titles have already been converted digitally through Project Gutenberg there are still many, many obscure works that remain out of print, and are unable to access except by reading them online.
So, if interested, you can use the online text to create and format your own ebooks. I worked quite a few hours yesterday–as Kris would tell you–on converting a couple from my favorite author: George MacDonald.
If you’re interested, I’ll post the ePub, and Mobi formats below for download:
They are a very basic, first attempt. I may continue to refine the formatting, but they’re readable. Enjoy!
True obedience to Yahweh is expressed not merely in outward obedience but in love.
Not surprisingly, the message of Deuteronomy is expressed in 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” What it means to obey the Lord is to love him with all of one’s strength.
True love can never be separated from the keeping of his commands.
Love is not merely a pious feeling; it is an affection that results in concrete obedience to the Lord.
Loving the Lord cannot be separated from fearing him, walking in his paths, and serving him.
-Schreiner, The King in His Beauty (pp. 86-87)