December Reading: Why We Love The Church

Good book, but I lost my interest and ended up skimming the last half. It highlighted many problems people have with church, but those of us who already see these issues and love it anyways may find the book unengaging toward the end. This book convinced me to stick to nonfiction that has stood the test of time, because a fine test time has turned out to be.

My take: read it if you’re having doubts about organized religion.

October Reading: Frankenstein

Through the eyes of a young adventurer in search of the North Pole, we hear the tale of Frankenstein.

This is a story of perfect joy brought to complete despair. Victor Frankenstein is one of the more respectable, hardworking, brilliant, blessed men you will ever read about. In a fit of genius and shortsight, Frankenstein creates life. But instead of being a beautiful thing, this life belongs to a monster who plagues all with pain.

My take: a brilliant story, and an excellent read.

September Reading: Every Man’s Battle

Sexual immorality.

How often do you read that in the Bible? It is never put in a flattering category, nor looked highly upon, but the opposite. Yet it is so prevalent in the lives of men.

This book dealt in very stark terms with the horrors and consequences of sexual immorality, and sought to help those who want to live apart from sin.

I found the most effective advice was to starve the imagination. Wandering eyes throughout the day gives the mind ammunition for lust. The casual glances, the outright stares, the ogling of attractive women, these things are fodder for the beast within, and can lead to devastating sin. Stop temptation at the gate of your eyes, before it can get to your heart.

While the book was written mainly for married men, it still serves to warn and instruct those of us who are single. Women may find this book helps their understanding of men’s struggles too (not to say women don’t deal with lust).

My take: a helpful read for one who wants to change.

August Reading: The Three Musketeers

The title of this book makes me laugh. The “three musketeers” are Athos, Porthos and Aramis, but the story is actually about d’Artagnan, how he befriends these three and they all become inseparable. Apparently it’s part of a series too.

Reading The Three Musketeers solidified how much I like Alexandre Dumas as an author. After starting with The Count of Monte Cristo, my expectations were high. I was not disappointed. The characters are larger than life, yet they fit right into seventeenth century France. They’re poor soldiers, yet living the life. Adventure seeks out these fellows constantly, due mainly to the irrepressible pride of our hero, d’Artagnan. You’ll  chide him through each predicament he falls into, the whole while loving him for that brash surety.

Unethical behavior seems to be the expected norm, as the romantic relationships of our companions are all extra-marital. The illicit behavior is not explicit, but could still be problematic for some readers.

My take: a fun read.

July Reading: Dracula

Imagine every stereotype of vampires you know being true. Enter the world of Dracula, a creepy count who is out to expand his eating operation. But he messes with the wrong group of folks, and the struggle begins.

The writing style was hard to adjust to, but once the second part of the book begins the story got rolling and reached an incredible climax in the very last pages. The blatant superstition tied with Catholicism was irritating, but I ended up really enjoying this book. There are other books that are more worth your time though, so if you don’t have an unquenchable urge to read Dracula, I’d say skip it.

June Reading: The Count Of Monte Cristo

I loved this book.

I came into The Count of Monte Cristo anticipating each scene and envisioning it happening like the film. This was impossible to sustain. You quickly realize that characters were been merged, minimized and misrepresented in the movie, and the people are so much more than you first thought. And the sovereignty of God is everywhere! Often explicitly stated, other times assumed, God is clearly the king of our lives.

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of living.”

The emotional journey was heart-wrenching. I began loving unexpected characters, while pitying those I wanted to hate and hating some I wanted to love. Then my feelings changed again! Sin, suffering, revenge and reconciliation are all part of the plot, but the true theme is captured in the book’s final sentence:

“Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget that until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words, — `Wait and hope.'”

May Reading: Pilgrim’s Progress

I love to read fiction. I grew up in the library, burning through the Animorphs, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Dune series, and so much more. I would say hello to the librarian, head straight to the Science Fiction/Fantasy racks and try to find a book I hadn’t read.

Reading nonfiction is hard. I thrive on the story, on the narrative pulling me along with the characters, watching their victories, failures, heart aches, laughs; their lives. When it came to the Bible, the Old Testament stories were far more appealing to me than the (perceived) self help style of the Epistles. I’ve since come to love the whole Bible, and appreciate each book as it’s own and as part of a whole, but to understand my appreciation of The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan, you have to see where I’m coming from.

This book was wonderful. Following Christian through his journeys, through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, or his encounter with the Giant Despair, these are such beautiful analogies to every Christian’s journey. Then to see his wife travel the same path yet have different adventures! This was encouraging too. The blatant parallels to the walk of the believer makes this story come to life in ways I’ve rarely seen (Chronicles of Narnia is another example).

You will be blessed by this book.