Friday, November 4, 2011
Random Book Notes
This has meant putting down Sigrid Undset’s The Master of Hestviken for the weekend, but after yesterday’s fever dream, I think it is wise to say uncle to Olav Ingolfsson and Ingolf Olavsson, not to mention the ancestral battle-axe Kinfetch.
Marian and I have a father-daughter book club. She sends me a book, and I agree to read it and review it. Then I return the favor. Her first send was Eating Animals, Jonathan Foer’s gut-wrenching exposé of factory farming. (Marian is a vegan Nazi.) Here’s my review, and here’s hers.
In return, I sent her Let the Great World Spin, a gift from the aforementioned Traces editor and friend, Suzanne. I was underwhelmed by this book, as I wrote at Goodreads. It uses the two great Twin Tower events—9/11 and Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk in 1974—as framing devices, but never makes us judge them. Marian was underwhelmed in her own way, as she wrote on her blog.
I will have to be more thoughtful about the next book I send her, or she may quit the club. However, it’s her turn now. Over to you, Marian.
Goodreads, by the way, is a great way of encouraging yourself to read while meeting like-minded readers. It has been to reading for me in 2011 what Pandora was to music in 2010, a door to a new world. I took the “Goodreads Challenge,” setting a target of 40 books read in 2011, and I have already surpassed that. For a slow reader, this is nothing short of a miracle.
I have enjoyed being Goodreads friends with CL friends Sharon Mollerus and Fred Kaffenberger, and I invite other “Witness” readers to friend me on Goodreads, sharing your own book ideas. During my late-summer hiatus at “Witness,” I rated or reviewed a few books at Goodreads that were not posted here. These include:
The Fortune of War, sixth in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series: 5 stars (no review, too busy).
The Chosen, by Chaim Potok, which I gave 5 stars and a rave review.
Then there is the book that has stayed with me longest of all my summer reads, another CL book of the month, Robert Hugh Benson’s The Lord of the World. My 5-star book review is here. This dystopic novel of the “end” of the Catholic Church on earth is by turns chilling and inspiring. Writing at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, Benson, a convert-priest like Newman, predicted what would be happening at the beginning of the 21st. He got his flying machines wrong, but his description of the Catholic Church being pushed to the margins of the public square, then out of it entirely, is spot-on.