Book Reviews

Reading List for November, 2019: Church Fathers, Civil Rights, Portuguese Conquerors, and More

Rediscovering the Church Fathers by Michael A. G. Haykin

A collection of essays on a few of the notable Church Fathers of the first four centuries of Christianity. I learned a lot, and it piqued my interest to delve more deeply into patristic life and theology.

All the chapters were informative. My personal favorite was the one on the life of Patrick of Ireland.

Be Comforted by Warren W. Wiersbe

Picked up this book for some background material before giving a class on Isaiah. The introduction proved to be very helpful in this regard.

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

The next in the Mistborn “Second Era” series. These just keep getting better and better. Sanderson manages to blend fast-paced, hard-hitting action with soul-searching philosophical discussions of issues like self-determination and theodicy. Oh…and lots of comic relief.

Note, if you decide to read these, it’s best to start at the beginning of the “First Era” trilogy.

Also note, if you are at all interested in the “Cosmere Narrative”, the overarching story that links several of Sanderson’s fantasy series, don’t skip the “Ars Arcanum” section at the end.

Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? by Thomas Sowell

They said I should listen to more minority voices. So I decided to start with Thomas Sowell.

I’m glad I did. With surgical precision, relying on hard data, he dismantles the modern iteration of the Civil Rights movement, demonstrating how initiatives like Affirmative Action and quotas are not only based on faulty premises, but are also quite counter-productive.

A very worthwhile read.

Encyclopedia Brown Keeps the Peace by Donald J. Sobol

One more Encyclopedia Brown book read with the boys. Good clean fun and engaging table discussions for all.

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

For the past couple of months this Christian classic has been our daily reading around the lunch table (usually followed up by a chapter from an Encyclopedia Brown book). While advertised as “in today’s English”, it is not a “modernized” version of the tale.

Despite this, I was surprised at how my boys – especially Nathanael, who is twelve – interacted with the story.

Conquerors by Roger Crowley

Living, as I do, in a country that was originally colonized by the Portuguese, I often feel the need to know more about the “mother country”. This book served to increase exponentially my knowledge of the Portuguese explorations in India, as well as whet my appetite to learn more.

With a prose that never becomes tedious, the author follows Portugal as it transitions from a backwater European state to a colonial powerhouse with lofty ambitions to finish what the Crusades started.

Fun fact: one of the main characters in the book, one Afonso de Albuquerque – brilliant and ruthless governor of the Portuguese Indian territories – was the great-uncle of Jerônimo de Albuquerque. And Jerônimo de Albuquerque, as anybody who has ever received my guided tour of downtown São Luís will doubtless remember, was the Portuguese general who kicked the French out of Maranhão.

Caesar and Christ by Will Durant

A major milestone…finally finished “Caesar and Christ”, book three of Will Durant’s “The Story of Western Civilization” series. Although there have been significant discoveries about the Roman Empire since this book was written, this is still the work of a master historian. His clear-eyed analysis, subtle humor, biting wit and clever turn-of-phrase make it a worthwhile read even today.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

My Dad read this C.S. Lewis Narnia series to my brothers and I when we were kids, so I decided to carry on the tradition with my boys. We finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe today. It has lost none of its magic, and none of its ability to hold the attention of the listener.

As an aside, I’m reading a Kindle version with includes the entire set.

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