Reading List, October through December 2022
Theories of Knowledge (Great Courses) by Joseph H. Shieber
A course in Epistemology at the University was (is) proving to be somewhat of a challenge, so I picked up this Great Courses Epistemology lecture series. I found the professor to be very engaging, and able to put complex questions on the bottom shelf, so to speak.
Recommended if you are interested in learning the basics of the theory of knowledge (basically, how we know we know stuff).
When Christmas Comes by Andrew Klavan
My history with Andrew Klavan books has been…mixed. I enjoy his work at Daily Wire, and was fascinated to read his personal account of the journey from Judaism to atheism to Christianity in “The Great Good Thing” (link in comments). So naturally I picked up one of his novels (I can’t for the life of me remember the title), and was somewhat disappointed. Later on I listened to his podcast series (now also in book format) “Another Kingdom” (link in comments). His foray into fantasy writing had much potential. It could have been on a par with some of C.S. Lewis’s writings, but a couple needlessly R-rated sections made it something I could not read to my sons around the table. A waste, really.
So I really thought twice about picking up another Klavan book. In the end, the premise – a college professor with a past is called upon to solve a mystery – pulled me in.
And wow…I’m glad it did. “When Christmas Comes” is not a long book (the audio version is five hours), but it is packed with adventure, suspense, and action. The character development is top notch, plot moves along nicely, and the plot twists keep coming. And, if you know where to look, Klavan’s Christian worldview can be found throughout.
Highly recommended for those looking for some good reading over the holidays.
A Strange Habit of Mind by Andrew Klavan
After reading and thoroughly enjoying “When Christmas Comes” – the first Andrew Klavan thriller featuring spy-turned-professor-turned-detective Cameron Winter – I had to pick up the next in the series: “A Strange Habit of Mind”.
It did not disappoint. It is longer than the first book – twice as long, actually. Yet it is just as full of action and suspense. Our hero finds himself up against a tech millionaire (think Jack Dorsey, Jeff Zuckerburg, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, all rolled into one) whose enemies have a bad habit of turning up dead. Also like the first book, the story is interspersed with flashbacks that reveal – little by little – Winters’s own background. That part can be just as intriguing as the main plot line.
Though Andrew Klavan is a believer, the hero of this book is not, and so there is salty language throughout, and one brief, non-graphic and passing description of a sexual encounter that is part of a sting operation. My impression is that all of these were fitting to the nature and subject matter of the story, not superfluous and gratuitous, as in some of Klavan’s previous works . And as was the case in the first book, Klavan’s conservative Christian worldview is evident throughout – even less subtle than before.
This a is good escapist thriller with a surprising intellectual and spiritual undercurrent. If this review has piqued your interest, you should really read the first book in the series first, as it contains some essential background information.
Traitor King by Andrew Lownie
I only got to one book on Al Mohler’s summer reading list this year, but it was a riveting read – a fascinating (and sometimes tawdry) look at the lives of the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor. The conclusion one comes to is that England (and perhaps the world) were spared a great calamity with the abdication of the morally ambiguous, German-sympathizing Edward VIII.
Indeed, I had grown up hearing dark rumors about how perhaps Edward and Wallis Simpson had colluded with Nazis in the days leading up to WWII, in the hope that Edward would be placed on the throne by a German-friendly government. In “Traitor King” author Andrew Lownie puts all doubt to rest. The fact that they were never held accountable for their treason has more to do with the British Government`s desire to avoid embarrassment for the Royal Family that with any lack of evidence.
A fascinating book, eye-opening in many respects.
The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson
November 2022 was much anticipated by me as it was the month when Brandon Sanderson’s next “Cosmere” title would be released.
And “The Lost Metal” did not disappoint. The “Wax and Wayne” dynamic was as delightful as ever. There were enough plot twists, surprises, and action scenes to offset potential boredom with Sanderson’s meticulous world-building. And, perhaps best of all, this book includes cameos from other worlds in the Cosmere, as well as details on inter-world dealings. Specifically, if you have read both of the “Elantris” books, as well as the “Stormlight” series, you will enjoy “The Lost Metal” a lot more.
“The Lost Metal” closes out the second phase of the “Mistborn” saga. The first phase was set in a sort of medieval/renaissance era. by the second phase Scadrial (the name of the planet) had advanced to a steampunk/wild west society. The third phase will reportedly take Scadrial into the modern age, and I can’t wait.
Meanwhile, we can all look forward to the fall of 2024, when we will find out what is happening on Roshar with the release of the next Stormlight book.
And if the words “Cosmere”, “Elantris”, “Scadrial” and “Roshar” mean nothing to you, but have piqued your interest, I highly recommend you begin the first Mistborn book
The Murder of Professor Schlick by David Edmonds
My General Epistemology course this semester was one of the most challenging subjects for me, to date. In the middle of the course the professor recommended we read in our spare time (ha!) “The Murder of Professor Schlick” by David Edmonds. I downloaded it, and started perusing it towards the end of the school year. It quickly became evident to me that I should have started reading it much earlier. If I had, perhaps the subject would not have been so much of a challenge.
From the title, one gets the impression that it deals specifically with the murder in cold blood of one Moritz Schlick, leader of a circle of philosophers in pre-war Vienna known as (wait for it…) the “Vienna Circle”.
In truth, the book is much more than that. It amounts to a history of the Vienna Circle, along with an explanation of its main contribution to Philosophy, the concept of Logical Positivism. Edmonds skillfully weaves complex theories into the drama of the lives of (mostly) Jewish philosophers living in Austria in the days leading up to World War Two. The story is told in such a way that philosophy students (like me) will gain a better grasp of the concepts, while people not really interested in philosophy will be intrigued by the narrative.
Easily one of the top ten books I have read all year.
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