Category Archives: Reading/Books

Book Review: Draw: The Greatest Gunfights of the American West

DrawIf you enjoy a good western, you’ll most likely enjoy Draw: The Greatest Gunfights of the American West. It is a book that was written by James Reasoner back in 2003. My son picked up for me for Father’s Day last year. In this book, you’ll find true historical short-stories about various bad guys and lawmen shooting it out. There are train-robberies, bank-robberies, and an occasional stage-coach robbery. Reasoner writes each account with whit and imagination, and by that I mean, he paints the picture with enough detail to get the scene into the mind’s eye of the reader, but not so much detail that one would get bogged down. Reasoner is known for his historical fiction writing, but in this case it is true-to-life-history. If he is adding a bit of detail, he’ll let you know by saying something like “he was probably squinting.” But little speculations like that do not occur that often.

The book is divided into six parts: 1) Man to Man, 2) Gangs, 3) Posses, 4) Holdups, 5) Backshooters, and 6) Gunfighting Mishaps and Misfortunes. Each story in each part is a stand-alone story. Though some are inter-related in that they involve some of the same characters, you don’t need to read one before understanding another. This is one of those books that you can pick up, read a chapter in 15 minutes (if you’re as slow a reader as I), and put down for a while if need be. It took me just under a year to finish this book, not because of its size or a lack of interest. It is neither large nor boring. But only because it is such a “when I have no pressing matters” kind of book. There’s no long story-line to remember. That’s just one of the many reasons I enjoyed this book.

Read stories about Doc Holliday, the forgotten Earp brother, the Dalton Gang, Wild Bill Hickok and more without all the hype and unbelievable legend stuff. That being said. . . The last chapter is rather unbelievable, but apparently true. It was my favorite story of the book.

The book has 294 pages but a whopping 31 chapters! Published by Berkley Books, Draw is definitely a book I would recommend to novice or western enthusiast. I told some of the stories to my children of various ages and they loved them; I am sure you will too. Amazon.com has it on sale for $12.49. But you can buy a good used copy from Half Priced Books for about $3.00

Book Review: Praying the Bible

Don Whitney has done it again. He takes something that seems to bewilder most people and simplifies it and yet enhances it all at the same time. From the first chapter, Whitney understands the struggle that most Christians have with prayer. “We can be talking to the most fascinating person in the universe about the most important things in our lives and be bored to death,” (p. 12). That statement isn’t so much an indictment against those who struggle to find prayer meaningful, but an acknowledgement that something has happened to our understanding of what prayer is. One thing I found humorous about this book is that Don Whitney says the same sentence time and again, and I am sure he did it for effect. If you pick up the book and read it, you’ll understand; I won’t give it away.

From chapter 2 on, Dr. Whitney takes his reader on an adventure of seeing prayer in a new light.  Each chapter takes the reader step by step through praying through the Bible. He explains the actual solution in the second chapter, making the claim that “every Christian can have a meaningful, satisfying prayer life,” (p. 24). I would agree with him if every Christian who struggles with prayer would take this book to heart and simply employ the principles he has written.

Chapters 3 and 4 are more about the method–going deeper than chapter 2. Starting in chapter 5 is when the reader gets to see the prayers in action. Dr. Whitney takes one through praying the Psalms. Having read the book, it has been the Psalms that I have used mostly. It wasn’t until yesterday that I went elsewhere in the Bible to pray.  “God gave the Psalms to us so that we would give the Psalms back to God. No other book of the Bible was inspired for that expressed purpose,” (p. 46). The next chapter deals quickly with praying through the other parts of Scripture.  By chapter 7, the beloved author is not willing to let praying simply be theoretical, but actual. He calls upon the reader to stop reading and pray. . .for 7 minutes! By the time one has read through his work, seven minutes while sounds daunting, isn’t. In fact, it went by way too fast for me.

I must say that this book is the most practical book on prayer that I’ve read. I love Paul Miller’s A Praying Life and Tim Keller’s Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. Paul Tautges has a wonderful book on prayer called Teach Them to Pray. But it is Dr. Donald Whitney’s book that takes the cake for most practical. Published by Crossway Books in 2015, Praying the Bible barely squeaks out 100 pages (my arbitrary minimum number of pages to be considered a book), including the appendices. If you have trouble with your prayer life, try picking up a copy of this book and put it into practice. Five out of five stars! It retails for $13.99, but you can get it on Amazon for $11.89 with prime shipping or on Christian Book Distributors on sale for $5.99 (+ shipping)!