Category Archives: Book Reviews

Recommended Readings from 2016

Everyone else is doing it; why not me?  Here are the top 5 books I read in 2016.  You might want to check them out.  These are by no means above the average person’s head; they are not “scholarly” works as you will soon find out.

5. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Harper Press, 2010).  While I am not a huge fan of fiction, I really got into this book.  Most will know the theme of Dr. Jekyll (a Image result for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Collins Classicsnice guy) becoming Mr. Hyde (a bad guy) due to a potion that he developed.  I remember watching the Looney Toons version of this and naively thought that this would be similar to that, but it definitely is not.  There were twists and turns I did not see coming, especially at the end.  This is a short book and was a fun read for me.

Thoughts.jpg4. Thoughts for Young Men by J. C. Ryle (Banner of Truth Trust, 2015).  All I can say is that I wish (oh how I wish) I had read this book when I was a teenager.  I wonder if I would have appreciated it then as much as now though.
3. The Tale of Depereaux by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, 2003).  Yes, this is a children’s book.  I often read to my children at dinner time, and this was by far our favorite story out of them all.  This story is told from four points of view.  A mouse named Image result for Tale of Despereaux book
Despereaux, a rat name Roscuro, a girl named Miggery Sow, and the last involves them all together. Despereaux is in love with a princess.  Roscuro hates the princess.  Miggery Sow envies the princess and wants to take her place.  It was such a fun story to read that when I read only one chapter, my kids would beg for me to read another.  After the second, they’d beg for a third.  My kids’ ages ranged from 8-13 and they all were enraptured with this tale.

Image result for A Neglected Grace2. A Neglected Grace: Family Worship in the Christian Home by Jason Helopoulos (Christian Focus Publications, 2014).  If you are one who desires to do family worship or have started and stopped and started and stopped in the past, I would absolutely recommend this book.  Jason Helopoulos sees family worship as a grace of God and being such he is gracious and encouraging as to how to approach it.  Rather than feeling beaten down, I felt encouraged as if I can lead family worship.  (I’ve heard Don Whitney’s book is also good, but I have read this one and know from experience that this one is top-notch).

1. Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies (Cruciform Press, 2015).  I read this one with Challie’s 10 Day Challenge that Image result for Do More Betterbegan this year.  My life has run all the more smoother because of this book.  This is not a hard read at all.  It is definitely worth taking the 10 days to go over it with each chapter.  It is filled with practical advice and steps to be more productive.  I love his definition of what it means to be productive and that it is thoroughly Christian throughout, though a non-Christian would definitely be able to use it as well.

tr1I will say that The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (Random House, 2001) should be on this list.  However, as of writing this post, I am not quite finished with the book.  This massive book is all about TR’s life, from birth through his becoming president upon the assasination of President McKinley.  Morris is a master story-teller and this book is a Dee-light to read.  TR was a bigger-than-life gentleman.  His many accomplishments in life is simply unbelievable.

A Biography Kind of Year: 2017

This past summer I was able to pick up several second-hand biographies from my local library thanks to the St. Charles Library Foundation.  I have already started one of those:  The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris.  I must say that while this is a very thick book (741 pages w/out acknowledgments, notes, etc.), it is actually a page-turner.  My hope is to finish this book by year’s end, and begin its sequel (Theodore Rex) in the new year.  Perhaps finish up the third part of the trilogy (Colonel Roosevelt) by Christmas, 2017.

Image result for john wayne the man behind the mythThere are others however that I picked up that I am hoping to get through.  The fear that I have in reading these bios is simply that my perception of the person will change for the worse.  Most of these people I know in name only or by characters they played on television and movies.  I have preconceived ideas of who they were and what they were about, but those notions are baseless.  So as I pick up John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth by Michael Munn or Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald
Spoto I wonder if I will end up no longer admiring them.  What if they turn out not to beImage result for Enchanted: Audrey Hepburn
the people I have so-long believed them to be?  Obviously no one is exactly what one would picture them to be, but what if they are not even close?  Will I lose all respect for them and not be able to speak of them without a bitter taste in my mouth?  Will I even be able to watch their movies anymore?  I suppose in the end, my desire to know the truth about these celebrities is more important to me.

Image result for tecumseh sherman biographyOf course, there is the opposite idea as well. Growing up in Georgia, I never heard any good word mentioned of William Tecumseh Shermon.  My plan is to read one (if not two) biographies on this hero of the North and devil to the South.  All I know about this man is his fiery March to the Sea.  Surely there was more to his life than that!  I look forward to seeing if he is the scoundrel that I have always heard he was.

Of course there are more books: one on C. S. Lewis, one on John Knox (the great Scottish Reformer), and one on John Adams (you may have heard of it; it’s by McCullough).  But theGod's War.jpgbook I am most excited about and most hesitant on is not a biography, but a history.  God’s War: A New History of the Crusades by Christopher Tyreman is intimidating both for its size (900+ pages) and because I know so little and probably so much misinformation about the Crusades.  This one will have to be read throughout the entire year, chunk by chunk.

This past year I have read 31 books so far and hoping to finish out with 33.  That’s quite a feat for me.  I probably will not even come close to that in 2017 since many of the books I will be reading are taking me to depths unknown.  How about you?  Any books sitting on the shelf begging for some attention?