Book Review: The Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (Little, Brown & Company, 2012. 512 pp) J.K. Rowling is the best selling author of the Harry Potter series, which have sold more than 450 million copies worldwide.  As well as an OBE for services to children’s literature, J.K. Rowling is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees including the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, France’s Légion d’honneur, and the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award, and she has been a Commencement Speaker at Harvard University. She supports a wide number of charitable causes through her charitable trust Volant, and is the founder of Lumos, a charity working to transform the lives of disadvantaged children. A Different Kind of Magic The only mistake you… Read More →

Book Review: Varamo

Varamo by César Aira; translated by Chris Andrews (New York: New Directions, 2012; originally published in 2002. 144 pp) Born in 1949 in Coronel Pringles, a town on the southern edge of the Argentine Pampas, César Aira is a novelist, essayist, and short story writer. He settled in Buenos Aires in 1967 and has earned a living through teaching and translating from French and English. He has published more than eighty novels. Chris Andrews has won the TLS Valle Inclán Prize and the PEN Translation Prize for his New Directions translations of Roberto Bolaño. A poet who lives and teaches in Australia, he has translated eight Bolaño books and three novels by César Aira for New Directions. One Day A… Read More →

Book Group: Dracula

Dracula by Bram Stoker (New York: Penguin Classics, 2003; originally published in 1897. 560 pp) Born in Dublin, Bram Stoker attended Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in Pure Mathematics. He worked as a civil servant in Dublin Castle before publishing works in dramatic criticism. He is best known for Dracula, a bestseller in his day and is still selling steadily. Stoker died in 1912. The Plot We read from the journal of a young English lawyer named Jonathan Harker who makes a trip to none other than the Castle Dracula in the Eastern European country of Transylvania in order to conduct some real estate business with the Count. On his journey, peasants begin warning him of a creature, loosely translated “vampire”,… Read More →

Book Review: Mr. Fox

Mr. Fox: A Novel by Helen Oyeyemi (New York: Riverhead Books, 2011. 336 pp) Helen Oyeyemi is the author of The Icarus Girl; The Opposite House, which was a nominee for the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; and White Is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Riverhead Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. Occam’s Razor In general, I recommend living under the Occam’s razor principle. It urges its followers to submit… Read More →

Book Review: Money, Greed, and God

Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem by Jay W. Richards (New York: HarperOne, 2009. 272 pp) Jay Richards, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute where he directs the Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality, and is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. The Complicated Relationship between Money and the Church The church holds a complicated relationship with capitalism. On one side, it praises business for its instrumental purpose within its walls. Business creates wealth which, in turn, funnels into Church programs through the donations of the congregation. At the same time, business operates under self-interest, a seemingly anti-Christian position asserting “Greed is good”. What is… Read More →

Book Review: Catch-22

Catch-22: A Novel by Joseph Heller (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996; originally published in 1955. 544 pp) Born in Brooklyn, Joseph Heller joined the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war, Heller studied English at USC and NYU before earning an M.A. at Columbia University. Later, he studied at Oxford University as a Fulbright Scholar. Famous for Catch-22, Heller became a world renowned author and satirist. He died in 1999. That’s it for Me! George Costanza never spoke more truth than the day he decided to follow Jerry Seinfeld’s advice and leave on a high note. Whenever he enraptured a room with an exceptional joke, he immediately left. While reading Joseph Heller’s groundbreaking Catch-22, I… Read More →

Book Review: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul David Tripp (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2002.  348 pp) Paul David Tripp is a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation in Glendale, Pa. and a lecturer in practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. How People Change vs. Instruments As a review of How People Change has already been written on this blog, I felt it necessary to review its companion Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands.  The first thing that is needed to be said is that if you read How People Change, you should have read this book instead. How People Change focuses on the hard circumstances in life and how… Read More →

Book Review: How People Change

How People Change by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp (Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2006. 255 pp) Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp are counselors and faculty members at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation in Glendale, Pa. and lecturers in practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. Give It 50 Pages Nancy Pearl isn’t the only one with this argument, but I heard it from her first so she’s getting credit. Statistically speaking, there are more books in the world than any one person could ever read in a lifetime. Your reading time is sacred and finite. Pearl, thus, urges her followers to avoid reading books they find unrewarding. Give a book 50 pages; if it doesn’t grip… Read More →

Book Review: A Whole New Mind

A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Daniel H. Pink (New York: Riverhead Books, 2005. 288 pp) An author of 4 books on the changing world of work, Daniel Pink earned his B.A. from Northwestern University and a J.D. from Yale Law School. In 2011, Thinkers50 ranked Pink one of the 50 most influential business thinkers in the world. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and three children. How Then Shall We Work? It seems all parents urge their children to earn a marketable degree. Even though evidence exists which confirms the importance of a college degree of any kind helping workers earn more over the average lifespan, parents want a… Read More →

Book Review: Shop Class as Soulcraft

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford (New York: The Penguin Press, 2009. 256 pp) Matthew B. Crawford is a philosopher and mechanic. He has a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago and served as a postdoctoral fellow on its Committee on Social Thought. Currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, he owns and operates Shockoe Moto, an independent motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, Virginia. An Apple Nowhere Near the Tree They say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Whether it’s culinary taste, similar joys in sports, or comparable career paths, parents and children often resemble each… Read More →