Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More Summer Reading

I've read some fantastic books and one just so-so book lately. Here are the latest:

Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal by Dr. T. David Gordon~~This is the best book I've read in years. Dr. Gordon, who teaches media ecology at Grove City College, traces the roots of contemporary worship styles and urges caution in their use in worship services. He claims that the type of music we use in worship is not just a matter of taste and supports this claim with some very strong arguments. This book is so important that I think I will write a series of posts about it, but I hope your appetite is wetted and that you will immediately go to the bookseller of your choice and order it. It will cause you to re-think your position in the worship wars, whatever side you are on.

To Say Nothing of the Dog, or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis~~Funniest book ever written! The perfect summer read. I actually prefer listening to the Recorded Books version rather than reading the print version because the narrator, Steven Crossley, is fabulous! His timing and comedic voice are perfect and add so much to the hilarity. The plot is a huge, messy tangle that you think can never be unraveled. Don't let the fact that it's classified as science fiction turn you away. It's only science fiction because, like many of Connie Willis's books, it involves time travel, this time to Victorian England. The rest is an ingenious mix of history, literature, romance, and laughter. Get ready for a wild ride!

The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts by Richard Peck~~The second funniest book ever written! Peck's writing style, sometimes subtle humor, and characters are reminiscent of Mark Twain. The plot revolves around every child's dream~~the death of his teacher on the eve of the first day of school. This is one of those children's books that has more than enough in it to engage adults. Take the Listening Library audio edition with you to listen to in the car while on vacation. Dylan Baker narrates the tale, which is told from the perspective of a boy growing up about a 100 years ago on an Indiana farm. Baker's narration is superb and shows he remembers what it was like to be a fifteen-year-old boy who'd rather be fishing than reciting lessons.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien~~Do I really need to say anything about this book? This time around I was impressed by what an excellent read this is for children and adults alike. Adventure, a quest, a dragon, treasure, a battle, narrow escapes, peril, tests of wits, far off lands~~it's got everything! I love Tolkien's illustrations, too!

Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert Frank~~Now we come to the so-so book. Reading like a print version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, sections of it were quite interesting and left me with my mouth hanging open in amazement, like the description of the 500+ foot yacht, $100,000 spa bills, and $200,000 birthday parties, but I thought that Frank often focused too long on the exceptions and not enough on the norm. He claims that the new rich are forming their own culture and "country," which he dubs Richistan and its inhabitants Richistanis. Frank describes them as continually trying to out-do one another in the purchasing and showing off of bigger and better status symbols. It seemed silly and pointless to me and made me glad that I'm not a multi-millionaire. Written before the recession began, it left me wondering how Richistanis are faring today.

Picture courtesy of www.allposters.com

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