January 11, 2011

What I Read Over Break


Jayber Crow came to me long recommended and long unread due to the various libraries in my area not only not having it, but not knowing it existed. However in December, due to the generosity of one of the recommending friends, I at last got my hands on it. Admittedly, it did not become a favorite. However, it had some truly shining moments. I feel a more whole person for having read it, not just because I now have context and experience to rely on when my friends reference this, apparently, widely read author, but also for having gotten to know Jayber Crow, the character who's life the book details- a small-town bachelor barber who loves without self... and comes to be loved for himself. [Book: RECOMMENDED for those who enjoy leisurely reads]

Talk about a sickening book! I am glad I already knew what I was in for when I began it otherwise I might have nose-dived into a week-long depression. The author, Dr. George Grant, is well-known amongst the reformed, Presbyterian, and classical history circles. I have watched many of his history lectures- as he teaches his class in his button-down shirt and bow-tie about God's sovereignty in the course of history. Like all truly good teachers- he has a genius of his own and  his enthusiasm is contagious and his rapture inspiring. I can still hear his voice ringing, "Ideas have consequences- even unto a thousand generations!" This book, though never using those words, certainly reiterated his underlining philosophies. Killer Angel is a biography of sorts on the founder of  Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger. While the organization has whitewashed its beginnings and made a heroin of its founder,  this short read tells the story of this amazingly influential women who, regardless of your opinion on her life and work, openly espoused and promoted the eugenic ideology of Adolph Hitler.  [Book: RECOMMENDED, for those not fainthearted]


I admit it, Dostoevsky disappointed me. He's one of my favorite authors and I confess I have very, very high expectations of him. This book did not fulfill them. While to my knowledge I understood everything the book had to offer, it is universally acknowledged as unique among Dostoevsky's work in that it has no metaphysical musings whatsoever. It seems I missed them. The book had no endearing characters, nobody seemed to learn anything, the plot, while engrossing, due to its inconclusiveness was not altogether edifying, and, consequently, I closed the book with a big question mark hovering in the air and a general feeling of having wasted my time.  I am disposed to believe, due to my loyalty to its author, that its one redeeming merit was most likely lost on me. Half of the fun of reading a Dostovsky  novel is drinking in the language and sentence structure of a master. I am thus forced to conclude that much must have been lost in my translation (mine was Andrew R. MacAndrew). Better luck next time. [Book: NOT RECOMMENDED]


This was quite the page turner! It came recommended to me in a rather odd way. I have long been a fan of the book The Cross And The Switchblade by David Wilkerson, a true story about his ministry amongst the violent New York street gangs of the early sixties. However, while I always enjoy the beginning and middle of The Cross And The Switchblade, by the end it turns into a bit of dissertation on the medic qualities of speaking in tongues. Though I'd had discussions about the doctrine of tongues with my pastor in the past, one day I decided to ask him about what he thought about it in the context of The Cross And The Switchblade. His reply was, "Read Run Baby, Run." So over break I bought and read it. I confess I was no clearer on the whole issue by the end of the book, but it was a good read in its own right. For those already familiar with The Cross And The Switchblade, Run Baby, Run is an autobiography by Nicky Cruz, a hate-filled, blood-thirsty young man (president of the gang the Mau Maus), who's conversion David Wilkerson anecdotes in his own book. The resulting story, Run Baby, Run as told in Cruz's own words is gripping, often gory, and  resoundingly God-glorifying. [Book: RECOMMENDED for the mature reader who has already read The Cross And The Switch Blade.]


I almost don't want to say anything about this book. I'd been wanting to read it for a quite some time and was finally given a copy in December from the literature available at the evangelism table I was helping a friend at school with (yes! God blessed me with a friend!). This book is amazing. My general rule of thumb when it comes to books is that they should be read fast, very fast, -lest they be so boring you don't finish them. Once you know you like the book you can read it again- leisurely- and drink in every sentence. Still, I  tend to only read even my favorites twice. Thus when I tell you that I hope to read this book again- and again- and then probably again- it is one of the highest praises I can give. In this short devotional John Piper explores what it means to live a life worth living. I confess, while never having had aspirations to waste my life,  and while the opposite certainly has occurred to me- I have yet to be all-consumed by a desire to spend it well. Piper's exhortation to live a life devoted to glorifying God is truly stirring- and I closed the book with tears in my eyes and newly awakened longings. Just read it. Don't Waste Your Life can do little less than change your life. [Book: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED]


  1. Jayber Crow: My excuse for not reading it is pretty slim by your experience, since it's been sitting on our library shelf 10 feet from me for over a year. :-P

  2. I love your taste on books, Linda! After reading "Notes from Underground", Dostoevsky has gone up on my list as authors to read more of. I'm sad to hear that "The Eternal Husband" was disappointing. I have also loved "The Cross and the Switchblade" and now am interested in reading "Run Baby, Run."

  3. Hey, Anna! Yeah, I really enjoyed Notes. If you haven't already- read Crime & Punishment (one of my all time favorites!) and The Brothers Karamazov. Both are really, really good- stellar Dostoeveskies. :-D

    Yay! Another T.C.A.T.Switchblade reader! Hey, if you like you can borrow my copy of Run Baby, Run. :-)

  4. I get a shout out!!! Yeaaaaa!!!! Publicity!!

  5. :wide grin: I thought you'd like that. ;-)

  6. Crime & Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov are on my list! I would love to borrow your copy of Run Baby, Run. I'm just not sure when I'm going to get to see you next! We should get together at some point!