52 books this year – that’s my goal.
If you’ve been following on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you know that I check in with a photo each time I complete a book. It’s turning out to be an interesting little community project – I delight in the commentary that follows each book selection. Over on Instagram, one of my friends asked if I also reviewed these books.
Alas, there’s probably not time enough to do a full review of each volume. Nor does each volume merit a full review. So, as a way of furthering the conversation, I’m offering these monthly mini-reviews as a digest of the 52 book project.
So, without further ado, here are the books from January 2015:
Fallen Leaves by Will Durant (completed Jan 12)
Will Durant charmed me with his “Story of Civilization” series. I had great hopes for this posthumous work, containing his thoughts on life, God, death, and society. In some ways, he represents the best of mid 20th century middlebrow thought: romanticism tempered by moral rootedness, broad curiosity enriched by intellectual depth, good taste unfettered by judgmentalism. However, Durant is a citizen of a different millieu. His generous agnosticism feels quaint in our era of militant atheism. His views of women are frankly patronizing. All told, I found this volume to be an interesting insight into a great mind of a generation past.
The Silver Chair by CS Lewis (completed Jan 15)
I’m reading my younger daughter the Chronicles of Narnia for bedtime. When I was a child, The Silver Chair was not one of my favorite books. But I must admit that this time around, the story grew on me. I still think it has a sluggish, clunky start. I was, however, re-acquainted with one of Lewis’ great heroes: the dour, yet steadfast, Puddleglum. In the climactic scene, Puddleglum’s courageous actions and thoughtful speech are a rich reward for the reader’s investment of time.
Michaelangelo: A Life In Six Masterpieces by Miles Unger (completed Jan 29)
Make this a must-read for the year! A masterful book about a magnificent mind. I came away with a renewed appreciation for and an enriched understanding of Michaelangelo’s works. Unger depicts the artist’s flaws and his virtues, his faith and his foibles. And on top of it all, I learned much more about how the Renaissance gave way to the Reformation, and how art played a role in both those ages.
You Can. You Will. By Joel Osteen (completed Jan 30)
Osteen takes a lot of flak from people in my circles, and I wanted to to be able to say of this book, “It’s not that bad. Cut him some slack.” Alas. After completing the book in about three hours (for that was all it merited) I concluded that it was a cliche-ridden self-help book sprinkled with God-talk and a woefully deficient view of grace. It simply lends support to the maxim “Don’t bother with books in which the most prominent feature of the cover is the author’s smiling face.” If you’re looking for self-help, pick up John Maxwell’s books instead (though admittedly, I’ve seen his smiling face on a cover or two).
Do you like books? Perhaps you’d like my latest book: Geneva Two. A Parable of Christian Community and Calling. Or maybe you’d like my other book: Prophet of the Sun. I promise, my smiling face is not on either cover.
2 thoughts on “Monthly Mini-Reviews: books by Joel Osteen, Will Durant, Miles Unger, and CS Lewis”
I have to admit when I saw on Twitter that you’d read Osteen’s book I was apprehensive and judgmental. It’s good to see this review of it.
Thanks so much for giving the post a chance 🙂
In contrast, I’m reading Ken Bailey’s “The Good Shepherd”, a Biblical Historical look at the good shepherd theme from PS 23, through the prophets, into the gospels, and finally in Peter. Comparing Bailey to Osteen is like comparing a steak dinner to chee-tos.