Books: Ove

June 11, 2016

I just got back from two weeks vacation, where I had no internet access but lots of time to read books. (We spent a few days in upstate New York with relatives, back home for a day of doing laundry and repacking, then down to Branson, MO for a week.) So now I have to catch up, blogging on all the reading I’ve been doing.

A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, was our library book club’s selection this month. I don’t know what the rest of the group thought of it, because while they were meeting Monday evening, I was relaxing down in Branson. But I expect they liked it – it’s hard not to, once you get into it. I don’t think it’s “hysterically funny” as Kirkus Reviews puts it, but definitely funny – more of a dry humor, which I much prefer.

(Though it would be nice to know how to pronounce the main character’s name. I have seen several different versions, all with two syllables but with differences in the vowels used. Probably the Swedish vowel sounds do not have exact English equivalents.) Read the rest of this entry »


Books: Dear Committee Members

March 20, 2016

The “What We’re Reading Now” section of a recent library newsletter listed library director Pam’s most recent read, Dear Committee Members, as “a┬áhysterical novel told through meandering letters of recommendation written by an academic who has passed his prime in every way.” I don’t always enjoy the same books Pam does, but it sounded worth checking out.

It is indeed a funny book. I didn’t find it laughing-out-loud funny, but then there is little that really makes me laugh out loud. (Humorous lists like this and this, as well as more than a few minutes of reading Damn You Autocorrect, do sometimes actually accomplish that.) What I find laugh-out-loud funny, though, rarely has any purpose beyond making me laugh.

Julie Schumacher’s novel, however, does have a serious side to it. Jason Fitger, the cranky professor of creative writing and literature who pens the dozens of letters of recommendation that make up this novel, voices the frustrations of many professors at real-world colleges.

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Books: The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass: Adrian Plass and the Church Weekend

January 16, 2016

Looking at my 2016 Reading Challenge, I had wondered how I would find “a book guaranteed to bring me joy.” There are books by favorite authors that I know I will enjoy, but that’s different from books that bring me joy.

As it happens, I had already ordered the latest book in Adrian Plass’ Sacred Diary series, as a Christmas present for our whole family. We’re read – and re-read – all the previous books in the series, and I was happy to discover he had written a new one.

If you haven’t read Adrian Plass before, you might want to start by reading the previous five books, starting with The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 3/4. Some reviews say his latest is not as laugh-out-loud funny as some of the earlier books, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to my husband while he was reading just the first chapter.

I find it more quietly amusing – but then, I rarely laugh out loud. What I appreciate about Plass’ writing is how well he weaves together humor with wisdom and with a view of God who loves us more than we can imagine.

A lot of what passes for humor these days is just making fun of people, but while Plass gently pokes fun at human foibles, it is always good-natured fun. People do such foolish things, but it’s not a reason to despise or disdain them. (Though I don’t think I could stand spending much time around Minnie Stamp, a new character in this volume.)

There is always an assurance that we are loved by a God who not only loves us but actually likes us. I know I find that hard to accept, though I’m not sure exactly why. Because I don’t think someone who knows all there is to know about me would like me? Because I think I need to want to work hard for God’s approval, otherwise I’d take it easy? Or because so few Christian books seem to convey that same message?

If I tried to convey what Plass’ books are like, I’m sure I’d fall far short. So if you have a chance to read some, find out for yourself.


Books: The Antelope in the Living Room

August 9, 2014

Looking through the list of non-fiction in Tyndale’s summer reading list, I decided that a humorous book about marriage sounded worth checking out of the library. Light reading, with some insights thrown in about making marriage work, all from a Christian perspective.

For the first few chapters of The Antelope in the Living Room, I was delighted. I enjoyed her light-hearted style and her self-deprecating humor, and I smiled as I read. (I didn’t laugh, but that’s me, not the book – there really isn’t a lot that makes me laugh.) I looked forward to enjoying the whole book.

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Books: I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This

June 7, 2014

I rarely read biographies, and I only picked up this one because it came up in a search I did in the library catalog. I’m working on a humorous speech for Toastmasters, which requires me to include material I have heard or read, along with personal experiences of my own.

I started working on a speech about names, but had trouble finding material. So I decided to switch my topic to golf. I was sure I could find plenty, but it wasn’t showing up in the books in the humor section of the library. So I used the online catalog. This found me a book by Bill Murray and another by Bob Newhart.

I associate them with humor, but not necessarily with golf. In the end I found two other books on golf humor, which turned out to be in the golf section, along with serious books on how to improve your game. The book by Newhart has only one short chapter about golf, which didn’t look helpful to my speech. But I decided to read the book anyway, just for a change of pace.

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Books: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

June 2, 2014

Our book club selection this month was Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir. Having previously read his book The Mother Tongue – English And How It Got That Way, I was happy to read something else by Bryson.

It took me a while to realize that while it is written in the form of a memoir, it really is not so much about Bryson as about what it was like growing up in the 1950’s and early 60’s. As I was born a decade later in the early 60’s, and in the middle of Connecticut rather than the middle of Iowa, I find some of his recollections similar to my own, and others very different.

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If St. Paul had used Powerpoint…

February 8, 2014

I’ve seen Scripture passages “translated” into a format familiar to users of modern technology, such as
God texts the Ten Commandments.” But this is the first time I’ve seen anyone tackle an entire book of the Bible.

I’m not sure whether this is poking fun more at people who inflict their tacky Powerpoint presentations on others, or at those who prefer Scripture packaged in convenient, sound-bite-sized portions. But this “Terrible Powerpoint” version of 1 Corinthians is humorous.


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