C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2014)
I liked this one, filing it under biography. But it is actually a biography of a book, of Mere Christianity. McCusker tells the backdrop story of the Second World War, and the BBC broadcasts that eventually became Mere Christianity. Not scintillating, but good info here.
Psmith in the City (Woodstock: Overlook Press, 2003)
Standard Wodehouse fare, and very good. This was different, however, in that it contained no Wodehouse female of any description — no aunts and no battleaxes and no pippins.
The Pickwick Papers (London: Penguin, 1836)
Okay, so I have a confession to make. I have never really read any Dickens. Some of my family were big into him, but I never got around to it. I may have read A Christmas Carol some time, but don’t think that counts. At any rate, one of my projects consists of always reading some Chesterton, and as it happened, I am now reading Chesterton’s collection of pieces on Dickens. So Chesterton convinced me that I needed to read some Dickens, and so I chose Pickwick. I enjoyed it as I went, and by the end found it curiously satisfying.
Samuel Adams: A Life (New York: Free Press, 2008)
I really enjoyed this one. I had never taken a close look at the contribution Sam Adams made to our liberties, and this fine biography shows that the contribution was extensive.
Here are a couple of favorite moments. One adversary said, after Adams’ death, that his politics were derived from “two maxims, rulers should have little, the people much” (p. 259).
In another apt application, Stoll refers to Adams’ religious tranquility, and notes the odd juxtaposition — a tranquil revolution. He then applies Perry Miller’s wonderful assessment of the Puritan character — of which Adams was a prime specimen — a characteristic “most difficult to evoke,” that being the “peculiar balance of zeal and enthusiasm with control and wariness” (p. 265).
If you are like many, and need some gaps filled in with regard to your knowledge of Samuel Adams, this would be the place to start. Did you know that the redcoats likely went to Lexington and Concord because they were looking for Sam Adams and John Hancock, who were on the lam?
Watson is top tier. One of my personal devotional goals is to be always reading something by him.
Apologies for the discrepancies between the book I read, the cover I am showing, and the edition I am linking to. A lot can happen in three and a half centuries.
The Virtues of Capitalism (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2010)
A decent book. I enjoyed it, and learned some things, but I much prefer my defenses of capitalism to be Strident. These guys were mellow, but they still had some good things to say. My favorite was their observation that the opposite of contentment was not ambition, but rather envy.
Proclamation and Theology (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2005)
I found this book very helpful. Willimon is writing from a different place theologically, but his observations here were very shrewd and biblically grounded. A lot of good food for preachers here.
The Checklist Manifesto (New York: Picador, 2009)
This book has a very fine analysis of how to achieve excellence in the midst of complex systems. The complexity of a masterful violin performance is very different from the complexity of building a skyscraper. With the latter, no one person can be the “master builder,” monitoring performance at every level. What is necessary is to monitor the communications of those who are involved and hence, checklists. A good, straightforward read.