Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Gaggle of Quick Book Reviews

111. Guardian Angels: True Stories of Answered Prayers by Joan Wester Anderson
Like Anderson's other books about angels, this consists of anecdotes of miracles that real people have experienced in modern times. I'm a sucker for these and loved it. This really is more of a book about prayer than guardian angels although angels do figure largely in many of the anecdotes. In fact, partway through I actually forgot the book had "angels" in the title. No matter, real answers to prayer are wonderful to read, no matter how God chooses to do it.

109. Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? (Loyola Classics) by John Powers
110. The Lat Catholic in America by John Powers
I was stunned to read this book and find that it was full of mean-spirited stories about the Catholic Church. Now, before you even tell me, I know, I know, if you were raised Catholic before a certain time these stories are hilariously true. All I can say is that, to me as a convert of today, if those stories ring true then thank the Lord for Vatican II. Honestly, if one strips the veil of memory off and reads what Powers writes about the Church in these two books there is no way that one would find these stories original or amusing (yes, I actually suffered through a second to make sure that I was being fair to Powers). I am put in mind of Bill Bryson's books about traveling around America. I eagerly picked one up, having thoroughly enjoyed "English, Our Mother Tongue and How It Got That Way" and found that the reason Bryson must live in England is because he hates America ... or just wants to tell mean stories about Americans to make a buck. Powers is in the same category for me. Steer clear of this book.

108. Prayer Book of Catholic Devotions by William Storey
A delightful, small volume of prayers, readings, and devotions to use through the seasons and feasts of the liturgical year. I got this in ordinary time but am looking forward to using it to deepen my devotions during Advent.

107. The Devil's Advocate by Morris L. West from My Autumn Reading Challenge
Monsignor Blaise Meredith, who is dying of cancer, is sent to a small, isolated Italian town to be a Devil's Advocate for beautification of Giacomo Nerone. We see the story, told largely in flashbacks, of a controversial character in an isolated peasant village. A vivid portrait is painted of the people who knew Nerone and how their actions resulted in good and evil. All are in need of spiritual healing or guidance, and West clearly shows us the changes that are still being wrought in their lives by their memories of Nerone. The question of whether Nerone is actually a saint is left for us to decide and I, myself, am undecided on that particular question. However, in this book it is the journey that is important along with actions taken on the way ... as it is in our own lives. There is no question about that. Highly recommended.

106. The Essential Thomas Eakins by Alice A. Carter
It is continually amazing to me how much essential information is conveyed by these small but complete books. The entire series is highly recommended and this book in particular, if only for a look at this under appreciated artist whose highly scandalous life contributed to his lack of popularity.

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