A bit of a slower month for me this time. Here’s the list:
- Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story about Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables (Phil Vischer)
- Guardians of the West (David Eddings)
- King of the Murgos (David Eddings)
- Demon Lord of Karanda (David Eddings)
- Sorceress of Darshiva (David Eddings)
- The Seeress of Kell (David Eddings)
- Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity (Nabeel Qureshi)
- The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. (Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland)
Part of the slowness of my reading this past month comes from the fact that we were travelling an unusual amount: first a long weekend in Ocean City (brief notes on that trip here), and then a week in Ontario. Travelling with the kids tends to be more work than it is at home — managing life in other people’s houses which may or may not be childproof, for example — and so I didn’t have a lot of reading time. I don’t read as well in the car as I used to, either. Oh well! I have to constantly remind myself that the numbers don’t really matter as I’m not in competition with anyone (… or myself). Sometimes I believe me.
Speaking of trips, however, I have to recommend David Eddings as perfect vacation reading; I read most of The Belgariad (a series of five high fantasy novels — a pentalogy?) back in June when we took a week’s trip to Williamsburg, and decided to follow up with The Malloreon for our trip to Ocean City. Eddings wrote the books of The Belgariad (Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician’s Gambit, Castle of Wizardry, and Enchanter’s End Game) after taking a course in literary criticism, in order to prove that you could write books with trope-heavy, formulaic plots that were still well-crafted and fun to read (see the series’s page on TV Tropes for more on this). And then he did it again with The Malloreon. The books are definitely brain candy, but they’re not by any means dumb. I’ve read all ten before — and the two companion prequels, Polgara the Sorceress and Belgarath the Sorceror — and will doubtless do so again.
October’s best read was, by far, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. I’d never heard of Galland, but I have been a Neal Stephenson fan for many years and was delighted to find a new book of his. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O is a delightful (and delightfully long, at 700+ pages) time-travelling, bureaucratic romp that hit just about all of my sweet spots. A++, would read again.
[Edit: as has been pointed out in the comments (hi, Heather!) I am remiss in not mentioning that The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. was first brought to my attention by a dear friend who also reads interesting books and writes about them at The Backlist. There!]
I also very much appreciated Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by the late Nabeel Qureshi. Qureshi was raised in a devout Muslim home, but converted to Christianity in his young adulthood and later worked for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries as a Christian apologist. This book details his conversion, starting with a memoir of his growing-up years as a faithful Muslim in Scotland and later America, giving a personal account of how he came to change his beliefs, and with a fair bit of supplemental material on relevant topics (such as the popular Muslim “swoon theory” of the crucifixion, for example). A great strength of the book, I think, is actually the first section. When we in the West hear Muslims talk about the “beauty of Islam” we can react with incredulity; how can the religion that produced the Taliban and ISIS be beautiful? But Qureshi’s childhood experience of Islam was beautiful: he details the way religion brought his family (both immediate and extended) together, the experience of going to mosque with his parents, their gentle home catechesis. While Christianity and Islam are wholly incompatible on a doctrinal level, there are certainly points of connection in the ways that they are practiced in the family, and it was very helpful to me to see that.
My notes on Me, Myself, and Bob can be found here.