What I read in April 2020 (Part 1)

Three books are reviewed in this post.

April was during lockdown with no libraries open. I had read the library books I borrowed earlier. I decided to investigate the library’s ebooks, although I really do not enjoy reading books in digital form. A librarian of my acquaintance is very enthusiastic about BorrowBox. I downloaded the app to my phone. The search function is not very specific. The book I was looking for was not available. It had ‘Meeting’ in the title. Other books came up in the search results. I borrowed a children’s picture book by Michael Morpurgo – a master storyteller – Meeting Cézanne.

Meeting Cézanne is published by Walker Books. It is recommended for readers of seven years upward. The story of a ten year-old boy going away from his home and town for the first time involves new experiences in the country, hero-worship, misunderstandings and adventure. The delightful detailed illustrations by François Place add to the story. It displayed remarkably well on my phone and is available as an e-book or paperback. I read it twice!

The Vision of His Glory: Finding Hope through the Revelation of Jesus Christ by Anne Graham Lotz was a hardback book destined for recycling if no-one wanted it. Although it was several years old it was in new condition. Having read The Daniel Prayer, I was happy to give this book a reprieve. I began reading it, discovering that it is a study of The Revelation of St John the Divine. Before Christmas I was not ready to read a serious study, so after reading the introduction, I put it on one side. The Ladies’ Bible study group met and discussed what to study next. Revelation was suggested and I mentioned this book. Copies were obtained for the members and we began the study in January a week after watching a video: a lecture on Revelation by an American professor.

The book proved to be more easily used for individual study than for a group. The chapters were rather long. I missed a few meetings through illness and then we had to adjourn because of lockdown. It was towards the end of April that I reached the end of the book. While I appreciated the author’s intentions in writing this book* and found it hopeful and encouraging, some of the details really niggled with me. Perhaps I have too literal a mind, but describing the sun above Golgotha as tropical was something I’d have liked to see edited out. Realistically, it is only like us saying the weather is Baltic, when it is very cold. I am sure the author didn’t mean that Jerusalem is in the tropics!

*From the inside of the dustcover: The Vision of His Glory gives

  • Faith to the doubting
  • Courage to the timid
  • Victory to the defeated
  • Hope to the hopeless

Lost London: An A to Z of forgotten landmarks and lost traditions by Richard Guard was another book I borrowed as an e-book. It is very interesting and detailed. However the e-book with text and illustrations was not well laid-out. After renewing it for another three weeks I only reached the letter G on page 126 of 318. If I find a printed copy of this book in the library I shall try again.

5

What I read in March and April 2018

Perhaps the title of this post should be “What I read from cover to cover in March and April 2018”. I have been struggling with a couple of biographical/autobiographical books. One was tedious, because of the number of direct quotes from the writings of the people in the book, each with a superscript to send the diligent reader to the notes. I found it broke up the text, making it difficult to read. The other had so many references to film and television personalities that I was somewhat lost. I have lived most of my life without watching much television and would far sooner read than watch a film.

As I don’t like making unfavourable remarks about books, I shall not be telling you which books they were.

By contrast I have read three books (coincidentally all in American English) which I enjoyed so much that I have returned to part or all of them.

The first was The Daniel Prayer: The Prayer That Moves Heaven And Changes Nations by Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of the late Billy Graham).

The reasons that I read it were that the Ladies’ Bible Study Group I attend is studying the Book of Daniel and the first email I received from Bible Gateway (after this blog was listed on Bible Gateway’s Blogger Grid) advertised The Daniel Prayer. I could not resist the synchronicity and bought it from my local Christian bookshop. Anne Graham Lotz is a first-rate communicator. The paperback book is light and was my book of choice for long-distance  train travel.

The second book I finished was And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Housseini. I found it in the library and read it from cover to cover in two days. The story is woven very skilfully and requires the reader to pay close attention. Although I felt as if I had followed all the threads, I waited a day or two and read it again more slowly, savouring the descriptions and picking up more of the nuances. It is the best novel I have read in a long time. (I have previously read The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author.) The differences between UK and US English are perhaps most marked for everyday items. For example, rocks in the UK are large. We call small ones (and pebbles) stones. Skipping rocks must mean skimming stones, but I only realised this on the second reading.

The third book I read was lent to me by a friend after I enthused about the first book. It is Why? Trusting God when we don’t understand by Anne Graham Lotz. It is a little book, which may be read at a single sitting, or kept to hand to read a section at a time and really digest the contents. It is based on a chapter from John’s gospel, but also refers more than once to the Book of Daniel.