Thursday, 2 January 2014

Books and Stuff - Dec 2013

A monthly round-up of my book news.

What I've been reading...

I finally finished How to Seize A Dragon's Jewell, one of Cressida Cowell's 'How to Train Your Dragon' Series.  I'm not one of those adults who customarily reads children's books, but my wife bought me this as a lighthearted birthday present, knowing that dragons and I have a history.

There are two things to note: first, this is the tenth in the series; and secondly, the story background is different from that of the DreamWorks film.  Neither of these spoiled my enjoyment of the book (I also enjoyed the film).  I would think that it would be ideal for bedtime stories.  The chapters are a good length, and generally build up to exciting climaxes; add to this some great characters and dialogue and you've all the excuse you need to put on some silly voices.  The authors illustrations are nicely idiosyncratic too.

I'm going to look out for other books in this series and I also read the little book How to Train Your Viking.

Completely different is Paul Vallely's Pope Francis: Untying the Knots, which I've also finished.  As I studied the modern church at university, I've read many papal biographies.  It's a good rule of thumb that any biography written in the first year of a papacy is going to be hagiographical pap or a complete hatchet-job (sadly, some popes never progress any further - decent biography of Pius XI anyone?).

This is neither.  It's a well-written piece of investigative journalism that explores the paradox of Francis: how the authoritarian Jesuit Provincial in 1970s Argentina became everyone's favorite liberal uncle and advocate of the 'option for the poor'.  For Vallely the crux is the case of the two Jesuits imprisoned by the junta after they were disowned by Bergoglio.  His critics have used this case to level charges of collaboration against him: Vallely convincingly dismisses these charges, but argues that his naivete in saying that he no longer considered the men Jesuits gave the green light for the government to arrest them.  Vallely considers that Francis has been trying to atone ever since.

An important book on Francis' pre-papal career.

I also read the Journal of the Life Saving Awards Research Society (which had a couple of my own contributions in it) and started Giles Foden, Ladysmith.

What I've bought...

Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your Viking - 30p

Rose George, Deep Sea and Foreign Going - £1.00
Mike Hally, Electronic Brains: Stories from the Dawn of the Computer Age - £1.50
Mike Palmer, Eddystone: The Finger of Light - £2.00

Books for free!

From the One Man and His Brushes giveaway and Christmas gifts.

Terry Pratchett, Raising Steam

Chris Martin, A Gentleman's Guide to Beard and Moustache Management
Rebecca Rushforth, St Margaret's Gospel-Book: The Favorite Book of an Eleventh Century Queen of Scots
Andrew Salmon, To The Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea 1951
Nigel Slater, Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food

1 comment:

  1. The book about my namesake Pope sounds quite interesting!


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