Tag Archives: book

Review: Into the Wild

Into the WildInto the Wild by Jon Krakauer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I write this review, I’m wondering what effect listening to a book (which I did for this one) has compared to reading it. Do I find books more enjoyable to listen to than I would if I’d read it? If my question is answered in the affirmative, I may be rating a book with four stars that I might otherwise rate with three. I just don’t know.

There were a few things I really like about the book.

One, the author had, prior to writing this, written an article that was widely read about Chris McCandless, from which many readers concluded that McCandless was a reckless, ignorant, and arrogant young man. In his research for this book, he found that he had reported many things in error that misrepresented McCandless. To that end, this book serves to correct those misconceptions and paint McCandless in the light he deserves. I applaud that effort.

Krakauer also tells the story of several others, including himself, who had gone “into the wild” like McCandless–some survived, some also lost their life–and these stories help to paint a picture in the reader’s (listener’s) mind that encourages understanding of McCandless (and maybe even similar drives in one’s self).

It’s no spoiler, as the book’s description tells you in advance what happened to McCandless, but the book is sad. McCandless strove so hard to find purpose and meaning for his life, purpose and meaning that he was leaving behind with every move. He so badly wanted to define his life by a struggle with the wild, when he was finding it (or could have been) in every relationship he had throughout his journey. It is so strange that a young man who so easily made friends and loved and was loved by people, could not see in those people the meaning he was desperately craving. For me, the book worked as an anti-Call of the Wild. And I appreciate the book for that.

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Review: The Life and Legacy of Pope John Paul II

The Life and Legacy of Pope John Paul IIThe Life and Legacy of Pope John Paul II by Wyatt North

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a nice read, a quick one too, on my Kindle. I picked it up in one of those Amazon sales, and I’m glad for it (a sale still available as of the time of this writing). It was a brief but informative look at the life of Pope John Paul II. I enjoy biographies in general, so it was nice to learn so many things about this man that I hadn’t known. Much of this information may not be new to my Roman Catholic friends and family, but it was new to me. Like, I didn’t know that Karol Wojtyla attended the same university as Nicholas Copernicus–not at the same time, of course!

For the time commitment this book would require, I’m not sure there is any reason someone shouldn’t read it.

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Review: The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of HomecomingThe Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri J.M. Nouwen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this book as a gift from a dear friend. And it may be one of the more important books I’ve read year to date. There are some books that a person reads, and it is just the book that person needs to read at that moment. This was one of those books for me. It may not be the book someone else needs to read today, but it will probably be a book you will need to read someday.

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Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter MittyThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good short story by James Thurber, recently made into a movie with Ben Stiller. I listened to an audio version read by Stiller.

The story is rather engaging, I found myself imagining and seeing the real life around him as well as the imaginary worlds he was lost in. The story is a great short story to read and discuss, especially with students, I imagine.

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Review: A Student’s Guide to Natural Science

A Student's Guide to Natural ScienceA Student’s Guide to Natural Science by Stephen M. Barr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good little book discussing the history and development of science from the Greeks to today’s ‘superstring theory.’ Most of it is very accessible, probably all of it if you are already relatively familiar with the history of science and scientists as well as some of the theories and ideas connected to physics.

The book also has lots of good little quips and ideas to pull and share with others. Here are a few I marked:

Physics can be regarded as the most fundamental branch of natural sciences, since the laws of physics govern the processes studied in all the other branches… [D]evelopments in physics and astronomy have had the most profound impact on philosophical thought.

The fact is that the glory days of ancient science were long gone by the time Christians became a significant demographic or intellectual force.

This, he says, in order to contrast the idea that Christians prevented or halted continued significant scientific advances.

Contrary to what many imagine, religious skepticism does not appear to have been a generative factor in the Scientific Revolution.

Galileo said that the great Book of Nature is written in the language of mathematics.

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