Bayard's Books

I love reading. If I could read all the time, I would.
When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight For Joy - John Piper

When I Don't Desire God is the companion devotional to John Piper's other book, Desiring God.  In Desiring God, he explains his belief that genuine emotional joy in God is an essential part of the Christian life.  In this volume, he explains ways to work for this joy.  The book is an excellent devotional.  I read a section per day along with my morning Bible reading.  The section about fasting and its relationship to prayer is especially insightful.  However, I ultimately disagree with Piper on the fundamental premise of the book.  He lays a great deal emphasis on emotions and feelings.  I hold, with C.S. Lewis, that God will give us feelings of joy in Him when He chooses to, and that these feelings are not an essential part of the Christian walk.  The important part is a decision to commit to Christ, regardless of emotions.

An adventure that never ceases to enchant

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

I reread The Hobbit recently, and was reminded of how much depth a really good writer can put even into a children's story.  A good number of the books that I liked when I was younger have stopped being interesting now, but The Hobbit remains as fascinating as ever.  Even though, compared to The Lord of the Rings, the events in Bilbo's adventure seem to be kind of trivial, at least at first, we are reminded in the appendices to LOTR (at least I think it is there), that if Bilbo's quest, culminating in the killing of Smaug and the defeat of the orcs of the Misty Mountains, had not occurred, then things might have gone much worse with Frodo's quest.  If Smaug had been alive to take part in the events in LOTR, a lot might have been different.  In all of Tolkien's work, we are often reminded that there is nothing accidental in this world.  Even that which seems like evil to us may turn out to end well.

More than Propaganda

The Aeneid - Robert Virgil; Translated By: Fitzgerald

The Aeneid is, like The Iliad and The Odyssey, a very well-written book.  (Yes, I know I give a lot of stuff 5 stars, but that's because so many of the books I'm reading turn out to be so good.)  Virgil reuses a lot of material from those two books, but he does a good job with it.  He takes what had been a Greek epic, with Greek heroes, and turns it into a very patriotic Roman epic.  In some ways, The Aeneid is a colossal propaganda piece.  One of the ideas behind the writing of the book is to establish that Augustus Caesar is descended from the gods, and is fated to bring in a golden age of peace.  In fact, Octavian commissioned Virgil to write The Aeneid for that very purpose.  However, because the story of Aeneas is larger than just proving Octavian's claim, the book itself is more than propaganda.

"God likes matter. He invented it."

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Unseduced and Unshaken: The Place of Dignity in a Young Woman's Choices - Rosalie De Rosset Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë

This is an excellent book about how to live as a Christian woman in the modern day.  Taking Jane Eyre, with her strong convictions of what is right and her resolve to always act on them, as a model, the author builds an excellent guide for building "a formidably detailed moral sensibility".

A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four -  Arthur Conan Doyle

Reading Sherlock Holmes reminds me of G.K. Chesterton's "A Defence of Detective Stories".  Here is a link to it.

Lest we forget...

Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis

I just re-read part of Mere Christianity again.  I was looking for a quote from it, but wound up reading about 2/3 of the book.  Lewis' clear explanation of what Christians believe always winds up reminding me of the ways to fight sin in my own life.  He seems to have had a supernatural gift for writing about complex subjects in plain language.  It reminds me of Rudyard Kipling's poem "Recessional", where the refrain is "Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,/lest we forget-lest we forget".  Lewis has often been God's instrument for keeping me from that error.  Next month, please remind me to read this book again. 

"The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid."

G.K. Chesterton


Don't let your imagination run away with you.....

Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

This is possibly my favorite Jane Austen novel so far.  Catherine Morland, the main character, really does let her imagination run away with her (even more that I do).  When invited to a friend's family residence, Northanger Abbey, she imagines that she has stumbled right into the plot of a gothic romance novel.  However, decrepit chests and even secret cupboards have disappointingly mundane contents.  Disappointed in that avenue, she gets her hopes up again when she discovers a room that is kept locked and never entered.  She finds out that it belongs to her friend Henry's deceased mother.  When she begins to suspect her host's father of murdering his wife, her suspicions come to light.  However, a kindly and well-placed reproof from Henry returns her to her senses.  

The Gammage Cup - Carol Kendall, Erik Blegvad The Whisper of Glocken - Carol Kendall, Imero Gobbato

I found "The Gammage Cup" to be an intriguing children's book.  Some of the ideas may have come originally from J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but the book itself is not derivative literature.  It is a quick, fun read.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes -  Arthur Conan Doyle The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes  -  Arthur Conan Doyle The Valley of Fear -  Arthur Conan Doyle The Hound of the Baskervilles -  Arthur Conan Doyle The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes -  Arthur Conan Doyle His Last Bow -  Arthur Conan Doyle A Study in Scarlet -  Arthur Conan Doyle

I have been on a Sherlock Holmes spree for the past couple of weeks.  I have watched probably 10 movies and am in the process of reading every story that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote about Holmes.  While Holmes (almost) always solves his case, the stories never seem to grow monotonous.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle seems to have had a nearly infinite capacity for imagining new crimes and scenarios for the stories.  He tried to kill off Holmes in "The Final Problem", since he believed that detective stories were taking up too much of his imagination and time, but all of the readers of his stories revolted and Sherlock Holmes returned to the Strand magazine.  I recommend any of these stories to anyone interested in mysteries.

The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,  Christopher Tolkien The Two Towers  - J.R.R. Tolkien The Fellowship of the Ring  - J.R.R. Tolkien The Return of the King  - J.R.R. Tolkien

Written in a very different style from "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit", "The Silmarillion" is fairly hard to read.  However, it is most definitely worth the effort.  It provides the background for the other books and gives Middle-Earth a depth and richness that make it hard for me to believe that Tolkien was not writing from some ancient parchments that he found instead of creating his own world.  Through "The Silmarillion", I have learned a great deal about beauty, heroism, and the sorrow of the world.  If you have read and enjoyed Tolkien's other work, then I heartily recommend "The Silmarillion".  

The Action Heroine's Handbook - Jennifer Worick, Joe Borgenicht

I only need two words to capture the essence of this book: Crazy Humor.  Nothing more need be said.

Les Misérables - Victor Hugo, Norman MacAfee, Lee Fahnestock

This is a really great book.  The timeless tale of Jean Valjean's journeys from a criminal to an honest and honorable man kept me glued to the pages until the beautiful, bitter-sweet ending.  The other characters, besides being extremely well rounded and realistic (after all, the book is really very long), are all worthwhile people to read about, and we can learn from their mistakes.  Javert, the merciless policeman, teaches that justice without mercy becomes cruelty.  There are others, but I don't want to spoil the book!

Never Before in History: America's Inspired Birth

Never Before in History: America's Inspired Birth - Gary Amos This book is an excellent view of the American Revolution and the events leading up to it from a Christian world-view. It begins with the Reformation and explains how it influenced the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and how the American Revolution probably would never have happened without the Reformation. It then explains about the religion of the settlers in general and a few of the religious controversies in the Colonies, including the trial of Anne Hutchinson over the Antinomian Controversy. I read this book for Starting Points class, and it is an excellent book to read with world-view questions in mind (especially "What is the nature of man?", and "What is the nature of the universe?").

Eragon (Inheritance, Book 1)

Eragon - Christopher Paolini

Eragon is quite a derivative book.  While there are certainly some original ideas in the book, Christopher Paolini seems to have relied very heavily on JRR Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonriders of Pern" series for source material.  I personally dislike this book because, while material from "The Lord of the Rings" is used throughout the entire book, Mr. Paolini has removed much of what made LOTR a really great book (at least in my opinion).  He has removed all of the underlying current of Christian worldview and morals which Tolkien incorporated into his book.  I do not recommend this book.

Currently reading

The Shaping of Middle-earth
J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien
Till We Have Faces
C.S. Lewis