Monday, February 4, 2008

January's Bookworm Feastings

Now that February is upon us, I'm going to make good on my promise and reflect upon my literary lunches on a monthly basis.

I am America (and so can you) – Stephen Colbert

After all of the traumatic events this country endures, I find settling down to an episode of the Colbert Report to be a soothing and hilarious opiate. To see that this great work is in book form made me want to sip the same nectar while away from the TV. And so I did. This book is overall as good as the TV show at its best moments. I highly recommend it to everyone, but make sure you don't get the Chinese counterfeit (ha ha!). My personal favorite section is the chart that helps one determine one's class in society.

In an effort to cultivate my care for the classics, I bought this book several years ago. I wanted to read this work, as its importance to those such as Tolkien has weighed heavily on my mind. I found it much better than my 9th grade memory of it, which was only happy about the fact that hearing Old English was a hauntingly beautiful experience. The notion of national identity is smashed to pieces in some senses, as stories of certain kingdoms which have come, gone, been squeezed together, and the like, leave me realizing that there are permanent concepts that show themselves in a fleeting fashion. The way that pagan mythology is interwoven with a Christian theme is also quite fascinating. I plan on reading Gardner's Grendel for this month, so that particular motif will be especially interest when placed in a contrast where the story focuses on the monster as opposed to the hero.

Cautionary Tales for Children-Hilaire Belloc
While Hilaire Belloc is hotly on my mind, this book is actually the first of his that I have read. I found the poem about the disobedient child who was eaten by a lion to be strikingly apropos, as the tragedy in San Francisco has been rumored to have been caused by similar rebellion. Overall this set of poems is exciting and still amusing today.

Old Thunder A Life of Hilaire Belloc-Joseph Pearce
This biography of Hilaire Belloc was the straw that broke this camel's back. I am now sure that I need to read as much of this man's work as possible. Enough said.

The Twits-Roald Dahl
This quick read by Roald Dahl tells a great story of the way one's morality alters one's appearance, and how judgment comes to such people. As an agnostic, his remedy to the problem strikes me as a bit too harsh, but it's too enjoyable to complain too much.

George’s Marvelous Medicine-Roald Dahl

This story by Dahl has a similar judgment on those that do not appreciate youth and goodness, with a similar shortcoming. Not as enjoyable as the Twits, but fun to read nonetheless.

The Ball and The Cross-G.K. Chesterton
I have read Orthodoxy, and now I have read The Ball and The Cross. This book was captivating from start to finish. I would love to make a movie out of this story some day, but something tells me that that's unlikely. Like Orthodoxy, it's one that I want to read again and again (and again).

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