Friday, May 17, 2013
Tim Challies links to an interesting article by Drake Baer on how your memory works and on the disadvantages of remembering what you read on a screen vs. what you read on paper. I've heard this before, but was glad to have it explained more clearly.
Baer's post also links to an article in the Scientific American which states:
Even so, evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. A parallel line of research focuses on people's attitudes toward different kinds of media. Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.
Friends, I love my Kindle, but I have to agree with these articles; I know that I'm retaining much less from my e-books than from my physical books.
Some previous thoughts on this subject were shared on my blog here.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Chesterton on Christian doctrine
(from Heretics, p. 288-289) -
Man may be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined skepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating them all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backward into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
I recently looked up a list of Trollope titles to see if it was a reasonable goal to try and read them all. I found an article by English poet/novelist H.S. Davies who wrote that the best of Trollope is found in his two series (Barsetshire and Palliser) but that two other novels (of 47) are good examples of Trollope's tremendous talent. The first is The Way We Live Now (1873) and the second is The Claverings (1867).
I began reviewing The Claverings last week when I mentioned it in my "book report." I gave a hint there about my dissatisfaction with the book because I had a hard time appreciating Harry Clavering, a double-minded man when it came to love and marriage. As I watched him waffle on his engagement to Girl #2 when Girl#1 becomes a widow, I wished for a hero with more backbone. (Septimus Harding, Dr. Thorne and Plantagenet Palliser are men from other Trollope novels who are not perfect, but, nevertheless, are men of conviction.)
This novel was similar to an Austen novel in that everyone is seeking to make an advantageous marriage. Harry is jilted initially by Julia because he has no money. Mr. Saul is refused by Fanny because he is penniless curate. After Julia becomes a rich widow, several men seek her hand purely for financial gain. Interestingly, those who have married into money are the most unhappy people in the story. Yet Trollope isn't totally against the security that comes from wealth since most of the main characters in the book end up with well-feathered nests. I can't tell any more of the story without giving spoilers.
In spite of my irritation with Harry Clavering, I enjoyed Trollope's witticisms, especially with regards to Archie (one of Julia's suitors) and his friend Boodle. Also, the narrators at Librivox did an unusually good job on this one.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
For those of you who can never have enough books on your Kindle, I thought this deal from Amazon.com was pretty good: The Complete Father Brown Mysteries (Annotated). I know Chesterton's stories are great, but I can't vouch for the annotations since I haven't read them yet. Still, it's not a bad way to spend 99 cents.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Why should the "Great American Classic" sound better with British voices? I don't know, but listening to the Moby Dick Big Read finally enabled me to tackle this intimidating novel. The first chapter (narrated by Tilda Swinton) was so well done that I was hooked. Other bloggers had mentioned that the book had funny moments, but I wouldn't have believed if I hadn't read/heard it for myself. Ishmael's initial encounter with Queequeg is just one of several amusing scenes. But this book is far from a comedy.
One blogger has linked to the negative reviews at Amazon.com. Although I laughed at most of them, I have to agree that the book sometimes lacks flow. Many chapters seem disjointed and some could even be removed without hurting the story. There are chapters on whale bones, whale blubber, whale heads, the whale's color, etc. I finally came to the conclusion that the author was just as monomaniacal about whales as Ahab was about one particular whale. Yet, this is more than a novel about whales. It's a fascinating look into the hearts of men: their superstitions, their hopes, their motives. And it's beautifully written. In spite of the tedious bits, I reveled in Melville's biblical allusions and his luscious metaphors:
On Queequeg deep in the hull: Stripped to his woolen drawers, the tattooed savage was crawling about amid the dampness and slime like a green-spotted lizard at the bottom of a well. (Chapter 110)
On the appetites of the harpooners: While their masters seemed afraid of the sound of their own jaws, they [the harpooners]dined like lords; they filled their bellies like Indian ships all day loading with spices. (Chapt. 34)
I feel inadequate to review this masterpiece and refer you to another blogger who has done it quite well. I look forward to reading a physical copy of this book in the future to better savor the beautiful language.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Many of the books I read this month left me a little depressed.
1)The Pastor's Wife by Elizabeth von Arnim (1914 fiction) was a sad commentary on people in the church who haven't a clue what it means to follow Christ. Every character was selfish to the core.
2) Ruth by Eliabeth Gaskell is a Victorian novel about a young woman who becomes pregnant out of wedlock. I'm only halfway through, and hope it will yet present redeeming qualities.
3) Even my beloved Trollope let me down with the novel, The Claverings. This is a story of a young man who is jilted by the woman he loves because she prefers to marry into money. He moves on with his life and becomes engaged to a lovely young woman with no dowry. When woman #1 returns a rich widow, our hero is faced with a decision.Will he choose wealth and beauty over faithfulness and goodness? I have five more chapters to find out.
4) The Kindle Kollection - 3 booklets with tips on how to get the most out of your Kindle
5) Nothing Daunted by Epp - biography of Isobel Kuhn
6) The Setons by O. Douglas
7) Prayers from the Pews - free (at the time) Kindle download
Friday, April 26, 2013
Isobel Kuhn (1901-1957) is one of my favorite missionary writers. She and her husband, John, served the Lisu people in the mountains of southern China from 1934 to 1950. Repp’s book gives an overview of their life and ministry. When Isobel and John went to China they had no idea that they would be ousted because of WWII and later because of communism, but God laid it on their hearts to focus on a teaching ministry. They knew they could never reach the hundreds of Lisu villages by themselves, so they held yearly Bible schools for men, women and teens. These were intensive weeks of training in the newly translated Lisu New Testament.
The Kuhn’s encountered many trials. Some of their carefully trained leaders died of illness because they lived so far away from medical care. Their daughter Kathryn was sent to a boarding school that was captured by the Japanese during the war. Fighting among the clans threatened to destroy the churches. But John and Isobel toiled on. When they left China in 1950 there were 17,000 believers. Because of the Kuhn's insistence on thorough Bible training, the Lisu Christians continued to preach and teach; 50 years later there were 200,000 Lisu Christians..
After you read this book, you should read one of Kuhn’s own books. Green Leaf in Drought Time is probably the most famous, but By Searching is another gem.