Books Read in 2006

January 6, 2007 § 4 Comments

The Professor’s House by Willa Cather – Well-written (as would be expected with Willa Cather) but I had to do some further reading to understand what the point of the story was.


Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh – I tried very hard to like this book, but ultimately found myself confused. As soon as possible, I plan to take the recommendations of my cousins and listen to/watch it.


Sarah’s Song by Janice Burns – A truly beautiful love story, written by a woman who married a man with AIDS and contracted the disease herself. The now late Mrs. Burns tell her story simply, but it burns, and also gives one an appreciation for the hellishness of a life ruled by HIV/AIDS.


Deus Caritas Est by Benedict XVI – The subject matter was timely and I enjoyed it immensely. It contains decidedly Platonic undertones.


Donum Vitae by JPII – A must-read for an scientist regardless of field. The ethical guidelines of the Church are vital knowledge in the modern world; I used this document extensively for my paper on frozen embryo adoption.


A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller – Dr. Brewer lent me this book. It was a fascinating, albeit commonly deep, book, and is one of the finest futuristic/apocalyptic books I have read, far surpassing even 1984.


Every Living Thing by James Herriot – The 5th and final Herriot book was a triumph. Despite the lurking depression of the two preceding books, this one ends on a note worthy of the Dales, filled with our old and now dear friends.


by Michael Crichton – An easy-to-read thriller; I didn’t want to put it down, despite the disgusting parts. The relationship between Grant and Ellie was much more believable than in the movie.


Longitude by Dava Sobel – An un-scholarly review of the history surrounded John Harrison and the Longitude Act of 1714. Despite the sometimes repetitive style, it is a gem. I found the descriptions of the clocks and the craft of clockmaking marvelous.
Harrison is somewhat overglorified, I think, but he invented bimetallic strips and ball bearings. Makes one want to visit


Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad – This, I grant, was an extremely difficult book to “get into”, taking some 150 pages to grab my attention. But the second half of the story was engaging and thought-provoking. “What does fear do to men?” Conrad asks. Different men react to fear in very different ways.


The English Governess at the Siamese Court by Anna Leonowens – I’m sorry to say this book wasn’t worth the paper on which it was printed. Mrs. Leonowens betrays herself and her Victorian sensibilities in incredibly bigoted remarks against the Siamese people and culture (and the Jesuits) and through emotionally overblown hysterics.


One Heart Full of Love by Mother Theresa – A life-changing book, containing a treasure-trove of short talks and interviews given by the saint which are remarkable in their simplicity.


The Alchemist by Paul Coelho – I threw this book in the trash can after I finished it. The book gave me an idea of the New Age “religion”, which I must begrudgingly count as valuable. New Age thought aspires to Christian mysticism, but never gets off the ground and disappears in a haze of misused philosophy. You have a fine headache before you realize that what is designed to sound sublime really means absolutely nothing.


The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildebrand – I want to buy a copy for every woman I know! Mrs. Von Hildebrand weaves philosophy and theology into a delicate veil fit to adorn that queen of all women, Mary herself. By looking at the Incarnation, the author is able to discount the feminist lies and restore true femininity.


An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales – Contains practical advice on how to live the devout life. I enjoyed it and benefited by it, but at times found the style too sugary-sweet to take seriously.


St. Francis of Assisi: The Man Who Found Perfect Joy by Michael de la Bedoyere – A decent introduction to St. Francis’ life but I couldn’t help but be annoyed at the author’s musings on what he “thought” happened during times that the saint’s biographers are silent.


Young Mr. Newman by Maisie Ward – The genius of Venerable John Henry Newman impressed itself upon me very deeply when I read this incredible book. It was beautifully written, faultlessly incorporating Cardinal Newman’s letters and sermons in such a way that I did not want to set the book down.


The Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux – An inspiring book, even a second time through. What simplicity and love shine through every word!


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams- Fr. Baer recommended this one to me, and I was honestly shocked at how good it was. How many books do you read that not only make you burst out laughing when you first read them, but also weeks later when particular passages come randomly to mind?


The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain – A wickedly funny satirical piece along the lines of “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus”. Watch out, though: the end is a tear-jerker.


A Damsel in Distress by P.G. Wodehouse – Aunt Lori gave me this book, and it came highly recommended by all the cousins. Wodehouse is genius when it comes to comic novels. Everything he describes is sparklingly real.


Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray – My absolute favorite book of the entire summer; the 680 pages literally flew by. The writing was superb, the character development excellent, and the satire delightful. The book was so good that, when I tried to watch the movie, I turned it of halfway through in disgust.


The Imitation of Christ by St. Thomas a Kempis – Deserves to be known as a spiritual classic. It is a little severe for my tastes but contains a wealth of advice. I tried two translations, and found the Ronald Knox one to be the best and most readable.


Dominis Iesus by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger – A very good primer on the relationship of the Catholic Church to other religions. Thanks for recommending it Fr. Mark!


Napolean by Paul Johnson – Another masterful piece of work from Paul Johnson. He offers a delightful overview of history not just from a factual viewpoint, but from a philosophical one as well. I particularly enjoyed how Johnson paralleled Napolean and Washington many times, and showed how the same books and events had wholly different effects on their minds.


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – I read this with the high recommendation of both Dr. Kevin White and Fr. Mark. Although I felt silly reading a “children’s book” at first, I came to realize Dr. White was correct about two things: (1) it really is an adult book, and (2) it is a deeply philosophical and moral book. Most notably, Twain contrasts man-of-action Tom Sawyer with the more philosophical Huck.


The Documents in the Case by Dorothy L. Sayers – The way in which the mystery unfolds through court documents (hence written from different points of view) is exciting and different. Peter Wimsey, however, is not involved at all. Mrs. Dr. Brewer recommended the book – optical activity (close to my heart!) for once takes center stage in a murder investigation.


The Prestige by Christopher Priest – Although I am always dubious about recent fiction, Janice recommended this one and I was rewarded with a well-written and highly entertaining story. The syle/format was unusual and lots of fun.


The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien – It was the third time I’d read the book, and once again got something entirely new out of it (this time, the parallels between Boromir and St. Peter). Huzzahs for Tolkien!


Dead Men Do Tell Tales by William Maples, PhD – Mrs. Dr. Brewer lent me this book, which details several bizarre cases of a forensic anthropologist, including a few historical ones (the Romonov family deaths, President Zachary Taylor, and the Elephant Man). Not for the faint of heart, though…


The Thrill of the Chaste by Dawn Eden – I was given this one for Christmas, read it in three days, and was stunned. Miss Eden’s book is incredible, and a must-read for any single woman!


The Hungry Soul by Leon Kass, PhD – A “delectable” book by an incredible philosopher and biochemist. As for myself, this is the second time I’ve read it. The author investigates all aspects of eating, from those things human beings share with other animals to manners, posture, dining, and even the Jewish Levitical dietary laws. It is the most well-written book I have ever read, and is worth reading and re-reading.


Visit Contramundum for more “Best in 2006” lists from my brilliant cousins!

§ 4 Responses to Books Read in 2006

  • Father White says:

    I am thoroughly stunned by the number of books you read last year, Genna.

    You and I are in the same boat regarding Brideshead Revisited. Over and over I have been told that it is a brilliant ‘Catholic classic.’ Nonetheless, I find it utterly depressing and uninteresting.

    The Jeremy Irons BBC series, however, is delightful. It is one of only two known instances of the movie being better than the book. (I guess it is actually a mini-series.) The characters in the movie are much more likable.

    The only other example of the movie being better than the book I have ever come across is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, which I cannot in good conscience recommend to anyone (movie or book).

    Back to school soon! Love, Fr. Mark

  • Genna says:

    Yes, back to school on Monday. Good luck with your school!

  • Gosh! I wish I’d read that many books last year! I read maybe…15?!

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