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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Catholic Hipster: The Next Level How Some Awesomely Obscure Stuff Helps Us Live Our Faith with Passion by Tommy Tighe

Mother Teresa once told a group of priests: "Celebrate this Mass as if it is your first Mass, your last Mass and your only Mass". Tommy Tighe has written a beautiful exposition on this statement. It is probably easier for converts to do this, even if their first Mass was way back in their adolescence or even childhood, but great advice for everyone.  This book is full of excellent advice for how to live your Catholic faith, interesting anecdotes about saints and suggestions for prayers. I loved it.

However, it is directed mostly to a young American audience. At the risk of being thought old-fashioned, I think that some of  the advice was really too self-consciously 'cool'. For example, I didn't agree with the suggestion about considering a religious tattoo.  The fashion of tattoos comes and goes over the years, and it can still be dangerous to get one, and a risk to career prospects, as well. Apparently, it can be even more dangerous to get tattoos removed!

Apart from this, it is a great book for all Catholics.

I received this free ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Christmas Book by Andy Thomas


Did you know that Christmas was once banned in England and Scotland, or that Queen Charlotte introduced the Christmas tree to Great Britain? Andy Thomas relates these stories, and other interesting facts about Christmas in this charming and interesting book about the history of Christmas.  I knew a lot about the history of Christmas already, but I learned even more from this book. 

Thomas writes from a secular point of view, and annoyed me by using the modern abbreviations BCE and CE for B.C. and A.D. He also focuses somewhat on the Roman and pagan origins of Christmas. However, if you want to read more about the history of Christmas traditions, such as wassailing, carol-singing and Christmas greenery, this is a great book. I liked the illustrations as well.

I received this free ebook from www.netgalley.com in return for an honest review.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Becoming C. S. Lewis A Biography of Young Jack Lewis (1898–1918) by Harry Lee Poe

C.S. Lewis concentrated heavily on his incredibly harrowing school days in his autobiography, yet many biographers think that their effect on him has been exaggerated! Professor Poe noticed this, and decided to restore Lewis's young life back into prominence. This was when his tastes and dislikes were formed - the older C.S. Lewis still liked and disliked the same things. This was also when he read the books which eventually led him to Christianity.

Poe delves deeply into Lewis's dark school days, his relationships with his father and brother, his friendship with Arthur Greeves and his atheism and conversion.  He spends much of the book Lewis's reading and how it influenced him to become a Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and, more importantly, to become a Christian.  The conflict between the materialist philosophy and atheism of his teacher and his spiritual leanings is especially interesting, although heavy.

Any fan of C.S. Lewis will enjoy this deeply thought-out and insightful look at the great man. I am sure that Lewis himself would be pleased with this book!

I received this free ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Cozy : The Art of Arranging Yourself in the World by Isabel Gillies


Coziness isn’t just about hot chocolate or roasting chestnuts on a fire, according to Isabel Gillies.        It is also about finding your authentic self, discovering your purpose in life, and what you enjoy most. It also means finding something to hang on to, and finding order and peace in the midst of chaos. Even when everything is collapsing around you, it is still possible to find some vestige of coziness!

It can even help to save your life, Gillies argues. When the amazing explorer Shackleton’s schooner sank in Antarctica in 1914, he and his nineteen crew members survived for another two years until they were rescued.  According to an article that Gillies quotes, Shackleton knew that his greatest enemies were severe anxiety, disengagement and pessimism.  He had to keep the cosiness. He did this by trying to keep warm, being organised, keeping journals, making lists and finding structure to help everyone survive the ordeal.

This is one of the most enjoyable and helpful self-help books I’ve read.  Gillies has a lovely, engaging style, and it is worth dipping into often!