Wednesday 6 January 2021

Last year's reads


A very happy new year!

We often see, at this time of year, recommendations of good books for the year ahead. I can reveal the books that I read during 2020, in the order that I read them.

"The Shallows" by Nicholas Carr. This book about the influence of the internet on the way in which we think, is a very important book - we will learn more from this book than we do from the internet! Things have moved on since this book was published, but I wonder if anyone has developed Carr's presentation.

"Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien." Wonderful, especially the letters to his son, Christopher, during WWII. Tolkien's view of the world is very much mine.

"In the school of the Holy Spirit" and 'Time for God" by Jacques Philippe. I used to recommend this author to the seminarians when I was in Sydney and wanted to catch up on some of his books. They are good.

"Sherry" by Ben Howkins. Excellent. I really wanted to learn about sherry, how it is made etc, and learned so much from this book. I can see now why there is a new sherry revolution taking place in Spain, and this book draws you in to that revolution. "Sherry" and its namesake is truly excellent.

'The Buildings of Tudor and Stuart Wakefield" by Peter Brears. This book is fascinating and a total revelation. Wakefield had some of the best building of these eras in the whole country, but living on the edge of Wakefield, as I do, I would not have known. This book is written so well and with such detail. There is a sadness associated with this book since many of the buildings which the author describes were lost in the 1960s and 1970s. Wakefield could have looked fantastic - and it still could, if a real project to develop the two was put in place.

"The day is now far spent" by Robert Cardinal Sarah. This Cardinal is a true prophet. I will read this book again and recommend that you do too.

"Transformation in Christ" by Dietricht von Hildebrand. I read this book for the first time ten years ago while I was in Sydney. This second reading, enabled by lock-down, was wonderful and set in motion a series of texts about the Christian life that I then wrote for families in my parish.

"Opening the door of faith" by Jim Sullivan. This author indicates the new evangelisation and ways in which we can enable it. I recommend this book especially to lay people in parishes.

"Companion to the Order of Mass" by Bruce Harbert. This booklet was published at the time that the new English Translation of the Altar Missal was published. We gave copies to all the seminarians in Syndey. Again this is my second reading of this excellent work which opens up the Scriptural basis of our Liturgical texts and the Mysteries that they express. This booklet is for every Catholic.

"Life of the Cure d'Ars" by Abbe Francis Trochu. My third reading of this definitive biography. I enjoyed this reading even more and continue to be surprised by St John Vianney and his modelling of the priesthood.

"Cranmer's Godly Order" by Michael Davies. This book is a masterpiece. It presents the English Reformation at the level of faith and shows how keenly a new version of Christianity was devised and then imposed on the people, distorting both the faith and its practice. I met the author twice when I was young and wish that he were still around today.

"The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles" I have dipped into these ancient texts before but never read them through. It was a fascinating read, helping by referring regularly to Wikipedia to look up names and places which were unknown to me. I was amazed at how devastating to the English were the Viking raids, and at how quickly a power struggle developed between Church and state. Reading these texts has sent me in search of learning more about the first Dark Age for this country.

I look forward to getting into this year's line-up of books on my dresser.

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