Tuesday, February 26, 2008

February Books

One problem with reading (and/or listening to) short, easy books is that if you're planning to blog your books a bunch pile up quick. I'll have to remember to read longer books in March. Consequently, these observations will be short.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, read by Alex Jennings. Of all the Chronicles of Narnia this has always been the one I've least respected because it seemed the least theological and the shallowest. Still I've always loved the story of the talking horse Bree and the boy Shasta and their flight from slavery in Calormen to freedom in Narnia and Archenland. It's a great adventure. It's also a beautiful picture of Aslan's (and hence God's) providence in Shasta's life. As Aslan explains Shasta's life to him in the mountain pass it's an invitation for us to look at our own lives and see God's hand at work to preserve us and bring us where we are today. Did I also mention it's a great adventure story.

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis, read by Kenneth Branagh. This is the beginning of all the comings and goings between Narnia and our world. The image of the creation, of standing in black nothingness and then hearing the first notes of the song and watching a world come into being is amazing. Branagh's a good reader and really shines on Uncle Andrew's voice.

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett. I picked this up and reread it after an image in a Doctor Who episode tickled my memory. Night Watch is a Discworld novel focused on Sir Samuel Vimes and the Ankh-Morpork city watch. Vimes' wife Sybil is about to give birth and he and a few of his men are preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the Glorious 25th of May, a revolution they took part in 30 years ago. Suddenly he finds out they've cornered a dangerous, wanted criminal near the Unseen University. In the midst of apprehending the felon Vimes is caught in a magical storm and they are sent back 30 years in the past to relive the revolution. Vimes is probably my favorite Discworld character and it's a lot of fun to see him struggle with unrest leading up to the revolution and catch the criminal and try to impersonate the man who's training his 30 years younger, rookie cop self while trying to figure out how to get back to his own time. One of Pratchett's best.

Ambient Findability by Peter Morville. Morville is a librarian and information architect. The tagline on the cover of this book is "What we find changes who we become." The book mostly focuses on how we find things and what that can teach those of us who are interested in enabling things, e.g. information or books, to be found. What do people search for? How do they search? How is our knowledge conditioned by its sources and availability? The book discusses all kinds of things from ubiquitous computing via smart phones and wireless networks and radio frequency identification to evolutionary psychology and architecture. It's a very broad but interesting look at how we find our way through life and especially how we find information.

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, read by Patrick Stewart. I wouldn't have imagined that Patrick Stewart would be so good at reading talking dogs, but he's great here. The Last Battle is my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia for its picture of heaven. I love how it expands as they progress "further up and further in" so that each ring of the concentric circles is larger than the one outside it. A couple of my favorite quotes:
"Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worth of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him." Emeth on meeting Aslan
"'Yes,' said Queen Lucy, 'In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.'"
It's hard for me to get through the end of this book without tears of joy. I love it.

1 comment:

Tara said...

You read that many books in February? I'd be happy to finish that many books in a quarter! May happen by the end of the year. Man, I sound lazy. Nope. Just busy!