Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Recommended Reading: Current Selections

I've read so many good books lately that I thought I'd recommend a few.

1. Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre – Dr. Pitre guides readers through a fascinating examination of the Jewish roots of the Eucharist, focusing especially on Jewish expectations of the Messiah and the Eucharist as the new Passover, the manna of the Messiah, and the Bread of the Presence. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in developing a stronger devotion to the Eucharist.

2. A Biblical Walk through the Mass by Edward Sri – This is another must-read for all Catholics. Dr. Sri takes his readers on a fascinating journey through the Mass. He meticulously explains every part of the Mass in great detail and with an abundance of Scriptural background. I also recommend the DVDs and workbook that accompany this volume.

3. Catholicism by Robert Barron – One more must-read! Father Barron offers a comprehensive overview of Catholicism focusing especially on what he calls “the greatest principle” the Catholic faith, namely, the Incarnation. “Catholicism,” Father Barron explains in his Introduction, “is a matter of the body and the senses as much as it is a matter of the mind and the soul, precisely because the Word became flesh.” The rest of the book unfolds that claim as it examines the many dimensions of Catholicism. Be prepared to read this one more than once.

4. The Templars: The Secret History Revealed by Barbara Frale – Historian Barbara Frale discovered a highly interesting document as she was pouring over files in the Vatican Secret Archives. The transcript, which had been mislabel and tucked among other papers, revealed that Pope Clement V had actually absolved the Knights Templar of all charges of heresy. Frale offers an engaging account of Templar history from the foundation of the Order through its tragic end.

5. The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through by Stephen R. Donaldson – My best friend got me started in the fantasy genre, and I've found myself enjoying it immensely. These two books comprise Donaldson's Mordant's Need set. New Yorker Teresa Morgan steps through a mirror to find herself swept into a world filled with political machinations, magic, danger, and surprisingly, love. These books have a fascinating plot, well-developed characters, and a detailed medieval-style world. If you're a fantasy lover or want to give the genre a try, read these!

6. Harry Potter and History by Nancy Ruth Reagin – This collection of essays presents aspects of Muggle and wizarding history in a fun and entertaining manner. Readers are treated to the real history of Nicholas Flamel (was his grave really empty?); a fascinating discussion of medieval manuscripts; diverse expositions on such topics as early modern witch hunts, werewolves, British boarding schools, medieval magic, writing history; and much more.

7. Cole Younger: Last of the Great Outlaws by Homer Croy – Homer Croy's writing is humorous, entertaining, and just plain fun. He presents portraits of Cole Younger and Belle Starr that, while not completely historically accurate, provide an interesting glimpse into the “outlaw days” following the Civil War.

8. The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston – This is one of the most unique novels I've ever read. It tells the story of young New Hampshire woman, Frankie Pratt, who attends Vassar College in the early 1920s, works as a writer in New York City, and spends two years in late 1920s Paris. But here's the twist, each page in the book reproduces a page from Frankie's scrapbook, complete with all kinds of 1920s ephemera from drawings of dresses to advertisements for Maxwell House coffee. Check it out in the preview at Amazon to see for yourself.

9. The History Buff's Guide to the Civil War by Thomas R. Flagel – This is not your typical Civil War book! The author presents Civil War history in a series of “top ten” lists: Top Ten Causes of the Civil War”; “Top Ten Acts of Government”; “Top Ten Items in a Soldier's Diet”; “Top Ten Newspapers”; “Top Ten Firsts”; “Top Ten Military Blunders”; “Top Ten National Battlefield Sites”; and much more.

10. Lady Susan by Jane Austen – Austen adds a neat twist to this novel by organizing it as a series of letters between the main characters. The title character is a conniving, man-chasing widow. If you like Jane Austen, give this one a try.

Happy reading!

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