One Catholic Life Blog

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

The Man in the Brown Suit is a mystery novel, but it also reads like a grand adventure. There’s a murder to be solved for sure, but there’s also espionage, a perilous sea voyage, diamond smuggling, kidnapping, a journey across Africa, and romance. Looking back, I’m amazed at how much Agatha Christie was able to fit into the novel. And yet, it didn’t seemed forced or crammed in. Here’s how the publisher describes the book: Pretty, young Anne came to London looking for adventure. In fact, adventure comes...

Mountain of Books

Mount Vancouver TBR Checkpoint – October 2017

Wow, somehow I missed doing any checkpoints for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge, but at least I’ll get one in before the end of the year. TBR stands for “To Be Read,” and refers to the mountain of books that have been sitting on my shelves or in my Amazon cloud that I haven’t read yet. It’s the middle of October, and I’ve read 22 books on my way to Mount Vancouver, leaving me with 6 more books to go. Here are my finished books so far: The...

Ewan McGregor and Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma

Classics Club Book #12: Emma by Jane Austen

The last time I read Jane Austen’s Emma was long before I had seen the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow. Since then I’ve seen the movie maybe half a dozen times, as it’s become one of my girls’ favorites. Because I’ve seen it so many times, the movie has overshadowed the book in my memory. So as I picked up my Kindle to read the novel for my Classics Club Challenge I was curious about how different the two might be and how the movie would stand up next to the...

Empire of the East by Fred Saberhagen

Empire of the East by Fred Saberhagen

One of the things I love most about reading on a Kindle is rediscovering books and authors I haven’t read in a long, long time. As I come across bargain books from my youth through ebook discount services like BookBub and Early Bird Books, I purchase them and put them on my ever-growing To-Be-Read list. That’s how I ended up re-reading one of my favorite books from the past, Empire of the East by Fred Saberhagen. Empire of the East blends science fiction and fantasy in post-apocalyptic America.The story has...

Die Trying (Jack Reacher #2) by Lee Child

From the back cover: When a woman is kidnapped off a Chicago street in broad daylight, Jack Reacher’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s kidnapped with her. Handcuffed together and racing across America toward an unknown destination, they’re at the mercy of a group of men demanding an impossible ransom. Because Reacher’s female companion is worth more than he imagines. Now he has to save them both–from the inside out–or die trying. This Jack Reacher story took me by surprise in a couple of ways....

Classics Club Book #11: O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman. O Pioneers! deserves more, but this is going to be a short review, because I’m catching up on reviewing books I read this summer. Willa Cather’s novel of the Nebraska prairie reminded me of Llewellyn’s How Green Was My Valley, which I read earlier this year. Both novels are beautifully written stories drawn from their authors’ childhood memories. In the case of O Pioneers!, the memories are of life on the plains of Nebraska,...

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) by Lee Child

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) by Lee Child

This past summer I took a detour from some of my reading challenges to begin a series I’ve been meaning to read for a while–the Jack Reacher books. Eight years ago a friend of mine said Lee Child was the best selling author I had never heard of, and he was right–I had never heard of him. But eight years ago I bet a lot of other people had never heard of him, either. This was in 2009, before Tom Cruise starred in the 2012 movie Jack Reacher....

Vassar Library Study Area

Reading Challenges 2017 Update

Well, I was cruising along pretty well writing about my 2017 Reading Challenges until last May when life began getting in the way. Between work and home life, all my writing time was sucked away by unforeseen circumstances, particularly some family illnesses and changes at work and church. Fortunately, I was able to keep reading during those times, but I got behind in posting about the books I finished. The really good news is that most of those challenges have been resolved and life is starting to return to...

Catechetical Sunday 2017

An Echo Among the Noise – Homily for Catechetical Sunday

This weekend is catechetical Sunday, the weekend in which the Church asks us to call forth those who have been chosen to be catechists in our parish, to bless them and commission them for the upcoming year. These are the teachers at our parish school, All Saints; these are the parish staff and volunteers who work with the children and teens in the many youth faith formation ministries of the parish. They are more than teachers, they are catechists. What does that mean? They do teach, certainly. which...

Total Eclipse

An Eclipse in Our Time – Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

After Mass this Sunday I’m going to drive south to the Camas Prairie in Idaho, where my wife Brenda is already visiting her mother. As any conscientious husband will tell you, you don’t need a reason to visit your mother-in-law, but this weekend we do in fact have a particular reason for visiting: we’re going to watch the eclipse. We want to go see the eclipse not only because it’s such an unusual natural phenomenon, but also because natural events like this can help us understand the supernatural...

Lonesome Dove

Classics Club Book #10: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

He had known several men who blew their heads off, and he had pondered it much. It seemed to him it was probably because they could not take enough happiness just from the sky and the moon to carry them over the low feelings that came to all men. Lonesome Dove has been on my to-be-read list for over twenty years. A classic western and a Pulitzer prize winner, I’ve started it at least three times. I’ve even successfully avoided watching the Lonesome Dove TV miniseries all these years...

London Plague of 1665

A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe

Many consciences were awakened; many hard hearts melted into tears; many a penitent confession was made of crimes long concealed. It would wound the soul of any Christian to have heard the dying groans of many a despairing creature, and none durst come near to comfort them. Many a robbery, many a murder, was then confessed aloud, and nobody surviving to record the accounts of it. When A Journal of the Plague Year was first published in 1722 as the “Observations and Memorials” of a “citizen” who called himself...

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan Cites The Odyssey, Moby Dick, and All Quiet on the Western Front in Noble Prize Lecture

Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture is a meditation on the relationship between literature and lyrics. It’s a powerful witness to the lifelong influence great literature can have on a person’s life. Dylan explains that the books he read in grammar school have had a profound influence on his life and on his songwriting: Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, A Tale of Two Cities, but most especially Moby-Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Odyssey. He says the books he read in grammar school gave you...

The Trial by Franz Kafka

Classics Club #9: The Trial by Franz Kafka

The Trial by Franz Kafka is one of the masterpieces of existential literature. Or so it is said. Since I’m not up to date on my existential philosophy, the book was largely wasted on me. It’s always a challenge to read books that come at life from a different world view than one’s own, but to give them a fair chance requires wrestling with their philosophical underpinnings. I’m not at a point in my reading life or my intellectual life where I’m interested in exploring the existential experiences described...

Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm

The best thing I can say about Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm is that it helped me meet the letter “Z” requirement for my 2017 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge. I forced myself to keep reading this dated satire long after I lost interest in it. From the publisher: Max Beerbohm’s only novel is a comic masterpiece set in the privileged environs of Judas College, Oxford. When beautiful prestidigitator Zuleika Dobson gains admittance to the all-male campus, romance is suddenly in the air. But the smitten undergraduates are out of...