I haven’t published a book review for a while, and the Personal Book Reviews page is very well visited. So this month sees me posting some ‘bite-sized’ reviews from my ongoing, sometimes scrappy pencil-written “Books I have read” notebook. Sometimes I only write a couple of sentences. Hopefully that should be enough to stimulate you to check out the books below which I have really enjoyed and appreciated: and maybe, even, to buy them yourself.
By the way, the writers involved don’t know about these recommendations, and do not provide me with any incentive to promote them – apart from the high quality of their work! I really appreciate positive feedback on my own writing, and it’s just nice to be in a position to be able to put out a good word for others.
A wonderfully written, erudite exploration of our human embodiment in the natural world and our journey of alienation from it. Very stimulating and thought-provoking: full of good quotes, eg:
“ Direct sensuous reality, in all its more-than-human mystery, remains the sole solid touchstone for an experiential world now inundated with electronically-generated vistas and engineered pleasures; only in regular contact with the tangible ground and sky can we learn how to orient and to navigate in the multiple dimensions that now claim us.”
( Preface, p x )
“Judgement Day”, set in an English village, is centered on fund-raising for the church and the dramas arising therein. “Passing On” deals with the unfolding lives of two emotionally squashed middle-aged children on their domineering mother’s demise.
Penelope Lively regards the human condition with compassion, detachment, lack of any sentimentality, dry mordant wit, and forensic observation. Brilliant writing and highly enjoyable reading.
It seems that the ancient idea of Akasha, and the Akashic Record which records everything everywhere for all time, is being borne out by current understandings in physics and cosmology. This is an ‘integral theory of everything’ book, bringing insights of contemporary science and ancient wisdom together. Very clearly written and (mostly!) comprehensible by someone like me, whose lifelong fascination with matters scientific is forever hampered by a lack of formal scientific education.
A jewel of a book by an American Quaker, on the subject of the vocational quest which arises from within, and from the promptings of Spirit, rather than being adopted from the thrustings of Ego allied with social ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’. I found his writing very honest, and movingly personal without being at all self-indulgent. Just the right book for those of us whose vocational path has been varied and tortuous but feels, in mid-life, as though it could not have been otherwise!
A very enjoyable selection of interviews from her Radio 3 (BBC, UK ) series: religious writer Karen Armstrong; monk, writer and poet John O’Donohue; writer of sacred music John Tavener; scientist Richard Dawkins (whose shallow and limited perspective on matters spiritual was very obvious here); composer James Macmillan; and many other thoughtful and able people. I especially appreciated the depth, range and balance of scientist Paul Davies’ views. This is, mostly, a stimulating and inspiring collection.