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The Message of John's Letters: Living in the Love of God: With Study Guide (The Bible Speaks Today)
The Message of John's Letters: Living in the Love of God: With Study Guide (The Bible Speaks Today)
by David Jackman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable guide to the Epistles of John., 5 Sept. 2011
This is part of the excellent "The Bible Speaks Today" series, of which I have read a number, and which I would highly recommend. Unfortunately this book isn't one of the better in the series. However, it is a readable and informative introduction to the Epistles of John. It is aimed at the general reader rather than theology students, ministers etc, and Mr Jackman's knowledge and love of the letters shine through.


Pessimism for Beginners
Pessimism for Beginners
by Sophie Hannah
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and readable poetry., 5 Sept. 2011
I first heard Sophie Hannah read some of these poems a few years ago at the Aye Write book festival in Glasgow (I particularly remember "Rubbish at Adultery") but took a while to follow it up by reading any of her work.
Many of the poems are funny and light-weight, but her writing is lucid and direct, and a reminder that poetry is also about song and play, and our reaction to everyday, mundane things is also what helps define us.
I derived pleasure and enjoyment from reading these poems - and who can complain about that? I particularly enjoyed "Round Robin", "Astronomical", "Something and Nothing" and "Don't Say I Said".
The collection contains 40 poems and was a "Poetry Book Society Choice".


Walking with Thomas Merton: Discovering His Poetry, Essays, and Journals
Walking with Thomas Merton: Discovering His Poetry, Essays, and Journals
by Robert Waldron
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable introduction to Thomas Merton., 31 Aug. 2011
This book consists of entries from a Journal maintained by Waldron as he prepared for, and delivered, a seminar on Thomas Merton. Waldron has written other books on Merton, who kept detailed journals himself.
This short, highly readable, book is perfect for anyone who wants to read more of/about Thomas Merton but is swamped by the volume and variety available, and doesn't know where to start. Waldron lists many of the books either by or about Merton, and briefly comments on them. I am positive that I will refer back to this book when deciding what of Merton's I should read next. It has also motivated me to go read some of Merton's poetry - part of his opus which I've neglected so far.
Waldron's book contains -
a prologue on teaching and contemplation.
Introduction.
Preparing for retreat.
Retreat day.
Aftermath - reflections on the retreat.
It also contains short endnotes and a brief bibliography.
In summary, this is a brief, well-written and enjoyable introduction to the writings of Thomas Merton.


Pleasant Hill And Its Shakers
Pleasant Hill And Its Shakers

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative History and Guide, 25 Aug. 2011
This small book is an informative history of the "Shaker" community in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. It covers the period from the religious community being settled in 1805, through to its demise in 1910. (An epilogue in the book brings the story up to date in 2009, with details of the restoration work to Shaker Village. The author, in addition to being a historian and writer, has been involved in that restoration.
The book is easy to read, and contains a number of black and white photographs, although the quality of these isn't always great. As well as being a history of Pleasant Hill, the book is a useful guide book for anyone fortunate enough to visit the village (and if you are in Kentucky I would warmly recommend that you take the time to visit).
The book includes details of some of the key individulals in the movement, the story of its growth, and the reasons for its demise. (Although a community which insisted on the celibacy of all members was always going to struggle with growth!).


A Very Easy Death
A Very Easy Death
by Simone de Beauvoir
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Poetic, 24 Aug. 2011
This review is from: A Very Easy Death (Paperback)
Simone De Beauvoir provides a poignant and poetic account of the death of her mother, and of her own emotions during her mother's terminal illness. As you would expect from her, the language is honest, precise and philosophic as she analyses the emotions and actions of herself, her sister and her mother. The time span covered by the book is only about one month, from her mother's initial admission to hospital until her death. Simone De Beauvoir describes how - almost against her will - she, and those providing care, deceive her mother about the seriouness and nature of her final illness.
It's only a short book, but very thought-provoking and I would warmly recommend it.


Poems (Poetry Paperbacks)
Poems (Poetry Paperbacks)
by Hermann Hesse
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For the Committed Hesse Fans, 24 Aug. 2011
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I agree with the previous reviewers comments about the translation. I've read most of Hesse's work that's available in English and just about any of it is more poetic than these poems. It's a short book - containing about 31 poems (from a body of in excess of 400 poems). The selection and translation was by James Wright, who states that the poems selected are broadly on the theme of "homesickness".

It's ideal having both German and English versions of each poem.

This is one for Hesse fans only I suspect.


Rockpools and Daffodils: An Orcadian Diary, 1979-91
Rockpools and Daffodils: An Orcadian Diary, 1979-91
by George Mackay Brown
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fine selection of GMB Essays, 23 Aug. 2011
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This is another fine selection of George Mackay Brown's columns from The Orcadian, in a similar vein to "Under Binkie's Brae" and "Letters from Hamnavoe". This selection covers the period 1979 - 1991, and includes many of GMB's favourite themes and topics. It's a delightful read, although I found the double-column layout of the pages initially off-putting.


George MacKay Brown: The Wound and the Gift
George MacKay Brown: The Wound and the Gift
by Ron Ferguson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written - and adds some further insights on GMB., 23 Aug. 2011
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Not surprisingly, given that the author was a Minister in the Church of Scotland, much of this book's focus is on GMB's faith and spirituality. While I enjoyed the book, and it does provide some fresh insights and includes some new information, it doesn't on the whole add a great deal to Maggie Fergusson's excellent biography. In addition there is little in the way of literary criticism. I suspect this book will be of interest mainly to those who are fans of George Mackay Brown, and who have already read his autobiography ("For The Islands I Sing"), Maggie Fergusson's biography ("George Mackay Brown; The Life"), and "Interrogation of Silence" from Brian and Rowena Murray.
My main criticism of this book is its hybrid nature - it's as much a memoir from Mr Ferguson as it is a book about GMB, spends too long on the discussions and conversations that formed part of the research, and I personally found the section defending Knox and Calvin to be tedious and unnecessary.
Having said that, it is well and honestly written; it approaches the subject sympathetically and is more realistic about some of GMB's failings than is sometimes the case.
In summary, those who enjoy GMB's work are likely to enjoy this book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 16, 2012 7:11 PM BST


The Journey to the East
The Journey to the East
by Hermann Hesse
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Novella from Hesse, 12 Aug. 2011
I've read most of Hesse's works, both fiction and non-fiction, and this is probably one of my least favourites. Yet it is still an enjoyable and stimulating read - like all Hesse's books the language verges on the poetic, and is very thought-provoking. In some ways it reminds me of Steppenwolf. I have gone back to read "Journey to the East" a number of times, and as I change so do my insights into the book.
I don't regard it as one of his best, but it remains an enjoyable, and beautifully-written, book.


Hermann Hesse: The Man Who Sought and Found Himself (Modern German Authors)
Hermann Hesse: The Man Who Sought and Found Himself (Modern German Authors)
by Walter Sorell
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brief Critical Introduction to Hesse, 11 Aug. 2011
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For those who are unfamiliar with Hermann Hesse, this short book provides a useful introduction to his life and work. The first part of the book (54 pages) includes a summary of his life and works. The second part contains critical essays on different aspects of his work, such as "the Essayist", and "Hesse's Brand of Humour". As noted, the book is brief so can give no more than a fairly superficial overview of Hesse's life, and an ever briefer summary of his work. It does however manage to bring out the key themes of his novels and essays, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a brief critical introduction to Hesse.


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