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Top Ten Books Read in 2013 – 8

Earlier this year, I had a brief stint as the DRE of the parish due to extenuating circumstances. My main work was with the confirmation candidates preparing them for reception of said sacrament. I saw in the few weeks I had an opportunity to teach them about the virtues, cardinal and theological. A noble and great task indeed, only I felt I needed to so some homework of my The Four Cardinal Virtuesown to prepare so I picked up Josef Pieper’s The Four Cardinal Virtueswhich had been sitting on the shelf unread for three years.

Pieper, as always, writes brilliantly about the subject referencing Aquinas often. He is able to see and communicate clearly the truth that, for me is obfuscated due to my post-modern upbringing. From this work, I can see how great a virtue ethic is. It is built on man’s natural abilities of reason and will to point man away from evil and toward excellence.

This book is best taken with caffeine, pen, and paper because it definitely requires thoughtful participation by the reader.

Top Ten Books Read in 2013 – 9

This year is a year if firsts, no Christie, honorable mentions, and for #9 we have a tie, of two very different books.

Mere AnarchyThe first is a series of short stories by Woody Allen entitled Mere Anarchy. I’ve always enjoyed Allen’s dry intellectually driven humor. I listen to this particular tome through a special Audible recording narrated by the author himself. No one story stands out to me now but as a whole I’ve never laughed so hard in my car os often. One or two times I contemplated pulling over for fear of being unable to pay attention to the road. I read tow of his other collections  but neither held the charm and wit of this one.

The second is a history book. Tom Standage looks at the history of the world through the lens of what was the  prevailing drink of an era, in A History of the World in 6 Glasses. This would be a great book if there was such a thing as a bar book club.

Standage sees the history of the world through six glasses: a pint glass of A History of the World in 6 Glassesfermented grains, a wine glass filled with fermented grape juice, a cup or mug filled with the brew of a roasted and ground up coffee bean, a glass bottle filled with distilled spirits, a tea cup filled with brewed tea leaves, and finally an aluminum can filled with flavored carbonated water. He deftly maneuvers through each liquid epoch making the argument that what we drink drives us. It is a fascinating read whether you have it with a pint of IPA, a glass of chianti, a cup of espresso, a snifter of brandy, a cup of tea, or a bottle of Coca-cola. Cheers.

Top Ten Books Read in 2013 – 10

There have been many times when a film coming out has elicited my desire to read the book it is based on before I go see the film. This particular one, though, is unique because I have found it be the favorite novel of high school boys (of which I was at one time) and many men (because they haven’t read a novel since high school). Only at 28, did I pick this up via Audible. I’m Ender's Gamespeaking of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.

After reading it, I can understand the attachment to it by pubescent boys. The title character, like many young men, is asked to step up beyond what he thinks he can do. He faces bullying. he has a mean older brother and a loving older sister, and the climax is a stroke of genius.

I must say that Card’s first title of this series sets up a world that is in serious need of faith. And he hints at that, Ender’s parents are secret Catholics. Ender’s best friend in battle-school is secretly a Muslim and the decisions mad by the adults (a second antagonist in the book) are decidedly de-personalized. Ender’s struggle is to see from a personalistic perspective while in a full milieu of utilitarian ethics.

As a kid, I would have emotionally connected to a well written novel about growing up in the midst of enormous pressure. As an adult, I see it as a  means to show teens the value of personhood.