Pride and Prejudice and Blitzkrieg: Tolstoy’s War and Peace

Review of War and Peace by Leo TolstoyBy PAUL D. MILLERWar and Peace is five hundred and sixty thousand words long. It is more than twice as long as Moby Dick, almost triple the length of Jane Eyre, more than quadruple Augustine’s Confessions. It is one great pulsating mass of text, a grey rising tide of narrative. Enter War and Peace at your peril: it may swallow you whole.If you dare the crossing and, unlike Napoleon’s Army, make it all the way back alive, you may discover the book … [Read more...]

Alexis’s Top Reads of 2012

By ALEXIS NEALThis would be me jumping on Ye Olde Bandwagon (Bookwagon?), if you will. As Coyle and Kendrick have done before me, I include only books I read this year, not books that were necessarily published this year—and no re-reads, either. Only books with which I had my very first encounter in 2012. With that in mind, here’s my book award list:Best Western: True Grit, by Charles PortisI read quite a few Westerns this year, which is unusual for me (and is a direct result of bei … [Read more...]

Coyle’s Best of 2012

By COYLE NEALI can’t claim that these are the best books of 2012, but they are the ones that I read that stand out the most from my Goodreads list.FictionThe Book Thief by Marcus Zusak: This young adult novel explores the power of words through a compelling plot narrated by Death himself. And, well, you should read this book. Period. (Full review here) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky: This was my first trek into 19th century Russian literature, and it did not di … [Read more...]

Kendrick’s Best of 2012

By KENDRICK KUOSince it is the thing to do on blogs such as ours, I've compiled a list of my favorite books that I read in 2012. This does not mean these are books were published this year, but that I read them sometime over the past 12 months. How do I decide what's a “favorite” book? I use non-precise criteria of either 1) the quality of the prose, that is, the sheer joy of reading the book, or 2) the author's ability to introduce the reader to a whole new field or way of thinking about thi … [Read more...]

Shakespeare’s Enchanting Dream

A Review of Midsummer Night’s Dream by William ShakespeareBy PAUL D. MILLERI played a bit part in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in my sixth-grade English class (I was Peter Quince). My freshman year of high school I saw a full production—the first live Shakespeare play I ever saw—and fell completely in love with the theater.  I had the joy of revisiting this play at the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C., over Thanksgiving weekend.Midsummer (c. 1596) is one of Shakespeare’s most lyri … [Read more...]

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Anti-Christian Screed (The Swerve)

Review of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen GreenblattBy PAUL D. MILLEROn one level, The Swerve is the biography of a minor figure in Renaissance Florence (Poggio Bracciolini) and an entertaining story of how he recovered a lost work of Roman poetry (Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things). This part of The Swerve is well-written and --researched and surprisingly gripping. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the technology of reading—papyrus versus vellum, scroll versus … [Read more...]

Lu Xun’s Short Stories

Review of The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China: The Complete Fiction of Lu XunBy KENDRICK KUOOutside of world literature connoisseurs and scholars, Lu Xun (1881-1936) is not well known to the West. Writing in the early twentieth century, Lu Xun is considered one of the founders of modern Chinese literature. The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China: The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun is a Penguin-published compilation of his short stories and one of his plays. Lu Xun never … [Read more...]

Twilight: Sucking the Blood out of Sin

A Review of the Twilight franchise by Stephenie MeyerBy JENNILEE MILLERI think the term typically used to describe someone like me is “Twi-Mom.” Yes: I am a mom who loves the Twilight franchise. Of course, I think the term originally referred to a mom who picked up her daughter’s glossy paperbacks with the shiny red apple on the cover and somehow got hooked on the impossible love story of Bella and Edward. I got hooked before I had kids, but as the final installment of the movie appro … [Read more...]

Commies Beware!

Review of The Wonderful O by James ThurberBy COYLE NEALAn important introductory disclaimer: if you haven’t already read The Wonderful O, stop reading this review now. Nothing I have to say will be anywhere near as interesting as what Thurber has written. Which also stands as a good general rule: if you have to choose between reading Thurber and most other things, go with Thurber.A band of thugs have taken over the island of Ooroo. These, however, are no ordinary thugs. In addition t … [Read more...]

Cranky Old Man writes the Apocalypse

Review of Love in the Ruins by Walker PercyBy COYLE NEALIn Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins, society has begun to slide towards the logical conclusions of the 1960s. In the moral wasteland that America has become, Dr. Thomas More has invented “More’s Qualitative Quantitative Ontological Lapsometer”—a machine that measures and corrects the problems of the soul. (More’s name is not a coincidence—we are repeatedly told that he is a descendent of the murderous Catholic martyr.) Will More get … [Read more...]