The Faith We Hold
by Archbishop Paul of Finland is a very short volume (less than 100 pages) that covers a few of the most central points about Orthodox Christianity. Not a bad little volume, but it is not exhaustive or systematic and is not meant to be; it just discusses at some length a small number of things that are at the core of the Orthodox faith. The Lenten Triodion.
This is the Orthodox service book for the services during Great Lent and Holy Week. Very rich and profound. I'm doubtful about whether it would be of interest to a non-Orthodox person (most people don't go around reading service books for denominations they don't belong to, right?) Also, it is really good to read it--if one is going to read
it at home, in contrast to using it to celebrate the services--while having had the experience of the Orthodox services. It's not that it wouldn't have any value or benefit for someone who hasn't experienced the services; it would probably have some. But it makes a lot more sense if you have been in the services and know what that experience is. The Water-Babies
by Charles Kingsley. Okay, so this is a Christian allegory, but it's not well-written and I don't know why it was considered a classic. Vastly inferior to the Divine Comedy, the Faerie Queene, Pilgrim's Progress, Pilgrim's Regress, Hind's Feet on High Places,
the Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings, G.K. Chesterton, and George MacDonald. Also, what is it with these long-winded Victorians? Unlike Victor Hugo, Kingsley goes off on tangents that contribute nothing to plot, characterization, or atmosphere, are not well-written stylistically, and are just the author's inserting his own biased opinions about matters in which he most likely does not have any expertise. The overall story itself was not too bad (if one could cut out all the pointless verbosity), and there were a few good passages, but the book as a whole was completely spoiled by the author's blatant racism and bigotry. For example:
"Yes; when people live on poor vegetables instead of roast beef and plum-pudding, their jaws grow large, and their lips grow coarse, like the poor Paddies who eat potatoes."
It seems like this Reverened wasn't too familiar with Daniel chapter 1. Or with what kinds of foods are healthy for human beings to eat.
. . .The Bone Knife
by Intisar Khanani is a very lovely short story (and also free!
) It centers around a happy and loving family with two living parents and three daughters, so the strong, positive family relationships are really nice to see. Also the concrete details of the place the family is living in and of their daily lives were very well-drawn, I thought. The story ends with quite a bit of unresolved
SPOILER: Highlight text to read: romantic
tension, so it is not a story that wraps everything up neatly but rather a story that opens up some questions about how the main character is going to develop as a person and leaves them there for the reader to ponder.Sunbolt
by Intisar Khanani is a novella, first in a two-part series, so a little bit longer than The Bone Knife and a little bit less free. :p It wasn't bad despite more or less falling into that juvenile paranormal category, which I am not terribly interested in, and also having some
SPOILER: Highlight text to read: unresolved romantic tension
. But the main character is an "honest thief," and throughout most of the book she is always escaping from somewhere or someone or trying to help someone else escape from something or both, so the action is fast-paced and engaging. I didn't take to the main character as much as to the main character in The Bone Knife, though I didn't dislike her either. She is pretty much your typical spunky heroine, the kind we have all seen a thousand times before, whereas the heroine from The Bone Knife seems both more unique as a character (i.e. not falling into common tropes) and more real.