2014 Books #48, 49, and 50: People of the Book, Unholy Night, The God Delusion

I’m tired of being behind, so I’m going to catch up in one fell swoop. It almost makes sense because these books are kind of related since they all involve religion, though of very, very different sorts. So here’s my Lazy Rundown of Three Almost-But-Not-Really Related Books So They Aren’t Hanging over My Head Anymore.

peopleofthebookPeople of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks, happened because it was available on OverDrive when I needed another audiobook because puppy. I read and enjoyed Year of Wonders, about the bubonic plague, several years ago, and I was expecting another reasonably good historical novel, which I got. People of the Book is about an old book, the Sarajevo Haggadah, and how it survived. Hanna Heath, a rare book expert, is asked to go to Sarajevo to preserve it, and through backstories related to her investigations, we find out, in reverse order, when and how the book was made and how it survived when it should have been destroyed by the Inquisition and the Nazis, among others. It’s a really interesting look into Jewish history of which I only had (and still have) a vague knowledge. There was too much unnecessary romance for my taste, and this is generally Not My Kind of Book, but I enjoyed it well enough. If it hadn’t been an audiobook, though, I doubt I would have finished it because parts were slow and I’m generally not good at historical novels.

unholynightNext up is Unholy Night, by Seth Grahame-Smith, who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the like. I don’t think I realized that until I was well into Unholy Night. This is another case of OverDrive Audiobook Convenience, and I enjoyed this one. It’s a (mostly) comedy about how the Three Wise Men got together and saved baby Jesus and his parents. Balthazar, the protagonist, is a well-known thief, called the Antioch Ghost, who has sparked Herod’s particular hatred. Balthazar cheats, kills, lies, and occasionally gets caught, leading to ridiculous escapes and adventures across the desert. He experiences visions that lead him to that fateful night in Bethlehem, where he saves Jesus from Herod and eventually sees him safely into Egypt despite many attempted captures. I thought I might be getting into something that’s sacrilegious, but it’s not, so don’t expect to be offended if you lean that way. It’s a fun and funny adventure novel, and it’s totally worth a read.

goddelusionFinally, we have The God Delusion. I’ve been meaning to read some Richard Dawkins for a while. It’s good that this is part of a multi-entry because I don’t have much to say about it because my beliefs are not the internet’s business, and it’s really hard to talk about this book without saying whether I agree with him or not. But I’m not going to say! What I will say is that Dawkins makes some interesting arguments. He says at the beginning of the book that this book’s purpose is to turn believers into atheists. I’d be interested to know if that’s worked even once because, even as he says, religious belief is so ingrained in personality by the time anyone gets old enough to question it logically. From the outset, Dawkins has a huge hill to climb, and he doesn’t help with his tone: he is a very arrogant man, and he comes off as bitter to the point that his non-objectivity dampens the effectiveness of his arguments. So. Do with that very vague review what you will.

red-50And with that, I’ve hit my annual fifty books! …in September. Last year, I think I made 61, and I might or might not go farther than that. I’ve considered taking the rest of the year off from blogging, but that’s not likely to happen, especially now that I’m caught up. Most of the books I’ve finished lately have been audiobooks because puppy. Right now, I’m in the middle of The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell‘s new novel, and that’ll take a while to finish. There’s also my current audiobook, Authority, the second of the Southern Reach trilogy. And there’s the thesis, which needs to take more of my time than it currently is, which means some Don DeLillo is (sadly?) in my future.

In Puppy News, Zelda is getting spayed on Tuesday. 🙁 She’s six months old, and it’s time. Poor puppy.

Zelda and I saw white spider lilies on our walk this morning!

And, finally, it’s Fall Baking Season! I’m seriously considering adding some recipes to this blog, though that will be difficult because of my non-aesthetically pleasing kitchen. Anyway, I made some super-tasty apple-pumpkin muffins the other day.

I'm pretty sure Fall is the best food season. This morning, I celebrated with apple-pumpkin muffins. Yum!

I only took a picture of the end product, not the various steps I took in getting there, so I’ll just add a link to the recipe I used.

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