Mixed Media

Summer Reading: What’s your pleasure?

Gardening

The Fragrance of God

by Vigen Guroian

reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema

Guroian explores the connection between love for gardening and spiritual longing for paradise lost. Quoting church fathers, he examines why we garden and how sensory perceptions–especially smell—draw us closer to God. Both celebratory and sorrowful, these short essays will delight gardeners. (Eerdmans)

Western Civilization

The Victory of Reason

by Rodney Stark

reviewed by Lori Vanden Bosch

For years Christianity has been attacked by secular scholars; this defense of Christianity is written by an agnostic. He credits the West’s success to ideas inherent in Christianity: respect for reason, individual worth and freedom, and hope for the future. (Random House)

John Calvin

John Calvin: Steward of God’s Covenant

edited by John F. Thornton

reviewed by Phil Christman

Love God? Forget propriety; give alms. Give not according to someone’s deserts but to the image of God within. A humane John Calvin—not the predestination-happy Spirit of Capitalism person we know from centuries of bad press—emerges in this fine anthology, with a brilliant preface by Marilynne Robinson. (Vintage)

Memoir

The Boys

by John Terpstra

reviewed by Otto Selles

In this moving memoir, Terpstra recounts the lives of his three brothers-in-law, who bravely lived with muscular dystrophy until their early 20s. Written with great honesty and poetic grace, the book celebrates the gift of life and the joy provided by family ties and marriage. (Gaspereau Press)

classical music

Evening in the Palace of Reason

by James R. Gaines

reviewed by Randall Engle

The meeting of the old composer Bach and young king Frederick the Great is set to illustrate the conflict as the Baroque era gives way to the Enlightenment. Meanwhile, the book explains the intriguing events surrounding the composition of Bach’s final masterpiece, A Musical Offering. (HarperCollins)

Statistics
(that’s right, Statistics)

Struck by Lightning

by Jeffrey S. Rosenthal

reviewed by Jim Romahn

How likely are you to be struck by lightning, win a lottery, or die in a plane crash? Professor Jeffrey Rosenthal not only wonders those things but also researches the answers. His passion for mathematical probabilities sparkles in this entertaining and informative read. (HarperCollins)

Family Prayers

A World of Prayers

selected by Jeremy Brooks

reviewed by Lori Vanden Bosch

Refresh your family’s prayer life with this delightful picture book of world prayers. You’ll find prayers for morning, meals, and more. Some are touching, some funny, like this English mealtime prayer: “Give us all in the struggle and sputter / Our daily bread and a bit o’ butter.” (Eerdmans)

Heaven

Bringing Heaven Down to Earth

by Nathan Bierma

reviewed by Wayne Brouwer

Over against consumerist worldliness, Bierma urges a worldly Christianity. Christians often dwell on a speculative future existence; we need more realism and seriousness regarding the earthiness of our created condition. Bierma probes the implications of Revelation-inspired visions of a new creation. (P & R Publishing)

Holocaust

Yellow Star

by Jennifer Roy

reviewed by Kristy Quist

Syvia spent her childhood in the Lodz Jewish ghetto of Poland. Hidden from the Nazis, she was one of 12 children who survived. Jennifer Roy shaped her Aunt Syvia’s memories into this poignant free verse narrative for young adults. (Marshall Cavendish)

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