Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously (Review)

Depressed and pushing thirty with a biological clock ticking away and a "syndrome" (if ever explained, I missed it) that might prevent having babies, Julie Powell is dissatisfied with life and her dead-end secretarial job and decides that cooking, over the course of one year, every single one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogging about it will make her life complete. It nearly drives her and her husband and her friends and family least before she somehow, magically, becomes famous for her frantic French cooking and suddenly has reporters and news shows begging to interview her, offers to make her blog into a book, and a movie deal following the book.

So....I read this little "gem" for the Summer Semi-Challenged reading challenge [read a book by a blogger]. I can remember watching Julia Child's cooking show The French Chef occasionally back in the 70s and thought this one might be my best bet of the blogger books that came up on a search. Sidenote: If I hadn't already read the latest India Black book by Carol K. Carr, I totally would have read that instead....and enjoyed myself a heck of lot more. Because you see, I have a love/hate relationship with Powell's book. I loved it enough that I gleaned some nifty quotes from it. But I hated how she treats her very supportive husband about 90% of the time. I hated her whiny, poor-me-I'm a lowly secretary complaints. And, quite frankly, after the descriptions of her kitchen, I wouldn't want to eat a single dish that she prepared--I don't care if it tasted like heaven on earth. Hordes of flies? Maggots in the sink? Cat hair stuck everywhere? Dead mice for your python? Seriously?

I was expecting some serious--but seriously funny as well--descriptions of the food. Because that's what this is about, yes? Cooking the hundreds of recipes. But, honestly, there's very little time spent on the food--what it tasted it like, how it looked when prepared, preparation in general. Long, in-depth description about killing lobsters. Big, emotional melt-downs when things aren't going perfectly. A bit of time spent on eggs (because she hated them before). Very little in-depth about the whole cooking like Julia experience.  LOTS of complaining about working as a secretary and how delightful it was when she played hooky. Makes a major big deal over the hunt for a marrow bone. Lots of detail about discovery of her dad's Joy of Sex book and how she somehow transferred that experience into thinking how sexual the whole food experience was.  In fact--I come away from this book believing that Julie thinks WAY more about sex than about food. She's constantly telling us who her friend's latest "boy" is and how amazing (or not) the friend's sexual encounters are. She envies her friends who are footloose and fancy free. She even envies the one who got divorced and took up with the British punk rocker. She fantasizes about cheating on her long-suffering, devoted husband while telling us how common it is to cheat on one's spouse/partner/whatever. And, of course, her favorite word in the universe is the f-bomb. Because sex.

The longer I think about this review and the more I write the more I realize I didn't enjoy this book even as much as I thought I did. I enjoyed small doses of her sarcastic wit and I enjoyed the brief vignettes with Julia, so I was prepared to round up to three stars....but actually, I'm sticking a ★★  fork in it and calling it done. Two stars for the concept and all the quotes I've grabbed along the way.

But, hey, here are some quotes that I've gathered as a bonus:

...hard-bitten cynicism leaves one feeling peevish, and too much of it can do lasting damage to your heart. (p. 63)

[about blogging]
Nowadays anyone with a crap laptop and Internet access can sound their barbaric yelp, whatever it may be. But the surprise is that for every person who's got something to say, it seems there are at least a few people who are interested. Some of them aren't even related. (p. 96)

Sam Pepys threw dinner parties as a young man--he enjoyed food as much as he enjoyed impressing people, so he was a natural....And besides, there just were not as many things to freak out about, foodwise, in Restoration England. Life could be pretty treacherous, what with the plague and the bladder stone surgery sans anesthesia and the occasional violent overthrow of the kingdom, so food wasn't all that high on the list of people's anxieties. (p. 101)

...I realized that, for this night at least, I didn't much care if anyone was the marrying kind or not--not even me. Who could tell? We none of us knew for sure what kind we were exactly, but as long as we were the kind that could sit around eating together and having a lovely time, that was enough. (p. 115)

My husband cooed as he dug into his plate of delicous flambéed crepes. If there's a sexier sound on the planet than the person you're in love with cooing over the crepes you made for him, I don't know what it is. (p. 223)

Around the country, a small scattering of people who had never been to the city, who had never met me, who had never cooked French food in their life, heard about the blackout and thought about me. That's sort of incredible, isn't it?...Because people who would have looked at this as a disaster happening to other people were looking at it as a disaster happening to one of their own, to a friend. I didn't mean this to be arrogence; in fact, I don't think it has a whole lot to do with me one way or the other. I think what it means is, people want to care about people. People look after one another, given the chance. (p. 237)

What was I, the woman with the plan? It was not exactly as if I told my friends and family, "Hey, I'm going to cook my way through an old French cookbook, and when it's done, I'll have figured out what to do with the rest of my life."...Who was I to judge someone else's navigation? Was I some kind of existential backseat driver? (p. 272)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Belated Birthday Book Bash...

....OR How I managed to completely negate almost half of my TBR reading for the year in one used book store visit.

So, yeah. In case this wasn't already obvious to frequent visitors to My Reader's Block...

My name is Bev. I am a book-aholic. To be more precise...I am a used book-aholic. Vintage mysteries for preference. And my husband is my enabler. Back before my birthday (July 1), he asked me what I'd like for my special day. After some thought, I got a gleam (some might say "maniacal gleam") in my eye and told him that I'd like to take a trip to that really nice used bookstore that we found in Illinois on our first trip down Route 66. So I could pick up a "few" books. Few. Uh-huh. He really should know me better than that by now.

Yesterday, we hopped in the car and took a little ride over to Books on the Square in Virden, Illinois. And I came home with 28 vintage and silver age (my definition) mysteries. Twenty-three of those lovely, lovely little pulp-cover, pocket-size edition that I absolutely adore and which are as addictive for me as the most devious drug. Two World War II Armed Forces Editions. And three more random vintage/silver paperbacks just for good measure.

Here's the roll-call:

Death in the Fifth Position by Edgar Box (Gore Vidal): 1st paperback edition
Maniac Rendezvous by Marc Brandel: 1st Avon Book pocket-size
Laura by Vera Caspary: Armed Forces Edition
Dark Street Murders by Peter Cheyney: Avon pocket-size reprint

Voice Out of Darkness by Ursula Curtiss: 1st pocket-size edition
Charlie Chan Carries On by Earl Derr Biggers: WWII pocket-size edition
The Judas Window by Carter Dickson: 1st pocket-size edition
Postmark Murder by Mignon G. Eberhart: 1st Dell pocket-size edition
Depart This Life by E. X. Ferrars
The Unconscious Witness by R. Austin Freeman: Avon pocket-size edition

The Case of the Borrowed Brunette by Erle Stanley Gardner: 1st pocket-size edition
The Case of the Lazy Lover by Erle Stanley Gardner: 1st pocket-size edition
Dead as a Dummy by Geoffrey Homes: 1st Bantam pocket-size edition

The Fatal Kiss Mystery by Rufus King: Popular Library WWII pocket-size edition
A Time to Die by Hilda Lawrence: WWII Pocket Book edition
Meat for Murder by Lange Lewis: Dell mapback edition
The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne: Pocket Book 2nd printing
Murder on the Left Bank by Elliot Paul: 1st Bantam pocket-size edition

The Old Dark House by J. B. Priestley: Armed Forces Edition
Drury Lane's Last Case by Ellery Queen (as Barnaby Ross): 1st Pocket Book edition
The Greek Coffin Mystery by Ellery Queen: Pocket Book 6th printing
The Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart: 1st New Dell pocket-size edition
Episode of the Wandering Knife Mary Roberts Rinehart: Dell Mapback

The State Vs. Elinor Norton by Mary Roberts Rinehart: 1st Dell pocket-size edition
The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rinehart: 1st New Dell pocket-size edition
The Second Confession by Rex Stout: 1st Bantam pocket-size edition
Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon (1st crime novel by the SF great)
The Brandenburg Hotel by Pauline Glen Winslow

Friday, July 25, 2014

Challenge Commitment Met: 1001 Books Before You Die

Rachel at Resistance is Futile thought it would be fun to gather a few people who are interested in reading through the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.  She has put together a perpetual--lifelong!--challenge and has posted a compilation of all editions of the list for us to follow.  OR you're welcome to work from the compilation or from one specific edition - your choice! For full details and to sign up, jump on the link above.
When I signed up I was quite sure I wouldn't read (nor want to read) all 1001+ books on the list. So I've made my goal to read at least five books from the list every year, Just finished my fifth book for 104

Total Read So Far: 150

Challenge Goal 2014: Five books
1. Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell 
2. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
3. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
4. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein 
5. Quartet In Autumn by Barbara Pym

Quartet in Autumn: Mini-Review

Quartet in Autumn is a quiet, subtle novel about the lives of four older office workers. Marcia, Letty, Norman, and Edwin have shared the same office for years, but have never really shared their lives. They've always taken separate lunch hours--and even when they go to the same place, such as the library as mentioned in the opening lines, they aren't really together. They've never socialized in any way after hours; never been to one another's homes. The reader follows each of them in turn, learning more about their personal lives than is ever shared among the four.

When Marcia and Letty retire, all of their lives are changed drastically. Letty has always planned on joining her friend Marjorie to share a cottage in the country, but she finds she must change her plans when Marjorie suddenly announces her engagement to a younger clergyman from the village. Marcia, who had recently undergone a major surgery not long before retirement, becomes even more of a recluse than before. Edwin and Norman start thinking more and more about "the girls" and eventually they all have a very awkward lunch together. It isn't until tragedy strikes that we have a sense that greater, more positive changes may be in store for some of our characters.

Pym is rather spectacular in her ability to make the reader become so invested in four such very ordinary--really, quite boring--people. She uses them to investigate loneliness and how very often it takes tragedy of some sort to really make us see one another and reach out for the companionship we really crave.  ★★★

Friday Memes

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme now sponsored by Rose City Reader (who originally inspired the meme). Here's what you do: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section. Include the title and author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line and if you did or did not like that sentence. Link up each week at Gilion's place.

Here are the first few lines from Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym:
That day the four of them went to the library, though at different times. The library assistant, if he had noticed them at all, would have seen them as people who belonged together.
{And a very good place to go....}

The Friday 56 is a bookish meme sponsored by Freda's Voice. It is really easy to participate. Just grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56. Find a sentence that grabs you and post it.
Here is the mine from Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym:

Miss Embrey lived on the ground floor and her three tenants--Letty, Marya and Miss Alice Spurgeon--came out of their rooms like animals emerging from burrows and descended the stairs at half-past eight.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Who Guards a Prince: Review

Reginald Hill, best known for his Daziel and Pascoe detective series, gives readers his take on the suspense-driven, international conspiracy thriller in Who Guards a Prince (1982). There are royals in danger, a secret society that involves Freemasonry, a sex and blackmail scheme to control an up-and-coming young senator with his eye on the presidency, and a little Fenian/Irish American plotting and counter-plotting just for good measure. The book is littered with bodies--people with their tongues cut out, burned up in a fire, killed in car "accidents," blown up, shot, and dropped 20-some stories out of windows. Just a normal few weeks on both sides of the pond--British or American victims, we're not picky. We might even add a Canadian or two just for luck.

Balance that out with a disgruntled British policeman by the name Doug McHarg--a disillusioned, but doggedly-devoted-to-duty widower who used to be the security man for Price Arthur and who has stumbled across the trail of the secret society.  Much to their displeasure. McHarg follows the meager clues and finds himself the target for a series of Masonic death-attacks. Can he save Prince Arthur from becoming the latest victim and prevent the society from fulfilling their aims for power?  And can he do so without sacrificing people he has begun to care about--because the society doesn't care who it hurts if it can pressure its enemies into leaving it alone...or doing its bidding.

This novel is over-the-top and far too busy with all the conspiracies and schemes and side-issues. And the scattered bodies bothered me much more than the somewhat gruesome thriller that I just finished (especially that tongue business). At least I understood the killings in there are so many senseless deaths. So many people crushed under the wheels of the secret society machine and we're just supposed to take it in stride. To top it off, it winds up very predictably with a shoot-em-up ending (which takes place in America where such things happen, you know) and a "surprise" unmasking of the evil genius behind the plots. I will admit that McHarg's method of dealing with the mastermind is unique...but it seems more suitable for an over-blown thriller movie.  I just really wasn't taken with this at all. ★★ may be generous.

The best part? A sub-plot with Prince Arthur and his lady-love, an Irish American who must go against her family's anti-English sentiments to be with man she cares for. No sloppy romance--just a nice little thread to follow.

This fulfills the "Man in the Title" square on the Silver Vintage Bingo card.

Challenge Complete: Literary Exploration

The 2014 Literary Exploration (through Goodreads) challenges readers to try out new genres; with a 12 book, 24 book and 36 book challenge.They give us a list of genres and anyone participating in the challenge has to complete one book from each genre over the course of the year.  I joined in for the "Easy Challenge" level.  I am quite likely to finish the Hard Challenge level as well, but I have completed my commitment of 12 books for the Easy Challenge.

Easy Challenge

Classics My Antonia by Willa Cather (4/20/14)
Fantasy The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin (5/6/14)
Graphic Novels Harlan Ellison's 7 Against Chaos by Harlan Ellison (3/17/14)
Historical Fiction Dandy Gilver & the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains by Catriona McPherson [set in 1920s] (2/12/14)
Horror Relic by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child (7/22/14)
Literary Fiction Sinners & the Sea by Rebecca Kanner (5/21/14)
Mystery Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell (1/5/13)
Non Fiction XCIA's Street Art Project by Hank O'Neal (2/20/14)
Romance Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer (5/1/14)
Science Fiction Shakespeare's Planet by Clifford D. Simak (1/6/14)
Thriller 12.21 by Dustin Thomason (6/6/14)
Young Adult The 7 Professors of the Far North by John Fardell (6/29/14)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Relic: Review

Something nasty is lurking in the basement hallways of the New York Museum of Natural History. A nasty, primeval, ferocious something...that kills swiftly and mercilessly and Special Agent Pendergrast, Lieutenant D'Agosta, museum researchers Margo Green and Dr. Frock need to find out who or what it is before everyone connected with the museum falls victim....

The museum is due for a grand opening of a new, spectacular exhibition by the name of "Superstition." The directors of the museum are determined that nothing will happen to either delay the extravaganza or tarnish the museum's reputation. So, when odd disappearances occur and rumors of a "Museum Beast" start to circulate, Winston Wright and Lavinia Rickman tighten security and clamp down on the rumor-mongers, but refuse to even think about putting off the grand opening. And not even a dead body or three are enough to change their minds.

Pendergrast and the researchers slowly gather evidence that points to a doomed expedition undertaken by associates of the museum several years earlier. Whittlesey, one of the leaders of the expedition, had gone to the Brazilian rainforest in search of the lost Kothoga tribe--a primitive group who worshiped a strange god named Mbwun who was half-man, half-lizard and who was said to be the offspring of a Satan-like demon. A relic which is said to represent Mbwun was found among the crated items sent back by Whittlesey and will be the centerpiece of the new exhibit. With murderer leaving a trail of clues that eerily call to mind descriptions of Mbwun, could the rumors of a "Museum Beast" be more firmly rooted in fact than anyone would like to believe?

This is a hair-raising, edge-of-the-seat thriller.  Weighing in at 468 pages, I managed to finish this book in less than 24 hours--and that's allowing time for sleeping last night and working a full 8 hours today. That's not meant as a brag. I'm simply underlining the fact that, despite thrillers being NOT my thing (and only reading this one because I had to have something in the horror-line for a challenge), I only put the thing down when I absolutely had to. Preston and Child know exactly how to reel you in and keep you reading even when you're being scared out of your wits. Seriously creepy and quite, um, bloody--but not gratuitously so (and I managed to skip the worst descriptions without losing any of the storyline....I'm a weenie when it comes to blood and gore).  I learned with Cabinet of Curiosities that I can take a bit of horror now and then, provided that it's well-written and delivers a good story with interesting characters. Preston and Child come through again with this ★★★ outing.

Challenge Complete: Non-Fiction Advneture

  A Non-Fiction

August 10, 2013 - August 10, 2018

hosted by Michelle of The True Book addict
at A Non-Fiction Adventure's blog
Sign- up here
Back in August 2013 I signed up for the Non-Fiction Adventure.  Since this is a perpetual challenge lasting five years, I set myself the goal of reading at least 10 non-fiction books each year (my years will be the calendar years--not August to August).  I pushed and met that first goal in 2013, and now I've grabbed my 10th book for 2014

Non-Fiction Books Read in 2014:

1. The Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux [1/20/14]  
2. You Can Write a Mystery by Gillian Rogerts (2/9/14)   
3. XCIA's Street Art Project by Hank O'Neal (2/20/14)   
4. It's Not All Flowers & Sausages by Jennifer Scoggin (3/10/14)   
5. Ships of the Line by Doug Drexler & Margaret Clark (5/1/14)   
6. The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw (5/9/14)  
7. Beyond Uhura: Star Trek & Other Memories by Nichelle Nichols (5/29/14) 
8. Naked Is the Best Disguise: The Death & Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes by Samuel Rosenberg (4/18/14)
9. Selections from the Essays of Montaigne by Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (trans & ed by Donald M. Frame) [7/7/14]  
10. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis(7/20/14)  

Author, Author Scavenger Challenge

Author, Author Scavenger Challenge (found on GoodReads in All Challenges All the Time)

The scavenger challenge this year is based upon National Book Month, which occurs in March. You will choose ONE author – a favorite author, a new author you’d like to read more from, it doesn’t matter – and use that author as the basis for ALL of the tasks in the challenge. 

My Chosen Author: Michael Innes (1906-1994): John Innes Mackintosh Stewart was born in Edinburgh, educated at Oxford, and taught English in universities all over the world. His scholarly career includes successful works on Rudyard Kipling and Thomas Hardy, but he is better known as mystery writer Michael Innes, whose legendary character, Inspector John Appleby, inspired a lasting vogue for donnish detective fiction.
Duration: July 22, 2014 - July 21, 2015 (one year from start date)
Will complete at least 8 of the required 16 books to count my commitment completed for my 2014 Challenge List.

2014 Challenge Commitment Complete: 10/29/14

1. Read TWO books by the author you’ve chosen for this challenge.
*Appleby's Answer (10/17/14)  
* Lament for a Maker (10/8/14)

2. Read a book whose total number of pages includes one of the numbers from the year your chosen author’s first book was published.
Be sure to tell us when your author's first book was published. (1936)

Relic by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child (468 pages) [7/22/14]

3. Read a book whose title begins with one of the letters in your chosen author’s last name.
Introducing C. B. Greenfield by Lucille Kallen (8/6/14)

4. Go to Literature and read one book by each of TWO different authors who are close to your chosen author.
*The Sirens Sang of Murder by Sarah Caudwell
*The Price of Silence by Kate Wilhelm OR A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

5. Read a book by an author who shares a first or last name with your chosen author.

The Seeds of Murder by Michael Underwood

The Night of the Twelfth by Michael Gilbert

6. Read a book set in the location where your chosen author’s most recent book took place – or the most recent book that you’ve read by your chosen author.
Be sure to tell us the location. [Location from: Appleby and the Ospreys-- English Countryside or British Country House]

Death on Allhallowe'en by Leo Bruce [small English village in the countryside] (10/11/14) 

7. Read a book whose title shares at least one major word (usual exceptions here) with any title written by your chosen author. 
Lament for the Bride by Helen Reilly (11/24/14)

8. Read TWO books published the same year as the year your chosen author’s most recent book was published (or is scheduled to be released).
Be sure to tell us what year the author's most recent book was published.  (Appleby & the Ospreys, 1987)
* Seventh Son by Orson Scot Card (8/19/14)
* Young Mrs. Cavendish & the Kaiser’s Men by K. K. Beck

9 . Read a book whose title begins with one of the letters in your chosen author’s first name.
The Mind Murders by Janwillem van de Wetering (10/30/14)

10. Read a book by an author who’s written a blurb for one of your chosen author’s books. 

 Head of a Traveller by Nicholas Blake (blurb on back of Lament for a Maker) [10/29/14]

11. Read a book with the same number of words in its title as any book by your chosen author. ALL words count!
Be sure to tell us the title of the book by your chosen author.
[Innes book: Lament for a Maker = 4 words]

Who Guards a Prince by Reginald Hill (7/23/14)

12. Read any other book you can somehow relate to your chosen author. Be sure to explain the connection!

Date With Danger by Roy Vickers [British Classic Mysteries] (8/11/14)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Me Before You: Review

...he was pleased to see me in a way he wasn't actually going to be able to say. And I told myself that it was going to have to be enough. I would do the thing he had asked for. That would have to be enough. 

Louisa  "Lou" Clark is an ordinary woman living the most ordinary of lives--still living at home with her parents, working as a waitress in the local cafe, riding the same bus and walking the same way home every evening. The most extraordinary thing about Lou is her eccentric taste in clothing. She bursts on every scene looking like a rainbow that had a fight in an Oxfam shop. But her life is about to become very extraordinary indeed....and all because she loses her job.

Will Traynor has always been a man of action--whether scaling rocky heights and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or taking on the big deals of the corporate world, he's known what he wants and how to get it. Preferably as quickly and in the most exciting way possible. All that changes on a rainy afternoon when he collides with a motorcycle as he sprints for a taxi. Up till now, he's tackled every challenge that's come his way, but the challenge of living the rest of his life in a wheelchair--not even able to feed himself without assistance--isn't the kind of challenge he had in mind and he decides it isn't the kind of challenge he wants.

When the cafe where Lou works closes down, she is forced to look for another job and, after trying various options that just didn't work out, she applies for position that will offer "care and companionship for a disabled man." That ad doesn't even begin to explain the situation when she meets Will Traynor. Will is bitter and tired of life. He doesn't want help, he doesn't want cheery, and, as far as Lou can tell, he doesn't want her. But little by little these two very different people begin to get to know each other...and the six months they spend together will change them forever.

So...I made the mistake of finishing this book at work. Teary-eyed and sniffing at my desk. Jo Jo Moyes has written a heart-breakingly beautiful book. An out-of-the-ordinary love story. The characters are quirky and imperfect and utterly believable. The story is difficult--the decisions Will makes are devastating for all who care for him--and the struggles they all go through to determine how best to prove that they love him are real and painful the hardest battle anyone should have to face emotionally.  I loved watching the relationship grow between Will and Lou. I loved watching Lou learn how to live and to reach for what she wants most in life. I cried with her as she had to let some of those things go. 

At the end of the novel, Will asks Lou to support him the most difficult decision anyone can make. At first she can't face it--and then, in a revisiting of a scene from earlier in the book, Will says:

“Hey Clark. Tell me something good." I stared out of the window at the bright-blue Swiss sky and I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn't have met, and who didn't like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other...And as I spoke I knew these would be the most important words I would ever say and that it was important that they were the right words, that they were not propaganda, an attempt to change his mind, but respectful of what Will had said.

And, at its heart, that is what Me Before You is about--two people who had every reason NOT to like one another, every reason NOT to get along who become the only people who can understand and help each other when they need it most. Will as he faces the most difficult moment of his life and Lou as she faces a crucial crossroads. Their care and understanding of each other is what makes this book work. Fantastic story-telling.  ★★★and a 1/2 stars.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mere Christianity: Mini-Review

One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. that is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons--marriage, or meat, or beer, or cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken a wrong turning. (p. 72)

Mere Christianity is C. S. Lewis's attempt to explain Christianity at its most basic level--leaving out denominational hot-buttons and aiming to establish theology and doctrine that all Christians subscribe to and agree make up the faith. In the prologue, he describes turning to Christianity as entering the main hallway of a large house--there are many doors leading from the hallway to the rooms of the house (the various denominations) and each room is furnished a bit differently. But, so long as all the inhabitants follow the general rules of the house, there is no reason to suppose that one person's room is any better than another. His job is to explain the general house rules.

The book was adapted from a series of informal radio broadcasts and the tone of the writing reflects this. The writing is quite conversational, as if Lewis had stopped by for a friendly chat about the details of the Christian faith. His analogies are a bit dated, but they still clearly reinforce the points he makes. Very engaging and easy to read. ★★★