Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Listening - book reviews

Catching up on the audiobooks we listened to recently:
The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy, by P.G. Wodehouse, features some stories that I believe were excerpted from Carry On, Jeeves.  I've talked about Wodehouse before -- if you haven't made his acquaintance yet, it's time.  Jeeves and Wooster stories are a really good place to start.

Popes and the Papacy: a History, by Thomas F. X. Noble for the Teaching Company, was a fascinating and surprisingly fast-moving overview.  In 24 lectures on 12 CDs, we go from "the Rise of the Petrine Idea" to Benedict XVI and beyond.  From my professional perspective, I would have appreciated a deeper exploration of the era from the Apostolic age to the fall of Rome -- but of course that's just the era for which we have very few records.  Basically, the bishops of Rome were the last responsible adults left standing after the Roman emperors retreated to Constantinople and the barbarians invaded.  Hearing about the corruption of the medieval popes is enough to raise any Protestant's hackles; the lecturer is doubtless Catholic because he doesn't probe too deeply here, but neither does he gloss over the less stellar moments of the papacy.  This was the first Teaching Company lecture series we listened to, but I'm sure it won't be the last.

Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates is children's lit of an earlier era.  I always loved his Robin Hood, and in recent years we've listened to audiobooks of Otto of the Silver Hand and Men of Iron: he seems to be one of the classic authors who is well liked by librarians.  I think this is more of a compilation of unrelated stories, put together by a later editor.  They're fun, not too deep, and of course fit in with the recent Disneyland theme.

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