Friday Five – Volume 78: Summer Reading List

Sleep. I crave it having just run the parental gauntlet of graduation parties, district baseball, graduation itself, and finally state baseball.

We’ve been celebrating this at our house since it happened on May 22nd:

photo credit: Omaha World-Herald

photo credit: Omaha World-Herald

As the second baseman, Nolan was among the first to arrive at the mound and just as he was two seasons ago when they won the title he is at the bottom of the pile. In a nineteen hour span my son and his second-ranked team defeated the #1, #4 and #3 teams in the state to win it all.

Twenty-four hours after it was finished we watched our 10 year old and his team win their organization’s annual Memorial Weekend Tournament. Like big brother his team won three elimination games in one day. The two brothers had a good week on the diamond.

And then our daughter, the social butterfly of the group, started YMCA softball this week.

In order to prepare himself for Marine boot camp in the fall and enjoy his final summer at home he has passed on his summer season of legion baseball. He also wants to watch his younger siblings play, something he’s never been able to do while playing fifty-plus games in the summer. Our schedule has opened up considerably for time at home as a family.

And so he finished his baseball career on top by finishing at the bottom of the dogpile.

All I want to do is sleep.

In between naps I plan on doing some reading. Here are five books I’ve set aside until school starts again in the fall.

summer 2014 books

— 1 —

Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II by George Weigel

This book has sat on my shelf for a few years, along with its companion The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy also by George Weigel. A few weeks ago one of my friends and fellow baseball dads gave me his copy of Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert and I have really enjoyed getting reacquainted with JPII and reliving some of the events in the era of my early adulthood. This book, along with the recent canonization of JPII as a saint, has spurred my interest in finally getting to this biography. And since I try to read at least one biography per summer this acclaimed one will do fine.

A second biography, Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon will be squeezed in if I read ahead of schedule. (Insert galeful laughter here…I never read ahead of schedule.)

— 2 —

Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian

I loved the Russell Crowe movie that was as I understand it an adaptation of a later book in the series The Far Side of the World. Yes, this is actually a series of novels about Captain Jack Aubrey, his friend and ship’s surgeon Stephen Maturin and their adventures on the nineteenth century seas in the British navy during the time of the Napoleonic wars. I think I’ve put off reading this book for so long because I was scared of loving it so much I’d want to read the other nineteen books. I’ve decided to take that chance and so this summer will find me sitting outside with this book and a dram (or two).

laphroaig_glass_book 4.9.2014-cropped

— 3 —

Jesus: A Pilgrimage by Fr. James Martin, SJ

This book is designed to be accessible to anyone—from those just starting to think about Jesus to those who feel they may know the topic well. It is designed for people of deep faith or no faith who want to know about Jesus … I would like to introduce you to the Jesus I know, and love, the person at the center of my life. Getting to know Jesus, like getting to know anyone, has been a pilgrimage. – from the Introduction

Released two months ago, I only recently became aware of Fr. Martin’s latest book. A few years ago I’d read My Life with the Saints and it remains one of my favorites.

Again from the Introduction:

Who is he? Why another book on this first-century Jewish man? Why have I spent years studying the life of an itinerant preacher from a backwater town? Why did I spend two weeks traipsing around Israel under the broiling sun to see places where a former carpenter lived and sites that he may (or may not) have visited?

For the structure of this book Fr. Martin presents the life of Jesus sequentially from the Gospels. As he arrives at significant places or locations during Jesus’s life he shares stories of what he saw at those sites during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, along with reflections on what those particular episodes in Jesus’s life may say to us today. It is not a Bible commentary. I’m looking forward to reading this book.

— 4 —

The Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Rev. Fr. Peter J. Arnoudt, SJ

When I made a silent Ignatian retreat two years ago I learned that I was drawn to the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It’s not something that I’ve yet learned to communicate well. It’s just one of those things that when you get it, you really get it, and the world begins to fall into place for you. While The Imitation of Christ remains one of my all-time favorite spiritual books this book has come highly recommended to me. Written by Fr. Arnoudt in 1904 as a guide for readers to conform their hearts to that of Christ, I plan on using this book as a devotional and possibly one to journal with. Like The Imitation of Christ this book presents a conversational dialogue between Jesus Christ and His disciple, the reader of the book. There are four “books” within the larger one, each with 26 chapters of four to six pages in length. If I read a chapter a day (there are 104) I should be able to finish this book before autumn and my next scheduled retreat.

— 5 —

The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home by David Clayton and Leila Marie Lawler

It is easy when living out the every day busyness of our lives to become lax in our duty as parents to foster and guide our children’s prayer lives. As a father my number one goal in this life is to assist my wife on her journey to heaven and to help my children do the same by equipping them with what they need and creating a home in which they see that their faith does not stop at the doors to church. As I mentioned above this is our final summer together with our entire family and I want a kick start and reminder of the importance of our prayer time together before one of us leaves the nest and enters the world. Based upon everything I’ve read about this book it will provide that for us. Together.


What are you planning to read this summer?


2 thoughts on “Friday Five – Volume 78: Summer Reading List

  1. 1) By Any Other Name-Craig Johnson. The latest Walt Longmire Mystery book. While I’m not a big mystery guy per se, Craig Johnson is from Wyoming; and he captures the zeitgeist of living on the high plains perfectly. I’ll probably re read the series after this for exactly that reason.
    2) Where’s Harry?-Steve Stone. Light reading but it always leaves me in stitches. Harry Caray was an American original. His like shall not pass this way again.
    3) Rogue Warrior-Richard Marcinko and John Weisman. Marcinko founded Seal Team 6 in the 1980’s after spending 30 years in Naval Special Warfare. I enjoy this book for the military leadership aspect as well as Marcinko and Weisman’s writing style.
    4) Delta Force-Charlie Beckwith and Donald Kox. In my mind this is a companion volume to ‘Rogue Warrior’ in that Beckwith was the founder of the Army’s ‘secret’ counter terror unit. Both his book and Marcinko’s capture the military as it stood in the late 70’s and mid-late 80’s very well. I actually lived part of that era, albeit not in special operations. I read one copy of this book to pieces in the 90s and this is my second copy.
    5) The Serpent of Venice-Christopher Moore. I’ve read every one of Moore’s books. He is hand’s down the funniest writer out there today. This book is a continuation of his book, ‘Fool’ and allegedly combines, ‘Othello’, ‘The Merchant of Venice’ and ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ into a single story with Pocket (the Fool) as the main character. Going to need a box of tissues for this one because I’ve yet to read a Moore book that doesn’t make me laugh myself to tears.


  2. I will be teaching sophomores and seniors in the fall! So, I will be doing some refreshing-my-memory reading: Fahrenheit 451, Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Othello, King Lear, and a whole host of others. I am also still reading The Science of the Cross by Edith Stein, which I am thoroughly enjoying. It brings me such spiritual delight that I can only handle a little bit at a time–my soul might decide to depart from this world without having finished certain aspects of my mission:) Those are the primary works, but I tend to go from here to there very quickly. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend! God bless…


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