My reading list this week consists of some things I read over the Christmas break.
- Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation by Keith Houston. One of my professors challenged me one afternoon on my excessive use of colons, and somehow that conversation culminated in his recommendation of this book. Simply put, it’s a detective story about punctuation marks. This may sound boring to you, but if you’re a history buff, or a punctuation nerd like me, this book should be on your list. Did you know that the # sign comes from the Latin term libra, referring to a pound of weight? Do you know what the interrobang looks like? I’m telling you–this book is surprisingly intriguing. It also has some interesting information on how interpretation of text (and biblical text) has been affected by punctuation use over the centuries.
- “Habits of Mind in an Age of Distraction” by Alan Jacobs. I found this article in the summer, but revisited it in honor of the new year. In the midst of resolution craze, we often forget how our habits and surroundings shape many of our actions and decisions. Jacobs discusses technology’s affect on self-awareness, especially related to sin. Is our day merely a string of distractions, brought on by our technological age? How can we contemplate long enough to dwell on our fallenness and Christ’s redemption if any awkward social situation is responded to by picking up our iPhones? Jacobs gives an account for what distraction is, why it is our social ill, and possible responses of the church.
- Philosophy and Education: An Introduction in Christian Perspective by George R. Knight.This is an excellent overview and comparison of different educational philosophies. Perhaps the most valuable chapter in the book is one on the philosophies that have shaped 20th century education. Though I have spent much time discovering a Christian philosophy of education, and more particularly a classical philosophy, it is helpful to know what is shaping the culture’s view of education, and just what makes a Christian perspective so different.
- “The Muse” by Anna Akhmatova. I can’t get Russian literature out of my head, and it particularly haunts me during breaks in school. Obviously, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are the masters of the Russian novel, but Akhmatova, a poet, was my first Russian love. Her poetry is the cry of the Russian people during the tumultuous years of the 1920s-1950s. I’ll leave you with one of her more lighthearted poems.
All that I am hangs by a thread tonight
as I wait for her whom no one can command.
Whatever I cherish most–youth, freedom, glory–
fades before her who bears the flute in her hand.
And look! she comes… she tosses back her veil,
staring me down, serene and pitiless.
“Are you the one,” I ask, “whom Dante heard dictate
the lines of his Inferno?” She answers: “Yes.”
-The Muse, 1924