Book Review

Books in Brief: Summer Reading

Has anyone read anything good this summer? Today I’ll highlight a few I’ve enjoyed.

The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome

by Joseph Pearce

I recently finished Joseph Pearce’s The Quest for Shakespeare from Ignatius Press. In this book, Pearce gives all the evidence for Shakespeare’s Catholicism. I’ve always wanted to read this book, since it was published in 2008, but I never got around to it until last week. As it turns out, I was missing out!

Did you know that Shakespeare’s father was a registered recusant Catholic? Or that Shakespeare was taught by Catholics and married by a Catholic priest? Think about that and remember it was verboten to be a Catholic in England at this time under the Great Persecutor, Queen Elizabeth.

Remember the great martyrs? St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, St. Edmund Campion…among hundreds of others? If one wasn’t downright tortured for being Catholic, one was heavily fined for failing to attend Anglican services in the least. And guess how many Anglican services Shakespeare attended? None that we know of. And we know this because copious records were kept by the government for the express purpose of collecting fines to financially ruin Catholics.

I could go on with more interesting details, but you should just read it.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, here’s Peter Kreeft’s endorsement, “In this book, he [Pearce] proves it [Shakespeare’s Catholicism] historically. I mean proves it.” Or, perhaps you’d like Anthony Esolen’s words? “Pearce shows that Shakespeare himself was such a dutiful servant, ever dutiful to the Queen, but to God first. He does not leap to conclusions, but builds a case that is meticulous, reasonable, and convincing.”

The Quest for Shakespeare would be a great read for your high schoolers too.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

This is another one of those books that I’ve always been meaning to read, but never did, until two weeks ago. I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching Rodger and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music and loving it. (Naturally, as little girls, we shut the movie off after the wedding because the Nazi part was too scary.) I’m so glad I finally purchased the book and read about the real Trapp family.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was a sheer delight. There was much that the movie got right, and then, there was much that was left out too. Did you know that Maria and the Captain actually dined at a restaurant in Salzburg, sitting at a table near Hitler? (They were disgusted.) Or that after they fled to the United States, the infamous Heinrich Himmler–the main architect of the Holocaust– confiscated their estate and ruined their chapel?

Above all, I was impressed with the faith of this family. You, too, might find it inspiring. In the very least, the way in which Maria and Georg became engaged was downright sweet and comical. (The movie gets it wrong.)

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

I read this book a few years ago and had memories of laughing so hard, my sides ached. Naturally, I’d want to pick it up again, so I did.

Do you need a laugh? Do you come from a big family? Or have lots of children yourself? Then you’ll love this hilarious book.*

By the way, the book is way better than either the old movie or the new one. Both movies are a disgrace in comparison to the book.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent from Baronius Press

No, I did not read the whole catechism. Rather, my local book club, Rad Reads, read the section on marriage and then compared it to John Paul II’s catechism on marriage. It’s incredibly telling how different they are. We had lovely, heated discussions. We also read Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical, Casti Cannubii, which is also on marriage.

Now, if you want something interesting to read with your husband, pick up the Catechism of the Council of Trent, flip to the fifteen or so pages written specifically on the Sacrament of Marriage, and pour yourself a glass of wine. You won’t be disappointed.

What am I reading now?

I’m currently reading Nothing Superfluous by Rev. James Jackson, an FSSP priest, for my next Rad Reads discussion. This book details the theological meaning behind different actions and prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass. I’m really enjoying it so far.

I also hope to peruse another Dorothy Sayers detective fiction soon.

How about you?

*Note: I’d only recommend this book to a mature audience, as the older daughters tend to be worldly, etc. Also, unfortunately, there are problems with the Second Commandment.

Kim's Kitchen, Life is Worth Living

Chopping Tomatoes With Patrick Coffin

I have a tomato problem.  I didn’t think it would come to this, but it has.  There are just too many tomatoes in my garden.  Every day the children are bringing in buckets of them.

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The Latest Bucket

I thought that having six tomatoes plants would be manageable because I treated them so poorly.  In fact they’re just lying all over the ground in a tangled mess.

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Remember this photo from early September?  Utter neglect.

But I guess one can mistreat tomato plants, and they’ll still produce.

This is a problem because I don’t “can.”  I don’t know how to can, nor do I have any desire to can, but I do hate wasting good produce, so lately I’ve been making fresh salsa every day.

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Making fresh salsa.

But that still didn’t get rid of all these tomatoes.

So I sallied forth and made my very first pot of homemade tomato soup.  I did this by roasting a bunch of tomatoes, onions, and garlic first.

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Here’s a pan ready to go into the oven.

Then I blended them all in batches with basil from the garden.

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Blending.

My husband loved this soup, but the children thought it needed a little cream cheese.  Me?  I don’t care, I’m just trying to decide what I’m going to do with these:

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More tomatoes

In the meantime, what have I been listening to while chopping tomatoes?  The Patrick Coffin Show.  Have you heard his September interview with Joseph Pearce?  It’s soooo entertaining!  He and Pearce talk books for an hour and a half.  It’s delightful, especially because they’re mentioning such great books like Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Belloc’s The Path To Rome.

Speaking of good books…if you’ve never read Joseph Pearce’s autobiography Race With the Devil, you should.  I have a tremendous respect for that man.  He went from being the leader of white supremacist group to writing Catholic biographies and editing a series of literature books for Ignatius Press.

Incidentally, my local Saturday Morning Book Club will be reading Pearce’s book Unmasking of Oscar Wilde in a few months.  I can’t wait for it.