non-fiction

Elizabethan Recusant Prose: 1559-1582

Richard Carroll
Sometimes, I come across a book that reminds me of how little I actually know. I’ve read a lot of books over the years, but as I’ve said elsewhere, my learning is broad but shallow. So, I always appreciate reading an author with true depth of knowledge is a specialised subject - e.g., A. C. Southern’s Elizabethan Recusant Prose: 1559-1582. Who is A. C. Southern? I actually couldn’t find much about him, except that this work is a revision of his Ph.

Foundations of Confucian Thought

Richard Carroll
A few years ago, I read and reviewed Yuri Pines’ book The Everlasting Empire, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in Chinese intellectual history, or Chinese history generally for that matter. Since I enjoyed that book, when I was looking for more work on Confucianism a while back I picked up one of his earlier books, Foundations of Confucian Thought: Intellectual Life in the Chunqiu Period, 722-453 B.C.E. Confucius and his followers did not, of course, emerge from nowhere, so a full understanding of Confucianism requires some knowledge not just of their source materials (primarily the Five Classics), but the intellectual milieu they originated in.

Cultured Grugs

Richard Carroll
Not that long ago, around 2015 or so, the Right was drowning in blogs and podcasts, but had no books and no art. Now it seems that every Rightist from the most erudite Reactionary to the simplest shitposter has a book they’d like to sell, whether it be political analysis, a novel, or book of essays. A number of broadly Right-wing publishers have also appeared over the last few years. All of this is, of course, a welcome development, as social media and short-form writing, despite certain strengths, are also limited by being short-lived and lacking space to develop any serious ideas.

Two Books for Raising Saints

Richard Carroll
Last year, many of the books I read had to do with marriage. Now that I’m married, much of my 2021 reading has to do with raising children. The topics vary; most useful are those that are just “this is what you do with a newborn,” that is, how to feed, diaper, take temperatures, that sort of thing. Baby sign language is another interesting topic, as it allows older babies (roughly six months and older) communicate their needs, as well as share observations with family as a bridge to speech.

Consecration to St. Joseph

Richard Carroll
Many Catholics are well familiar with consecration to Mary, especially St. Louis de Montfort’s thirty-three day programme of preparation for consecration. It’s a popular devotion with centuries of history behind it. Much more recent, though, is the concept of consecration to St. Joseph. I only became aware of it when my wife bought me a copy of Fr. Donald Calloway’s book Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father, published just in 2019, for my birthday last year.

Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game

Richard Carroll
Last year, we talked about the happy game of mahjong, focusing on how I got into the game and recommending a few resources for others wanting to get started. Today, though, let’s look at the art of the game, that is, the art of the tiles themselves. When people first encounter mahjong, the tiles are, naturally, the first thing they notice and as with Western playing cards there have been many lovely designs over the years by many artists.

Notes on Praying the Divine Office

Richard Carroll
A few years ago I took an interest in beginning to pray the Divine Office to help bolster my prayer life. My goal was to add some structure to my prayers, so going through set prayers at regular intervals seemed like a good choice, but I quickly found that there are a lot of different options out there for learning how to say the Office in terms of websites, apps, and books, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

2019 in Bibliophilia

It’s the end of the year, and now that the reminiscing and navel-gazing is over it’s time for the most important year-end festivity, looking at how many books I read. In 2018 I read thirty-six, compared to 2017’s forty-two. This year, I have twenty-nine books recorded in LibraryThing, but this excludes eight volumes of Toriyama Akira’s DragonballZ because they’re part of a box set and so, from LibraryThing’s perspective, are only one book.

Confession Made Easy

Richard Carroll
There are two ways to make something “easy.” One is to provide a brief overview of a subject, the other is to cover every aspect of it so that the student has no questions left by the end. Fr. Fructosus Hockenmaier takes the latter approach in his 696-page Confession Made Easy. Despite its intimidating length, Fr. Hockenmaier’s book does, in fact, make things easy by explaining the Sacrament of Confession in layman’s terms, and giving his book a practical focus.

Dante: The Story of his Life

Richard Carroll
I like to style myself a literary omnivore, but one genre I’ll admit I seldom touch is biography. I’ve read one on Robert E. Lee, and back in high school and college I read some biographies of various rock bands, but I preferred those that focused primarily on their music and secondarily on the musicians’ personal lives. A recent review, of The Printed Homer, included some biographical speculation, but ultimately one can’t really write a biography of a man about whom we know so little for certain that we’re not even sure if he was one dude or multiple dudes.