Book Review: The Maneaters of Kumaon

Corbett, Jim. The Maneaters of Kumaon (Kindle edition, Merwin Unwin Reprint)

I grew up being told stories from Corbett and Capstick, and Bell, and other hunters and naturalists. So I knew the stories before I read them. That doesn’t change the heart-racing effect of reading this book, however. Corbett was a great story-teller as well as naturalist and hunter.

I needed a complete brain break. This was the perfect book for that. Short, intense, and beautifully written. Continue reading


Book Review: Novak – Will it Liberate?

Novak, Michael. Will it Liberate? (1991) Kindle Edition

Liberation theology was one of those things I heard about while growing up, but never understood what it was. Nailing hot tapioca pudding to a tree seemed easier than finding a clear definition of what this Latin American thing was. Well, it turns out that’s in part because the proponents of Liberation Theology didn’t agree among themselves precisely what it espoused, and their beliefs changed over time. Michael Novak’s book, the third in a series about theology and political economy, answers those questions and points out the flaws in the very premise of Liberation Theology. He also shows how Classical Liberalism is not, despite what its critics claimed, incompatible with a Christian life and a just and successful society. Continue reading

Self Defense Reading: De Becker, Miller, and Others

During winter break I caught up on some reading that I’d gotten behind on. One was Rory Miller’s Facing Violence, one was a book about avoiding social problems that I quit half-way through, and one was Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear. I probably should have read de Becker first. Mostly, I read him because I was curious why so many well-intentioned people tell others not to read him because “he is triggering.” One sentence, as it turns out, is the problem. One sentence in the entire book. Now, I had other problems with him, and not that one sentence. Continue reading

Maybe It Wasn’t the Reader, Maybe It Was the Book

Sunday morning I was glancing through the Amazon sales e-mail and saw something that looked potentially interesting. The book title was The Only Harmless Great Thing, and it was listed as a fantasy/alternate history. I decided to look at the page, and after reading a little of the ad-copy, blurb, and reviews, realized that this is not my sort of reading.

It sounds too much like Faulkner’s style, and I tried Faulkner twice. 0-2, and that was that. I’ll stick with his short stories, thanks.

What caught my eye were some of the reviews. The one and two stars, all of which said the same thing. Continue reading

The Longest Night, the Shortest Day

Welcome, Instapunderati, and thanks for stopping by!

The winter solstice has arrived, and the sun has touched its lowest point on the southern horizon for those of us north of the equator.

It took an ice storm for me to understand in my bones why my ancestors back in the Old World so feared and reveled in the end of the longest night. When the sun appeared after two days of night, heavy cloud, breaking trees and cold that crept in as the fires failed, well, I too sang hymns of praise to the sun above. Only sunlight would thin and dissolve the ice, and allow the repairs to begin so that heat and light could return to houses and other buildings. Unlike other, smaller towns, we never lost water, thanks be. Continue reading

Book Review: Jewels – A Secret History

Finlay, Victoria. Jewels: A Secret History. (Random House, 2007) Kindle Edition


Like many people around the world, I like colored stones, especially colored stones set in silver or gold. They do not have to be “precious” stones such as diamonds or sapphires, but they do need color. Around the world, such gems have brought wealth, sorrow, disaster, and travelers from far away. Finlay’s book describes the (mis)adventures and fortunes of gemstones and their hunters in an engaging and well-written account, with enough science to satisfy those interested in the “why” of precious stones. Continue reading

Book Review: The Savage Worlds of Solomon Kane

Howard, Robert E. The Savage Worlds of Solomon Kane (Del Ray Reprint, 2004) E-book.

Although best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian, Robert Howard had a number of other memorable protagonists, including the lean Puritan with glittering dark eyes, Solomon Kane. He traveled the world righting wrongs and sending the doers of evil to their fate, whatever that might be. The stories are set in Europe and Africa of the late 1600s, although there are a number of hints and nods to lost civilizations such as Atlantis and Mu. Continue reading