Posted by: Catherine Weston | January 1, 2013

A New Year Resolution

Last year I resolved to read a new novel by Charles Dickens. That is to say I resolved to read a novel that I had not yet read in the year of the bicentenary of the great man’s birth.  It wasn’t too difficult to choose one I hadn’t read before, seeing that much of my knowledge of his work is based on film and TV adaptations. However there’s nothing like losing oneself in the rich descriptions of the printed page. Reading Our Mutual Friend proved to be a treat and I finished it well within my time frame. My achievement, however, is paltry compared with that of journalist Matthew Davis who read all fifteen novels in 2012. Probably I should attempt another Dickens every year until I have read them all.

What else did I profitably read in 2012?  Paul David Tripp’s book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands (Phillipsburg, 2002) was just as challenging and helpful the second time round as the first.  For any growing Christian hoping to be able to speak into others’ lives Paul Tripp is a wise and realistic guide.

My next challenge is to read and digest the magisterial tome Europe: A History by Norman Davies (London, 1997).  I’m only on Chapter One, but the introduction has already supplied some choice quotes if you like to collect examples of ethnocentrism.  Davies is pointing out that all history is told from a point of view, usually one in which one’s own culture is held up as the standard to measure all others. He writes, “When Oxford University Press last dared to publish a one-volume History of Europe the authors opened their preface with [the] sentiment: ‘Although a number of grand civilisations have existed in various ages, it is the civilisation of Europe which has made the deepest and widest impression, and which now (as developed on both sides of the Atlantic) sets the standard for all the peoples of the earth.’ ” [p. 17]

Put blatantly like that, most of my readers I hope would recoil with amused horror that our forebears felt quite so assuredly superior (the OUP volume was published in 1927).  But how much of our attitudes have really changed? Something to think about for 2013.

What books do you plan to read in the New Year?

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