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SIX MONTH SEMI-ANNIVERSARY FEBRUARY ONLINE ENTERTAINMENT EDITION
SPECIAL FEATURE 1
SPECIAL FEATURE 2
"BOOKS I LIKE"
Editor’s note: "Matt’s life this semester has him busily learning how to teach, which is keeping him too busy for leisure reading. Well, that and he’s taken a slightly greater liking to pool than he had previously! In any case, for the benefit of readers who joined since after August, it seemed beneficial to give Matt a break from reading and use the opportunity to re-run the article introducing this monthly column, with a few minor changes."
The rules of dialogue require strangers to ask and answer certain questions with near ritual predictability: "So, what do you do?", "What’s your major?", "What kind of music do you like?", "What books do you read?" I see no reason why introductions for regular columns should differ from this convention at all. It helps provide context for all discourse that follows, and, as I hope will prove the case in future issues, that discourse will form a central aspect here.
I expect by now you are asking, "What on earth am I reading?" Shortly, you will be reading a book review. Right now you are reading an introduction to a book review, for unlike most editorials this one invites participation. If that sounds interesting then read on! If not, read on anyways — perhaps I can entice you.
Why the title? Why ‘Books I Like’? Every undergraduate is required to take one token literature course. In mine, the instructor began by belittling his own profession: "We‘d all like you to believe otherwise," he said (as best I recall), "but really every literature course should be titled ‘Books Professor-so-in-so Likes’." His candid irreverence struck a note in me. You see, contrary to the belief that art should be bold, shocking, subjective, or require effort in order to appreciate it, I believe that literature and art and everything else for that matter really should be enjoyable or at least engageable. If no one anywhere likes a thing, then it is not art and really should not be regarded as such.
What about the dialogue bit? If you will grant the privilege, this series will be a reflection on what individual undergrad, grad, staff, and faculty of Pitt and CMU read and enjoy. Continuously the Standard will collect, by email, submissions of favorite books from our readership, along with your comments on the work. Then, shamelessly as my professor did, I will select one or two books from those submitted, read them, and publish my review along with an edited version of the comments sent me.
If the reader’s perspective in all this is so key, what do I have to do with it then? My contribution lies in the background with which I approach the subject: I believe that art exists to glorify the First Artist. My worldview is unashamedly Theocentric. There are no non-spiritual, wholly secular things. All are spiritual as they exist to honor Him from which they come. I read for the passion of seeing Him reflected in His works — and to reflect that passion back on those works. Hence, from me you will get the perspective of one Christian on what each book says. My goal will not be censorship, yet it will be the application of the Gospel and the Judeo-Christian tradition to, as Francis Schaeffer would put it, the whole of life. Hence, you can view this article as a way of dialoging about beliefs and truth, and what those things have to do with culture.
The articles will not be restricted to new books or best sellers. If you’ve really enjoyed an electronic book from Project Gutenberg, some old tomes extracted from a library, a dime sci-fi novel, or even a cookbook then just send it. Our discussions here will not be limited by topic, genre, or writing style. Please do choose submissions in English (or ones with English translations) so that all of us will be able to read with you. Otherwise the door is open.
I very much look forward to hearing from you.
Matt Bell is a graduate student in the Intelligent Systems and Computer Science program with avid personal interests in linguistics, fantasy and fairy stories, and Christian theology. He also enjoys shooting an occasional game of pool, a game at which he is slowly improving, is a frequent face at the campus ministry Chi Alpha’s events, and attends East End Assembly of God in Bloomfield.