Saturday, June 07, 2008

Book Bargains

The old maxim runs, 'there are many cheap and good books on the market, the problem is that the ones that are good are not cheap and the ones that are cheap are not good'. Sadly this is all too often the case. Every summer, however, there seems to be an exception to that rule: the OUP summer sale. Over the last few years I have picked up a handful of excellent books from this sale, notification of which you can sign up for on the net.

This time I picked up a handful of interesting items. Frank Prochaska has written an evaluation of Christian social action in Britain in the modern era. This is an area of great interest to me, and this volume is written from the perspective of an outsider (i) as he's not a Christian and (ii) he's not British - so it will be interesting to see how this affects his historical study.

As well as looking like a really informative and stimulating read, this handsome cloth bound volume has had its price cut by over half to around £9.

The whole of OUPs series on the so-called "Seven Deadly Sins" has had it prices cut to a remarkable £1.25 or £1.50! I realise that all good Protestants will want to remonstrate on the comments page about the use of the old Catholic hierarchy of sins and will want to point out that all sin is deadly, and such classifications of sin sit uneasily with the Biblical understanding. Don't bother - I quite agree with you. All sin is equally injurious to our relationship to God, we all sin in different ways, and therefore may not judge or look down others whose sins we deem less deadly than our own.

That notwithstanding, some of the less noble of humanity's traits can be seen to be more immediately and obviously damaging to ourselves and others. Greed, pride, lust, sloth, envy, anger and gluttony are natural candidates for dangerous tendencies we find within ourselves, against which (with God's help) we are pitted. These seven little volumes seek to explore these vices, from a variety of perspectives, and authors. Some of them (like Dyson on Pride) draw extensively on his interest in the the American Civil Rights movement, what I have read so far of Wasserstein on Sloth is quite funny! Actually I don' think there are enough books about sin! Not that there are not enough sinful books... No, what I mean is that given the fact that the concept of 'the fall' is so critical to the Judeao-Christian narrative and understanding of the world, and its relationship to God; it is surprising how little contemporary writers explore the theme. One shining example is Cornelius Plantinga Jr's "Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin", which manages to be a delightful read on this grizzly subject!

This booksale isn't just theological, or historical though - it has bargains under all the following headings: Archaeology, Art & Architecture, Biography, Business, Crime & Criminology, Diaries, Letters & Journals, Economics, Education, Fiction, Food & Drink, Geography, History, Language & Linguistics, Law, Literary Studies, Literature, Mathematics, Medicine, Miscellaneous, Music, Philosophy & Religion, Poetry, Politics, Psychology, Reference, Science & Nature, Sociology & Anthropology, Travel.

And also books in my favourite category of all, "Under £5"!

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