To Know the Love of Christ by Martin Hogan (Messenger Publications, £12.99). These weekday reflections for the liturgical year 2016-2017 provide a useful supplement to daily Mass-goers and others. As the author, a diocesan priest in Dublin, explains, his reflections are meant to be a way of both listening to the particular Gospel text of the day and understanding how it continues to speak to the Church and to our world. The book will also encourage the celebrant at Mass to offer his own brief thoughts on the Gospel reading. Hogan’s work is intended for ordinary Catholics.
The Oxford Handbook of the Study of Religion edited by Michael Strausberg and Steven Engler (Oxford University Press, £110). As with all of these OUP handbooks, the admission price is very steep, but they are extraordinary volumes. The scope of this latest offering is staggering and provides a thorough introduction to the academic study of religion. The section headings give a flavour: theoretical approaches, modes, environments (religion’s interaction with, inter alia, medicine, politics and media), topics and processes. A magnificent achievement in 51 chapters, and not a dud among them.
White Mountain by Robert Twigger (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20). Twigger is one of the best and most fascinating of recent travel writers. Following his excellent book on the Nile, Twigger goes into deeper territory with this “spiritual” biography of the Himalayas. Of course, in any such book, there are a lot of mountaineering tales and tragedy, but Twigger is far more interested in the spirituality of the people of Nepal and Tibet than he is with peaks and summits. Looking at Tibetan Buddhism as well as the area’s bloody history, Twigger shows the spiritual importance of this strange and haunting place.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, £19.99). Lencioni, a management consultant, has written a challenging book that should be read by anyone involved in team-building. He writes: “Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.” This is because teams, composed of imperfect human beings, are almost always dysfunctional. Lencioni emphasises lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results.
Lara by Anna Pasternak (William Collins, £20). The author, great-niece of Boris Pasternak, has written “the untold love story” that inspired Doctor Zhivago. “Lara” was actually a woman called Olga Ivinskaya and the author has used both archival and family sources to tell the story of this mysterious muse, twice imprisoned in Siberian labour camps because of her association with the poet. She first met him in 1946 and remained his inspiration until his death in 1960. Pasternak’s family would not acknowledge the relationship. His great-niece has put the record straight in this vivid and heartfelt narrative.
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