Thursday, 2 July 2015

Book Review: Five Reasons Why You Should Read The Man Who was Thursday by G K Chesterton

So, since I’m trying to get back into this blogging thing, I thought that one thing I could do was a little book review/ response whenever I finish reading a book. Maybe not every book I read, but at least those where there is something interesting to say about it.  So, since I finished reading The Man Who was Thursday by G K Chesterton the other day, it seemed like a good place to start. Now, I wasn’t sure  how I should go about writing this, until I thought to myself “hey, everyone likes lists on the internet, why don’t I write it as a list.” So here it is: five reasons why you should read The Man Who was Thursday: a Nightmare by G K Chesterton. (Please note that while I have done my best to be as spoiler free as possible, there will enviable be some spoilers below.)

Firstly though, a quick praise of what the book is about. It follows the adventures of Gabriel Syme, a poet and undercover Police officer who is attempting to infiltrate the Central Anarchist council of Europe. He gets himself elected to the council, where each member is code-named for a day of the week, as "Thursday." However, he soon learns that things are not what they seem to be…

  1)  Okay, so lest start with the main reason I first read this book: Chesterton was a major influence on C S Lewis, (among others) who happens to be one of my favourite writers. And Lewis went on to influence many other writers, such as JKR. So Chesterton is part of the literary lineage to which of much of what is popularly read today belongs, and thus someone who is interesting to read from this point of view. So who is this Chesterton guy? He was an English writer and academic who has commonly been referred to as the “Prince of Paradox.” His other works includes the Father Brown short stories, and works of apologetics (such as Orthodoxy and The Ever Lasting Man.) It is also interesting to note that while he was a Protestant early on in his life (and while he was writing The Man Who Was Thursday), he later became a Roman Catholic.  

  2)  The book was first published in 1908, and so gives us a glimpse into another time in history. Okay, so maybe this point is a bit nerdy for some people, but for me personally I find it fascinating reading something from another time and place, not only to see what thoughts and beliefs they held in that time, but also as a mirror to better understand my own time and place. And unlike a lot of other older novel, I actually found it quite readable, which leads me to point three…

  3)   It’s an entertaining read. Which is important, because the reason (I’m sure) most of us read novels is to be entertained.  And I can’t think of many books that have any many twists and turn as this on which keep the reader guess, not just what’s going to happen and even what the books about, right up to the last page. 

  4)  It will make you think. Whether or not you agree with Chesterton, there is no denying the wit and intelligence of this guy, which is obvious right from the first chapter. This would be a great book for a book reading club, as there will be a lot to talk about! It is full with quips and one-liners, and a will leave you wondering (if you let it) firstly what he means, and then if you agree with what he is saying, or not.

  5)  A glimpse of grace. This is one of those books where it is difficult to work out what the main theme or message (if there is one) is. From my reading, one of the central idea is that goodness can be found all around us. Often, we fail to see it in the ordinary, mundane things which surround us. Sometimes, goodness or grace comes to us from unexpected places, and we can often miss it for a number of reasons. Sometimes, a change of perspective or some more information is required to see it. Other times, we have to pull back the certain and look a little harder. But, this book reminded me that, even in the darkest places, there is still hope, still goodness.

So, there you have it! Feel free to comment and let me know what you think of The Man Who was Thursday if you have read it (especially if you read it because of this) or what else you have been reading and think I might like to read. Right now I’m doing some worldview reading, so probably won’t review that, but I plain to reread Paper Towns before the movie comes out, so might do that one sometime soon.

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