Monday, June 19, 2017

ABCs of the Christian Life (Ave Maria Press)

G.K. Chesterton is probably one of the most widely read Catholics after Augustine. However, even among Catholics, he is a polarizing figure. As Peter Kreeft pointed out in the Foreword, his writings are something you either love or hate. There is no middle ground. The reason many people dislike reading him so much is because his words can strike a nerve. They get right to the heart of the matter and tell the truth without pulling any punches. If you have never read any of G.K. Chesterton, I imagine you are wondering which work should I start with, because he has written thousands upon thousands of pages. Luckily, Ave Maria Press has recently published a book that I think makes the perfect introductory work. It is entitled ABCs of the Christian Life and has excerpts from many of his famous works.

ABCs of the Christian Life is laid out like one would expect for a book with this title. There are 26 chapters with each chapter representing a letter. The book begins with chapters on asceticism, Bethlehem, and Catholicism. We then take a detour and visit Charles Dickens, which I have to admit, I didn't expect to see him mentioned in this book. Other notable figures are St. Francis, St. Joan of Arc, St. Thomas Aquinas, and another surprising entry in Queen Victoria. In addition to people, the book also touches on concepts like insanity, miracles, and negativity. At the end of the book is an index that shows you the main work from which each chapter in this book was taken from, which is extremely helpful if you want to read further from that specific work.

Overall, I found this to be a fine introduction to the thoughts and works of G.K. Chesterton. I wouldn't necessarily say the book was a quick or easy read, because if so, then it wouldn't be a Chesterton book. What I do recommend for this book is to take your time reading through it. Don't try and read it in one sitting or even one day. Instead, try and read one chapter a day and let it marinate in your head. Once you finish the book, you are then ready to take on full works of G.K. Chesterton, and I would think back on chapters I liked and read those full works to start.

This book was provided to me for free by Ave Maria Press in exchange for an honest review.