“What they’re reading” appears as an occasional series in MinnPost’s Book Club Club section. We’re asking well-known and not-so-well-known Minnesotans to tell us about the books they’re reading and recommending to others — and why. Today, University of St. Thomas President the Rev. Dennis Dease shares his selections.
I am currently reading Richard Dowden’s “Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles” because mostly what I glean about Africa from western news media are stories of war, disease and famine. Though the author does not sidestep these realities, he also explores “the new realities of Africa: mobile phones in the village, Chinese suits in the market, African multinational companies …”
I am also currently reading Texas author Rick Riordan’s children’s adventure book, “The Kane chronicles: Book One, The Red Pyramid.” I find it to be a kind of Egyptian version of Harry Potter. Why am I reading it? Egyptian mythology is unfamiliar to me and therefore fascinating. And maybe I’m trying to regain contact with my inner child — or now beginning my second childhood.
I recommend Tracy Kidder’s “Strength in What Remains” because reading about real life heroes renews my faith in the goodness and power of the human spirit.
I recommend Ryszard Kapuściński’s “The Shadow of the Sun” for anyone interested in that most diverse of continents: Africa. The author is a master of descriptive, eloquent prose which draw on his several decades of covering Africa as a journalist. It is a penetrating — even poetic — analysis of this most complex of continents.
I recommend John L. Allen, Jr.’s “The Future Church: How Ten Trends Are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church.” This is the most lucid explanation I’ve read in decades of the whence and whither of present day Roman Catholicism. Allen is perhaps the best connected and most knowledgeable journalist reporting on the church today in the English speaking world. In presenting the most controversial of issues his journalistic discipline and professionalism consistently win out over whatever his personal ideology might be.