The Video Games Guide Book Review

by Matt Fox
$55.00; 376 pages

I received this book for free as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

I think this is one of my favorite books I've received for review. I end up with a lot of stinkers, but this book is pure joy for me. For a videogame nerd, this is an outstanding reference work. I can easily open it up to a random page and lose myself in memories by reading the brief description of one of my favorite games. I find lots of reviews by Fox that I disagree with, but that is all part of the fun. Unlike a fan-contributed sites like MobyGames, which is probably more comprehensive, every review here is the work of one mind, with a particular and interesting point of view. You just don't get as much out of a collection of disparate reviews. Even if there is some kind of wiki-style crowd-editing process, it cannot produce a work as interesting as this one.

The book is primarily composed of short reviews of videogames. The middle of the book contains color images of the best and most popular games. There are several appendices listing other interesting information: a chronology of videogames including many not reviewed in this volume, a capsule history of consoles, a listing of prominent videogame designers, and a glossary. This is the best one-volume videogame reference work I have ever seen. It is also the only one-volume videogame reference work I have ever seen. Don't let that deter you, this is a fine work.

The most complete and comprehensive history of consoles that I know of is Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames by Leonard Herman. This work focuses on the games themselves. The sheer quantity of games the author has played staggers my mind. I thought I played a lot! What really impresses is the overall quality of the work. Sure, you can find a mistake here and there, but there are hundreds of reviews, and I appreciate the yeoman's work done here to collate all this information into one handy volume. I know I'll be leafing through this often.

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Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith Book Review

By Fr. Robert Barron
$27.99; 291 pages

I received this book for free as part of the Early Reviewers book program at LibraryThing.com.

I haven't seen the documentary that this book is intended to be a complement to. [and prepostitions aren't what you end sentences with] Thus I may be missing some of the intent by reviewing the book simply as a book, rather than as a multimedia package. That being said, there are some beautiful pictures in this book, showcasing the treasures of the Church. This is really part of the purpose, since it has been argued that the works of art Christianity inspires are among its greatest evangelists.

This book is intended to be a brief, but complete summary of the Catholic faith. Barron accomplishes this. 

My single favorite part of the book is Barron's treatment of the Sermon on the Mount. Barron summarizes the Beatitudes as the more we draw on the divine life, the more we receive in return. Each of the positive attributes in the first four Beatitudes is something we need to be happy, and they are best possessed by giving them away.  Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. [Matthew 6:33] The negative Beatitudes are interpreted in a light of detachment. Blessed are those who love God enough that they do not need the ordinary comforts of life.

My least favorite part of the book was the section on four recent saints, Katherine Drexel, Thérèse of Lisieux, Edith Stein, and Mother Theresa. None of their lives speak to me. This is pretty normal, it is why there are thousands of saints, there is one that everyone will find interesting in the way they refract the infinite goodness of God. I found these four saints, or least Barron's presentation of them, pretty similar. This is mostly a matter of taste. Others may absolutely this this part.

Overall the book is pretty good. Anyone who wants an intro to Catholicism will find it here.

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