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- Hardy, Thomas — Jude the Obscure (507 pages)
- Lee, Harper — To Kill a Mockingbird (278 pages)
- Mann, Thomas (Helen T. Lowe-Porter, transl.) — Death in Venice (73 pages)
- Kempis, Thomas à — The Imitation of Christ (165 pages)
- West, Canon Edward N. — Outward Signs: The Language of Christian Symbolism (232 pages)
Page count: 3,846 of targeted 12,500.
When chrishansenhome read my negative review of Symbols of the Church, he lent me his copy of Outward Signs so that I could read a decent source on Christian symbols. That it is, a far more thorough and informative treatment on symbols; and it doesn't restrict itself to the use of symbols in the Church, branching out into heraldry, politics, and other areas.
Though I was pleased with the general level and breadth of discussion and with the quality of the illustrations, I was displeased with a couple of things. First, Madeleine L'Engle's foreward merely seems to parrot sections of West's text. I expected more from a writer of her calibre. Second, the editing is sloppy. There are several references to the wrong pages (e.g., "see page 110" when the referenced material is really on page 112, or a couple of references to non-existant "page 0" and "page 00"). Also, entire sentences and even paragraphs are copied verbatim from one part of the book to another. Even if this book was intended solely as reference material instead of something to be read cover-to-cover—hogwash!—these sorts of flaws are inexcusable and easily avoidable by a casual read-through by any half-competent editor. Alas, it's a pity, as West's personality shines through his prose in an enjoyable way, but the poor editing detracts from that.
Nonetheless, there is a lot of good stuff in this book. It doesn't cover everything there is to know about Christian symbols, but West himself points out that such a work would be unwieldy. I primarily have a casual interest in basic symbols of the Church so that I don't feel so ignorant when, for example, I look at paintings in El Prado and wonder why an ox represents Luke in so many paintings. Canon West's book has satisfied my needs.
I did the math, and if I average 43 pages a day for the rest of the year I'll be able to reach my goal. I think I can manage that. Now, for my next book, do I want to tackle some children's fantasy or a modern Japanese classic? Hmm…