Book Reviews and Reflections


Larry the Librarian.jpg

Welcome to the Reviews and Reflections page.  I am Larry the Librarian. I earned a bachelor of arts at Bethany Bible College.  I was a Theology major and a History minor. I first developed my love of research there while writing a paper on Arianism. I also received a Masters Degree at San Francisco Theological Seminary were I experienced and enjoyed the Graduate Theological Library in Berkeley. I also was privileged to use the Princeton Wright Library to complete my Doctoral work on religious initiation from both theological and sociological perspectives. I am now the librarian at Trinity Presbyterian. We are a truly literary church.  We have a modest but mighty book collection. I will be highlighting aspects of that collection on this page. 


The Scribe of Siena  by Melody Winawer

Fiction about a contemporary female neurosurgeon who tries to discover why Sienna did worse than other towns during the black plague. 

“Like Outlander with an Italian accent.” —Real Simple

“A detailed historical novel, a multifaceted mystery, and a moving tale of improbable love.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review


Readers of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring…will be swept away by the spell of medieval Siena” (Library Journal, starred review) in this transporting love story and gripping historical mystery.


Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This one is a very strange love story, with the fear of cholera as a backdrop. There are four copies of this in the Santa Cruz Library system and it is considered a classic by many. "Love in the Time of Cholera" is featured in Boxall's anthology '1001 books you must read before you die' and is well worth the read.

I am tired of apologizing for a church I don’t belong to

By Lilian Daniel 2016

When people hear you are a Christian, have you have ever been left speechless after being blamed for all the social ills of the entire world and often all of human history? It can be frustrating. There is culpability, but there is also complexity in those conversations. This book deals with ways to be kind, caring and conscientious in your replies. “With disarming candor laced with just the right amount of humor, Daniel urges open-minded Christians to explore ways to talk about their faith journeys that are reasonable rigorous and real”


Mind and Matter, a life in Math and Football

 by John Urschel and Louisa Thomas  2019

Mr. Urschell played football for Penn State and for the Baltimore Ravens while earning a Phd at M.I.T. in Mathematics. It is a fascinating and truly American story. As racism roils in our country, this is a somewhat different and refreshing perspective told by a person of color. This book was also one of our Trinity Presbyterian Book Club selections.

Brand Luther by Andrew Pettegrew  2016

Today everyone wants to establish a “Brand” through social media and mass communication. The famous Reformer Martin Luther is the patron Saint of those endeavors. This books looks not at his theology but as his understanding of the printing press including distribution,  marketing and layout strategies.  Luther produced three number one bestsellers in three years. This is really worth a read as it is incredibly important for understanding the impact of mass media in the history of ideas.


A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutierrez 1972

This was one of the first, and still a foundational book in the Liberation Theology Movement. This movement gave priority to the poor and marginalized, based on literal readings of the words of Jesus and the Prophets. At a recent celebration of this book’s 50 years in print I heard ample testimony from theologians, professors, and pastors, about how significant this book was in their vocations. It is still fresh after 50 years in print. 


The Great Influenza: The story of the deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry

This is a history of that original pandemic that my grandparents told me about. Fascinating factual material in light of our current pandemic

"Monumental... powerfully intelligent... not just a masterful narrative... but also an authoritative and disturbing morality tale." —Chicago Tribune 

"Easily our fullest, richest, most panoramic history of the subject." —The New York Times Book Review

"Hypnotizing, horrifying, energetic, lucid prose..." —Providence Observer

"A sobering account of the 1918 flu epidemic, compelling and timely. —The Boston Globe "History brilliantly written... The Great Influenza is a masterpiece." —Baton Rouge Advocate