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My puppies are nearing their first birthdays. They still play like puppies, but at almost 80 pounds apiece, Taffy and her brother Jesse have the heft and the window-rattling woofs of big dogs now.

They never run out of energy, but the 100 degree summer heat has slowed them down. They’ve been avoiding going outdoors and have been sleeping more as the thermometer has climbed.

A few days ago our summer monsoon roared down the mountain slopes and announced itself with deafening claps of thunder and a driving rain that left the arroyos running furiously. The dogs were rejuvenated by the cool gusts and charged out into the downpour to play in the puddles.

After each rain, they chase each other around the yard at full speed, leaping, skidding, bumping and growling, playing for all they are worth.

You can take a look back at the puppies when they were young here. Their youthful enthusiasm and limitless affection makes me smile, and smiling is a good thing.

I am a computer geek, and proud of it. I do Windows and Linux, servers and networks, geekology in all its esoteric glory.

Gadgetophilia is an illness that drives most geeks to want every techno-gadget that comes on the market. Not so with me. I am part of a small and dying breed of old-school geeks who find no particular joy in the latest iParaphernalia; I’d rather spend my down time reading books.

A good book engages the mind’s imagination in ways no electronic gadget can. But there is never enough time to read everything I want to read.

To increase my reading opportunities, I broke down and bought myself an e-book reader gadget, a Kindle to be precise.

In my defense, I want to point out that the Kindle is not really a gadget at all, but a book updated for the modern reader. I am quite certain that GK Chesterton and Leo Tolstoy, committed Luddites to the very end, would have joyfully made an exception for the Kindle, if they had lived to see one.

I love my Kindle, and especially the ease of slipping it into my briefcase to have ready for those random moments when I can read a bit more.

I have about a dozen books loaded, including a number of classics that I want to read or re-read (many of which are available for free), such as: Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Chesterton’s The Man Who Knew Too Much and Orthodoxy, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

I also have a few recently-published books: Laura Hillenbrand’s remarkable WWII story Unbroken, and blogging friend Matthew Lee Anderson’s first book, Earthen Vessels (a book I plan to review soon). Oh, and the ESV translation of the Bible, which has been nicely updated since it was first released to make navigation and jumping from reference to reference much easier.

My Kindle has made it remarkably easy to fill more of my unclaimed minutes with reading. Another bonus is the Kindle’s passively lit display, which looks very much like real ink on paper. Ever since my retinal tear a couple of years ago, my vision gets washed out by glare. An illuminated computer screen is much harder to read than it used to be. Since the Kindle uses ambient light to create its image, I don’t experience any glare or eyestrain when reading it.

Among the old-school books I’ve read recently is Eric Metaxas’ wonderful biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a book that has been unfairly criticized by some as attempting to remake Bonhoeffer as an evangelical. A great many people have fought over Bonhoeffer’s bones and claimed him as their own, mostly in the vain hope of advancing their own theological agendas.

Metaxas treats Bonhoeffer fairly, drawing heavily on his own letters and papers. The book gives a fresh look at this complex man who lived as a faithful Christian in an insane period of history. Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived a remarkable life; Eric Metaxas has written an exceptional biography of an important Christian leader.

I am currently reading James Hornfischer’s fascinating book Neptune’s Inferno, the unflinching story of the heroic and heartbreaking battles fought by the US Navy and Marines to capture and hold the Pacific island of Guadalcanal during WWII.

Guadalcanal was where America chose to halt the southward advance of the Japanese. The Japanese Navy was better equipped, better trained and, at least initially, acted more boldly than the Americans. But the American Navy quickly learned from its mistakes and, with crucial help from our Australian allies, took the fight to the Japanese in a way that shocked Japan’s leadership and stopped their advance.

The struggle to hold Guadalcanal required 10,000 individual acts of courage and sacrifice. Allied forces acted with determination and endurance when any sensible analysis would have said it was time to throw in the towel.

Hornfischer’s carefully researched account is a remarkable tribute to a generation who stepped up when the call came and willingly sacrificed themselves on the altar of freedom.

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