For the last year, I’ve been sharing a list and a few thoughts on what I’m reading each month. I do this for two reasons:
- I can’t review everything I read
- I want to help you find new books to enjoy
In December, pop culture dominated my reading, with three graphic novels, and three media tie-in books.
- Star Wars: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston
- Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ by Russ Ramsey
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
- Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray
- The Flash, Vol. 2: Rogues Revolution by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
- Star Wars: Aftermath – Life Debt by Chuck Wendig
- ESV Reader’s Gospels
- Titans Hunt by Dan Abnett
- The Flash, Vol. 3: Gorilla Warfare by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
- The Expected One: Anticipating All of Jesus in the Advent by Scott James
- America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation by Grant Wacker
- Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ by Timothy Keller
I’ve already written at length about the value of reading the Bible with a Reader’s Edition, so I’m not going to rehash that. Sufficed to say, it is something I highly recommend. So, here are a few thoughts on the remaining titles.
Guilty pleasures and a classic work
One of my guilty pleasures is media tie-in books; that is, books based on an existing TV or Film property. I typically don’t read a ton of these books; reading three in one month is definitely a rarity.
The strongest of the three is Claudia Gray’s Bloodline, which is set a few years before 2015’s movie, The Force Awakens and gives you a better understanding of how the Resistance and First Order came to be in the first place.
Ahsoka is one I read in part to see if it would be appropriate for Abigail since she’s a big fan of the character thanks to her appearances in the Rebels TV show. The dialogue is a bit cheesy at times, but it made for a nice weekend read.
Chuck Wendig’s Life Debt continues his series that deals with the events immediately following the first films. It’s reasonably interesting but the story is too thin to last three books. I suspect there’s a really great single book in this series, but not three.
I need to go back to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. I listened to the Audible edition, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, which was captivating, but there are parts of the book that I feel like I missed. It demands a more careful read than I was able to give it.
Talking gorillas and moving toward the relaunch
When I read the first volume of the “New 52” Flash series, I mentioned it had enough going for it to have me come back for the next volume. This month, I read both the second and third (and read the fourth and final of this creative team’s run yesterday). The art is definitely the star of this book, but the storytelling is definitely solid. Manapul and co-writer/colorist Brian Buccellato clearly worked hard to make this book one worth reading, and it shows. Aside from Snyder’s Batman and Geoff Johns being Geoff Johns, this is probably one of the highlights of the entire New 52 experiment.
Titans Hunt is another step toward DC Comics’ “Rebirth” relaunch and a fairly enjoyable one. It has a decent hook, and is well executed, but, in all honesty, it doesn’t have a major re-read factor (which makes me glad it’s not a book that I purchased).
Preparing for Advent and understanding Billy Graham
All but one of the books for Christians I read this month were Advent-related. We read The Expected One as a family throughout December, and only had a few times where we had to double up to end on time. I really enjoyed being able to talk with my kids about the Old Testament’s promises of Christ each night; there were times when our kids’ answers were the default of “Just answer ‘Jesus,'” but we talked through those moments in an age-appropriate way. It’s definitely got me looking forward to doing something like this again.
Behold the Lamb of God was lovely. Although intended to be read a chapter a day, I read much more quickly. I enjoyed the dramatic flourish Ramsey added to the narrative, trying to help us feel what the people involved in the events might have felt. This book is one that’s designed to help you worship during the holiday season, and it definitely succeeds at that.
Keller’s Hidden Christmas is one I started on Christmas Eve, and it is just the right book for the Christmas season we’ve just come through, especially with a certain Christian speaker getting some heat about his statements on the virgin birth. This is one I plan on coming back to again (perhaps for a full-length review).
America’s Pastor was a fascinating look at Billy Graham. I think what I appreciated most about this book was the fact that it wasn’t fawning over him, but giving an honest appraisal of Graham’s ministry and legacy. That’s something we need more of in biographies in general, but especially those dealing with Christian figures. It’s tempting to whitewash our “heroes” and portray them as the fourth member of the Trinity. But what we always have to remember is they, too, were sinners in need of God’s mercy and all they did was only through God’s empowering grace.
That’s it for this month’s round-up. Do you find these posts helpful? Do you have a suggestion for a book for me or someone else to read or want to share what you’ve read? Connect with me on Twitter or Facebook and let me know!
Here’s a look at what I read in: