Reading is a big part of my life. Whether it’s with physical books, digital books or audiobooks, I am almost always reading something (or multiple somethings). For over a year now, I’ve been sharing a breakdown of everything I read each month, including the books I abandoned. I do this because it gave me an opportunity to introduce you to books you might not have had an opportunity to read while practicing the art of writing concise book reviews.
Which brings us to March. Over the course of the month, I read 13 books to completion and more still that I started but have yet to complete:
- Batman: Night of the Monster Men by Steve Orlando et al.
- The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip and Carol Zaleski
- Huck, Book 1: All-American by Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque
- The Bad-*** Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer
- This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax
- Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond by Darrell L. Bock
- You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K.A. Smith
- Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future by Jonah Sachs
- The New Teen Titans, Vol. 4 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
- The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life by Barnabas Piper
- Batgirl, Volume 1: Beyond Burnside by Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque
- Superman: Action Comics, Volume 1: Path of Doom by Dan Jurgens and Patrick Zircher
- Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
A couple of weeks back, I reviewed Trevin’s book and will be doing the same shortly for Barnabas’, so I’ll hold off on commenting on these two. I also shared some reflections inspired by Three Views on the Millennium a few weeks back so I’ll be skipping that one, too. As for the rest… Well, let’s get started.
Books with pictures: Pleasant surprises, enjoyable reads, and a small disappointment
This month I experienced my first disappointment with DC’s Rebirth titles with Batman: Night of the Monster Men. It wasn’t bad, of course. It just didn’t seem to matter as a story. But maybe that’s okay. Huck was beautiful to look at and had a solid story, but it disappointed because of one thing: I couldn’t share it with my daughter because of the language in the book (which went beyond that in the typical graphic novel).
The New Teen Titans was a fun look back into one of the best books of the 1980s and the creators’ willingness to tackle social issues tastefully. Action Comics Vol 1 was an enjoyable companion to the first volume of Superman, but I’ll be honest: it wasn’t quite as compelling as its sister title. But when you’re comparing “good” to “great”, it’s probably not a fair comparison.
Batgirl was a surprise for me. The character has gone through several incarnations and identities over the years, but Barbara Gordon has always been the best-known version of the character. Having said that, I’ve not followed any of the character’s stories in the New 52 era prior to Rebirth. Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque pick up where the last edition of the title left off, with Gordon touring the world, reconnecting with an old friend and finding all kinds of trouble on the way. The story is a bit predictable at times, but Larson delivers some seriously snappy dialogue (without crossing the line into being clever for the sake of being clever). Her collaborator for this storyline, Albuquerque, makes the story sing. His page layouts are aces, and it’s refreshing to see character designs for female characters that aren’t excuses to put the characters in anatomically impossible poses. As the dad of a ten-year-old girl, I’m glad to share this book with my daughter, and I have high hopes for the next volume.
History, historical documents, and historical figures
Librarians got my attention because of the title. But what got me reading was its promise: the story of how ordinary people went on a daring mission to protect ancient manuscripts from destruction. And what made it worth reading was the depiction of what it’s like to live under the rule of fundamentalist Islamic insurgents. Definitely worth reading.
Hidden Figures was an eye-opening profile of the female computers who played a key role in the space race. I’m still processing this one, but it reminded me that we (that is, Caucasians) desperately need to keep working to develop a better understanding of what our friends and neighbors of different ethnicities face and have faced for decades both here in America and in other western nations.
The Fellowship is a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages. And now that I have, I can say it’s stunning. Most of the volume is devoted to Lewis and Tolkien (naturally) but Barfield and Williams are equally fascinating individuals. If you’re a fan of the better-known Inklings, your time will be well spent on this book, especially as you see how the group’s relationships helped shape their best-known works.
Life, love, and honest living
This month I read Winning the Story Wars again, and it was just as helpful the second time around. In fact, it might have been more so because I was able to enjoy it from the perspective of applying it and seeing how the author himself was buying into a false gospel, too—a myth of his own making. This book also served as a nice complement to You Are What You Love. This book is another long-time member of the “to-read” pile, and I’m so glad I finally got to it. Smith makes a strong case that what we need to focus on is not so much the mind as the affections—that information isn’t enough to change people’s hearts. They need information, without question; but what they need more is to see the gospel as beautiful, as lovely, as better than that which captivates them. That’s what’s going to change people in the long run.
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: