I am always consuming books, whether they’re physical, digital or audio. Every month, I like to share a breakdown of everything I read, including the books I abandoned. I do this because it gives 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.
In November, I read 11 books to completion and started a couple of others that have yet to complete. Here’s what I read:
- The Littlest Watchman: Watching and Waiting for the Very First Christmas by Scott James
- God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen R. Prothero
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by James C. Collins
- How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds by Alan Jacobs
- Justice League, Volume 1: The Extinction Machines by Bryan Hitch and Tony Daniel
- Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel by Kieron Gillen
- Batman, Volume 2: I Am Suicide by Tom King
- Batman, Volume 3: I Am Bane by Tom King
- Batman/The Flash: The Button by Joshua Williamson, Tom King, Jason Fabok and Howard Porter
- ESV Reader’s Bible vol 3: Poetry
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
I reviewed The Littlest Watchman a few weeks back (not something I normally do with kids books), and beyond saying that the books of poetry alone make the ESV Readers Set something worth having, there’s not much more to say about the Bible (beyond it being the Bible). That said, there’s still a lot to talk about, so let’s dig in.
Justice League-ing, Batman, a Screaming Citadel, and a trip to the beginning of superhero stories
November was a bit of a binge on graphic novels. Of them, the Batman ones were fantastic. I’m really digging the story that Tom King has been telling through the series so far. This is Batman wrestling with feeling feelings, y’all, and it’s good. The Button was very well told and fed into the larger story that King is telling, but as far as revealing the origins of the Comedian’s button (from Watchmen), it didn’t do much. Still, it was nice to see the set-up for Doomsday Clock. Screaming Citadel was okay, but I think the Marvel Star Wars series has lost a lot of its charm. My daughter liked it, but I’ve not seen her re-reading it the way she’s been doing with Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. Justice League is a big dumb action movie on paper. If you go in expecting lots of punching through a fairly basic plot, you’ll be a happy camper. The art (both by Tony Daniel and Brian Hitch himself) is gorgeous though.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay may seem like a strange one to talk about immediately after writing about the comic books I read, until you know that it’s a book about two cousins who created a superhero in the 1930s. This is, without question, my favorite of Michael Chabon’s books (though I’m partial to Wonder Boys as well). His writing is beautiful. Frankly, I almost don’t care about what he’s writing sometimes because I enjoy the way he writes so much. Nevertheless, the story of two Jewish cousins, the rise and fall of the Escapist, and the drama set against the backdrop of World War II and, later, the congressional inquiries into the comic book industry during the mid-1950s is filled with equal parts heartbreak and hope.
The Secret of great companies, learning to think, and a non-Christian apologetic for the distinctiveness of religions
November’s business book was Good to Great, a modern classic in the space. What’s helpful about Collins’ book is that he and his research team actually found demonstrable evidence of something Scripture says over and over again: character matters. People matter. Culture matters. Great organizations have humble leaders who are focused more on having the right people in the right seats before they worry about their strategy because, as has been said by many, culture eats strategy for breakfast every time.
How to Think is a much-needed challenge to our reactionary era. Where so much of what we read online is outrage and hot takes, this is an encouragement toward restraint. To not immediately jump to the conclusion that those who disagree with your chosen “tribe” aren’t evil—they just don’t agree with you. This is a book I want to go back to again and give a second careful read in the new year.
Finally, God is Not One is one of the most surprising books I’ve read in years (and a recommendation from my coworkers, Trevin Wax and Andrew Hudson). What’s surprising in this book isn’t that Prothero attempts to synthesize the world’s major religions into one great giant gob of spirituality—it’s that he actually delivers a fairly compelling apologetic for why they cannot be the same. And he’s writing as a non-Christian to boot! If you’re at all concerned about missions and apologetics, you’re going to want to read this book. You won’t agree with its picture of Christianity (no surprise), but there’s a lot that’s helpful in it to at least engage in some real dialogue with our “spiritual but not religious” neighbors.
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: