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 June, I read 11 books to completion and started a couple of others that have yet to complete. Here’s what I read:
- Aquaman, Vol. 1: The Drowning by Dan Abnett
- Gospel Fluency: Speaking the Truths of Jesus Into the Everyday Stuff of Life by Jeff Vanderstelt
- The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Steven J. Lawson
- Aquaman, Vol. 2: Black Manta Rising by Dan Abnett
- The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis—and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse
- Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown
- Growth Hacking: Silicon Valley’s Best Kept Secret by Raymond Fong and Chad Riddersen
- Leadership and the One Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi, and Drea Zigarmi
- Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
- The Flash, Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice by Joshua Williamson
Why adults aren’t ready to be adults, and life in South Africa
Ben Sasse is an interesting and thoughtful guy, and if his book, The Vanishing American Adult, does one thing, it reminds readers of that. This book explores the possible reasons why millennials seem less prepared for adulthood than the previous several generations, without the cliché “These kids today/get offa my lawn” condescension. Sasse raises some valid questions about the role our education system plays in this lack of preparedness, especially, as he comes around to his conclusion that much of it has to do with kids being protected from the difficult aspects of life—including hard work. I listened to this in audiobook form, so it was particularly interesting to hear it with the author’s intended tone.
In Born a Crime, Trevor Noah (the host of The Daily Show) shares his story of growing up in South Africa as a half-white, half-black child born in the latter days of Apartheid. He does a great job of peppering some much-needed levity throughout the book (usually at his own expense), honoring his mother even as he admits that their relationship is incredibly complicated, and addressing the reality of systemic racism and poverty. This is not a feel-good book, per se, but it is not one that leads you to despair, either. What it will do is make you think, and Lord knows we need more books that do this.
Getting my business books on
This month, I had a surprising amount of work-related reading: Two books dealt with the concept and practical application of “growth hacking,” which is a term used to describe a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to grow a business or brand. Hacking Growth by Ellis and Brown is the “big idea” book, attempting to lay out the vision of taking this approach to marketing with a larger organization, where Growth Hacking by Fong and Ridderson is the nitty-gritty “how to” guide. Both had some interesting concepts and sparked some good ideas for me, but I don’t know that I would call any of them game-changers or earth-shattering. If you’ve read books by Seth Godin, or Chip and Dan Heath, you’ve got a decent foundation for this thinking, and there’s undoubtedly a Ted Talk or two that you could find online to help flesh out some concepts. Leadership and the One Minute Manager is another one that has some good principles, especially for those who are trying to figure out how to lead laterally (that is, you’re leading via influence rather than authority), but nothing that should be shockingly different from any of the other leadership books out there. Plus, it takes about an hour to read, so there’s that.
Books with pictures, gospel culture, and gospel preachers
Abigail’s and my journey into DC’s Rebirth titles continues, with a first go around with the new Aquaman series, as well as The Flash. Both of these characters are hit-and-miss for me, but I really enjoyed both of these series, as did Abigail. I appreciated the tension Dan Abnett is trying to bring to Aquaman’s world, balancing the tense relationship between Atlantis and America (and who says politics isn’t fun?), trying to bring peace between the surface world and his people, when neither is too sure they really want it. The Flash is probably the most new-reader-friendly of all the titles I’ve read so far. I can tell that Joshua Williamson is trying to win the trust of readers with this book, injecting some personality into the Barry Allen character while also doing some pretty heavy lifting in terms of moving along the big “Rebirth” storyline along. Definitely looking forward to keeping up with this book for a while.
The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones is another breezy read, one you can probably power through in a couple of hours. Steven Lawson does his usual bang-up job with this very focused biography on Lloyd-Jones the preacher. Because the chapters are more or less stand-alone essays, there are points of repetition, but nothing that negatively impacts the book. This is a great teaser for a larger biography, such as Iain Murray’s opus.
Finally, Jeff Vanderstelt’s Gospel Fluency is officially one of my favorite books on church culture. This was another audiobook for me (though I have the physical book, too), and it was great to hear Vanderstelt read this book. It has a great conversational feel, which is exactly what the content needs. Like Ray Ortlund’s Gospel, this is a book about orienting the culture of our churches around the gospel. Of being the kind of people who actually live like we believe it’s true, and who handle both good and bad news in light of the gospel. Some of it, in all honesty, sounded kind of strange—but in a really good kind of way. The kind of strange that reminds you that the church’s culture should be unlike anything else in all the world.
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: