The following books were read (or were being read) by Doug in 2007. Only Doug is weird enough to keep a list of the books he has read in a given year online. (Isaac has done so much reading that I’ve given up on documenting his book list.)
- Treating Child Sex Offenders and Victims: A Practical Guide (Anna Salter)
- Variable Star (Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson)
- Empire (Orson Scott Card)Initially interesting, this introduction-to-a-video-game-world (that apparently was never finished) was hardly Card’s best. Card hasn’t lived up to his best since wrapping up Bean’s story, sadly.
- Mayflower (Nathaniel Philbrick)
- I Am Legend (Richard Matheson)
- One Bible Only? Examining the Claims for the King James Bible (Roy E. Beacham and Kevin T. Bauder, general editors)If you read one book on the one-Bible-only standpoint, this is the one to read. It’s also an excellent introduction to the history of how we got our Bible and the study of the manuscripts from which our modern versions are derived.
One of the most fascinating revelations to me was that this “one translation, no other” argument has been in existence for almost all of the history of Christianity—although the version has changed considerably: The Septuagint (LXX), the Syriac translation, Martin Luther’s first English translation, and, of course, the “1611 King James,” among others, have all been cited as the “one Bible version” that should be used before all others.
This book answers with respect and scholarship the arguments of those who hold such viewpoints.
- Next (Michael Crichton)
- The Namesake: A Novel (Jhumpa Lahiri)This novel by Indian writer Jhumpa Lahiri was recently made into a film. It is accessible and emotionally fascinating. One quotation I found particularly beautiful coments on the nature of being a foreigner:
“For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy—a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing reponsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been ordinary life, only to discover that that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding. Like pregnancy, being a foreigner, Ashima believes, is something that elicits the same curiosity from strangers, the same combination of pity and respect.” (pp. 49–50)
On the other hand, I really ended up not liking the protagonist at all. (This may very well be part of the point the author.) He seems to have no drive or ambition, or even sentimentality. He seems to just amorally wander through life.
- What’s Wrong With the World (G.K. Chesterton)This was actually the first book on my list of 9 books on genetics and eugenics I’ve added to my “to read” list. Although there was not as much eugencis opinion as I’d hoped in this book (I would expect that Eugenics and Other Evils : An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State will better address the topic), it was a worthy read. Rather than review, I will include a few worthy quotations:
“Men have not got tired of Christianity; they have never found enough Christianity to get tired of. Men have never wearied of political justice; they have wearied of waiting for it.” (“The Enemies of Property,” What’s Wrong with the World, p. 41)
“Of course, I mean that Catholicism was not tried; plenty of Catholics were tried, and found guilty. My point is that the world did not tire of the church’s ideal, but of its reality. Monasteries were impunged not for the chastity of monks, but for the unchastity of monks. Christianity was unpopular not because of the humility, but of the arrogance of Christians.” (“The Unfinished Temple,” p. 36)
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” (“The Unfinished Temple,” p. 37)
“It is not merely true that a creed unites men. Nay, a difference of creed unites men—so long as it is a clear difference. A boundary unites. Many a magnanimous Moslem and chivalrous Crusader must have been nearer to each other, because they were both dogmatists, than any two homeless agnostics in the pew of Mr. Campbell’s chapel. “I say God is One,” and “I say God is One but also Three,” that is the beginning of a good quarrelsome, many friendship. But our age would turn these creeds into tendencies.” (“The New Hypocrite,” p. 25) (Rev. Colin Campbell (1848-1933) was a Presbyterian minister, preacher, and author.)
- Blackcollar (Timothy Zahn)Zahn, one of only two writers (the other being R.A. Salvatore) who can effectively work in the Star Wars universe) once again shows his mastery of the science fiction adventure/intrigue story. This is actually two-volumes in one, a Baen hardcover that includes The Blackcollar and Blackcollar: The Backlash Mission. I read Blackcollar, and then managed to misplace the book.
- From God To Us:How We Got Our Bible (Norman Geisler and William Nix)Although Geisler and Nix and hardly the most thrilling writers on earth, this is a well-written, not-overly-long book about the history of the Scriptures. It covers doctrine such as inspiration and practical matters, such as the very necessary art of textual criticism or the history of the Biblical manuscripts we now have. I would add this to a theoretical, “Every Christian should read …” list.
- Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels (Craig A. Evans)”Modern historical study of the Gospels seems to give us a new portrait of Jesus every spring—just in time for Easter.” This book is a scholarly look into what we actually know or can infer about the historical Jesus, and what modern scholars (skeptics by any other name) do in creating the often bizarre suggestions that appear on what Jesus was really like. I found it to be very knowledgeable, and, while readable, at a significantly higher level of scholarship than much modern Christian publishing. Additionally, this book provides more detailed insight into the art of textual criticism.
- Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work (Paul Babiak, Ph.D., and Robert D. Hare, Ph.D.)Not a bad introduction to the machinations of psychopaths (sometimes known as sociopaths) in the workplace. I think I should have chosen Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us (Robert D. Hare, Ph.D.) instead. (I’ll read that later and let you know.)
- End of the Spear (Steve Saint)Steve Saint, whose lost his father at a young age in the jungles of Ecuador, was virtually raised by the person who murdered his father. This book is an excellent read on missions, cross-culturalism, and what becoming a God-follower really means.
- Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War (Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, and William Broad)
- Manta’s Gift (Timothy Zahn)
- The Assassins (Oliver North and Joe Musser)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) (J.K. Rowling)My favorite Harry Potter book to date.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) (J.K. Rowling)
- (Read aloud to the kids.) Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (Roald Dahl)
- Churches That Abuse (Ronald M. Enroth)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) (J.K. Rowling)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) (J.K. Rowling)Well, the Harry Potter series of books is certainly no The Lord of the Rings, but it is wonderful series of fantasy stories. The latter books, starting perhaps with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) begin to increase in detail, and start to intertwine story details in a compelling way. Overall, I enjoyed the series immensely, and found the seventh book to be a worthy conclusion to it.
- 1776 (David McCullough)
- Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Bart D. Ehrman)Ehrman isn’t particularly radical in this book, and it turned out to be an excellent, example-laden, and accessible read on the art of textual criticism. Although (as I was cautioned) his conclusions in the last few pages seem not necessarily supported by the evidence, the evidence itself was well worth studying, especially as a continuation of the other books dealing with textual criticism I’ve read this year.
- Truth Catcher (Anna Salter)Salter is back with a new protagonist and another great story set to the backdrop of forensic psychology. Based on the reviews I read, some readers found this heroine, who is a synesthete—someone who sees colors and designs when she hears sounds—a bit too improbable, I found her to be quite credible. Salter’s fiction is not amazing (unlike her nonfiction), but it is quite good.
- Rollback (Sci Fi Essential Books) (Robert J. Sawyer)Without a doubt, this is the best science fiction I’ve read in quite some time. Like the best science fiction writing, this isn’t necessarily (or perhaps merely) about cool gadgets, but presents a truly credible and fascinating human story. I will definitely be looking to more books by Robert J. Sawyer in the next few months.
- The Children of Húrin (J.R.R. Tolkien)Readers (like many I know) who never could make it through The Silmarillion, will be pleased with this tale, primarily about Túrin, the son of Húrin. Although far less detailed than readers of The Lord of the Rings might expect, this tale is not at all a bad read. This is also, ultimately, a more tragic tale than readers of Tolkien might be accustomed to. It was wonderful to sink back into the “epic” language that Tolkien used so well, and Christopher Tolkien has done an excellent job of recreating this book from the poems and parts of the tale Tolkien wrote over a period of decades. Also, one feature I loved in my copy was the map, which folds out so it can be viewed while one is reading.
- Working Among Programmers: A Field Guide to the Software World (Bruce Taylor)Bruce Taylor has written an intentionally-compact, easily readable “field guide” into the world of programmers. Drawing inspiration from the classic The Psychology of Computer Programming: Silver Anniversary Edition, and his many years employed as a programmer, the author has managed to capture quite accurately the very important points that make working with and managing programmers so different from other types of professionals. Of particular utility are the “For People in a Hurry” summaries of each chapter. (On a personal note, I used to work with Bruce, and have stayed in contact with him since he took up his dream of professional coaching.)
- Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences (Ward Connerly)
- Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938 (R.A. Scotti)
- The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity (Alan Cooper)
- Abandoned: One (Richard Bach)
- Far Horizons: All New Tales from the Greatest Worlds of Science Fiction (Robert Silverberg, editor)Robert Silverberg has put together a collection this anthology in which some of the best science fiction writers of our time have written short stories that take place within the “worlds” they have already created. (Orson Scott Card, for example, writes about the first time Ender Wiggin encounters Jane.) These were all excellent stories, and this is a book that nearly all science fiction writers would love. I certainly did!
- Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith (Rob Bell)I will have a full review of this soon as a BLOG post. I loved this book for the most part, but am going to title the review “Beauty and Abomination” or something of that sort, because, while Bell has some beautiful insight and ideas about Christianity, he also (like many “Mergies”) tends to develop an unscriptural approach to theology and spirituality.
- Blackcollar (Timothy Zahn)Zahn, one of only two writers (the other being R.A. Salvatore) who can effectively work in the Star Wars universe) once again shows his mastery of the science fiction adventure/intrigue story. This is actually two-volumes in one, a Baen hardcover that includes The Blackcollar and Blackcollar: The Backlash Mission. I finally found the book, and read Blackcollar: The Backlash Mission over the Thanksgiving holiday.
- Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (D.A. Carson)(Debi Costine knew that I was investigating the theology and practices of the Emergent Church movement, and ordered this book for me. I am grateful for her generosity.)
- The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it and How to Respond (Patricia Evans)I was hoping for something dealing with verbal or emotional abuse that was on the same level of excellence as Salter’s Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders : Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children. This book did not quite live up to that, although it did clearly define the topic of verbal abuse, giving good detail on how to recognize it in its different forms and how to stop it. One chapters descends into psychobabble, and Evans is influenced by a moderate feminist agenda, but this does not spoil the overall product.
Most of the time, verbal abuse such as this is well hidden—only done in private. The one case of verbal abuse with which I am most personally familiar is a slight aberration from the norm. In that case, the abuser used “humor” to disguise slightly the abuse. I still have two books to get through on verbal and emotional abuse, and I expect to learn more on this important subject.
- And the Shofar Blew (Francine Rivers)Christian fiction often seems to have a much lower bar for entry into the market than secular books (examine the success of the Left Behind series, for example). This book, however, mixes exceptionally good storytelling with complex, credible characters and a great deal of valid spiritual insight. The storyline involves rebuilding a dying church and one man’s obsession with building a great work for the Lord, which distracts him from the things of real import. Most writers would merely produce something cliché, preachy, or sappy, given similar situations about which to write, but Rivers is more skilled than most, and her work is inspiring and though-provoking.
- The Unsayable: The Hidden Language of Trauma (Annie G. Rogers, Ph.D.)Wow. This is a fascinating exploration of Lacanian psychotherapy as a method of treating extensive trauma. It is both highly readable and highly fascinating, detailing the progress of a number of case studies, as well as the author’s own traumatic background.
- Currently reading: The Emotionally Abusive Relationship: How to Stop Being Abused and How to Stop Abusing (Beverly Engel)
- Also currently reading: JavaServer Faces (Hans Bergsten)It is not often that I read a “work” book as anything more than a reference, but JavaServer Faces is a complex and new enough topic that I’m going through this one cover-to-cover.
- Also currently reading: The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead (Max Brooks)
- Also currently reading: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller)
- Also currently reading: Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, Third Edition (Maurice Meisner)
- Currently reading aloud: Henry Reed’s Baby-Sitting Service (Keith Robertson)
For you fellow grammar Geeks: If a word is supposed to be italicized, but is part of a block of italicized text, it should be set in Roman type—much like a double-negative equals a positive mathematically. So, I’ll conclude that the name of the ship Mayflower should be in Roman type, because it’s the title of the book (italic) and the name of the ship (italic).
I don’t think this was quite as riveting as Prey or State of Fear, but I still could barely put this down. This time Crichton tackles transgenics—the implantation of genes from one organism to another. There are many characters to follow, some of which I found slightly confusing to differentiate at first, although toward the end the disparate plots and characters converge in a plausible way. (There’s more sex in this book than others by Crichton, although lightly handled and nothing I’d describe as erotic; it seems nearly none of his characters, male or female, is capable of being faithfully married.) As usual, though, the issues Crichton explores are good ones: Gene therapy, ownership of biological material, gene patenting, and transgenics. These are very complex topics, and one gets the idea that Next is not much more than an introduction to them. Overall, this isn’t Crichton’s most amazing book, but it’s well worth reading.
After reading the bibliography, I was left with nine books on genetics I want to add to my reading list this year, including two by G. K. Chesterton on the dangers of eugenics!
Absolute crap. Worthess meandering of new-age platitudes in giant print unable to call itself a novel, despite the publisher’s insistence. The fact that this achieved “#1 National Best Seller” status is testimony to the shallowness and ignorance of the American reader (unless the publisher is repeatedly selling the same copies, as was done for L. Ron Hubbard’s scientology books). The scienceless science-fiction plot would be an embarrassment to even Gene Roddenberry.