Winter books

I was blessed this winter with extra reading time, thanks to graduating (no more homework!) and landing a full time job (no more job searching and a long lunch break!). Here’s what I dug into this winter, including my first foray into audiobooks and Kindle books.

Finally Alive – John Piper (2009) // My second audiobook. Good book on regeneration and what it means for the Christian life. Saturated in Scripture and biblical exposition, with the section on the reality of sin after the new birth being most helpful. But Piper is rarely one for brevity or conciseness, and by halfway through the book, the repetitiveness and lack of a ruthless editor got burdensome.

Fyodor Dostoevsky – Peter Leithart (2011) // Full review here. Enjoyable, short, and selective. A good introduction to Dostoevsky’s life and work.

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (1861) // Never really connected with Dickens in the past, but at the urging of my dad, brother, and friends, tried him again. I surprisingly really enjoyed him this time, and already am looking forward to my next Dickens book next winter (he’s a winter-only read for me).

Growing Up Amish: A Memoir– Ira Wagler (2011) // Very interesting look into the Old Order Amish communities in Ohio from the perspective of one of their “lost” sons. Equal parts heart wrenching and heartwarming.

History of the World in 6 Glasses –  Tom Standage (2006) // Recommended by a friend, and didn’t disappoint. A whirlwind tour of world history framed around the rise of six beverages: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coke. More educational than I expected, but still a fun read.

The Intolerance of Tolerance – D.A. Carson (2012) // Full review here. Really good work on the conundrum of, well, the intolerance of the current dominant ideology of tolerance. Intelligent, concise, and persuasive.

Joy in the Morning – P.G. Wodehouse (1946) // Best Wodehouse I’ve read yet. A full length novel rather than a collection of short stories, it is a comical Jeeves and Wooster tale of epic proportions.

The Longer Poems – T.S. Eliot (various) // Included Ash Wednesday, Four Quartets, and The Wasteland. The third quartet, “The Dry Salvages,” was my favorite, and it is a profound work of art. I didn’t understand what the hubbub is over The Wasteland, other than its incomprehensibility.

Odes to Common Things – Pablo Neruda (1994) // Gift from my brother, and a very enjoyable collection of poems from a Nobel Prize winning poet. “Ode to the Dictionary” was easily the highlight for me (surprised?). Odes to the artichoke, cat, and socks were also among my favorites. Wish I was fluent in Spanish, so I could get the full effect.

Parenting by God’s Promises: How to Raise Children in the Covenant of Grace – Joel Beeke (2011) // First part on parenting in light of the covenant was very good, as was the later chapter on sibling relationships and the appendix on children in church. The in between parts were decent but often seemed too idealistic and law-driven. By that, I mean that I kept thinking that Beeke must have perfect children (I know he doesn’t). As with any Beeke work, he leans heavily on the Puritans, for better or worse.

The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850) // The current, inaccurate stereotype of hard, joyless Puritans largely comes from this book. But the caricatured Puritans in Hawthorne’s work are mistakenly taken for the real thing. He didn’t intend to paint a realistic picture of them, but rather used the caricature as a foil, merely a literary technique. An amazing work of literature that was so much better than I remembered.

Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports are Played and Games are Won – Tobias Moskowitz & L. John Wertheim (2011) // What do you get when an economics professor writes a book with a Sports Illustrated journalist? A fantastic book debunking and confirming sports mantras and cliches. Does defense win championships? Is home field advantage real? Why is a .299 hitter more valuable than a .300 hitter? Well worth reading just to find out the answers to those three questions.

The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis (1942) // My first audiobook, and a great one to start with. Screwtape’s letters on pleasure as the ultimate realm and creation of God, and on the peaks and troughs of the Christian life were especially pertinent and enjoyable. If you listen to it, make sure it’s a British reader.

Walden – Henry David Thoreau (1854) // Brilliant and prescient at times, but not often enough for me to enjoy the whole work. It reads like the work of a narcissistic guy who spent too many years by himself in the woods. I wonder why.

Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims – Daniel Hyde (2010) // A very good introduction to Reformed faith and practice. Scripture and the Three Forms of Unity run through Hyde’s veins onto the page. He also leans heavily on the Westminster Standards, which makes this appropriate for Presbyterians as well.

2 thoughts on “Winter books

  1. I would never have guessed that you were not fluent in Spanish; your "Spanish voice" is just so convincing! You can read the Spanish versions to me any time even if neither of us knows what you are saying.

  2. You've almost persuaded me to read Dickens again (emphasis on "almost")!Scorecasting: sounds almost like Moneyball.Screwtape: I have a recording of John Cleese reading Screwtape. After getting that, I never purchased another audio book: I knew I had the pinnacle of audiobooks.

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