Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Books I Read and Heard in 2011

Back in 2009, I began the yearly habit of reviewing the books I heard and read during the year. Here is my contribution for 2011.

Audio Books

I listened to a good many audio books this year. I certainly encourage my readers who love to read, but have limited time, to check out audio books. I get the bulk of mine from my local library, but there are decent internet audio book clubs where you can purchase them at a reasonable price.

Devil in the White City: Magic, Murder, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America - Erik Larson.

The book tells the story of the building of the 1893 Chicago World Fair. It was during this time period that America’s first “official” serial killer came on the scene: Herman Mudgett, who is believed to have lured anywhere between 27 to possibly 200 victims to a hotel he designed and built to kill his human victims. Larson cuts between a biography of the Fair’s chief architects, Daniel Burnham, John Root, and even George Ferris, the inventor of the Ferris wheel, and the murderous activities of Herman Mudgett, who also went by the name H.H. Holmes.

The book was okay. I preferred the retelling of Mudgett’s serial killing. (Bizarre, I know). The lives of the fair architects was somewhat boring. I also didn’t care for the reader of this book. His reading cadence rubbed me wrong.

Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer - James Swanson

Hands down one of the most riveting books I listened to this past year. The book is detailed, well researched, and the retelling of John Booth’s motivation, assassination of Lincoln, and attempted escape was exciting to hear. There was actually a point where I caught myself thinking, “He’s gonna get away with it!” If you can get one non-fiction work to listen to, I would recommend this one first and foremost.

Three Vince Flynn novels, Memorial Day, Consent to Kill, American Assassin.

I like Tom Clancy novels and some folks told me if I liked them, I would like Flynn’s. Some other internet acquaintances also recommended them. However, reading the physical book doesn’t fit into my reading schedule. But they were available on audio, and for that format, they work splendidly. They center around the character, Mitch Rapp, who is a CIA black-opts operative. They obviously contain lots of bad guys doing bad stuff and getting wacked by Rapp, so you know what to expect.

The Harry Potter Series

I have it in my mind to review these audio books separately at some point because they are absolutely a joy and delight. All of my experience with Harry Potter has been from the movies. So when I read Dan’s reviews, and he and the commenters expressed lamentations of important book material left out of whatever movie, it didn’t particularly upset me. I had no context to offer a judgment. I can’t say that now. I finished listening to the Deathly Hallows a week or so before I watched the last movie. The book totally ruined the movie for me. I couldn’t believe the way the film-makers man-handled the book material.

At any rate, when I finished the Flynn novel, American Assassin, I wondered if our county library had the Harry Potter series in audio format. They did, and I began to work my way through the novels. The special thing about the audio version is the reader, Jim Dale, who brings each and every character to life with just his voice. He is an amazing talent. It was like hearing a radio theater rather than a novel being read. He had a voice for all of the main characters, and even the supporting cast. From a drunken Winky, Dobby the elf, Delores Umbrage, Professor Binns, and Grawp, Dale is able to give each of them an unique personality. If you are a Potter fan who read through the books, and you haven’t heard the audio editions, you will thoroughly enjoy a revisit.

Regular Books

Slave - John MacArthur. This is probably one of John’s better treatments on the doctrines of salvation. Not only does he provide an overview of Christ’s Lordship and our relationship to Him, but he provides a good historical overview of slavery in the ancient world.

Into the Wild - John Krakauer. See my fuller review HERE.

Prophets of Israel - Leon Wood. This is Leon Wood’s tremendous study on the OT prophets in Israel’s history. I have heard some folks say Wood is boring, but maybe I am a geek; I love reading his stuff.

John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock - Iain Murray. See my fuller review HERE.

Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children - Lou Priolo This book has been sitting on my shelf for many years, but I never read it. Now that I have children, and as they get older, they are beginning to experience moments of personal anger, Priolo’s book has been a valuable help in helping my wife and I think through how to address their attitude. I appreciate how Priolo gets right to the issue of anger: a person’s sinful heart. Actually, even though this book is primarily geared toward parents raising children, there are some good basic insights toward addressing anger in the heart of any person no matter how old he or she may be.

Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture’s Fascination with Diversity has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity - Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger. I hope to have a fuller review of this book at some later time, D.V. In the meantime, this is one of best apologetic books Christians can read. The authors deal primarily with the claims of Walter Bauer and many of his modern supporters, like Bart Ehrman, who say that the Christian faith we know today emerged from disunified and competing early church “Christian” orthodoxies.” Kostenberger writes the first portion of the book addressing what the early church truly believed about the person of Christ. Kruger writes the second part detailing what the early church believed about the NT documents and which books they affirmed as canon and why.

World Tilting Gospel and God’s Wisdom in Proverbs - Dan Phillips. The two books of one of my favorite all-time writers. See my reviews HERE and HERE.

Something Queer Happened to America - Michael Brown. I also hope to have a fuller review of this book later, too. Dr. Brown has written frightening book. He documents the rise of the homosexual movement in America and throughout the world. He deals with all the major arguments and talking points of the gay agenda (including the lie that “there is no gay agenda”). His research is disturbing, but well documented with a massive section of end-notes. Homosexuality is one of the major apologetic issues facing the Christian church and Dr. Brown has provided a much needed work to help us engage it effectively.



Blogger DJP said...

Thanks again for noticing and saying so out loud, Fred!

6:44 AM, December 23, 2011  
Blogger J. Wesley Bush said...

Thanks! Added several to my "to read" list.

Haven't heard the HP books on audio, but you are so right. . . some books just come alive with the right reader. (I think that is why my kids love when I read aloud to them.)

7:32 AM, December 28, 2011  
Blogger J. Wesley Bush said...

Thanks for the recommendations -- I've added several to my "to read" list.

The right reader can just bring audio books alive. I haven't heard the HP ones yet, but I'm sure I'll enjoy them.

7:33 AM, December 28, 2011  

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