Friday, January 02, 2015

My 2014 Reading List

Books I Read in 2014

I didn't read as much as I wanted this year, especially in the first several months. I did finish my DMin though, so perhaps reading what I had written over and over and over in the editing process counts in lieu of a few books....

1.     Hamilton, Adam, 24 Hours that Changed the World (church Lenten study) - Pretty good. My congregation enjoyed this. 

2.     Hamilton, Adam, Making Sense of the Bible (church Bible study) - I think this is a really excellent study. It's got a lot crammed into it, and will delve into some uncomfortable topics, but my folks took it mostly in stride. I think if pastors realize their congregants want and appreciate this kind of look at the Bible, it would make things easier from there on out. 

3.     Kalas, J. Ellsworth, A Hop, Skip, and a Jumpthrough the Bible (church Bible study) - Not my favorite of his books. (Christmas from the Backside is) but this was a nice companion book to my Bible 101 class. 

4.   Hamilton, Adam, Not a Silent Night (clergy Bible study) - Probably my least favorite Hamilton book to date. I felt like this was a "need to put out an Advent study" book. It wasn't awful. It was just not moving to me in any way. Forgettable. 

5.     Lupton, Robert D., Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life - I got this thinking I would use it as a DMin resource, but it wasn't really what I was looking for. A decent read, although I think Lupton could push farther in a lot of areas, and still uses an "us" "them" breakdown that is not helpful sometimes. 

6.     Livermore, David A., Serving with Eyes Wide Open - Another one I got thinking it would work for DMin research. This focuses on short-term mission trips and on pastors training other pastors outside the US. If you and your church are involved in either of those things, I recommend it. 

7.     Borg, Marcus and Crossan, John Dominic, The First Christmas - I've had this for a while, and finally got to it. I really enjoyed it. I think it would be a great read for some of my atheist friends who think they've discovered the myth of Christmas, and some of my Christian friends who might benefit from understanding the multi-layered symbolism of the Christmas story. 

8. Lewis, C.S., Miracles - Oh, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia are so good! So full of imagination! So open! His non-fiction - not so much. I'll give him this - he's got an interesting technique of argument. Reminds me of the apostle Paul. I'd love to see what he'd make of our scientific knowledge today. 

9.     Smith Hill, Pamela, Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life - Loved this look at Wilder's life, especially the examination of the relationship between Laura and her daughter Rose and who really wrote what. (Smith Hill argues that Rose was an editor, not essentially a ghost-writer, and that Laura was forgiving of the large chunks of her writing that Rose lifted for her own work.) 

11.  Monk, Theophane, Tales of a Magic Monastery - This is a book beloved by one of our CCYM coordinators, and thus, by our CCYM as a whole. I was glad to read the source of some of our favorite CCYM parables. 

12.  Baum, Frank L., The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - My brother gave me his old kindle, and this was pre-loaded on it, so I read it. I like the movie better! (I know, I know.)

13-15.  Roth, Veronica, Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant - Divergent was awesome. Insurgent was pretty good. Allegiant - boo. It isn't just the ending, which I hated, but won't spoil here. It was the way the third book just changed so many key elements of the first book that I loved. Unbelievable character actions. A total change in setting. A change in the whole world of the book. A letdown after a great start.  

16.  Fielding, Helen, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy - I am a huge fan of Bridget Jones' Diary and The Edge of Reason, which are both hilarious. In this book (SPOILER ALERT), Mark has died, and Bridget is significantly older. I was SO disappointed we never got to see the rest of Bridget and Mark's relationship, their marriage, them parenting together. I don't mind Bridget growing up. I just wish we had gotten to see it happen.  

17-19. Bracken, Alexandra, Darkest MindsNever Fade, In the Afterlight - A Young Adult series I heard about via some tumblrs I follow, appropriately enough. Excellent series. I hope it gets more widely read. 

20.  Shapard, David M. and Jane Austen, Annotated Emma - An excellent read for this lover of all things Jane Austen. 

21.  Norris, Bruce, Clyborne Park - CNY Playhouse is staging this show in the spring, and I read it before auditioning. I wasn't cast, but I'm so glad I read the script, and am looking forward to seeing the production. A contemporary look at race, housing, and the things we don't like to talk about out loud. 

22.  Ehrman, Bart D., The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed - Since I'm obsessed with Judas, I had to read this. I've had this book for a while and finally got to it this year. I like Bart Ehrman's writing style and approach, but I realized I really don't care about Gnostic writing. I loved the parts where Ehrman explores the canonical gospels and theorizes about actual Judas. I also found the section on the discovery of the text to be intriguing. But the rest - not my thing. 

23.  Ruhl, Sarah, In the Next Room -  Todd was reading a stack of plays for school, and I picked up this one out of the pile. It was ok. 

Selected Audiobooks: Mostly I listen to really light stuff I wouldn't both reviewing, but a couple of standouts - 
Eugenides, Jeffery, The Marriage Plot - This was really good. I loved reading about students in the midst of the explosion of semiotics and deconstruction. I had no real sense when my SUPA English introduced us to this stuff in high school how contemporary it was and how useful it would prove to know about later in my educational career. Also, the main character is named Mitchell Grammaticus, and I think that is the best character name ever.  

Weiner, Jennifer, All Fall Down - I love all of her books, and feel sad when she's mislabeled as "chic lit." This book focuses on a young mother caught up in prescription pain med addiction. The protagonist isn't particularly likable, but I think that's ok. 

Fanfiction: Admission - In this past year, I've read a ton of fanfiction. I had no idea when I started out looking for a version of The Hunger Games written from Peeta's perspective the whole world of fanfiction that existed. I subscribe to updates from a bunch of works-in-progress now, and there's something neat about getting a story chapter by chapter. My favorite, which I mentioned last year, is still, hands-down, When the Moon Fell in Love with the Sun. The author has been through a lot in her personal life in the last year, resulting in a slow update schedule, but it is worth the wait. 

In Progress: 
Poehler, Amy, Yes Please 
Stookey, Laurence Hull, Let the Whole Church Say Amen!
Dashner, James, The Maze Runner
Shealy, Daniel and Louisa May Alcott, Little Women: An Annotated Edition
Aslan, Reza, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

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