Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Books I Read in April 2009

You may notice that I read only one "Christian Living" book in April. That's due to a variety of reasons: 1. I took a long time to read Living the Cross Centered Life; 2. I worked more on my Bible studies rather than read other books; and the worst reason, 3. I had a harder time getting up as early in the morning, since we're approaching the end of the semester. Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing by CJ Mahaney This is another book that I will probably reread every year--and I'm really not big on rereading books when there are so many new ones available. These books by CJ Mahaney are short enough to reread every year, and they're so helpful and so packed with Scripture and Biblical principles that I don't mind, and actually invite, the repetition. Mahaney quotes many hymns and other authors who have written about the cross, and includes many recommendations for books about the cross, which I plan to buy and read. I started reading this book the week before Easter and found the chapters describing Christ's death on the cross powerful, sobering, humbling, and awe-inspiring. I was overwhelmed with God's love and grace and mercy. I also benefited greatly from the chapters "Breaking the Rule of Legalism: How the Cross Rescues You from the Performance Trap" and "Unloading Condemnation." I discovered a couple of new authors/series this month. I really enjoy Tim Downs's Bug Man Series about forensic entomologist Dr. Nick Polchak. I found this series completely randomly because the library was out of Ted Dekker novels (which Mr. Bob and others had been encouraging me to read) and these books were directly below where Dekker's should have been. The first book I read was out of order because I didn't realize I was choosing from a series, but I started reading them in order. You don't really need to read the books in order, but some things about Nick's character are more understandable if you see how he develops. The books are amazingly clean (refreshing for a modern novel!) but if you're squeamish about descriptions of bugs and/or dead bodies, don't read these books because those form the whole premise of the novels. First the Dead by Tim Downs This is the third novel in the Bug Man series and is set in New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. I learned a lot about the events as well as a lot about forensic entomology. Tightly written. Fast-moving. Fascinating plot. Historically accurate. Shoo Fly Pie by Tim Downs This is the first novel Downs wrote and the first in the Bug Man series. I enjoyed this interview with Tim Downs about writing his novels. Chop Shop by Tim Downs This is the second novel in the series. Nick appears in a cameo role in Plague Maker, the next Downs book on my list to read. I'm looking forward to more novels by Tim Downs. And this month, I finally started the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. So many of my students have read the books and talk about them all the time, that I thought I should read them. I'll comment on the series more when I'm done with it, but the books aren't as bad as I thought they'd be from some of the reviews I'd read and comments I'd heard. But they also aren't as good as my students and many reviews made them sound. The quality of writing isn't that great; I am heartily sick of phrases like "his stone cold lips" and "his velvet voice" (what does that mean?). Bella is a boring character. And while I can read the books quickly (Twilight took me about 4 hours on a Saturday morning) and I was intrigued by some parts of the general plot (I'd never read any books with vampires and werewolves), some parts dragged and about half of each book could have been cut and I'd have been happier with the editing (who wants to read about each day of high school?). I'm certainly not completely taken with the books, and much to my students' dismay, I will not allow them for book reports. Much better fantasy literature is available. C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia, J.R.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Orson Scott Card's Ender Wiggin series, and Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series . . . to name a few.


Joanna said...

I just read through all your book reviews from the past several months. You read a LOT! :) Thank you for taking the time to review them. I've decided to read a few based on your recommendation.

Have you ever read Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss? I'd be curious to hear what you think. I miss our old talks from when we were roommates, like a hundred years ago. :) You were always such an encouragement to me and we could talk about anything. Love you!

Natalie said...

Thanks, Jo! I'm glad you found the reviews helpful. Which books are you thinking about reading? What else has been on your reading list lately?

I haven't read Stepping Heavenward, but it has kind of been on my list for awhile. I'll read it this summer and let you know what I think. :-)