As I fully expected, I did much less reading this year than in previous years. Having a newborn will do that do you.
Xenocide, Orson Scott Card. This is the third book in the Ender’s Game series, and maybe the last I’ll read for a little while. I actually really enjoyed how the story developed in distinct parts on different worlds, only to be brought back together toward the end. But the resolution to the final conflict was just too contrived and “hokey”, for lack of a better term, for my taste. I still absolutely love the character of Andrew Wiggin and how he’s developed over the course of the series, but I’m probably done for a little while.
The Bible Tells Me So, Peter Enns. I think I came across this book in my Twitter stream, so I decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately, I ended up abandoning it before I finished it. I’m generally not one to get deep into apologetics; not that I have anything wrong with it necessarily, I’ve just never found it to be the most important thing to spend my time studying. And so this book, with the subtitle of Why defending scripture has made us unable to read it, really appealed to me. It turned out however, that the author so often took such a circuitous route to make his point, that I just couldn’t stick with it.
EPUB 3.0.1, Garth Conboy et al. I’ve really enjoyed reading in the Google Play Books Android app (despite the Kindle pictured above); it is far and away the best app I’ve ever found at formatting text for easy reading. Over the years, I’ve come across many very poorly formatted ebooks, or books that I’ve had to convert from other formats that don’t transfer very well. I’ve always been a bit of a standards wonk, so this year I spent some time digging into the EPUB specification to learn what all it was capable of and how best to fix up the poorly formatted books I have. I didn’t quite read through the entire spec, but did read quite a lot of it. I got so into it that for a little while I was actually considering moving over to the Play Books Android team at Google.
Dig Deeper, Nigel Beynon, Andrew Sach. This book was recommended by my brother as he was considering it for use in one of the classes he teaches at Veritas Christian Academy. It outlines 16 tools that can be used when studying the Bible. Some are mostly obvious and easy to intuit or are things that I’ve heard taught by others, but quite a few were certainly new to me, like getting a very basic understanding of how Hebrew poetry is often structured. The book is relatively short, each tool is easily explained, and examples are given for applying each one. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone doing any kind of serious studying of the Bible.
The Holy Bible (English Standard Version). Elisabeth and I started our second pass through the entire Bible this year. We’re doing the same chronological reading plan as last time, but reading a different translation. I suspect this will be our pattern, doing the same chronological plan each time (it really is a great way to read the full Bible), but using different translations each time. We’re currently 34% of the way through it, so we’ve definitely missed quite a few nights' reading, but the YouVersion app makes it easy to adjust to accommodate that.
Seveneves, Neal Stephenson. I seem to have continued my somewhat unintentional tradition of reading a Neal Stephenson book every year. Seveneves is somewhat interesting in that it’s really two separate but connected stories. The first story is set in the International Space Station, and spends a lot of time describing life in space, the physics of space, orbital mechanics, etc. I know a lot of readers found that boring, but I actually enjoyed it. A lot of action is shoved into the end of the first story in a way that felt very rushed and then, in typical Stephenson fashion, the story just ends. In this case, many of those dangling threads are tied up in the second story which is more about world building, which I enjoyed even more than the first part. Not my favorite Stephenson book (I think that is still Anathem), but certainly not my least favorite either.
The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones. We’ve read a couple of different books of Bible stories to Gabe, and this is by far our favorite. It provides very accessible interpretations of the stories that don’t stray from their true meaning and focus (unlike some books we read). And perhaps most interesting, every single story explicitly points to Jesus, something that’s sometimes as helpful for adults as it is children.
Header image by James Tarbotton