My 2017 reading in review

Just a quick post to summarize my reading and a few favorites this year. I read a total of 71 books in 2017, which I’ll split up into fiction, non-fiction, and theology. I’ll highlight no more than two in each category as particular favorites.

Fiction

  • Broken Trust – W.E.B. Griffin
  • Bounty – Michael Byrnes
  • The Whistler – John Grisham
  • The Believer – Joakim Zander
  • Last Year – Robert Charles Wilson
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • Before the Fall – Noah Hawley
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon – Kelly Barnhill
  • The Shadow Land – Elizabeth Kostova
  • Walkaway – Cory Doctorow
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
  • A Closed and Common Orbit – Becky Chambers
  • Parable of the Sower – Octavia E. Butler
  • Till We Have Faces – C. S. Lewis (re-read)
  • The Switch – Joseph Finder
  • Price of Duty – Dale Brown
  • Point of Contact – Mike Maden
  • The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. – Neal Stephenson
  • City of Stairs – Robert Jackson Bennett
  • Boneshaker – Cherie Priest
  • Autonomous – Annalee Newitz
  • The Berlin Project – Gregory Benford
  • Over Sea, Under Stone – Susan Cooper
  • The Force – Don Winslow
  • The Quantum Spy – David Ignatius
  • The Dark Net – Benjamin Percy
  • The Punch Escrow – Tal M. Klein

The Force is a well-written crime story featuring a flawed detective. A really engaging page-turner where I didn’t know where the story was going when I was half-way through.

The Punch Escrow is a sci-fi thriller that takes one reasonable conceit and runs with it to great effect. A really fun novel to close out the year.

Non-Fiction

  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America – Ibram X. Kendi
  • A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn
  • Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House about the Future of Faith in America – Michael Wear
  • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion – Jonathan Haidt
  • Instrumental: A memoir of Madness, Medication, and Music – James Rhodes
  • A Wretched and Precarious Situation: In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier – David Welky
  • Now – The Physics of Time – Richard A. Muller
  • The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies – and What They Have Done to Us – David Thomson
  • City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York – Tyler Anbinder
  • A Natural History of the Piano – Stuart Isacoff
  • The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science – Julie Des Jardins
  • The Silk Roads: A New History of the World – Peter Frankopan
  • Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
  • The World Will Be Saved by Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of Dorothy Day – Kate Hennessy
  • Boeing Versus Airbus: The Inside Story of the Greatest International Competition in Business – John Newhouse
  • Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich – Norman Ohler
  • The Givenness of Things – Marilynne Robinson
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America – Richard Rothstein
  • Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic – Sam Quinones
  • The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris – David McCullough
  • Movies are Prayers: How Films Voice Our Deepest Longings – Josh Larsen
  • The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II – Svetlana Alexievich
  • A Colony in a Nation – Chris Hayes
  • Getting Religion: Faith, Culture & Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama – Kenneth L. Woodward
  • Khrushchev: The Man and His Era – William Taubman
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel: Prophetic Witness – Edward K. Kaplan
  • A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples – Ilan Pappe
  • Spiritial Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972 – Edward K. Kaplan
  • How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds – Alan Jacobs
  • The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency – Chris Whipple
  • Nevertheless: A Memoir – Alec Baldwin

I started off the year with a bang reading Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning. Stunning writing about the history of racism in America. So much that we as middle-class white Americans aren’t familiar with. But the one that will likely stick with me even more and provoke some re-reads came late in the year: Alan Jacobs’ How to Think. In this time of “fake news” and incessant online argument, Jacobs provides some much-needed sanity and advice.

Theology

  • How to Survive a Shipwreck – Jonathan Martin
  • Introduction to the Old Testament – J. Alberto Soggin
  • The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion – N.T. Wright
  • Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines that Shape the Church for Mission – David E. Fitch
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life – Tish Harrison Warren
  • The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together – Jared C. Wilson
  • People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just an Issue – Preston Sprinkle
  • The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? – David Bentley Hart
  • Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony – Richard Bauckham
  • A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story – Diana Butler Bass
  • The Art of Curating Worship: Reshaping the Role of Worship Leader – Mark Pierson
  • Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News – Brian Zahnd

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham will permanently change how I read the Gospels. His case that most people named by name in the Gospels were specifically named because they were known eyewitnesses puts the accounts in a new light.

And I had heard good stuff about D.B. Hart’s little volume The Doors of the Sea for a long time but just never gotten to it. In it he uses the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 to frame his response to the age-old question of how a good, omnipotent God can allow such evil and suffering. My theological upbringing has been pretty Calvinist, but Hart’s very non-Calvinist approach (he’s Orthodox) provided a more compelling and beautiful explanation than anything I’ve previously read.

Summary

On the whole, I feel like I got a lot of variety this year and read a lot of interesting books. I do have a handful that I started and for some reason bogged down in and need to come back to – Greg Boyd’s Crucifixion of the Warrior God is on that list… to be picked up sometime soon.

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