Reread Project: The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs: A very different model of what reading can be all about.

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

by Alan Jacobs

Hardcover, 150 pg.
Oxford University Press, 2011

Read: January 2-3, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

Read would give you delight—at least most of the time—and do so without shame. And even if you are that rare sort of person who is delighted chiefly by what some people call Great Books, don’t make them your study intellectual diet, any more than eat at the most elegant of restaurants every day. It would be too much. Great books are great in part because of what they ask of their readers: they are not readily encountered, easily accessed. The poet W. H. Auden once wrote, “When one thinks of the attention that a great poem demands, there’s something frivolous about the notion of spending every day with one. Masterpieces should be kept for High Holidays of the Spirit”—for our own personal Christmases and Easters, not for any old Wednesday.

I picked this up as my first book of the year as a way to refresh the mind, come into the year with a reminder of what kind of reader I want to be. As I write this, I’m deliberately not looking at what I wrote last time I read this, but you may find it interesting. Maybe not. I don’t know if I’ll end up repeating myself.

I remember this book being as close to a mission statement for my approach to reading as you could hope for—particularly because I came to it late in life. It’s not like this is a book I read in college and it shaped me/my thinking, but it’s something that I came to a couple of years ago and it was as if a more erudite and thoughtful version of myself had written it.

The beginning of the book is the heart of it, he sets forth his central theses, core argument:

one dominant, overarching, nearly definitive principle for reading: Read at Whim.

Reading shouldn’t be about self-improvement (primarily), it isn’t the mental equivalent of eating Brussels Sprouts. It should be for pleasure. And to maximize that, Jacobs will argue—read at whim.

Following that, Jacobs talks about many aspects of reading for pleasure—note-taking, thinking about what we read, focus (and how to expand it), the role of ereaders (he’s surprisingly pro-ereader), fighting distractions, evaluating what we read and more.

I was particularly struck this time through by his section on re-reading. For growing in appreciation for, or understanding of a work. Or because you enjoy escaping into a well-known and beloved world for a period.

Jacobs frequently quotes Auden, at one point he cites Auden’s five ratings for a book—I think we should maybe replace the standard 5-Star system with this:

For an adult reader, the possible verdicts are five: I can see this is good and I like it; I can see this is good but I don’t like it; I can see this is good, and, though at present I don’t like it, I believe with perseverance I should come to like it; I can see that this is trash but I like it; I can see that this is trash and I don’t like it.

Most of all, this is a celebration of/appreciation of reading. Jacobs is a kindred spirit to us readers as well as a humanities professor. Reading is both a passion and a profession—and both (particularly the former) are clearly seen in these pages.

Our goal as adults is not to love all books alike, or as few as possible, but rather to love as widely and as well as our limited selves will allow.

Hear, hear. That’s a good reminder.

5 Stars

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

Clearing the Deck: Tweet-length thoughts about books I can’t find time to write about

Yeah, I have a daunting TBR stack, but I also have too many books on my “Too Write About” pile, and it’s bugging me. So, I’m cutting myself some slack, and am clearing the deck of everything from 2019 and before that I haven’t made time for. This was painful to do, I was looking forward to writing about most of these, but I’m just not going to get to them–and the 2020 books are starting to pile up, too. So, in 144 characters or less, here’s me cutting myself some slack.

(Click on the cover for an official site with more info)

Rivers of London: Detective Stories
3.5 Stars
Rivers of London, Volume 4: Detective Stories by Andrew Cartmel, Ben Aaronovitch, Lee Sullivan
Brief flashbacks showing what Peter et al. get up to between novels/comic series. A fun idea, well executed. Would enjoy another one like this.
Cry Fox
3.5 Stars
Rivers of London Volume 5: Cry Fox by Andrew Cartmel, Ben Aaronovitch, Lee Sullivan
This was a lot of fun, and showed a new side of a cool recurring character.
Rivers of London: Action At A Distance
3 Stars
Rivers of London: Action At A Distance by Andrew Cartmel, Ben Aaronovitch, Brian Williamson, Stefani Renne
A serial killer hunt and Nightingale backstory. Great combo.

(some nice Molly material, too)

Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theologian, Confessional Presbyterian
4 Stars
Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theologian, Confessional Presbyterian by Danny E. Olinger
A biography and a discussion of his Vos’ major works. This was an excellent way to gear up for my 2019 Vos reading. Inspirational stuff.
The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant
3 Stars
The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hayes, Kirby Heyborne (Narrator)
A light Urban Fantasy about misfit monsters. Enjoyable enough to come back for more.
Open Season
4 Stars
Open Season by C. J. Box, David Chandler (Narrator)
Series Debut about a WY Game Warden with a nose for mystery. Loved the dual POVs (Pickett, his daughter). Addicting.
Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain
3 Stars
Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain by Richard Roberts, Emily Woo Zeller (Narrator)
A cute story about kids of super-heroes/super-villains trying to get started in the biz without their parents’ involvement. Went on longer than it needed to, but fun enough to try volume 2.
Dragon Blood
3 Stars
Dragon Bones by Patricia Briggs, Joe Manganiello (Narrator)
Manganiello is a great choice for narrator. Nice little stand-alone fantasy story. Great dragons.
Savage Run
3.5 Stars
Savage Run by C. J. Box, David Chandler (Narrator)
Almost as good as the first Pickett novel. Mrs. Pickett gets to shine here, too. I’m so glad I finally got to this series.
3 Stars
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Lynn Redgrave (Narrator)
Gets a bit redundant, but I loved the concept. Better than the movie (which I kind of liked), but still could’ve been better.
Undeath and Taxes
3 Stars
Undeath and Taxes by Drew Hayes, Kirby Heyborne (Narrator)
A little better than the first volume, an enjoyable way to spend a few hours.
Dragon Bones
3 Stars
Dragon Blood by Patricia Briggs, Joe Manganiello (Narrator)
OK, so Dragon Bones wasn’t a stand-alone. Could’ve been, but it was nice to get a little more with these characters/this world. Still, give me a Briggs Urban Fantasy above this.
The Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ in the Westminster Standards
4 Stars
The Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ in the Westminster Standards by Alan D. Strange
I love this series. Strange packs so much material into this tiny package. Excellent stuff.
3 Stars
Badlands by C. J. Box, January LaVoy (Narrator)
Cassie takes over The Highway series and moves to a new Oil Town in North Dakota. Midwest Winter, Drugs, Murder, Corruption and Too Much Money wreak havoc on her first week on the job.
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland (Audiobook)
3.5 Stars
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland: A Book by Patton Oswalt (Audiobook)
The memoir chapters are nice, the comedic bits are odd (and funny). An interesting look at Oswalt.
No Sweat
3 Stars
No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar, Ph.D.
A great way to look at keeping (or getting) yourself motivated to exercise.

Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer: A delightful guide to style, grammar, spelling and other things English Language-related that you didn’t realize you wanted to know.

Dreyer’s English

Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style

by Benjamin Dreyer

Hardcover, 269 pg.
Random House, 2019

Read: December 27-30, 2019
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

The English language…is not so easily ruled and regulated. It developed without codification, sucking up new constructions and vocabulary every time some foreigner set foot on the British Isles—to say nothing of the mischief we Americans have wreaked on it these last few centuries-and continues to evolve anarchically. It has, to my great dismay, no enforceable laws, much less someone to enforce the laws it doesn’t have.

Benjamin Dreyer isn’t the enforcer he wishes existed, but he’s close to one—especially for Random House. This book isn’t a book of those laws, rules or regulations—it’s about what one copy editor thinks that would-be editors, authors, and everyone else should know about grammar, sentence construction, punctuation, and. . . you know what? The official blurb does a more concise job of describing the book than I could. Let’s cheat a little and use it:

We all write, all the time: books, blogs, emails. Lots and lots of emails. And we all want to write better. Benjamin Dreyer is here to help.

As Random House’s copy chief, Dreyer has upheld the standards of the legendary publisher for more than two decades. He is beloved by authors and editors alike—not to mention his followers on social media—for deconstructing the English language with playful erudition. Now he distills everything he has learned from the myriad books he has copyedited and overseen into a useful guide not just for writers but for everyone who wants to put their best prose foot forward.

As authoritative as it is amusing, Dreyer’s English offers lessons on punctuation, from the underloved semicolon to the enigmatic en dash; the rules and nonrules of grammar, including why it’s OK to begin a sentence with “And” or “But” and to confidently split an infinitive; and why it’s best to avoid the doldrums of the Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers, including “very,” “rather,” “of course,” and the dreaded “actually.” Dreyer will let you know whether “alright” is all right (sometimes) and even help you brush up on your spelling—though, as he notes, “The problem with mnemonic devices is that I can never remember them.”

And yes: “Only godless savages eschew the series comma.”

Chockful of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts, this book will prove to be invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills, mandatory for people who spend their time editing and shaping other people’s prose, and—perhaps best of all—an utter treat for anyone who simply revels in language.

As one who enjoys a good language-revel, I fell in love with this book almost instantly. I had to force myself to stop jotting down notes because I’d be reading this thing until March if I wrote down everything I wanted to (I have a list of page numbers, though, to go back and glance at while I write this and/or want to do a quick revisit of the book). I’m glad that I’m bone tired and don’t have a lot of time here, because I could easily spend a few thousand words on this book if I let myself. But circumstance prevents me from that and protects you from enduring it (we’ll pretend you’d endure it to preserve my ego, you’d likely just decide it was too long and go to the next link on your list). I think this is coherent enough to post. I’ll let you decide.

Dreyer clearly had fun writing this—there’s a joie de mot/langue* that permeates this book and its infectious. Each page is filled with humor as well as semi-/quasi-/actually technical discussions about writing/reading, making this a book that will appeal to both your mind and funny bone.

* There’s a good chance that l’Académie française is going to hire someone to assassinate me for those neologisms. Whoops.

I’m not going to try to encapsulate the book (hence the use of the blurb), but I want to highlight a few things that stood out to me.

Over the last two years, I’d estimate I’ve read about 50 pages on the interrobang. That number didn’t increase at all with this book. In the chapter discussing punctuation he eventually gets to the interrobang and states, “Neither will we discuss the interrobang, because we’re all civilized adults here.” Reader, I laughed hard at that.

There’s so much of this book that authors need to read—were I richer, I’d require any author who asks me to read this book to evaluate it by these standards. For example, I can’t agree more with his oft-voiced complaint about italics that go on for more than a sentence (“For one thing, italics weary the eye; for another, multiple paragraphs of text set in italics suggest a dream sequence, and readers are always keen to skip dream sequences.” or “tend to convey Lengthy Interior Monologue or Something Else I Probably Don’t Want to Read.”). Do you know how many authors I want to send that to? (I’m including books I loved there, but most books I didn’t)

That reminds me, another thing I’d like to send to many, many authors I’ve read over the last five years:

…I swear to you, a well-constructed sentence sounds better. Literally sounds better. One of the best ways to determine whether your prose is well-constructed is to read it aloud. A sentence that can’t be readily voiced is a sentence that likely needs to be rewritten.

A good sentence, I find myself saying frequently, is one that the reader can follow from beginning to end, no matter how long it is, without having to double back in confusion because the writer misused or omitted a key piece of punctuation, chose a vague or misleading pronoun, or in some other way engaged in inadvertent misdirection. (If you want to puzzle your reader, that’s your own business.)

My life would be easier (and this blog much more chipper) if more authors were concerned about that.

A number of times, he’ll deliberately place an error in the text so he can call it out a paragraph or two (or pages) later to demonstrate how easy it is to make that faux pas and how hard it may be to catch. I loved every one of these and thought it was a brilliant idea.

He has lists of commonly misspelled words, notes on the way to get around Proper Nouns (or things that look like them, but aren’t), as well as bullet-point rants about pet peeves and actual problems that should prove to be an invaluable resource for students and writers of any level. I’m probably going to grab an e-copy of this so I can have it on my phone for easy reference.

The book is so fun, it’s spawned a game! How many books can say that?

While he is laughing at language, how it’s used/abused, and so on—Dreyer never discourages anyone from writing. He also mocks himself/his book a lot. It’s hard not to like a smart guy making wisecracks about himself.

With apologies to Dave Barry, Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson, this was probably the funniest thing I read in ’19 (and I cracked up a lot at those three). I laughed, I chuckled, I grinned, I think I might have even guffawed at this book (maybe even chortled). I can’t stop quoting it.

[People are] not, I’ve discovered, apt to be dissuaded from their prejudices by the evidence of centuries of literate literary usage or recitations from the bracingly peeve-dismantling Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage. And they’re certainly not likely to be moved by the suggestion that English is in a constant state of evolution and that if our great-grandmothers ever caught us using the noun “store” when what we should have said was “shop” or using “host” as a verb, they’d wash our mouths out with soap. Well, I concede with a shrug, if the English language itself is notoriously irregular and irrational, why shouldn’t its practitioners be too?

As a practitioner, you might want to be less irregular and more rational. If so, Benjamin Dreyer has given you an excellent guide to find your way out of that. I loved it, if you’re even a little bit of a language geek, you will, too.

5 Stars

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

A Few Quick Questions With…Shellie Bowdoin

While I didn’t love Find Your Weigh as much as one might have hoped, I’m still very pleased to have the author, Shellie Bowdoin, participate in a quick Q&A about the book, so you can get a perspective on the book straight from the source.

You talk a little about this in the book, but tell us a little bit about the path to deciding to write this – what was it that made you decide it was time to write this book?
                     When I first started my own weight journey that eventually resulted in the book, Find Your Weigh, I was learning so much about myself and about food and I wanted to share it with others. That’s when I started my blog, The FABulous Journey. After a year of blogging, I realized that I had written so much that it was time to put it all together in one place. I wanted others to experience the same kind of freedom that I found after years of struggling with food.
What led you to combine general health/wellness material with Biblical material? Is there a danger of losing an audience? Do you think a reader can profit from the book while skipping the Biblical material?
                     When I first started blogging about the food/mind connection with food, I wrote from the general wellness perspective. And, for that time in my life, I felt satisfied with dispensing knowledge. However, as a Christian, I began to feel that I was neglecting an essential aspect of my journey. Eventually, I decided that I could no longer speak about one and ignore the other, because frankly I see this as a problem that a lot of Christians experience with our weight. We go to God with everything in our lives, except our weight.

I definitely believe non-Christian readers can gain considerable value from the book. The practical concepts of the book are well-researched and applicable to all. Essentially, our weight is the result of our behavior with food, which is informed by our beliefs; no matter what those beliefs may be.

What’s your background in both aspects (theology/wellness) that made you the person to write this book?
                     I have served as foreign missionary for the past 25 years and I have a masters degree in ministry, so I have the biblical background to present the spiritual concepts in the book. I am also a normal woman who has struggled with a food fixation for years, which makes my message real and relatable.
What you leave out is almost as important as what you put into a book, what kinds of things did you end up not putting in the book? How hard was the decision to not cover certain things?
                     This is actually the second edition of Find Your Weigh. In the first version, I talked a lot more about the fitness aspect. While I still feel it’s important, I didn’t want to alienate readers or make them think, “I can’t do that.” Because if truth be told, we’ve all been in that place where we try to convince ourselves that we just don’t have that special something that others do or that we’re flawed with food. Are we all different? Yes. That’s why people have to figure out what makes them tick with food and then develop habits that are tailored and suited for their lives and realities. I believe EVERYONE can do that.
What’s the one (or two) book/movie/show in the last 5 years that made you say, “I wish I’d written that.”?
                     I absolutely loved, “The Help.” I grew up in the South and I got it all. It takes awesome talent to shine a light on injustice and make people feel the pain of it.
What was the biggest surprise about the writing itself? Either, “I can’t believe X is so easy!” or “If I had known Y was going to be so hard, I’d have skipped this and watched more TV”.
                     “Wow, has this whole process been considerably harder than I could have imagined! I bit it off in pieces. First, I wrote the first edition of the book; then I wrote the 9-session Bible Study with a pilot group; then I rewrote the whole book; then came the video scripts for the study and finally the narration of the audiobook. But, all of that paled in comparison to the task of marketing and preparing the project for release. It’s one thing to put your heart and soul into something; it’s entirely another to entrust it to others. It has been an emotional journey for me and I have learned a lot along the way.
Thanks for your time—and thanks for Find Your Weigh, I enjoyed it, and hope you have plenty of success with it.

Find Your Weigh by Shellie Bowdoin: A No-Nonsense, but not overly-demanding, approach to Eating right/Weight loss

Find Your Weigh

Find Your Weigh: Renew Your Mind & Walk In Freedom

by Shellie Bowdoin

eARC, 239 pg.

Read: December 21-23, 2019

Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

It’s that time when people are hitting the gym, starting diets, and doing all the sorts of things you do at the beginning of the year to “improve” themselves (seriously, having a hard time getting a parking spot at the gym). So it’s also the time for books on exercise, eating well, wellness in general to come out, enter Find Your Weigh. Bowdoin combines sage advice about eating/food/etc. with spiritual guidance.

When it comes to the Food aspects of the book, this is really good. Bowdain doesn’t try to impress with a lot of statistics, research articles and so on. Instead, she talks about her own experiences and then applies what she learned from them to provide examples for the book. Which isn’t to say that she didn’t do her homework, it’s there, but she doesn’t shove it in the reader’s face.

She covers things like honest expectations, mental blocks, habit formation, and the way to approach it all wisely. She does it in a friendly outgoing voice. She’s full of encouragement. She’s got plenty of tips and tricks to help you think about your weight and the effective ways to deal with it. There’s just so much here that is commendable that it’s hard to get into it all without making anyone getting the book on their own moot.

I’ll admit, if I’d known Bowdoin was going to try to bring the Bible into this, I’d have passed on the book. I have little patience for “Christian” diet books. It’s not that I don’t think the Bible is silent on health/diet/etc., but you’re not going to get much more than a pamphlet out of it, unless you’re going to trace themes about feasting, celebration, prayer, fasting, contentment, and so on then apply them via good and necessary consequence.

But, Bowdoin did bring the Bible up, so I feel compelled to address it. If she used the Scriptures correctly once, I didn’t notice it. And I’m not talking about holding/teaching a disputed idea from an unclear text. I’m talking about wholescale violence to the text and context she cites from. For example, Romans 7 is not about “learned helplessness” or the struggle against impulses to eat less-than-healthy food, it’s about the mortifying of sinful flesh; the discipline in Hebrews 12 is not self-discipline, but correction from our Heavenly Father; and so on.

If you ignore the Biblical citations/applications (and it’s easy to do, I wish I had), this is a really good book. It’s full of the voice of experience, compassion, and common sense. Written in a way that will likely draw you in, and help you to see how you can eat/act healthier. At the very least, it’s worth a glance (and probably more). This isn’t a once-sized-fits-all approach, but a toolbox that will have a lot of what you need to deal with the problem at hand.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for this post and my honest opinion.

3 Stars

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

BOOK BLITZ: Humor That Works by Andrew Tarvin

The Missing Skill for Success and Happiness at Work
Self-Help, Personal Development
Published: April 2019
Publisher: Page Two
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If you want to increase team productivity, relieve stress, and be happier at work, you could hire a bunch of workplace consultants, invest in scream therapy, and put Pharrell Williams on repeat—or you could just read Humor That Works.
Written by Andrew Tarvin, the world’s first Humor Engineer, this a business book on humor. No, that’s not an oxymoron. It really is a business book and it really is about getting better results by having more fun. Because people who use humor in the workplace are more productive, less stressed, and happier. No joke; sources included.
The goal is not to make you funnier—though that may be a side effect—but to make you effective-er. You’ll learn to develop a personal humor habit that’s not about spitting wisecracks or telling the funniest stories, but a way of seeing work in an energizing new way. You’ll build on some of the most important business skills for today’s work environment, develop techniques for leveraging humor, and take action to improve your work immediately. And you’ll have fun doing it.
There will be stories about grandmas who text, multiple mentions of milkshakes, and exactly seven references to zombies. Oh, and there will be puns. (You’ve been warned.) Looking for success and happiness at work? Discover the missing skill of Humor That Works.
About the Author
Andrew Tarvin is the world’s first humor engineer, teaching people how to get better results while having more fun. Combining his background as a project manager at Procter & Gamble with his experience as a stand-up comedian, he reverse-engineers the skill of humor in a way that is practical, actionable, and gets results in the workplace. Through his company, Humor That Works, Andrew has worked with more than 35,000 people at over 250 organizations, including Microsoft, the FBI, and the International Association of Canine Professionals. He is a bestselling author; has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and FastCompany; and his TEDx talk has been viewed more than three million times. He loves the color orange and is obsessed with chocolate.
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My Favorite Theology/Christian Living Books of 2020

I read a lot of good, inspirational, thoughtful and devotional work this year, but these were the ones that stuck out in my mind. I’d encourage the careful reading of all of them.

(in alphabetical order by author)

None GreaterNone Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God

by Matthew Barrett

I haven’t had a chance to write about this book yet, but it’s great. Barrett provides a wonderful tool to introduce believers of all ages/background to the main attributes of God to shape belief and practice. It’s a corrective, but not scoldy. It’s deep, but not hard to understand. It appreciates mystery and doesn’t try to overexplain anything but it also grapples with what we’re given to understand. I’ll say more in a week or two, but for now, just know it’s one of the best things I read last year.

4 Stars

Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Theology ProperReformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Theology Proper

by Geerhardus Vos, Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. (Translator and Editor)

My original post
Yeah, it’s only a picture of one of the volumes (but they all pretty much look alike). This set concisely, yet comprehensively, discusses the major theological loci in a way that’s scholarly and yet warm and practical.

5 Stars

Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of DortSaving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort

by W. Robert Godfrey

My original post
This look at the Synod of Dort, as well as the Canons produced by it, is well-researched, careful, encouraging and pastoral—this is not dry and dusty history, nor dry and dusty doctrine. This book, like the Synod it focuses on, seeks to defend, protect and further the cause of the Protestant Reformation, the Gospel itself. As such, it succeeds and you’d do well to study it.

5 Stars

 Grace Worth Fighting ForGrace Worth Fighting For: Recapturing the Vision of God’s Grace in the Canons of Dort

by Daniel R. Hyde

My original post
Is a fantastic companion to the previous book. Hyde focuses on the Canons themselves and what they’re getting at, showing how Church History developed those ideas to this point and how the Reformed church built on them. I didn’t expect anything to beat the Godfrey volume in this year where we got multiple books (thanks to the Canons’s anniversary), but this one did. it’s warm, pastoral and approachable. Anyone over 13 should have no problem with it. Sure, some of the topics will leave some scratching their heads and pondering for a while, but that’s because these are weighty, thought-provoking topics, not because of Hyde’s text. I may have read a better theological book this year, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head. This is simply excellent—rich theology, rich application, solid history, smartly writing, occasionally stirring.

5 Stars

Beyond Authority and SubmissionBeyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society

by Rachel Green Miller

My original post
This book made me re-examine a lotand will probably continue to do so as I mull on what she has to say (and I’ll probably find a lot to disagree with ultimately, and a lot to agree withas it ought to be). How much of what I think about how women and men should interact with each other (in the home, Church and society) comes from Scripture and how much from the culture? How much of what I think it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman has more to do with Ancient Greek culture or the Victorians? (more than it should). The core of the message should be heard and weighed, and hopefully, after the hubbub around its publication has died down a bit, we can start to deal with it.

4 Stars

Theological Retrieval for EvangelicalsTheological Retrieval for Evangelicals: Why We Need Our Past to Have a Future

by Gavin Ortlund

My original post
A fantastic mix of theory and practice—showing why and how Evangelicals should mine the treasures of the past to shape the theology of today and tomorrow.

4 Stars

The Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ in the Westminster StandardsThe Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ in the Westminster Standards

by Alan D. Strange

I was sure I’d written a post about this book, and was embarrassed to discover that I hadn’t—I somehow let this not be included in the November Retrospective, too. This is why I don’t get paid for this blog, folks.

Anyway, Strange packs a lot into this 176 page tome. It is dense. But somehow, it’s also an easy read. He explores the historical debate—particularly around the Westminster Assembly—around this doctrine and explains why the Standards express things the way they do. Then he applies it to contemporary debate in a straightforward manner. Pound for pound, possibly the most helpful book I’ve read this year.

4 Stars

Grace & GloryGrace and Glory: Sermons Preached in the Chapel of Princeton Theological Seminary

by Geerhardus Vos

My original post
This is exactly what a collection of sermons ought to be—the language is clear, precise and almost lyrical. You can almost hear them as you read them. Solid theology, warm application and gospel-centered. My only problem with this collection is that it was so short.

5 Stars

Books that almost made the list (links to my original posts for those I wrote about): The Future of Everything: Essential Truths about the End Times by Willaim Boekestein, The Whole Armor of God: How Christ’s Victory Strengthens Us for Spiritual Warfare by Iain M. Duguid, Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God’s Perfecting Presence in Creation, Redemption, and Everyday Life by Michael S. Horton, The Prayers of Jesus by Mark Jones, and Baptism: Answers to Common Questions by Guy M. Richard.