Thursday, March 12, 2015

(Almost) Every Book I Read Last Year Part 1

  Last year I  began tracking my reading using, after I found out David Malki was doing it.  A lot things David Malki does (  growing beards,   making t-shirts, etc)  have turned out to be  a pretty good idea over the years, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Looking back at it, it's oddly revealing. I re-read a lot of the same books over and over again, apparently. I continue to brazenly steal ideas from Malki by presenting to you, quick reviews of every book that I read in 2014 that was in the goodreads database. There are probably around 6 or 7 more obscure titles that aren't listed.  Here goes:

A Heresy Reconsidered: The Post-Trib, Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church by Jeremy Nascimento
  Out of all the books I read in 2014 (including the ones I wrote), this is the one that probably has the most personal emotional involvement. Jeremy is a friend of mine and we disagree  passionately about the  subject of this book, and I disagree doctrinally with his stand on it. It's still probably the best book written on the subject.  This book ignited a bit of a firestorm in certain circles, and that fire continues to burn, apparently.
  What I learned the most from this book wasn't what Jeremy believes; I already knew that. What I learned is how petty other people can be, including me, in our disagreements.

Fragments of Faith by Gerald Sutek
  If you want to learn about living by faith, this is absolutely the book to read. I re-read it every so often, and in this case,  re-read it  so that it could be adapted for Kindle. I actually  strong-armed the author into  giving me a stack of paper copies, and  I  disperse them to people I think need them.   Long story short, Dr. Sutek and Terrel Bear had a rather unique ministry for several years; they traveled around the United States teaching public ministry.  They traveled to  all 50 states and  appeared in over a thousand churches. They did it all without asking for money or going into debt. This book is full of story after story of God's providence. It's an amazing book. 

A Biblical Course in Witnessing by James Knox
  Excellent book, probably less than  60 pages, and yet it still tells you everything you need to know to get started.  I would give you a more detailed review, but I loaned it to a guy who  first told me  he didn't like it and then  neglected to return it.

The Ministry by Gerald Sutek
  This book was originally written as an essay for one of  Dr. Sutek's degrees. In it, he  destroys  any pre-conceived notions you might have about what the ministry is, and what the ministry isn't. No matter what you think you know about this topic, I promise you that  you will learn something new.  It is  also available  on Kindle.

MORE Fragments of Faith by  Gerald Sutek
  Obviously the  sequel, it  ties up a lot of the loose ends from the previous narrative and also details how the SWAT Team for Christ traveled all over the world, once again without asking for money or going into debt.  Excellent , excellent book.

A History of the Baptists by John T. Christian
 This book arrived in my hands because a friend of mine was getting rid of a bunch of his grandfather's books.  It's  fairly decent church history, along the same lines as Trail of Blood.  The  book covers the history, not just of people who have called themselves 'Baptists', but rather of  people who have opposed the idea of infant baptism, regardless of their name.    This crowd includes Waldensian, Anabaptists and  handful of similar groups.  I personally don't hold to the idea that there has always been an unbroken line of doctrinally  correct  Christians out there, but it is interesting information.

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
  This book is way more important than most people  realize. At the time of it's writing, there was a large intellectual battle going on within the black community, with the nature of that battle being the direction they would go and what they would do with their freedom. Washington represented one end of the spectrum of thought and W.E. DuBois the other.. Washington's  position was that education and entrepreneurship would guarantee them equality and prosperity as a people.  Washington warned against government entitlement programs, citing them as  just another form of slavery.   Guess whose ideas won out?  I fell in love with this book years ago and re-read it every now and then.

The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
  This is another on of my re-reads, having spied it on the shelf and  being a tad weary from  the previous books on this list.  I  love Douglas Adam's writing, and always have. This is the second book in the Dirk Gently series and very bizarre, and very good at the same time.

Jungle Doctor on the Hop by Paul White
  Yes, yes yes, I KNOW it's a kid book, but  frankly, my house is full of both kids and kid books.  This is a sort of pre-teen  Christian fiction series about  a missionary  doctor who lives in the jungles of Africa and  has to battle  diseases and superstition while trying to reach the  savages with the gospel. Interesting stuff if you're a kid.  Plus it   whet my palette for the next book of 2014.

The Man-Eaters of Tsavo by John Henry Paterson
  If you've ever seen the movie Ghost in the Darkness with  Val Kilmer, this is  the  book written by the protagonist, Col Patterson.  The incident involving the  two lions  takes up a surprisingly  small  part of the book, with most of the book being occupied with other exciting tales of  safaris on the Dark Continent. The sheer quantity of animals killed by Colonel Patterson is almost too much to be believed. It's hard to  fathom that there are any animals left in Africa, sine he and his  crew hunted everything larger than a wristwatch.  Very exciting book.

Queed: A  Novel by Henry Sydnor Harrison
  This book was  discovered in a stack of old books that someone had given to me. I  had purposed in my heart to read all of them ( a goal still left unaccomplished) and I started with this one.  I don't read much fiction, but was surprisingly engaged by this book. The books takes it's title from the main character, a socially inept professor named Queed who moved into a boarding house  to work on his  great life's work; a textbook on human behavior. He writes this despite being completely clueless about real human beings.  Over the  next several months, he has to put  more and more of his writing on hold to deal with  the real human beings in the boarding  house. It's a source of frustration to him, and by interacting with people, he  becomes a mostly functional  human being himself.
  I know it doesn't  exactly sound like a page-turner, but the author is an expert on character development and its very difficult not to get swept along in Queed's personal journey.

Dumbing Us Down:  The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
   We are homeschoolers, so  this book was very much  'preaching to the choior' Most of the issues brought forth in this book we already knew, but the reason we already knew them is because Gatto has been putting this info out for years.
  The public school system isn't a failure; it is doing exactly what it was intended to do.  It was intended by it's founders to produce  unthinking little drones for  big industry and big government.
  What I've never understood about Gatto is how he  stayed in the system for so long.  He  wasn't exactly hiding his views, I mean he wrote a book after all, and  when he won his Teacher of the Year award, he blasted the system in his acceptance speech. But he still showed up for work every day, and in this book he refers to  subtle things he was doing within the system as 'throwing sand in the gears'.  If I really believed the overall system was as malicious as he does, I would have a hard time  going to work every day.
  If you want a real education,  check out the  review section on Amazon. This is one of those books that everybody either loves or hates.

King James, His Bible and It's Translators by Laurence Vance
  I manged to  secure this book at a homeschool yard sale for a whole dollar, and I enjoyed it so much I wrote Mr Vance to tell him.   Vance and I aren't  really 'friends' but we do correspond from time to time on matters of mutual interest.
  The  book is short, very readable and covers some things  glossed over  even among the KJV Only crowd (of which I am part). Vance has a great grasp of the subject matter, and Ive enjoyed his writing for years.

Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb
  This is going to sound a little strange, but I bought this the day  my oldest son was born as a way to stave off boredom in the hospital. I read it at the time,and apparently didn't finish it, so I  finally knocked it out.  There is a killer loose in Gotham, and he is killing  criminals on  important dates on the calendar. This story takes place early on in Batman's career, before Harvey Dent  became Two-Face. it was originally 13 issues, going from one Halloween to the next. Good stuff. The mystery, at least for me, is never completely   cleared up, and the ambiguity of  the ending has been the source of more than one conversation between me and my two oldest sons.

Well there you have it. Roughly the first 14 books I read  last year, which takes me into  May-ish, if my dates are  right.  Part 2 will eventually be written. Maybe.

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