Recent Reads

Read any good books lately?

I have always enjoyed reading.  Good books can take you to other places, other times, even other realities.  I find that some books are like old friends with which I never get tired.  Books can confirm what you believe or make you think about things you never considered.  It’s not unusual for me to be reading two or three books at once.

I have downloaded the GoodReads app on my iPad, and one of these days, I may get around to learning how to use it.  Meanwhile, here are a few of my recent reads and some related thoughts.  You may notice there’s not much fiction on this list.  I don’t have anything against novels – and for sure, I have a few favorites from that category – but for the last few years, I find myself reading mostly non-fiction.

Imagine you’re sitting at a table with two really smart, articulate  guys, and they’re talking about something that is wonderfully thought-provoking and challenging.  That’s the premise behind Red Letter Revolution, by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo.  Both of these guys are known for being willing to ask hard questions and challenge conventional Christian thinking on difficult subjects.  Here, the question is, “What if Jesus really meant what He said?”  They proceed to discuss how that question plays out in various areas of life, and you get to be a fly on the wall, listening to their conversation.  It is discomforting, uplifting, and I am enjoying it very much, even the parts that I want to argue with them.

In This Land of Strangers, Robert Hall considers how the breakdown of relationships in our society is contributing to so many of the problems that we face today – dysfunctional families, total lack of trust between employers and employees, suspicion against any institution, and more.  Interestingly enough, Hall approaches the topic from a businessman’s point of view, with some fascinating results.  He has a nice mixture of statistics and empirical data, with enough good stories thrown in to keep it interesting.

When Helping Hurts by Brain Fikkert and Steve Corbett absolutely turned my world upside down when I first read it.  I re-read it not long ago, and it’s still great.  Many people have the attitude that those in poverty are broken, and they’re poor because they’re lazy, or stupid, or are suffering from their own bad choices.  That’s undoubtedly true in some cases.  But these guys argue that WE ARE ALL BROKEN – it’s just that some forms of brokenness show up in more visible ways.  As a result, our own brokenness leads us to doing things to “help,” that actually do more harm than good.  The authors include some good suggestions on how to make a difference without becoming part of the problem.

All of us know that eating a low-fat diet is healthy, right?  That we should be eat lots of grains, count calories and get plenty of exercise.  Well, as it turns out, not so much.

In Why We Get Fat, Gary Taubes argues – and has the stats to prove – that low-fat, high-carb diets are about the most UNHEALTHY thing we can do, especially for those of us that struggle with Diabetes.  This is one of the books my doctor recommended to me, and it’s well worth the read.

Finally, here’s one bit of fiction for you: The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I will admit, I was not a Tolkien fan growing up, but I very much am now.  My daughter Brittany gave me a copy of this, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The new Peter Jackson movie is coming out before the end of the year, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Hobbits are inoffensive little beings who like to tend their gardens and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.  One day, Gandalf the Wizard shows up at the home of his hobbit friend, Bilbo Baggins, and more or less tricks him into going off on a grand adventure.  Along the way, Bilbo finds the One Ring, which was the subject of the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it’s only a small part of this particular story.  Tolkien was a master storyteller, and this is a great one.

So – read any good books lately?