Some April Readings and Reflections

brown wooden shelf with books
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Here’s a list of a few things I’ve been reading and enjoying this month.

Father Hunger: This book was first recommended to me five or six years ago, and I regret that I am just now getting around to reading it. The longer I live, the more obvious it becomes that many of the challenges we face as a culture, as a church, and in our individual families are rooted in the issue of fatherlessness. Some people find Doug Wilson’s writing style off-putting, but I think this book is a must-read for every man, whether a father or not. I’ll be writing more about this book in the future.

Centennial I read a ton of James Michener’s books last year and was incredibly inspired by his writing. I’ve not been as impressed with this novel as some others others (who knew ‘desultory’ could be used too often in a 900 page novel?), but it’s still been a delight. I’m especially interested in reading it because there are at least two other books written about the writing of this book: one by Michener, called About Centennial. It’s difficult to find, with only 3200 copies printed. In fact I received my copy of Centennial accidentally went I thought I was ordering the other. The other book about the writing of Centennial was written by another author (with Michener’s approval) to coincide with the release of the massive mini-series based on the book. One of the things I most enjoyed about Michener is his willingness to share details about the writing process which has been so invaluable to me. One note of interest about the book: I thought it was timely to read of his description of the plains Indians spending many months in the freezing winter sitting in a small teepee doing nothing else but just sitting. They couldn’t read, they couldn’t write, they would just sit and talk probably play some kind of Indian games. Or smoke. Or eat. Or sleep. Shed some helpful perspective on state of being in quasi-quarantine.

Peril and Peace. I had my oldest son read this (first in a five-volume series on church history) five or six years ago. Then I paid him to read it again the year after that. It’s written for kids in a story based format and a good introduction to a lot of amazing stories in church history. I’m reading back through the first volume just looking for stories for the devotions I’m writing for families these days. I also re-read The Martyrdom of Polycarp in The Apostolic Fathers. The story is amazing and it’s short. Read it during your next devotion time; you’ll be incredibly encouraged. Polycarp also wrote a letter to the Philippians, yes, the same city to which Paul wrote a letter. Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John, so his writing wouldn’t have been too far distant from what Paul wrote. It’s also incredibly encouraging. I love reading stuff from early church history. Everyone I know who reads these ancient letters are amazed by them. 

Plato’s Republic. I’ve enjoyed reading a few of Plato’s dialogues and I’ve often heard the Republic is essential reading. I started nibbling on it this week. So far it’s been moderately engaging but not nearly as enjoyable as another collection of ancient works I just read, Leadership by Plutarch. It was a collection of three essays the ancient Greek historian wrote and it’s pretty good though it didn’t blow me away. It did prompt me to read one short biography that Plutarch wrote in his epic “Lives” series on Cato the Younger and that has been a fantastic story.

How to Know God’s Will by Wayne Grudem. This is a short little book taken out of his larger book on Ethics. I received two of these from him in the mail and started reading this to our family for a short devotion over breakfast. I’ve been surprised by how attentive all ages have been throughout (I keep it short – just a page or two at a time). I love his four-part-framework for how to think about making decisions and how every decision has four essential elements related to its morality: 1) the action itself, 2) your attitudes, 3) the motives and then, 4) the outcome. All four affect whether a decision is good or bad.

Spellbound. Just finish reading this a little book on the history of English spelling. I know, sounds gripping. Books like this for me are like a sharpening of my craft. My main job is writing and editing, so reading is the fuel behind that work. Regularly reading books about grammar and the forming of the English language all sharpens my skills. That’s why I enjoyed Dryer’s English and reference it often, even turning to it today to try to discern the difference between ‘lay’ and ‘lie.’ I’m not recommending this book as much as I’m trying to make a related point: whatever your profession, find the books that help sharpen your knowledge base and skills in that area and read them often. I usually have at least one or two books on language, writing, or grammer going.

Brave Ollie Possum—I haven’t started reading this yet but bought it after my brother raved about it. He said it was a fantastic book on helping children learn to deal with fear. Incidentally, I just wrote a series of four devotions on fear based on Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not for I am with you.” You should be able to read those soon on this page (verse 8 in the list). I also picked up this book because I’ve been enjoying listening to Ethan Nicolle on the Babylon Bee podcast those guys are funny!

Lastly, if you’re like me, and I know I am, and you like food, you might like subscribing to Julie’s new weekly newsletter where she shares tips on cooking and building family culture around the table. You can subscribe here.

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