My reading from the last few months has included some really great books! Here are some short summaries. If you see something that interests you, click on over for a full review. As always, if you come across any good books, let me know about them!
“Here’s Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math” by Alex Bellos
I’ll be honest: I bought this book based on the title alone. I don’t really like math, and was shocked to discover that the genre of “recreational math books” actually existed. However, this ended up being a really fun and interesting book of math-related stories and a pure joy to read! A very pleasant surprise!
Recommended for: People who love numbers and/or short stories. Even if you hate math, you’d probably still like this book. Read the full review.
“The Family Worship Book: A Resource for Family Devotions” by Terry L. Johnson
The title pretty much describes this one. It is a resource book to aid husbands and fathers to carry out our mandate to lead our families in worship in the home. In addition to several helpful and encouraging practical considerations, it contains a hymnal, a ten year Bible reading schedule, Scripture memory aids, two catechisms, and some historical writings on family worship. It has been a huge benefit to my family; Nate loves to go grab the book off the shelf every night!
Recommended for: Husbands and dads. Read the full review.
“Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God” by David Platt
This is the sequel to David Platt’s runaway success, Radical. I’ve been encouraged to see many from our church reading the first book, and hope that this one will prove to be as popular! I actually found it to be more helpful than the first one, though I don’t think one should read it without having first read Radical. The first book has transformed the way many Christians think about their faith; its sequel aims to do the same for the church. After all, individual Christians can only do so much to change the world around them. It is the Church through whom God has promised to bring His purposes to completion before Christ returns!
Recommended for: Everyone who read and enjoyed Radical. Read the full review.
At the year’s halfway point, this is holding steady as my favorite book of 2011. Nancy Pearcey was a student of Francis Schaeffer, and continues his work in the field of apologetics and worldview studies. This is absolutely the best book I’ve ever read (and I’ve read quite a few!) on the impact of art, music, and literature on our culture, and the Christian’s role in shaping the culture and resisting the “secular assault”.
Recommended for: Those with an interest in pop culture and the arts, or who wish to advance the cause of Christ in our culture. Read the full review.
“Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem” by Jay W. Richards
Despite the cheesy subtitle, this is a very good book that corrects what the author identifies as eight economic myths which are commonly believed by both proponents and opponents of capitalism. He makes a very strong case for a free-market economy being the best available option, though tempers our expectations by reminding us that there can be no “perfect” economy this side of the Lord’s return because all men and all systems are tainted by sin. He also contrasts Biblical ethics with the philosophies of capitalists Ayn Rand and F.A. Hayek.
Recommended for: Those with an interest in politics and/or economics, regardless of your views on capitalism. Read the full review.
“George Müller: Delighted in God” by Roger Steer
George Müller’s legacy is one of prayer and great faithfulness. A 19th-century playboy-turned-preacher, he is most known for the orphanages he founded, which cared for over 10,000 children during his lifetime. He also kept a remarkable prayer journal, in which he recorded well over 50,000 answers to prayer! As if that weren’t enough, he also began a new career as a traveling evangelist when he was in his 70’s, and still managed to preach in 42 countries (many multiple times) without the benefit of high speed travel. This biography was an incredible encouragement to me, and a boon to my prayer life.
Recommended for: Fans of biographies, orphans, and/or prayer. Read the full review here.
“Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices” by Mosab Hassan Yousef
This is the New York Times bestselling autobiography of the son of the head of the Hamas terror organization, who joined an Israeli counter-terrorism espionage force and eventually became a Christian. He talks about the difficulties encountered living this double life (not least of which was the decision to hand his father over to the authorities rather than risk his almost certain assassination), and about his love for the Palestinian people. It’s an incredible story from someone whose obedience to Christ’s call to “love your enemies” carried some very weighty consequences.
Recommended for: Those who seek insight into the complex political and religious landscape in the Middle East, from someone with a very unique perspective. Read the full review.
“The Monster in the Hollows: The Wingfeather Saga, Book Three” by Andrew Peterson
I love reading non-fiction as much as anyone (and more than most), but nothing beats a great story! Andrew Peterson’s “Wingfeather Saga” has been one of the most enjoyable sets of books I’ve read in a loooooong time. This is the third in the series, with one more due sometime next year. I can’t recommend it highly enough, particularly for families with children. The books aren’t children’s books per se, but they will definitely have a certain appeal for kids as well as their parents!
Recommended for: Fans of The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and other epic fantasy fiction series, which pretty much includes everyone who has ever read those book. You’ll love these, too! Read the full review.
“Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom” by Ron Paul
I intend to read books by several candidates in the run-up to the next presidential election, but this was my first. The latest from Dr. Paul is a great overview of his entire political philosophy; rather than focusing on any one issue, he devotes a few pages each to 50 topics, from Abortion to Zionism. I find him to be an intriguing man, and am curious to see how he fares in next year’s primary.
Recommended for: Politically-interested folks who want to stay as informed as possible about those who are contending for our votes. Read the full review.
“Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
One of the best selling books of the last half decade, the authors of Freakonomics sought to apply the science of economic thought to fields other than finance. After all, one of the prime motivations of the book was the belief that economics is a wonderful method for finding answers, but that most economists just don’t ask interesting questions. The result is a fascinating and totally original book that asks and answers questions like, “Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?” and “How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real estate agents?” It’s a best seller for a reason!
Recommended for: Readers who like something a little different. Read the full review.
“The Portage to San Cristóbal of A.H.” by George Steiner
This is one of the most controversial novels written in the last several decades. Steiner, a Jew, writes a piece of alternative historical fiction in which Hitler did not die in 1945, but escaped to hide out in the Amazon. A group of Nazi hunters finds him, and tries to take him to trial, but traveling through the rainforest with a 90-year-old man is difficult. The main controversy comes in the end, when Hitler speaks in his own defense at his trial, not only rationalizing his actions, but insisting that Jews ought to be indebted to him. The novel creates some very provocative questions in the minds of readers about the nature of evil and the power of words.
Recommended for: Philosophers, historians, and people who don’t mind a book that challenges the intellect. Read the full review.