I read a lot. Periodically people ask me what I’m reading—and why. So I thought I would share with those who are interested what books have been on my nightstand—or what books I’ve been listening to as I’ve biked my way along the canal.
Stephen King, The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass. I admit that I’m primarily reading this series before the movie comes out later this winter. I’ve often said that King’s talents are wasted on pop horror. That said, this dark fantasy series certainly represents a departure from King’s trademark genre. The story is built around a quest narrative, as an unlikely band of travelers are searching for the fabled Dark Tower. King’s setting is an unlikely combination of Tolkien’s Middle Earth and an old Spaghetti Western—but it works. While I’ve been appreciating King’s usual command of metaphor and turns of phrase, I’ve felt that King’s penchant for dark, moody characters and settings serves to obscure more timeless story elements such as honor and nobility. Since I’m only halfway through the series, perhaps my judgment is premature. It’s just that while writers like Tolkien—or even George Lucas, for that matter—presented tales with a clearly-define moral compass, King’s grey and murky worlds may be full of imagery, but fall short of truly capturing the imagination.
Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. Reading this with my small group. Chan’s simplicity is both his greatest strength and weakness. His writing is clear and direct, though he tends to be dismissive of important, historic debates on the subject of the Holy Spirit as merely “academic.” Still, now that I’m nearly through it the strengths far outshine this weakness, and I can think of no better resource of Christ-followers to grow in their understanding of the Holy Spirit.
Christopher Hitchens, Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man. I’ve recently taken to learning more about the philosophy that undergirds our American political system. Having read Paine’s original writings, I’m finding Hitchens to be a valuable guide through Paine’s original context.
J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Vance’s memoir came recommended in light of the recent political climate. His work presents a vivid description of today’s white, working-class poor, and is illustrative of the kind of sociological angst resides in a surprising percentage of the U.S. population.