Things I like that should become Christmas presents. For me, or your friend. BOOKS

Books about Christmas

Song of the Stars

by Sally Lloyd-Jones

I admit that I have not read this one yet. I have however read large portions of Sally Lloyd-Jones’ Jesus Storybook Bible and found it charming and theologically engaging. My wife and I made gifts of the JSB to little children we know last Christmas.

This edition of the Jesus Storybook Bible comes with a CD of David Suchet (!) reading the entire book. Parfait!

We got this for the older kids last year and the reviews are in: “It’s awesome, Uncle Mickey!”

I picked up a copy for myself the other day. Psyched to check it out.

In the Fullness of Time

by Paul L Maier

Here’s another I haven’t read. I am a fan of Paul L Maier’s other work, particularly his historical novel Pontius Pilate. I’ve added this to my wish list 😉

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Andrew Peterson
The Wingfeather Saga

I think we may read these next Christmas. Peterson is one talented guy. I love his music – I put it on repeat at work nearly every day. His Matthew’s Begats song was the centerpiece of my wife and my (first) advent together.

This is his children’s fantasy book series!

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What we’ll be reading this Christmas

I am very excited to read Calvin Miller’s Singer Trilogy as part of Advent this year. I peeked at the first few pages and it is beautiful!

We’ve already read one story, Port in the Storm, from the George MacDonald short story collection. My wife is a huge   fan of his (and a true fan; she was like, “Oh, I didn’t know CS Lewis liked him.”).

This

Federation

I don’t know what this is. Looks cool though.

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Notable books I read in 2012

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

Here is the book I’m currently reading. I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. I’m about two years of obsessing away from graduating to Sherlockian. The original sixty stories cannot be touched. As far as homages, pastiches, and fan pieces go, this is near the top of the heap. Nicolas Meyer (who would go on to direct the film version I have not seen yet, as well as Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country) writes this convincingly in the voice of Watson. A fun romp through the overly fogged streets of late 19th century London and the mysterious train lines through Europe, this is a great book for those frosty days after Christmas.

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Who I Am

by Pete Townshend

Of course I’ve also read Pete Townshend’s autobiography this year. I had been anticipating this book for as long I’ve been a Who fan. I started listening to the band around 1998 or so. Townshend had announced this volume way back then, having been commissioned with its writing a few years earlier still.

I enjoyed it quite a bit, though it’s not the revelatory masterpiece I was hoping for. Maybe he’s got nothing left to reveal. Or maybe I’m growing out of it (I hope I die I before I get old!) I think the real problem I have with the book is that I was expecting Townshend to be a great writer of books given his unmatched excellence in the field of writing songs. Well, music and books are two very different things.

All the same, I can’t imagine having not read it. This is a must for Who fans and should prove fascinating for those interested in general Rock history.

It’s filled with stories chronicling the inception of classic songs (the Sally Simpson episode is particularly interesting). I noticed that Townshend casually quoted his songs quite a lot. There was never any presentation to indicate his songs were being quoted. He would simply tell a story and, within the prose, a familiar phrase would appear. This would pass a casual fan right by. A Who fan was instantly clued in that he’s revealing the source of this or that song. That aspect was very fun.

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Supergods

by Grant Morrison

Part history of comics, part freewheeling autobiography, Morrison’s stunning and mostly riveting book comes with a hearty Geeks of Christ recommendation.

Morrison and I obviously disagree on some things (drug use, pantheism, etc). What we can unite on is a surprisingly large volume of topics. Our primary acceptance of comics as the new Myth sets us both on our respective spiritual journeys. My journey led me to Christ. His to … nowhere good, from what I gather.

Nevertheless, this book offers a wonderful insight into the depth of meaning inserted into comic books by their creators and the inspirations they can give their readers.

*

Redshirts

by John Scalzi

Scalzi understands Star Trek. His send-up reveals just how silly my favorite sci-fi franchise can be.

I wouldn’t recommend this one for kids, unfortunately. If it weren’t for several uses of the f-word and some sexual situations, this would be perfect for young Trek fans. These scenes are particularly annoying because it feels as though they’re shoved into a story that doesn’t require any of that. Ah well…still, I enjoyed this book a great deal and recommend it to grown fans of Star Trek.

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Charles Dickens

Jane Austen

Elizabeth Gaskell

Boxed sets/Vintage Editions

Here’s the Classics section. I dug into some Austen and Dickens earlier this year. I also read Cranford, which was edited by Mr Dickens for his friend Elizabeth Gaskell. Of these, A Tale of Two Cities stands out. This isn’t a literary blog, so I’ll only post the links to these gorgeous boxed-set/vintage editions available now.

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Sherlock Holmes

Boxed Set

The New Annotated Editions

While we’re on the topic of gorgeous boxed-sets…

Here is a fun slipcase for the complete Sherlock Holmes collection. And, here’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy the stories of the famous sleuth: The New Annoted Sherlock Holmes. These are a blast to flip through, to read the stories in, or to study. I own the third volume and hope to add the first and second to my library someday. The presentation is just so pretty too! I can never decide if I want to leave the slip cover on or off. It’s one of those, y’know.

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The Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of the HMS Bounty

 

I read this account of the infamous Mutiny on the Bounty expecting the version that novelized the events. Turns out, that was written entertainingly by Nordhoff and Hall. This one is a much more straightforward reporting of the events.

As ever, my favorite parts are of the unlikely survival of the forsaken Captain Bligh in the dinghy that will return him to the western world.

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Frederick Buechner

Telling the Truth

Godric

 

Memoirs Collection

The Sacred Journey

Now & Then

Telling Secrets

I cannot assemble a list of recommendations and exclude Buechner.

Those frantic days before Christmas need calming. Reflection, conversation, and celebration are more appropriate than rushing and hunting down sales. Of course, I’m guilty of ruining Christmas with financial and commercial desperation. I do not need that stuff though. I have more. And Christmas is as good a time as any (perhaps better) to reconnect with that quiet part of yourself, the part that admits fears, doubts, and wishes for second chances. That part is the part of you that can worship better, because it is that part that the Holy Spirit comes into. He enters you through the truth. That part of yourself is the part that loves salvation because it knows just what it’s been saved from.

Buechner is the writer who can deliver me to that part of myself. I don’t naturally reflect. I need encouragement. No other stranger has ever moved me to explore the depths of my own self and the heights of my self with Christ more than Buechner.

I cannot compile a list of recommendations without vigorously pointing you toward my own favorite writer, Frederick Buechner.

I have included links to his most famous novel, Godric, and what may be his most famous non-fiction book, Telling the Truth. I’ve also linked each of the three parts of his memoirs.

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3 thoughts on “Things I like that should become Christmas presents. For me, or your friend. BOOKS

  1. Question, Pete has mentioned more than once that he had to edit his book down from almost twice the size it is. Do you think that because of this massive edit it lost the thing that we were all expecting/looking for? (Also what a great list of books you have put together).

  2. I’ve wondered the same thing. Pete is infamously long-winded (his stage chatter alone could fill a few thousand pages). But being long-winded isn’t really a fault when we’re talking about PT because he’s just so darn interesting!

    So if he had to cut his freewheelin’ prose style down to accommodate his editor’s 500-page requirement, it seems likely to me that we missed out on some classic Pete.

    Another thing, who did they expect to read this book? I imagine many casual fans picked it up (my local library has their copy on display). But the biggest demographic would certainly be Who fans, right? If that’s right then the publishers clearly don’t understand Who fans. We don’t want half of Pete’s story! We want it all – and if it’s over a thousand pages, so be it!

  3. I agree if it took him more than a thousand pages then bring it on. I really enjoyed the book, because it was a book about Pete, by Pete. However I described it to a friend as if someone took a great book and highlighted parts and pieces, took the highlighted parts and created this book. The meaty parts are missing. You are so right…we want it all! The more Pete the merrier!

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