I still have a couple books that I’m working on, but they’re not going to significantly change this list, so here are my favorite and least favorite reads from the last year (excluding re-reads):
#1 – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – How have I not read this before? I love heroes who stands up for what they believe in regardless of likely consequences.
#2 – Introducing Garrett PI by Glen Cook – Basically Philip Marlowe in a (mostly) serious fantasy world (I’m only about 2/3 done with this omnibus, but I’m pretty sure this is where it’s going to fall)
#3 – The Singer from Memphis by Gary Corby – Socrates’ older brother continues his run as investigator/agent for Pericles with the usual blend of humor, history, and mayhem
#4 – The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilberg Clark – A Western that “transcends the genre” and explores the psychology of a lynch mob
#5 – Hag Seed by Margaret Atwood – A multi-strand “retelling” of The Tempest occurring largely in a prison
Honorable Mention – Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook – Mediocre writing style, but good escapist dark fantasy
#1 – Constantine and the Christian Empire by Charles Matson Odahl – A balanced history that avoids the extremes of Constantine-the-saint (Catholic view), Constantine-the-Machiavellian (Cynical view), or Constantine-the-corrupter-of-Christianity (“low church” Protestant view)
#2 – Tweetable Nietzsche: His Essential Ideas Revealed and Explained by Ivan C. Spencer – A basic, simplified overview of this man’s world-shaping ideas.
#3 – What about Free Will?: Reconciling Our Choices and God’s Sovereignty by Scott Christensen – An explanation and defense of compatibilistic free will (“soft determinism”)
#4 – Kierkegaard: A Single Life by Stephen Blackhouse – An engaging look at the circumstances, motivations, influences, and publication history of his writings
#5 – Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ by Andre David Naselli & J. D. Crowley – A book all Christians should heed when it comes to culture and morally ambiguous issues
Honorable mention – Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi – Helpful in understanding Muslim culture and view of Christianity
Worst Reads (Fiction & Non-Fiction)
#1 – Any Man So Daring by Sarah A Hoyt – A promising idea: Fantasy starring William Shakespeare…unfortunately spent 3/4 of its time in repetitive, morbid introspection.
#2 – Magnificent Malevolence: Memoirs of a Career in Hell by Murray Watts – An aping of The Screwtape Letters, that would only be enjoyable for those sharing the author’s exact theological views
#3 – Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami – A surreal, random, plot-is-very-secondary books with an unlikeable protagonist
#4 – Hell’s Bounty by John & Joe Lansdale – A horror/western mashup that was mostly juvenile, over-the-top action
#5 – Before Auschwitz: What Christian Theology Must Learn from the Rise of Nazism by Paul Hinlicky – Far more intellectual showing off than helpful warnings with an almost complete disregard for conservative theology
Dishonorable Mention – Electric Light by Seamus Heaney – I’m just not a poetry person unless it’s epic/narrative poetry