Posted in Christianity, Life

Great Books I’ve Read in 2022 – Part 1

50209323. sx318 sy475 After Prayer: New Sonnets and Other Poems by Malcolm Guite
My friend Glen recently made the observation, “I like poetry, which means I hate most of it,” and if that’s not relatable I don’t know what is. But I have found a modern, currently-living poet whose work I consistently really like.
I’ve been slowly tracking down his books to read. He’s from Brittan, so I can’t always find them in my American libraries, but I’m happy to acquire copies to keep anyway. I actually listened to this one as an audiobook, read by the author. He reads his poetry well. One of my favorites was “The Christian Plummet”, which you can read (and hear) on his blog.
Also. I emailed him to ask if I could use his poems in my church bulletin. I’m constantly on the lookout for good material, and I’ve gotten braver about asking, since most people writing really good things aren’t necessarily putting it out there with blanket reprinting permission, but I’ve found they’re usually happy to allow this use. I expected a reply from a secretary or the like, BUT I GOT A REPLY FROM THE MAN HIMSELF.
I might have fangirled. A lot.

Hoping for Happiness: Turning Life’s Most Elusive Feeling into Lasting Reality by Barnabas Piper
Somehow Christianity as a whole has ended up either teaching that happiness doesn’t matter but JOY does, because it’s something you can have even while being miserable all the time, (honestly, I’ve always found explanations of how joy doesn’t have to mean you’re happy unconvincing), or that God wanting you to be happy means you should get to do whatever you want. Barnabas Piper gets into the theology of why happiness does matter, how to base your happiness on foundations that can support it, and why Christians should not feel guilty for enjoying things. I think this is an important discussion that many people need to hear, clearing up confusing and inaccurate messages that have been around for a long time.

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The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard
I stayed up wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too late finishing this book. Because I needed to.
A security guard picks up the latest best seller at the store where he works. It’s a true-crime memoir written by a woman who, as a child, was the only survivor when a man killed her family, and now she is trying to track down who did it.
The security guard knows who did it. It was him.
This book alternates between sections of that memoir and sections of the killer reading it and freaking out. It makes for something very different from your typical thriller, because obviously you know who done it the whole time. But it’s still gripping and fascinating. I couldn’t put it down.
Fair warning: not for the faint of heart. I’m not easily disturbed by books, but I did find this somewhat disturbing. XD Also, periodic strong language throughout.

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There is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell
The authors and I have different worldviews, and I didn’t agree with everything they said. But this book is full of excellent practical advice on how to be supportive when others are hurting. It’s an easy, unintimidating read that goes by quickly, and I think a lot of people could find it beneficial.

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The History of Ancient Egypt by Bob Brier
This is a series of lectures that I listened to as an audiobook, and I enjoyed it a lot. I’ve always found ancient Egyptian art and history interesting. This made for a good overview of the subject. It was mostly chronological, with occasional detours into specific topics like mummification or hieroglyphics. It is somewhat older (produced in 1999), and even I am aware of some things that have changed in what scholars know since then, and I’m sure there’s more. An up-to-date version would be interesting to have.
There’s so much (ancient Egypt lasted so long there were ancient Egyptian archeologists studying ancienter Egypt), and even this 24-hour-long audiobook can only scratch the surface. But that still provides plenty of opportunity to learn things.
Bob Brier clearly loves his subject, and I enjoyed listening to him. I also admired his treatment of the Bible stories of Joseph and the Exodus. He went through both and discussed things in the stories that ring true to Egyptian culture. I expected he would insist they’re just nonsense, so this was refreshing and I learned things.
My favorite tidbit out of it all: during the time of the Library of Alexandria, the only library that could really rival it was in Pergamum. Egypt didn’t want the competition, so they stopped exporting papyrus so the Pergamum library couldn’t keep making books. The Pergamum library had to find another way, and they started writing on vellum. Since vellum doesn’t roll nicely into scrolls like papyrus, they arranged it in folded stacks. Thus, the modern form of books.

For more book recommendations, click here.

2 thoughts on “Great Books I’ve Read in 2022 – Part 1

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