Here is a rundown of the 6 books I read in June. Once again it’s an eclectic selection. The Einstein book is over 600 pages and slowed me down a bit. Take a look.
Memoirs Of An Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson by DA Carson
I really appreciated this thin volume. To the non-pastor reader this book probably does not provide much of interest. It is a son writing about the ministry of his father. No, his father was not the leader of a mega church. No, his father did not lead a world wide rival. Tom Carson was a local church pastor. He faithfully served his church, his community, and his family. It really is that simple. Pastors need to read more books like this one. We need to abandon dreams of success for dreams of faithfulness. This memoir pushes us in that direction.
I would love to find more books like this one – memoirs and biographies of local church pastors. No glitz and glamor. Just faithful ministry.
Preaching From The Minor Prophets by Elizabeth Achtemeier
I read this in preparation for a sermon series on the Minor Prophets. This book is a primer on the works of the Minor Prophets. It covers each minor prophet providing recommended commentaries, historical context, theological context, notes on the text from selected passages, and sermon themes on selected passages.
This is a very helpful volume to read after digging into more in-depth commentaries. I found it useful as an aid in taking very difficult prophetic works and beginning to think in smaller “preachable” messages. Well worth the read for those preaching the Minor Prophets.
Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
I’m a sucker for big, thick biographies of historical figures. I enjoy reading the story of people who have achieved great things. This mammoth book did not disappoint.
I had limited knowledge of Einstein’s life and work prior to reading this book. I picked it up after reading about Einstein’s letter to President Roosevelt detailing fear of the Nazi’s acquiring the elements to create an atomic weapon. This biography only devotes a single brief chapter to what eventually resulted in a US atomic bomb, but I still found the book fascinating.
I enjoyed reading of Einstein’s repeated failure to obtain a doctorate and his failures as a husband and father. It sounds strange to say I enjoyed reading of his failure but it provided realistic depiction of Einstein and added to my one dimensional understanding of the man.
I also recommend Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.
Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement For A Complex World by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, Chris Fussell
I was impressed by the writing in this book. It is incredibly crisp, clear, and engaging. The book sets out to discuss organizational adjustments needed to adapt to our rapidly changing “complex world.” The main author, General Stanley McChrystal, accomplishes this task by giving brief insights learned from serving as the commander of American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. His insights are broadened to make larger points to readers who lead various organizations. At points you can tell the work of numerous coauthors. Some portions are heavily military focused. Some portions are heavily business focused. Some portions are heavily social science focused. Yet, it works.
I appreciate books that speak from an area of expertise that I don’t possess. I appreciate books that can clearly explain lesson learned from a specific situation and provide on-ramps for readers to make the appropriate application to their given context. This book puts a square peg into that square hole.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This is another book read in my attempt to work through books roughly classified as “modern classics.” An incredibly easy read – but not one that I enjoyed.
The basic theme: The pursuit of a Personal Legend exists as life’s dominant goal. Or you cloud simplify it: “Go chase your dreams or you will not be happy.” Yet, to get to that message one must wade through a story that reeks of new age philosophy, vague references to Christianity and Islam, omens, nature theology, and other oddness. I personally found it to be a strange message. Yet, I did enjoy the use of numerous metaphors and symbols.
On a different note, as a book lover, I appreciated the 25th Anniversary Edition published by Harper One. It’s a paperback with a beautiful front and back cover, small sketches through the book, and deckled edges. A+ on book design.
Inferno by Dan Brown
I first read Dan Brown during the height of The Da Vinci Code craze. It was a topic among the church crowd and pop culture in general. I have since read the volumes in Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series: Angels and Demons, The Lost Symbol and now Inferno. Like the other volumes, Inferno is a great read.
Now there is a great deal of difference between a great read and a great book. A great book has a fascinating and original story, well-develop characters, skilled writing, and usually communicates a powerful message. A great read on the other hand merely keeps you turning the page. Inferno is a great read.
At the center of this book is Dante’s Divine Comedy.