Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Book Superlatives (updated!)

*Yes, It is that time of year again. Time for my Superlative list! My last one was 2008! Not sure how I missed last year....Oh yeah! Working in retail over the holidays. Perhaps I will do a short list later on.
This year we will include an extra media besides books, but as usual the majority will be literature of some sort. I think you might notice that I have branched out in my reading a little more. So hold your hot chocolate and keep your hands inside the borders at all times: HERE WE GO!!

filler :( )
This is one of the best graphic novel series I've red since Watchmen and V: for Vendetta. Very much a postmodern commentary a culture, society, traditions, gender roles, expectations. And that doesn't even scratch the surface. Sadly, I came into this series far after the original publications, but I have to say that the experience of reading it all straight through helped me to appreciate all of the subtleties even more. This is a must for all re
aders, comic book fans or not!

As I stated in my review, this is a great book. I think that it is a book that any follower of Christ should read. There are a ton of reasons to suggest this book (besides the superlative title) and I keep finding more as I've had conversations and suggested this book to different people. It is great to have a little fun with Jesus. Why? Because it gets past our sacred cow barriers and allows us to question and challenge our views. This is a super-easy read (and that is not a discredit to the book). It is accessible yet still something for everyone. Give this one a go and see where Matt takes you!

I have started shifting to more books about politics and culture. Not sure why lately, just needed a break from the over-saturation of religious books I usually read. This book, however, by Washington Post columnist, Dan
a Milbank, does a good job of letting Beck speak for himself. Sadly though, what he says is not pretty. I can tune the guy out because he is mostly theatrical non-sense, but Dana makes a strong case of why he is actually dangerous. Being a "leader" of the Tea Party movement, he has a platform. If you read his history and how he has escalated over the years, we begin to see that the bigger the platform he is given, the more outrageous he becomes! However, I can't blame Beck for the radical reactivity in our great country. Somewhere along the line we began to trust clowns like this without questioning, thinking, or challenging what we are hearing. Now I am a big fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. However, as much as I love him, I have to remember that a filter has to go in place when I watch the show. I believe that with celebrity (esp. Beck's kind of celebrity) comes a responsibility. It is obvious from Milbank's perspective that Beck becomes more dangerous as he becomes more famous. Why? Because he will sa
y whatever he can to get more and more attention! Agree or not, this is a great book to read and challenge!

These are very sophisticated series for the YA genre. Set in a post-apocolyptic america, government control has regulated 12 (formerly 13) districts to a specific industry. With District 12 being the poorest and hardest district, the closer you get to 1 (and then the capital) the better the
conditions. A corrupt government also makes each district pick a male and a female (teen of course) to send to the "hunger games". This is a near-future gladiatorial event that the only way to win is to kill and be the last one standing. What I love about this series is that the main character is naturally subversive of the systems that hold her district captive. She doesn't mean to be, but everything she does ends up subverting the only institution in the book. There is a lot of post-colonial philosophy going on in this series that will be way over the YA reader's head. Yet at the same time they will connect with the sentiment and desire to make life better for all!
The series is not as strong a finisher as it starts, but it is still worth the read no matter what your age! Do yourself a favor and pick this series up!

This band is fantastic. From England, this 4-man folk band sounds bigger than they are. They have an amazing harmony and a great use of dynamics and raw emotion to get their music across. This band is very spiritual, yet not in an overt way. It is hard to nail them down theologically, and that's just fine with me. I find something new in each song! From toe-tapping complex rhythms to deeps harmonies that make your heart sink! This band is a fantastic find. I can't wait to see where they take us in the future!

This book is not a ness. a spiritual book, but none-the-less, churches and spiritual communities could learn a lot from what Block has to offer. This book is about fragmentation and the desire to belong. This transcends any single organizational structure. Where I connect with this book is def. in the church setting. As we have a daughter, a community to which we can truly "belong" (And Block has a great way of defining "belonging") is high on our priority lists. As the institutional Church continues to shrink, they focus more on gimmicks, styles, or templates that will put them back into the numerical position they have enjoyed for the last 50ish years. Block offers no gimmicks or templates. He simply discusses the structure and idea of community through the lens of "belonging". Many churches and organizations could take a lot from this book and use it to make a warm and welcoming environment where people WANT to belong! We all have the desire to belong, however, finding the place where we are allowed to truly belong is the real challenge for the future of many groups, churches and other organizations! A DEF. MUST READ!

I knew Jim Butcher was a popular fiction writer, but he was lost amid the myriad of popular authors that saturate the new release section of a book store. However, a former coworker was sent these books while serving in Iraq and loved them. After much talk I promised I would give it a chance. I got book 1 on Audiobook and have not stopped since!
Now understand, my interest in modern-day wizards began and ended with Harry Potter. Honestly, this has all of the stuff in it that simply have no interest in: Modern day wizards, werewolves, fairies, and the worst of all....VAMPIRES!!! But there is something about this series that keeps me coming back. The characters truly do come alive. Not only is Harry Dresden an awesome and fully realized lead, but in the audio versions, James Marsters IS Harry Dresden! His voice adds so much to the book. Even if I read one of the books, I will hear Harry through Marster's vocal lens! This is def. a series that should be given a chance...even if, like me, it is out of your normal fiction zone!

This is a great journal for readers. It has places for the title, author, notes and quotes. In addition there are pages specially designed for fav. quotations, and several lists of top books. My favorite section has a cloud that takes you from processing the books you've read and finding other books on a subject that was inspired by the previous book. For instance: when I read the book on Glenn Beck (above), I wrote that in the cloud and realized it made me want to learn more about the Tea Party and it's effect on America. So I researched and came up with 3 books (from different perspectives) on the subject. Have I read them yet? No. But I plan to! And this is why this journal is such a gem. It makes sure you not only have a good processed record of what you HAVE read, but makes sure that I am never without another book to read!

This man has had a great journey and many, many remarkable stories. Larry presents his own life in his trademark dry humor. It truly is amazing all of the people. A great Bio.

This book is a collection of essays on a variety of topics. My favorite essays gave some insight into the American psyche throughout the great Captain's career. Cap., as a symbol of the American spirit, has changed a lot since his WWII era debut. There was a lot of political, cultural and comic insight

Just like The Daily Show's Last book, AMERICA, this book is laugh out loud funny! Not always reverent, nor appropriate for those without a since of humor, this book is a great read. It is a cultural commentary on the human race (specifically the American humans!). This book is a hoot and has been a great conversational piece for many visitors! Found wherever books are sold, except Wal-Mart!

This translation is a very easy to understand translation. I'm still researching where it falls on the "Translation/paraphrase" spectrum, but all in all it seems to a great Bible. I use this version a lot with youth. I like that there are contractions used when the writers deem the text personal and stay formal where the text seems formal. I can't wait to see what the full Bible will be like in 2011!

Last year a new version of the NT arrived called "The Voice". Those same people are hard at work on the OT and have produced "The Voice of Psalms". I really like the lyrical feel of this. If fits beautifully with the NT and only wets my appetite for the full Bible! They are continuing to produce beautiful texts while staying true to the original nature of the original language. This is not always an easy task, but what is coming out may, in fact, be the most accessible and relevant version of the Bible to date. What makes it the Bible of choice over the one above (although it depends on the situation which Bible I might would use, and I still use as many versions as possible when teaching) is that it reclaims the Bible as a work of art. Now one could argue that it was never meant to be a work of art, but sometimes we need reminding that it transcends a "guide-book to life", or "God's book of promises". In fact, "The voice of Psalms" is a great reminder that the psalms were, in fact, a work of poetry and lyrics of such beauty for it's day... and like all art, they can speak to us in such different ways....even beyond what the author intended! Pick this one up!

Happy 2010 and Best Wishes as we share 2011 together!!!!

* Update to original publication


  1. Here is my friend Mary's 2010 book list

  2. The Hunger Games trilogy was already on my ever growing list. And now, Tears of a Clown is too. Thanks for the shout-out.