Sunday, January 07, 2007

Books of the Year, 2006 edition. I have been fortunate to read a number of excellent books this year; the following are the cream of a good crop:
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (The Penguin Press). I was inspired to read this by Stuart Buck and was not disappointed. Very thought provoking and informative.
  • The Afghan Campaign by Stephen Pressfield (Random House). This excellent novel of the Afghan Campign waged by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C., shows both the horror of war and the honor which men can rise to. As in The Gates of Fire (his brilliant novel about Thermopylae) Pressfield is able to convey the sense of fighting men and men living in an age of pagan religion without demeaning their religion. I confess that I was a little disappointed by his last book, The Virtues of War. [Additionally, I "read" this in audiobook format by James Langton, who was superb.]
  • The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, by Lawrence Wright (Knopf).
  • Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam by Mark Bowden.
  • Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang, Jon Halliday (actually, I didn't finish reading this -- my three weeks at the library came up before I finished it and it had a lot of holds).
There were two which almost made this list (very good, but not quite in the same tier):
  • No Greater Glory: The Four Immortal Chaplains and the Sinking of the Dorchester in World War II by Dan Kurzman.
  • Prayers for the Assassin: A Novel by Robert Ferrigno.
In addition, there were three excellent re-reads: (1) William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist; (2) the Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy, and (3) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Books I hope to read in 2007:
  • The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings, 1947-2005, edited by Edward E. Ericson, Jr., and Daniel Mahoney (ISI Books). Some time ago, Ericson released an abridged version of the Archipeligo Trilogy -- I missed that and haven't been able to find it. I don't want to miss this.
  • The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, by Michael Lewis (Norton). Lewis' Moneyball was a wonderful find -- I'm looking forward to his analysis of football (although he sees the key position as left tackle, I see it as center).
  • Reading is Believing by David S. Cunningham (Brazos Press).
  • Fiasco, by Thomas Ricks. I lent my copy out.
  • Darkness Is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness by
    Kathryn Greene-McCreight (Brazos Press)
  • Mary, A Catholic-Evangelical Debate by Dwight Longenecker and David Gustafson (Brazos Press).
  • Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth-Century England, by Timothy Larsen (Oxford Univ. Press). This one was named "Book of the Year" By John Wilson (who also mentions several of the books above) who writes:
    You know the familiar story, according to which virtually every thinking person in late-Victorian England either lost his faith or maintained a pale simulacrum of genuine belief. While Timothy Larsen acknowledges that there were of course plenty of instances of deconversion, in his new book he draws attention to a counternarrative that has been widely overlooked, embodied in the experience of men and women who moved from doubt or resolute skepticism to Christian faith. In chapter after chapter of brilliantly condensed biography, he tells the stories of individuals whose lives followed this second course. This is a book that will force honest scholars to reconsider what they thought they knew.


In the book department, here is a small library of contemporary Evangelical books on-line: