I am reviving the book reviews I used to do here, with a little change in the format. In stead of occasional “drive-by book reviews”, I’ll be sharing my reading at the end of every month.

So to begin, here are some of the books I have read in May. I hope you find this list helpful.

If you don’t want to wait until the end of the month, I usually post a quick review on Facebook as soon as I finish a book.

The Time Travelers Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer

If you at all enjoy history, especially medieval history, you will absolutely love this. It is the closest to actual time travel we will ever get. The author has written similar books for different periods, and I am anxious to sink my teeth into those as well.

The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman

I’m old enough to remember when WWI vets marched in Memorial Day parades. As the years went by their numbers diminished and they moved to cars and floats, until finally there were none. Overshadowed by WWII, the first war of the 20th century set the stage for much of the conflict that was to come.

Guns of August (I just finished listening to this on Audible) gives a detailed and yet non-tedious look at the opening weeks of the “War to End All Wars”.

Highly recommended by me.

The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung

It is not a long book – I finished it in just a few sittings – but do not let that fool you! It had me under conviction from the beginning until the end. Kevin DeYoung has the ability to take high theological truths (in this case, the relationship between grace and obedience) and distill them to their essence, making them eminently understandable and applicable.

I highly recommend this book as a supplement to your daily devotional walk, and as a ministry resource.

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

I’ve read a lot on the fall of the Roman Empire, but this work focuses on how Rome went from being a little town hanging precariously on the banks of the Tiber to being the ruler of the Mediterranean world.

The author has done her research, yet the reading is quite accessible and doesn’t get bogged down in details. Her section on the rise of Christianity within the Empire is worth the price of the book.

1491: New Revelations About the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C Mann

After reading this book I wish I had a whole other life to dedicate to the study of pre-Columbian civilization.

Mann presents an overview of new scholarship, based largely on new technologies, that challenges old views of life in the Americas before Columbus. Basically, there were more people here, they were more civilized, and manipulated their environment more than we give them credit for.
I was particularly pleased with his treatment of Amazonian civilizations (yes, such a thing existed) and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy – possibly because they represent my current and former stomping grounds, respectively.


The Many Altars of Modernity: Toward a Paradigm for Religion in a Pluralist Age by Peter L. Berger

My choice of this book was the result of an online discussion about secularization. In it, Berger presents many of concepts to digest re. secularization, pluralism, and the place of religion in society.

Not light reading by any stretch of the imagination, but not boring either. Berger deals with essential issues Christians need to grapple with as we make our way in an increasingly secular society.

Expect an extended critique/interaction at the website within the next couple of days.

Marvel 1602 – Spider Man by Jeff Parker and Ramon Rosanas

After slogging through Peter Berger, I needed something lite to give my synapses a break. This did the trick.
This graphic novel (final issue of a story arc, each featuring different members of the Marvel Comic Universe) answers that burning question: What if the Marvel superheroes had shown up in the 17th century instead of the 20th?
Surprisingly well done, lots of catchphrases reformulated into Elizabethan English, a few anti-Christian jabs, a lot of great action, and a very cool surprise ending.
What about you? Read anything interesting in May? Leave your suggestions and recommendations in the comment section.

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