Here are some books I’ve read recently along with some linkage to more info. Hope it’s a blessing.
Remaking the World: How 1776 Created the Post-Christian West by Andrew Wilson
This was a fantastic book on many levels. You can read another review like this one for more substance, but I’ll share a couple of tongue-in-cheek comments from other reviews that capture just how sharp a person Wilson has to be to pull this book off.
First, J.D. Greear:
“I secretly hate him, because it is not fair that any one person be that knowledgeable about that many things.”
Second, Jake Meador:
“Andrew is a very annoying person. He’s a pastor with a PhD in theology. He’s written an excellent book on Exodus and another great one on disability and parenting. And then amidst all of that he comes out with my favorite history book of the year which evinces a doctoral level of research throughout. So he’s talented and lovely to talk to and a good friend and I have nothing bad to say about him. But when you’re a writer having a writer friend like him can be very annoying. It’s like when I was trying and failing to learn German and my roommate who already had Hebrew started being able to read academic German after a summer intensive. I was happy for him and pleased to see him doing good work. And also he was annoying. That’s all I’m saying.”
Indeed. I listened to the audiobook version of the book and had mixed feelings. I would have loved to sit and slowly read a hardback version, but don’t currently have the time.
40 Questions about the Apostle Paul by Miguel Echevarría and Benjamin Laird
Paul is the subject of the latest volume from the helpful 40 Questions series from Kregel Academic. (See my review of the volumes on Biblical Theology or Prayer.) Like the others in the series, this introductory volume’s strength is how accessible information is and how this book can launch deeper study by recommending other resources. As with any title in a series like this, some of the questions had more substance than others. Some questions (especially the ones about Paul’s background) seemed to say very little and yet repeat it a lot in the chapter.
The authors do a good job in presenting various views on controversial issues and alerting readers to when they share their own views. (For what it’s worth, the authors are complementarian and continuationist.) If you’re looking for a good introduction to the apostle Paul by academics that isn’t too academic, I’d recommend 40 Questions about the Apostle Paul.
I can’t tell if I loved this book or hated it.
Ahrens shared brilliant advice about learning, reading, writing, and organizing ideas, much of it flowing from the “Zettelkasten”, a legendary note-taking technique made by a German social scientist. (One revolutionary idea is that writing is learning.) Ahrens wrote much about what he considers inferior techniques for note taking and learning—many of them I have used or still use.
I kept waiting for him to answer my practical questions about his supposed genius system (like How do you write notes that can fit in several categories? How do you connect notes, which apparently is the key to the system being “smart”?). I kept waiting for practical examples that could show how it worked…but they never came. Maybe I’m slow?
The first line of the top Goodreads review told me I’m on to something: “This book should have been titled ‘My long and repetitive ramblings about learning theory, with some asides about how to create a Zettelkasten (slip-box of notes), without examples.’”
That being said, I am glad I read the book. It motivated me to take intentional notes and continue to invest in forming a digital note taking system that will pay dividends for future writing and creative work.
I just started Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte and it seems like it will be more practically helpful—for me at least!
Help for the Hungry Soul: Eight Encouragements to Grow Your Appetite for God’s Word by Kristen Wetherell
A clear and compelling pep-talk for your soul about loving God’s Word and making it a central part of your life. I listened to the audiobook and thought Aimee Lilly did an exceptional job delivering the content.
We attend the same church as Kristen, and it was fun to hear testimonies from several people we know scattered throughout the book.
Impossible Christianity: Why Following Jesus Does Not Mean You Have to Change the World, Be an Expert in Everything, Accept Spiritual Failure, and Feel Miserable Pretty Much All the Time by Kevin DeYoung