Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

2017 Book Awards and Reading List


Well, it looks like it’s a new year, and seeing as it’s 2018, that means I’ll be doing my ninth annual Book Awards. If you want to click on the "Book Awards" tag at the bottom of the post, you’ll be able to find the last 8 years worth of year-end book reviews.

Here’s how this works. For each category I choose the book I read over the past year that I enjoyed the most. However, I only choose from the books that I was reading for the first time last year. So if you see something amazing on my list of books that didn’t get chosen, it might be because it was a re-read this year and so wasn’t in the running. (If it weren’t for this rule, I would just have to pick The Hobbit as best fiction book every couple of years.)

So without further ado, here are the awards for 2017.

Best Book I Read Out Loud to My Kids This Year: 
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
                               
I was blown away by this book. I haven’t enjoyed a new book this much for a long time. I could technically have counted this as the winner for two categories because I read it myself early in the year, and then I read it out loud to my kids in the latter half of the year. Imagine Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, but mixed up with the atmosphere of English Fairy Stories. No, not those cloyingly-sweet, bowdlerized fairy stories. I mean the ones that inspired some of the stories of King Arthur’s knights and that lie behind Tolkien’s Middle Earth. There’s whimsy and fun, but a slight creepiness that runs through the book.


Best Fiction Book I Read This Year:
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

I would have given this one to Jonathan Strange as well, but I didn’t want to have the same book twice. Besides everyone should read Ray Bradbury, and Something Wicked This Way Comes is a great book to read near Halloween.

 

Best History Book I Read This Year:
Plutarch’s Lives Vol. 1 and 2

Plutarch is such a great storyteller, and he brings his subjects to life in vivid detail. No wonder he was such an inspiration to Shakespeare. I’m glad I finally got around to reading these.

 

Best Theology Book I Read This Year:

This was really, really hard. I read many theology books this year, and a good number of them were great. I finally came down to a tie between these two:

The Fundamentals edited by R. A. Torrey
A set of 90 essays published in the 1910s in order to take a stand against theological liberalism in all its forms. They mostly hold up well. Many of the same issues are being argued today, so these essays function as a good historical resource as well as a look at how Christian intellectuals in the past interacted with opposition.


 On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther's Heidelberg Disputation by Gerhard O. Forde

This was a brilliant commentary on Martin Luther’s theses for the Heidelberg Disputation.

 

Best Math/Science Book I Read This Year:

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean

This was a fun approach to the periodic table. There was good information about the elements themselves, about the history of the periodic table, and about the ways in which the various elements have played roles in our broader cultural history. Lots of fun anecdotes.

 

Best (Other) Nonfiction Book I Read This Year:
This is another tie. Both books explore similar themes from different directions. Both are helpful, and I highly recommend them.


Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture by Anthony Esolen

 

The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis--And How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse


And now, here is the full list of books I read this past year:

·  Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book by Walker Percy 12/17
·  Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde 12/17
·  Tom Wright and the Search for Truth by Tom Holland 12/17
·  Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in Community by David Powlison 12/17
·  Areopagitica by John Milton 12/17
·  The Creed of the Old South by Basil Gildersleeve 12/17
·  A Simple Way to Pray by Martin Luther 12/17
·  The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life by Steve Leveen 12/17
·  Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi 12/17
·  A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage 12/17
·  Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Haupt 12/17
·  Two Little Confederates by Thomas Page Nelson 12/17
·  Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme, Volume 2: Time After Time by Robbie Thompson 12/17 
·  A Treatise of Christian Love by Hugh Binning 12/17
·  Against the Church by Douglas Wilson 11/17
·  Based on a True Story by Norm Macdonald 11/17
·  The Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson 11/17
·  Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture by Anthony Esolen 11/17
·  Delivered from the Elements of the World: Atonement, Justification, Mission by Peter Leithart 11/17
·  Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown
·  Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury 11/17
·  A Sketch of the Life and Labors of George Whitefield by J. C. Ryle 11/17
·  Plutarch's Lives, Vol. 2 by Plutarch 11/17
·  The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien 11/17
·  Luther by Rich Melheim 11/17
·  Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke 10/17
·  The Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory 10/17
·  North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterseon 10/17
·  Doctor Strange vs. Dracula: The Montesi Formula by Marv Wolfman 9/17
·  Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection by Edward Welch 9/17
·  Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson 9/17
·  Moomin by Tove Jansson 9/17
·  Follow the Lamb by Horatius Bonar 9/17
·  Luther in English by Michael Whiting 9/17
·  Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme, Volume 1: Out of Time by Robbie Thompson 9/17
·  The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis--And How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse 8/17
·  Everyone's a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology by R. C. Sproul 8/17
·  Augustine, the Farmer's Boy of Tagaste by P. de Zeeuw 8/17
·  Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor, Vol. 1: Terrorformer by Robbie Morrison 8/17
·  Pig Out? 25 Reasons Why Christians May Eat Pork by James Jordan 8/17
·  Thompson Chain Reference Bible-NASB 8/17
·  Socrates: A Man for Our Times by Paul Johnson 8/17
·  Plutarch's Lives, Vol. 1 by Plutarch 8/17
·  Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Saga by Mike Barr 8/17
·  God King: A Story in the Days of King Hezekiah by Joanne Williamson 8/17
·  What We Believe: Understanding and Confessing the Apostles' Creed by R. C. Sproul 8/17
·  The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean 8/17
·  Life of Turner Ashby by Thomas Ashby 7/17
·  The Cross of Christ by Andrew Murray 7/17
·  The Knights/Peace/The Birds/The Assembly Women, Wealth by Aristophanes 7/17
·  Doctor Strange, Vol. 4: Mr. Misery 7/17
·  Doctor Strange, Vol. 3: Blood in the Aether 7/17
·  Doctor Strange, Vol. 2: The Last Days of Magic 7/17
·  Doctor Strange, Vol. 1: The Way of the Weird 7/17
·  Excavating the Bible: New Archaeological Evidence for the Historical Reliability of Scripture by Yitzhak Meitlis 7/17
·  The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron 7/17
·  Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome 6/17
·  The Search for Nefertiti: The True Story of an Amazing Discovery by Joann Fletcher 6/17
·  Pergamon Museum: Collection of Classical Antiquities, Museum of the Ancient Near East, Museum of Islamic Art by Martin Maischberger 6/17
·  Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning by Jonah Goldberg 6/17
·  House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones 5/17
·  Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman 5/17
·  The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World by Robert Garland 5/17
·  Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange, Vol. 3 by Roy Thomas 5/17
·  Give Me Liberty: The Uncompromising Statesmanship of Patrick Henry by David J. Vaughan 4/17
·  The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays by J. R. R. Tolkien 4/17
·  Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings by Martin Luther (John Dillenberger, ed.) 4/17
·  A History of Ancient Israel: From the Patriarchs Through the Romans by Eric H. Cline 4/17
·  Jesus and Pacifism: An Exigetical and Historical Investigation by Andrew A. Fulford 4/17
·  Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange, Vol. 2 by Stan Lee4/17
·  The Fundamentals (R. A. Torrey, ed.) 4/17
·  Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange, Vol. 1 by Stan Lee 3/17
·  Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford 3/17
·  Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke 3/17
·  Three Treatises by Martin Luther 3/17
·  Doctor Strange: The Oath by Brian K. Vaughan 3/17
·  Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa by J. M. DeMatteis 3/17
·  Freedom's Sword by J. R. Tomlin 2/17
·  On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther's Heidelberg Disputation by Gerhard O. Forde 2/17
·  Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2, Vol. 1 by Scott Tipton 2/17
·  The Far Side Gallery 5 by Gary Larson 2/17
·  Medusa's Web by Tim Powers 2/17
·  The Barnum Museum by Steven Millhauser 1/17
·  Walking Humbly With God by John Owen 1/17
·  Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton 1/17
·  Eve in Exile and the Restoration of Femininity by Rebekah Merkle 1/17
·  The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel 1/17
·  The Amazon Code by Nick Thacker 1/17
·  The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller 1/17
·  The New Testament in Modern English (J. B. Phillips, trans.) 1/17

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