The multiple stacks on my bedside lamp stand, my desk, and the end table next to my reading chair are starting to teeter. They are so ominously tall I’m beginning to despair that I will ever get to the bottom of it!
I’m reading a couple of big biographies at the same time. The new Peter Ackroyd biography of Shakespeare is pretty incredible--despite his insistence on a “Stratfordian” authorship. Likewise, the new biography by James J. O'Donnel on the life of Augustine is irresistable. It is groundbreaking in several areas and will provide new insights for Augustine scholarship to work through. At the recommendation of the Reformation 21 online journal, I have also picked up Mark Ellingsen’s The Richness of Augustine. I haven’t started it yet--but I have perused it and can’t wait to dive in.
Because I’ve been teaching through the Book of Acts, I’ve been reading a slew of commentaries on that book. The one that has really caught my attention time and time again for its practical wisdom and down-to-earth sensibility is a little paperback by Derek Prime, Active Evangelism. I’m also rereading Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s, Majesty in Misery. The three volumes collect the Victorian master’s best sermons on the passion of Christ. Since the whole of Acts is essentially an exercise in those earliest believers coming to grips with the finished work of Jesus, the sermons are incredibly applicable. Besides, every time I tackle one of Spurgeon's works I’m reminded of how little I know and how far I have to go in sermon content and delivery. And that is always a helpful realization for a preacher!
There is also a big pile of novels I’m trying to work through: I’m just about forty pages into Jan Karon’s latest Mitford novel, Light from Heaven. So far, it is great. I’m almost finished with Alan Zweibel’s The Other Shulman. Zweibel is a former Saturday Night Live writer and the hilarious author of books like Bunny, Bunny and Our Tree Named Steve. This novel is about a man who runs the New York Marathon in an attempt to save his marriage, his business, and his life. I’m also just about finished with Anne Rice’s surprising new novel, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, the first volume in a planned series. It is a far cry from her earlier vampire and voodoo books. Clearly, she has undergone a remarkable spiritual transformation. I’m not ready to endorse it, but I sure am amazed by it. I have one more chapter to go in Vince Flynn’s latest thriller, Consent to Kill. He’s not the greatest writer--maybe just on a par with Clancy and Grisham--but, man oh man, can he ever tell a story. Plus, I just love all the CIA covert action in the war on terror.
And just for fun, I am reading Jeff Galloway’s Running: Testing Yourself. It is not really helping me for my next marathon (which is just two weeks away now). But it may help with the one after that (the middle of February) and surely the one after that (the end of April). And last but not least, I couldn’t resist the latest by Lynne Truss, Talk to the Hand. Like her earlier book on grammar, this book tackles a very unappealing subject--manners--in a most appealing fashion. Truss is witty, wise, and well informed. This is a much needed, finely argued work. Plus, it is just loads of fun.
OK. Enough of this writing business, I’ve obviously got a lot of reading to do.