Book Notes

Here are some of the books that I’ve been reading lately. If you have any book suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Killing Floor by Lee Child
This is the first book in what has turned into a long series following the exploits of Jack Reacher, a former Military Policeman. Reacher stumbles on the town of Margrave, Ga., where he is wrongly accused of a grisly murder. While he works to clear his name, he uncovers an extensive criminal network, falls in love with a police officer, and is confronted by his family’s past secrets.
Verdict: Mildly entertaining.

Escape From Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden
Shin Dong-hyuk was the first person born in a North Korean prison camp to escape. Until he met a Chinese prisoner he had no knowledge there was a world outside his gulag. This book tells his first person account of the incredibly brutal treatment that existed inside the prison camp, his harrowing escape, and the attempt to establish a new life in China, South Korea, and most recently the United States.
Verdict: Inspiring Story

Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything by Tullian Tchividjian
The author shares the life changing lessons that he learned during a very difficult season as the new pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. The most important of those lessons centers on the grace of the gospel that is often assumed and neglected by too many Christians. Often Christians are afraid of grace, thinking that too much of a focus on it takes away the motivation to obey God. It’s not uncommon to hear people say that we need to try to strike just the right balance between grace and law. But Tchividjian shows that when a person truly gets grace he never thinks, “Great, now I can sin more!” Grace doesn’t just free us from the penalty of our sin but also from the power of sin.
Verdict: Very helpful for the Christian life.

The Autobiography of Malcom X as told to Alex Haley
This is a fascinating book sharing the story of how Malcom Little became Malcom X, an important leader in the Nation of Islam before breaking away in 1961 and being assassinated in 1965. This book made me far more appreciative of what African Americans experienced in the 1950’s and 60’s and why it led to black nationalism.
Verdict: Exceptionally interesting and well written. It taught me a lot.

Who Am I? Identity in Christ by Jerry Bridges
This brief book surveys what the New Testament says about who we are “in Christ.” In his simple, biblical style Bridges hopes to help Christians define themselves by the Scriptures instead of their feelings or the culture.
Verdict: Helpful because it is basic biblical truth that would make good devotional reading.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
As the Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, Demick often wondered what life was like in North Korea. In this book she follows six families as they deal with crushing famine, a malfunctioning electrical grid, mind controlling propaganda, the loss of hope, and much more in the world’s most oppressive country.
Verdict: Excellent.

Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir by Margaux Fragoso
Okay, this book is wonderfully written but more than a little disturbing. The subject matter is not something that everyone will want to read about. When Margaux Fragoso was seven years old, she met Peter Curran, age 51, at a swimming pool. The book describes their fifteen-year relationship in which Peter was her friend, father figure, and lover. We watch as Margaux is transformed from energetic young girl to a teenager on the verge of suicide and then tries to reclaim her life after years of manipulation.
Verdict: While not for everyone, I thought this book offered robust characters and perceptive insights into the human condition.

The Tolerance of Intolerance by D. A. Carson
Tolerance used to mean that everyone was free to hold his or her own beliefs. But over the past several decades the word has come to mean that all beliefs are equally valid or true. Carson explains why this shift is especially troublesome for Christians and gives examples of how Christians today find themselves in very delicate and difficult situations.
Verdict: Anything Carson writes is worth reading. This is no exception.

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