The Books of 2008 (Second Half)

I’ve decided to post my “books read” list every six months instead of at the end of the year. Here are the books I read July 1-December 31, 2008. See also the books of 2008 (first half).

Boyett, Jason. Pocket Guide to Adulthood: 29 Things to Know Before You Hit 30. Yeah, I was a year late in reading that one. Anyway, a funny book. The author’s blog is here.

Cloud, Henry. Changes that Heal. The Christian Dr. Phil. Unfortunately, this one was a drag to get through.

Douthat, Ross and Reihan Salam. Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream. My lengthy review.

Eldredge, John. Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers. Desire rests on firmer theological ground than Wild at Heart, but I’m still not a big John Eldredge fan. His writing style with large block quotes from other Christian authors (Dallas Willard, George McDonald, and C.S. Lewis in particular) reminds me of the bad essays I wrote in high school: I let other, better, authors argue my own points for me rather than making them for myself. Of course, this being John Eldredge, there’s also the underlying premise that the rugged, outdoors-y life is the best life there can be. And as my friend Gary noted, the book makes a narrative turn about halfway through. It starts out as a go-for-broke, live for your dreams, don’t accept less than the best, book and then turns into a “the best can only be found in a life with God” book in the latter chapters.

Goetz, David. Death by Suburb. This book discusses the spiritual dangers of not just suburban life, but middle class American rat race life in general — immortality symbols; shallow, transactional (what can do you for me?) relationships; and the conceit of feeling in control of one’s life (as opposed to God being in control). Goetz identifies eight spiritual toxins endemic to suburbia eight corresponding spiritual disciplines to defeat them. The book was good, but I hoped Goetz would hit even harder than the did. Author’s web site here.

Greenwald, Glenn. Great American Hypocrites. If you’ve read the liberal Greenwald’s journalism you know where this is going–the “macho men” and “family values” leaders of the Republican party are mostly frauds. Their public images mask the fact that most of them are wimpy, combat-dodging adulterers who send others into battle and only act tough and “manly” to get elected. I appreciate that Greenwald recognizes modern politics is more performance art than policy. In that, he’s right. But the Republicans aren’t the only ones who are public frauds. Did he miss Hillary Clinton doing shots of Jagermeister during the primaries to prove her working class bona fides?

Kimmel, Michael. Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men. I found myself agreeing with the pro-feminist Kimmel more than I expected. It focuses mostly on the hazing, initiation rituals, and other horrible things high school and college guys to do each other, and surveys the general assumptions about life, women, work, and sports that rule Guyland. Generally convincing–and convicting–except for the second-to-last chapter on women’s place in Guyland. Not for the faint of heart. Makes me want to be a high school teacher and save some guys from this nonsense. Either that or only have daughters. 🙂

Radosh, Daniel. Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture

Shepard, Adam. Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream. My review is here.

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