I started taking the bus to work a few weeks ago. In addition to the huge financial savings and the substantial lowering of my stress levels, using public transit has given me more time to pray, rest, listen to podcasts, and especially read. So here are five good books I’ve read lately:
Die Empty by Todd Henry: I’m about halfway through this one, and I’ve already decided that I need to purchase it and read it at least two more times in the next year. Henry challenges the reader to be more focused on contributing something to the world. He argues that too many people reach the end of their lives with their best work still inside them. Rather, he writes, we need to “die empty”–to start living with the intention of pouring out all the great work we have to contribute to the world, so that when we get to the end of our lives, we won’t regret not finishing or producing or accomplishing our personal best during our lifetimes. This book is very challenging. High, high recommendation.
The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster: I remembered reading this one as a kid, but could not recall anything about it. Oh my word, this book is fantastic. It’s a delightful read for anyone who loves language. I can’t wait to read it to my children one day. No matter your age, I think it would do you good to read this one (or read it again). The big takeaway from the story: the world is amazing, and there’s lots to do and no time to waste. The annotated edition is also lots of fun, with a great deal of behind-the-scenes info on the writing and illustrating of the book, as well as some interesting commentary on the unique origins of certain phrases and ideas.
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller: If you’re married, about to get married, or want to get married someday, you need to read this book. The Kellers present a thoroughly Gospel-saturated view of what marriage is and could be. It is theologically lofty, yet so ground-level practical. The Kellers challenge the reader with concepts that are both familiar and foreign, written in an intelligent and clear manner. The chapter on “Loving the Other” was very helpful for me in really understanding the challenges of day-to-day married life, the last couple of months.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: I wanted some good fiction, something whimsical, something mysterious. The Night Circus fit the bill. The story of a mysterious and magical carnival, and a battle between two magicians and their surrogates. Love, tragedy, and mystery swirl around the narrative like smoke. The prose is dreamy and whimsical. To be fair, the ending felt a little abrupt, but I read through the novel in the space of a few days, so the whole thing moved swiftly for me. If you like stories full of mystery and magic, you may like this one as well.
Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand: I’ve recommended this book to everyone I know. Unbroken tells the true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic track star who joined the Air Force during WWII and was shot down over enemy waters. The book recounts Zamperini’s struggle to survive as a castaway and as a prisoner of war. The inhumanities of war are starkly displayed, and Zamperini’s determination to never give in to them will inspire you. The best part, though, is the story of redemption that weaves its way through Zamperini’s life. This amazing story will be coming to theaters at Christmas, but I highly recommend that you read it first. The truth will be so much grander than anything put on screen. Consider this my highest recommendation. This book could very likely be my favorite thing to read all year.