Time for another update on my Challies 2016 Reading Challenge progress!
I think I have developed a bit of Literary ADD. I’m in the middle of several books and, despite my efforts, I have been slow to finish them. So, another month of slow progress. But hey, it’s progress, right?
So here’s a list of what I was able to finish in August:
A Book Written By Someone of the Opposite Sex: Star Wars: Bloodline, by Claudia Gray. Last year, I read Gray’s great Star Wars YA novel, Lost Stars, which took place shortly after Return of the Jedi. Bloodline takes place about twenty or so years later. Princess Leia is now Senator Leia, a senior member of the New Republic’s very divided Senate. Leia and a young up-and-coming senator from the opposition party stumble upon a criminal smuggling ring that rivals Jabba the Hutt’s cartel in size and influence. However, this underworld ring is itself a front to something much more dangerous. This novel was a quick and fun read, and it helped to provide backstory for a few key plot points from Star Wars Episode VII. If you’re at all inclined to read a Star Wars novel, this one may be worth a look.
A Book Written By Someone of a Different Ethnicity: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book was challenging for me, as I noted in my “open-letter” to the author. I picked this book because Pastor Jared Wilson said on a podcast that it was a book that helped him listen better to the stories of others. I can affirm that it does that. It is challenging, and I don’t agree with all of Coates’ assumptions. But it is important for me to remember that I need to be humble and even silent sometimes, and give other voices a chance to speak before critiquing what they say. I would challenge my white friends to read this short book, if only to catch a glimpse of another version of the world.
A Book by David McCullough: The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough. Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian David McCullough has written some long books. Don’t get me wrong; they look really fascinating, but they’re beasts. So, I looked for one of his shorter volumes to fulfill this task, and was pleasantly surprised with the result. The Wright Brothers tells the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright, the two men who performed the first successful manned-flight on an airplane-type glider. There are a lot of caveats on the “first” there; as McCullough reveals, there were many pioneers in the field of aviation. But it was the Wrights and their dogged determination to defy gravity and conquer the problem of flight who took the entire human race into the next era of transportation. McCullough’s short biography of the brothers captures a clear (if limited) sense of their relationship, their family life, and their passion for what would be their lives’ work. The brief personal anecdotes throughout the book give a sense of who these men were, and the historical context of their exploits helped me as a reader to appreciate the importance of their accomplishments. The Wright Brothers were often mocked and dismissed, all but accused of perpetuating a hoax, but eventually they had the last laugh (as Sinatra famously noted). The Wright Brothers is an interesting and approachable biography worth exploring.