What I read in March

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Another month has come and gone, and with it more reading! As you know, I am always consuming books, whether they’re physical, digital or audio. Every month, I like to share a breakdown of everything I read, including the books I abandoned. I do this because it gives me an opportunity to introduce you to books you might not have had an opportunity to read while practicing the art of writing concise book reviews.

In March, I read 12 books to completion, and started a couple of others. Here’s what I read:

  1. Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith
  2. Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly
  3. John G. Paton: Missionary to the Cannibals of the South Seas by Paul Schlehlein
  4. Herding Tigers: Master the Transition from Maker to Manager by Todd Henry
  5. Justice League, Vol. 5: Legacy by Bryan Hitch
  6. A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle
  7. Super Sons Vol. 2: Planet of the Capes by Peter J. Tomasi
  8. The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris
  9. How to Ruin Your Life by Eric Geiger
  10. Ember Rising by S.D. Smith
  11. Radical Candor by Kim Scott
  12. Action Comics: Superman-The Oz Effect by Dan Jurgens

Books with pictures: possible futures, retcons, and good, (mostly) clean fun

My graphic novel reads were probably the most fun I had reading this month. Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil is a modern all-ages (ish) retelling of the character’s origin story by Jeff Smith, the creator of Bone. It has a sweetness or brightness to it that fits the characters well. I would love to Smith do more with the character, but seeing as how this book is about 11 years old as it is, that’s not likely.

Justice League wraps up Bryan Hitch’s run on the title. The storytelling isn’t particularly mind-blowing, but it’s a popcorn film on paper: it’s big, loud and stuff blows up.

The Oz Effect resolves one of the big mysteries that has lingered since the before Rebirth officially kicked off—the identity of Mr. Oz.[1. Although it’s been months since it was revealed, I’m not going to say who it is.] The art is a bit all over the place with conflicting styles and the reveal doesn’t have quite the emotional heft that it should, but it’s still an enjoyable read.

Super Sons, though, like the Superman title co-authored by Peter Tomasi, is everything an all-ages superhero book should be: it’s fun, hopeful, well-written and features really solid art (although there’s one questionable fill-in artist). This collection sees Robin attempting to train Superboy, the lead characters be sucked into an alternate dimension, and reveals who even Batman is afraid of.

Memoirs, biographies, becoming a better leader, and ruining your life

John G. Paton is a fascinating read. Split into two parts, with one half being a biographical sketch and the other being devoted to practical takeaways gleaned from Paton’s life and ministry. I loved reading of the absolute confidence Paton had in the Lord, this certainty that he would not die until he had completed the work God had intended for him; and that allowed him to take great risks to fulfill the great commission. Definitely worth reading.

Endurance is a pretty incredible story as well. Scott Kelly spent a year on the International Space Station. The book itself is pretty matter-of-fact (Kelly is a no-frills storyteller), but it’s hard not to be inspired by his journey to the air force, then NASA and finally to spending a year on the International Space Station.

How to Ruin Your Life by Eric Geiger is the bossman’s latest. It’s an easy read in many ways, but it’s obviously one that wasn’t easy to write, with the impetus being Geiger seeing many people he cares deeply about shipwreck their ministries because of moral failings. This book is not a tell-all—if anything, he goes out of his way to avoid naming names and presenting any sort of identifying details (which is not a bad thing at all). Instead, it unpacks how isolation, boredom, and pride led to David’s adultery, and how leaders (and truthfully all of us) can recover after falling. Definitely worth reading.

A Practical Guide to Culture by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle is a very necessary book. It’s a good primer on what culture is and means, and does something extremely helpful: instead of being a list of do’s and don’ts, this book encourages its reads to realign their perspective on each issue explored in light of the gospel. Sadly that’s all-too-rare in apologetics and cultural critiques like this.

Herding Tigers and Radical Candor are both excellent books for people learning to become better managers, especially of creative professionals. Over the last few months, I’ve been navigating this transition within my organization and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. What I took away from both is how important it is to communicate well in ways that make sense for your team (another example of situational leadership). That’s incredibly reductionistic I realize, but this is the standout element for me, at least on this first read. I’ll be going back to both again.

On the magically meh-tastic and epically entertaining

The Magic Misfits was just kind of… meh. The story was fine for the most part, although it’s a bit paint by numbers and filled with asides that are kind of distracting. There are some cute elements like having secret codes scattered throughout, and instructions on how to learn a few magic tricks, but it also has some subtle elements about different family configurations that may require parents to hit the pause button on sharing this book before having a necessary conversation.

On the other hand, Ember Rising, which apparently brings the Green Ember series to its close, is a contender for one of my favorite books of the year. There is literally nothing I can tell you about it that won’t ruin the book, so if you’re already reading SD Smith’s series and haven’t picked this up yet, do. If you’re not reading the series, get on it!

That’s it for this month’s round-up. Do you find these posts helpful? Do you have a suggestion for a book for me or someone else to read or want to share what you’ve read? Connect with me on Twitter or Facebook and let me know!

Here’s a look at what I read in:

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.

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