What I read in May

May 2017 reading

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 May 2017, I read 13 books to completion and started a couple of others that have yet to complete. Here’s what I read:

  1. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
  2. The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together by Jared C. Wilson
  3. The New Teen Titans, Vol. 5 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
  4. The Door Before by N.D. Wilson
  5. The Chestnut King by N.D. Wilson
  6. Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps, Vol 1: Sinestro’s Law by Robert Venditti et al.
  7. ESV Reader’s Bible Volume II: Historical Books
  8. Detective Comics Vol 1: Rise of the Batmen by James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows and others
  9. Detective Comics Vol 2: The Victim Syndicate by James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows and others
  10. Church History in Plain Language (4th Edition) by Bruce L. Shelley
  11. Leepike Ridge by N.D. Wilson
  12. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Vol 1: Who Is Oracle? by Julie and Shawna Benson, and Claire Roe
  13. Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig

There’s no discernible pattern in my reading this month for the most part, aside from I had fun reading different kinds of stories. Here are a few thoughts on the whole pile.

Imperfect Christians, Christian history, and family legacies

I don’t want to say too much about it because at some point in the near future I’m going to review it, but The Imperfect Disciple is probably the best book of Jared Wilson’s I’ve ever read, and definitely the best one intended for Christians I’ve read all year. So encouraging and helpful. This was my first go around with the fourth edition of Church History in Plain Language (I’ve read the third edition previously). This one-volume edition is a must-read for anyone who wants to explore how the past has shaped our present.

Hillbilly Elegy is one of those books that everyone was reading last year that I finally got around to. Vance gave himself a challenge with this book: how to tell an honest story while honoring his family. Usually one loses out, and maybe someone closer to the author could say which wins in this book. For what it’s worth I found it a compelling read, one that digs into some of the cultural and historical background of his family’s dysfunction, but still puts his love of his grandparents in particular on full display.

Books with pictures, pop culture, and activism turns cliché

I borrowed Empire’s End from the library really just to see how Wendig wrapped up his story as I found the first two volumes in the series reasonably entertaining. This one was more or less of the same, but in hindsight the plot in the series as a whole is pretty thin (which might be strange to say given that it’s a media tie-in book). Really, the three books could have been one really tight and compelling novel. But there wasn’t enough to warrant three books.

New Teen Titans Vol. 5 was a lot of fun overall, and I’m continuing to really dig the whole feel of DC’s Rebirth initiative. Most of the books I’ve read have warranted at least reading a second volume, and so far there’s only been one series I’ve not introduced to Abigail at all due to the content being a bit too mature (Green Arrow). Of this month’s batch, Hal Jordan & the Green Lantern Corps, Batgirl & the Birds of Prey, and volume one of Detective Comics are the standouts. The stories have a good hook, and the art fits the tone of the stories.

Detective Comics Vol 2 and Empire’s End both remind me how tired I find social progressives’ activism on matters of gender and sexuality. One of Empire’s End‘s main characters is gay, and his heroic actions are motivated in part by his relationship with another male character. Detective Comics also introduces a transgender character, Dr. Victoria October, whose brief appearance is filled with references to the process of transitioning (“pupal stage,” “dead name,” and so forth), and caused some pop culture enthusiasts to celebrate Batman as a transgender ally. But honestly, I don’t see what the fuss is all about. Of course a transgender character will be in Batman, and a gay character will be in Star Wars. That’s the formula, in all it’s predictable glory. So why celebrate what you know is going to be there?

Binge-reading Wilson

This month I was able to read three of ND Wilson’s books, including his soon-to-be released prequel to 100 Cupboards, The Door Before. But first, I want to say a couple of things about the other two books. First, Leepike Ridge, which was Wilson’s first book for the youth fiction market. I think what I enjoyed most about this one wasn’t so much the story as seeing the evolution of Wilson as a storyteller. The dialogue isn’t quite as sharp. The peril is a touch milder (but only a touch). There’s just not quite the same level of confidence as in his more recent books.

Second, The Chestnut King, the third book of the 100 Cupboards series. I read this right after reading the prequel, and it was refreshing to see an author manage the continuity well. To my knowledge, I didn’t see any major inconsistencies, which is refreshing.

Finally, The Door Before. If you’re a fan of either Ashtown Burials or 100 Cupboards (or both), you’ll be overjoyed reading this book. Wilson did a terrific job of bringing these two worlds together in a very satisfying way, and managed to pull off writing a prequel that still manages to have a real sense of drama and danger. Consider it as close as you can get to essential summer-reading, gang.


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 including the Big Truths Bible Storybook, Epic Devotions, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation, and the End of Poverty, and Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World. His next book, published by Lexham Press, will release in Spring 2023.

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