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What I read in September

What I read in September 2016

I read pretty aggressively, regularly making my way through over 100 books a year. With that many books in a year, it’s pretty easy to get into a rut when you read that much, always gravitating to the same stuff every time you go to grab a book. Maybe you’re like me; you’re reading regularly but are in need of some ideas for what to try next.

Throughout 2016, I’ve been sharing what I’m reading each month. I do this because I can’t review everything I read in detail and because I hope there’s something on the list that you might like to try. During the month of September, I completed eleven books. I also abandoned one, but it was so early into it that it doesn’t count toward being read in any substantial way. Here’s what I read:

  1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Neshi Coates
  2. Traveling with Martin Luther by Cornelia Domer
  3. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
  4. Superman: Lois and Clark by Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks
  5. Northlanders Book 1: The Anglo-Saxon Saga by Brian Wood
  6. The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther by Steven Lawson
  7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  8. Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs
  9. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
  10. John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger
  11. North! or be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

A trip through history and a world I don’t understand

I spent a good chunk of this month trying to wrap up what remained of the Martin Luther documentary script. Along with that came a lot of extra reading, just to make sure I felt good, double checking facts and so forth. The two books on the list here were the last two I completed before I finished the script.

This week, I also finished reading a fascinating biography of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States. While Adams was groomed from his earliest years for a career of public service, Unger paints a picture of a president who was woefully out of touch with the common man, cut off largely because of his education and legitimately stunning intellect. However, Adams was far more effective as a member of the Senate, where he played a key role in the burgeoning abolitionist movement of the 1840s. Definitely one to consider if you’re a fan of history (or are curious what a politician with integrity looks like).

And then there’s the reminder that the ideals Adams stood for have not yet been fully realized in Between the World and Me. This book was a helpful (and painful) glimpse into a world I don’t know. I’ve never experienced the world the way Coates has. I don’t know what it’s like to feel fear as the baseline the way he describes as being normative in the African American experience.

Epic tales, pop dystopia, and classic intrigue

I’ve gone on at length about my appreciation for the first volume of The Wingfeather Saga (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness) on my podcast. Andrew Peterson does a brilliant job of weaving humor and high adventure while smuggling in themes of the gospel throughout both this and North! or be Eaten. Both of these are almost certainly going to make it on my favorite reads of the year and are ones I can’t wait to share with my kids.

Ready Player One is an intriguing mashup of 80s nostalgia, video games, and dystopian melodrama. I can see why this book took off the way it did because it keeps you hooked all the way through (which is not easy to do, especially for a first time novelist). It’s a book of its time, and an enjoyable one at that. In contrast, the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, is also a book of its era—written in the early days of the Cold War—and, despite its clunky moments, is well told. But the thing I enjoyed about this is that it’s clearly not beholden to its time. It’s not looking back at another era. It’s rooted in one, but it can easily be transported beyond (which is what I suspect makes the film incarnation’s popularity endure).

A return to hope, and tired of grimness

I loved the Dan Jurgens era of Superman; his take was the one that I grew up with, and I couldn’t get enough (even as I recognized some of the clunkiness of the storytelling). Superman: Lois and Clark brings the charm from his era into the pre-Rebirth timeline of DC Comics by reintroducing readers to the pre-New 52 versions of Superman and Lois Lane, who’ve been secretly living in this new universe for years. (Yeah, I know.) The art is beautiful, and the storytelling is engaging, as it sets up the next stage for the character.

And then there’s Northlanders. I wanted to like this. I used to love Brian Wood’s work back in the early 2000s, particularly Demo and Channel Zero. I ordered it expecting to like it. And then… Well, let’s put it this way: I found it to be unrelentingly grim. It was crass and at times offensive. I honestly could not find anything of redeeming value that would come from reading it. So I returned it. I do not regret doing so.

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:

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