What I read in August

stacks of books

Normally I like to share a breakdown of everything I read every month, 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.

Because I spent my entire summer off the blog, and then spent some more time more or less off of blogging to try to be a normal person, I am trying to catch up on sharing my reading. About a month ago, I shared what I read in July, and today I’d like to share August’s reads (look for September soon). In August, I read and listened to 10 books. Here’s the big list:

This was kind of a fun month, with a mix of fun reading, work reading and review reading, and a great recommendation from my teammate, Whit.

On books I’ve covered elsewhere

I reviewed Gay Girl, Good God for the LifeWay Books site, so I would encourage reading that in full. Caring for One Another is one that I’ve been planning a review on, but I may need to go back to it before I can pull that together. And Neverwhere is a book I’ve addressed before as well, so I will forego sharing thoughts on it, beyond saying that it continues to be a favorite. 

Batman’s gonna Batman

Tom King continues to impress with the story he’s telling through his run on Batman. This volume continues the lead-up to the big Batman/Catwoman wedding, which brings the book to its halfway point. I love the fact that King’s take is to explore whether or not Batman can be happy and still be Batman. It’s much more of an emotional exploration of the character, rather than the madness of Grant Morrison’s work, or the intensity of Scott Snyder’s run. It also is an important reminder about the versatility of a good character in the hands of different writers.

James Tynion’s Detective Comics series has been an enjoyable one, focusing on an experiment of Batman’s: to create his own army to protect Gotham. The series is, by and large, a much more straight forward superhero book, but that’s not a bad thing (although the social agenda pushing tends to be a bit much at times). These two volumes drive the series toward the conclusion of Tynion’s run (one volume after this), reintroducing Tim Drake into the world and once again splintering the Bat-family. The story beats are familiar, but a satisfying read nonetheless.

I don’t know that I really have much to say about Gene Luan Yang’s New Superman, other than it’s a palette cleansing alternative to deconstructionist storytelling. It’s less about figuring out what makes a character tick and more about the hero’s journey. The mono-myth is alive and well in this book, and even though I know exactly how the structure works, it’s always a pleasure to see it in action. 

More SNL History, The History of Pixar, and Magic + Time Travel

I remember the first time I saw Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live. It was the infamous sketch where he and Patrick Swayze were auditioning to be male dancers. The man’s confidence was as unnerving as it was hilarious. But growing up I wasn’t aware of the darker side of Farley and what drove him to pursue comedy the way he did, namely his need for approval. The Chris Farley Show offers a look at a more complicated Chris Farley than most of us would be aware of—one who struggled with substance abuse and the need to be loved, who was deeply religious, but ultimately hopeless. A man loved by many, but terribly lonely. It’s a heartbreaking book, but one I’m glad I took the time to engage with.

Creativity Inc is a book that’s made the rounds in leadership circles for quite a while now. The idea behind it is to explain why Pixar consistently makes great films through the lens of the story of the studio’s formation through its eventual sale to Disney. In all honesty, the leadership and creativity principles weren’t all that shocking, in part because they’re found in so many other books (everybody has a voice, people matter more than ideas, etc). What made it work, though, was sharing them in the context of Pixar’s history, which is actually what I cared about more in the first place. I’d call it a one-and-done. 

Then there’s The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O, which details the exploits of a government agency (the department of diachronic operations) which uses time travel to affect and change the present (and self-fund their operations). The book is written as a series of chats, journal entries, emails, and letters, which is a fun approach, if a bit jarring at times. (Readers will note that there is also some questionable content that is generally worth skipping (you end up losing a few plot details, but it’s not a big deal). This was my first time reading a Neil Stephenson book and from what I understand it’s a bit of an unusual one to go with since he’s better known for more hard Sci-Fi where this is more of a hybrid of styles (and co-authored by historical novelist Nicole Galland). I can’t speak to his other books, but I definitely found D.O.D.O engaging, and if you can skip over the salacious bits, I suspect you’ll find it worthwhile. 

That’s it for this latest 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.