Favorites from my Winter 2013 Reading

Shotgun style

I started blogging oh so many years ago to reflect and share my way through some of the books I’ve been reading. I haven’t kept up so well of late, but there are a few I read in the first quarter of this year that are worth sharing. Here’s a shotgun spray summary of several books I read this winter that are worth a look:

Endurance, by Alfred Lansing
Endurance was written 50 years about a true story that happened a hundred years ago, but it is as engaging as any of the best picture nominees from last year. Lansing tells the story of an expedition to cross Antartica led by Earnest Shackleton. The events described in the first chapter make things clear – this isn’t a book about a successful expedition but about a precarious journey of survival. At the center of what makes the book worth reading is Shackleton’s leadership in the midst of more crisis than most of us have known, never giving up hope, nor allowing those with him to do so. I used Whispersync to do this both as an audiobook and an ebook, but I’d recommend reading this one rather than listening.

Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
I don’t know Austin, though he is a fellow Austinite. But I know of him, any you may too. A few years ago he had a blog post of the same title as this book which achieved more mentions on Twitter than there are taco joints in Austin. This book falls in the "musings on making stuff" genre which will soon need it’s own bookshelf at Barnes & Noble (or Bookpeople for you Austinites). When it does, it should be on the top shelf with the cover, and not just the spine, facing out.

Prodigal Christianity, by David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw
Dave and Geoff are friends, so there is some bias here, but this is a book I’d recommend the contents of even if it was written by Strawberry Shortcake. Dave and Geoff describe a Christianity that navigates between the extremes oft labeled liberal and conservative, and it’s one I mostly resonate with. What’s more, they do so mostly by engaging with stories out of their own church community, connecting their working theories with tangible work.

Markdown, by David Sparks and Eddie Smith
The latest MacSparky Field Guide offers a subject matter that shows just how helpful an ebook mixing video and text can be. Markdown is a simple writing style that allows simple formatting with basic characters, keeping key strokes, mouse clicks and curse words to a minimum. Because it is nothing but plain text it is portable for use on an device, and the moving pictures and paragraphs in this book can show you just how easy it is. I’ve only dabbled with Markdown, but I’m approaching it with renewed interest since reading, and watching, through this one.

Secrets of Happy Families, by Bruce Feiler
Bruce Feiler has written a handful of books exploring the religious geography and history of the Middle East. I was on the hunt for these in our library and I stumbled on this, his most recent, book. I don’t usually like "here’s how to fix your life" books, but I checked out the audiobook to fill a few commutes. It was a good choice. Feiler doesn’t so much explain how to have a perfect family as much as he describes how different families engage in being intentional in the formation of their practices and relationships. It was more of an exploration than a how-to, and the tone was just right.

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