Sunday, January 5, 2014

In Which I Rant Against Digital Books; My 2013 Reading List

Barnes and Noble is threatening to close its brick and mortar stores. Kindle and Nook are quickly becoming a normal device in the average American home. In fact, if you google the topic, all of the articles will tell you which one is more popular. No longer is anyone addressing whether they should be popular.

I am grieving the death of books. By 'book', I don't mean a collection of words, sentences, and ideas that someone has accumulated and given a title. I mean the physical object which is paper, lined with words, and bound by a cover. Books are dying. People now read from a tablet the size of my palm, back lit, and stored in their purse or backpack.

What is this? Fahrenheit 451?  Let me tell you what we lose when we lose books. In the best, best, best argument against digital books, Brandon Booth says this:
It is my duty to curate, and comment in, a library for my children. It will be their joy to pour over those pages, absorbing their content and psychoanalyzing my margin notes. Paper books are a legacy; digital books are a commodity. (emphasis mine)
This time, I sniff in disdain.
Disdain of digitals and nooks and kindles.

What are we doing when we buy digital books? We are making a plan for the intellectual malnourishment of our children. We are setting them up to see books merely as sources of information. We are depriving them of how we interacted with our own books.

I don't know about you, but I read with a pencil. And I write in my books. I agree and I argue and I snark and I underline and I laugh. And it's all in my handwriting. My passion is even caught by how hard I bear down on the page. When someone asks me to borrow a book, my first private thought is, "Hm. I wonder what I wrote in the margins of that one." I kid you not. And I hand books to people with this disclaimer: Read my margin notes at your own risk.

Get that in a digital book? Make me laugh. I think not.
So, I'll continue my crusade against digital books. And the world will continue to call me a Luddite.
And I'll continue not to give a flying fig.

What follows is this past year's reading list. There was gold there, like To Kill a Mockingbird. If you want to spend time with courage, integrity, and heroism, you need to read this one. And then read it again; I do. Penelope Wilcock continued to write like the best classic authors with The Hardest Thing to Do and The Hour Before Dawn.

There was dross, like The Secret Life of Bees, 302 pages I'll never get back. This one just solidifies in my mind why reading a best seller is usually a waste of time. Best sellers are merely what most of culture finds valuable. And I want to be like 'most of culture' because...why??? No more best sellers for me, thanks.

There were books I read because I should, like The Federalist Papers. I admit it; this was a painful read. It's way too long and verbose. But...I was amazed at how many times I referred my kids back to it when the question, "Why do we do this?" would come up in a civic context.

There were phenomenal books that challenged me to be a better exegete, like Graeme Goldsworthy's Gospel books. But I think the book that tops my list this year, the one that held me riveted and amazed, the one that I keep thinking about, long after I have finished it, is The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton.

Good or bad, I read them all in paper. And if I owned it, chances are I probably wrote in it, too! Or at least underlined things and wrote exclamation points in the margins. ;)

Without further ado, the 55 books on my 2013 list:

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
From the Library of CS Lewis by James Stuart Bell
Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
The Scarlet Pimpernel (again) by Baroness Orczy
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek Thomas
Hoping for Something Better by Nancy Guthrie
Gospel by JD Greear
The Tutor's Daughter by Julia Klassen
Reformation, Yesterday Today Tomorrow by Carl Trueman
G.O.S.P.E.L. by DA Horton
Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
Chestnut King (again) by ND Wilson
The Hardest Thing to Do by Penelope Wilcock
Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
House of Dark Shadows by Ron Liparulo
Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes
Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge
Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy
At the Back of the North Wind by George Macdonald
To Kill a Mockingbird (again) by Harper Lee
The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of... by Sam Kean
Gospel and Wisdom by Graeme Goldsworthy
The Elusive Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
Favorite Father Brown Stories by GK Chesterton
Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton
Emma Brown by Clare Boylan
Gospel and Revelation by Graeme Goldsworthy
The Cross and Christian Ministry by DA Carson
Walden Two by BF Skinner
Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson
The Yanks are Coming by Albert Marrin
Standing on the Promises (again) by Douglas Wilson
Cheaper by the Dozen (again) by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Apostate by Kevin Swanson
Children of the Great Depression by Russell Freedman
Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Shoulder the Sky by Anne Perry
Law and Liberty by RJ Rushdoony
Jane and His Lordship's Legacy by Stephanie Barron
Angel on the Square by Gloria Whelan
The Promised One by Nancy Guthrie
Lost World of Genesis One by John H. Walton
The Hour Before Dawn by Penelope Wilcock
Radical Womanhood by Carolyn McCulley
Second Mayflower by Kevin Swanson
The Holy Spirit: His Gifts and Power by John Owen
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Everyday Prayers by Scotty Smith

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