In the year 2000 I mostly cut movie-watching out of my life. In high school and college I would watch one or two a week. Many of them I did not like, and it dawned on me that I should forego seeking to be entertained by something that isn’t entertaining. The only thing I read at the time was the Bible and even that was a chore. Reading was not my forte.
Ever since high school I have been a music lover, and with the advent of the iPod and downloadable MP3s I have amassed a large collection of music over the years that has gone from collecting full length feature albums to individual singles (backed up on hard drive) here and there. I’d see a show occasionally and follow my favorites bands and the happenings of local musicians, some of which are friends.
But it seems the same effect that happened to my movie watching has now happened to my music listening. It just isn’t as satisfying to keep up with as it used to be. This year I spent 10% of what I usually spend on music, and purchased only one full-length… MP3 album. I look forward to this time of the year so I can review the year in music and link to all the songs that made it good, but not year. Halloween, Alaska put out a new CD and that was enough to keep me satisfied for the whole year. The stuff by American Fiction is a close second, but really, this isn’t saying much, because I barely listened to it. Slim pickin’s this year, but there they are.
This year has been unquestionably the year of the book. At one point I was up to a book a week and this blog had some life. In the tradition of recapping, here are my favorites:
John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life by H. J. Selderhuis. With Calvin’s 500th birthday has come many biographies, and this one brings the stoic looking, long-bearded figure to life in numerous ways. Working primarily from Calvin’s voluminous correspondence, Selderhuis helps us crawl into the skin of the great Reformer and treats him neither as a friend nor an enemy. If I had to choose a favorite, I would probably take the Calvin bio, just because it was so well written.
For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz Age Chicago by Simon Baatz. A well-told piece of history from the museum of true-crime, Simon Baatz recreates the circumstances surrounding a heinous murder committed by two wealthy Chicago elites mixing good biography with historical research. Many myths are shattered about the famed speech by Clarence Darrow, and many insights can be gleaned about criminology’s shifting understanding of what causes crime.
Marriage at the Crossroads: Couples in Conversation About Discipleship, Gender Roles, Decision Making and Intimacy by Tracy and Spencer. The best dialogue to date between traditionalist and egalitarian interpretations of marriage. Nuanced theological ideas are explained and worked out in everyday life by each of the couples, and they show that are not as far apart as they might seem. This egalitarian was quite pleased to see how much the traditional side has been revised over the years.
The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Never has an astronomy book been so entertaining and so controversial at the same time. Tyson chronicles the history of Pluto’s rise to fame and fall from grace as it was downgraded from planet to “plutoid.” The letters from schoolchildren taking up Pluto’s cause are the most endearing part of the whole escapade.
Anything you’ve read this year that I should know about?