Notable Books Read in 2013

Here are some raves and rants pertaining to some of the books I read in 2013 (they may have been published some other year). Enjoy ~

Must Reads:

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King. It is a shame that the only thing I knew about Thurgood Marshall before I read this book was that he was the first African-American Justice on the SCOTUS and that he argued Brown v. Board of Eduation. His work on behalf of the civil rights movement is truly heroic. Nor had I any idea that Florida was second only to Mississippi in lynching. While good history rarely involves a plot framed in terms of good guys versus bad guys, this one truly does. My favorite book of the year. Kept me up late turning the proverbial digital pages.

Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction by Allen C. Guelzo. Anyone who can tell the story of the how the Civil War began, how it progressed, and how it ended, including the nightmare of Reconstruction, under 600 pages is to be commended. By one of my favorite historians to boot.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. I had never read it before, but I couldn’t put it down. One of the greatest pieces of American rhetoric ever.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. Classic stuff. I love how he illustrates the relevance of virtue ethics for the shaping of one’s character in the afterlife.


Most Disappointing

The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture by Christian Smith. It’s never a good sign when a reader, who is very sympathetic to your thesis, thinks your argument totally fails. See review here.

What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense by Sherif Girgis, Robert P. George, Ryan T. Anderson. If this is the best secular case for traditional marriage (and I believe it is), then gay marriage is here to stay. See review here.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. I had the highest of hopes for this, and I stuck with it for months, but just could not finish it. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was because the author stacked block quote on top of block quote with little appreciation for the complexity of his thought (I am not sure why I expected that).