Crikey! Has it really been over two months since I posted? Like it matters. But for some reason I feel like writing and so here goes...
The Bestest Books I Read in 2014
I just loves me to read. And write. There's no money in writing, or reading, so I can't support a family that way and instead sit in a windowless office staring at a monitor for eight hours a day. Not straight, mind you, 'cause I share an office with a guy who feeds every two hours on nuts and chips and cups full of ice ("That cup isn't going to magically refill there, buddy, so you might as well throw it in the trash.") Then my misophonia kicks in and I take a walk. That's probably good 'cause nine out of ten taxidermists say that sitting too long causes hemorrhoids.
My wife loves to read but rarely gets to. I read almost exclusively during my lunch break because at home I serve as a jungle gym where small children climb on me. I like being a jungle gym but it's easy to lose your place on the page when you're trying to "Daddy, look at this" every minute or so. My two older daughters love to read as well, which I really like. Except when they read two or more full novels in a day. That's when you know you have a problem.
Of the books I read this past year, eighteen were non-fiction and fifteen were fiction (again, from the database). That's a decent balance, methinks. Reading fiction is a much needed mental escape, especially if you don't watch much TV or movies, but like TV and movies, too much fiction and you should probably start looking into what you are trying to avoid. I should probably read more fiction, though, 'cause life is hard. Sometimes a month or so goes by and I'm finding myself to be really grouchy or irritable and I realize that I haven't read a novel in a while. It's good medicine, mate.
But non-fiction rocks as well. It's the best kind of continuing education. Read ten novels and you've been entertained but not really much better off (unless they are well researched historical novels). Read ten non-fiction books and suddenly you're ready for Jeopardy. Well, perhaps not but at least you've hopefully challenged your thinking a bit.
Three books top my 2014 non-fiction reading list, all of which can cause a shift to one's thinking. The first is Seven Experiments That Could Change The World by Rupert Sheldrake. These are experiments that nearly any one can do that seem to turn accepted knowledge on it's head. You know, those things that we were taught in school that everyone takes for granted. For instance, how do homing pigeons home? A number of theories have been put forth over the years but despite some scientists saying that know, they really don't have experimental, repeatable proof of any theory. Another interesting tidbit is that constants such as the speed of light or the force of gravity are not constant. For instance, during the almost century that we've been able to measure the speed of light it has changed. Not gotten more accurate, but actually changed. For instance, it was measurably slower during the 1930s and 1940s by almost every measurement around the globe. Sheldrake also fills us in on how scientists treat data, throwing out measurements that are outside of what they expect, calling them errors, instead of looking into why the measurement is not what they expect.
The other two books are by L.A. Marzulli. On The Trail of the Nephilim is packed with photographs of impressive architectural stonework in South America and elsewhere, postulating that these engineering marvels (many of which we still cannot replicate) were constructed by super-intelligent ancient man. Or ancient giants (nephilim) and then goes on to give archeological proof. The other book, Cosmic Chess Match explains that age old question of how a loving God could tell Isreal to wipe out entire groups of people in the Old Testament. In a nutshell, in Genesis God tells Satan that Eve's seed would crush his head and so Satan begins to try to corrupt Eve's seed. Hence the giants in Genesis 6 and the need for the flood to cleanse the earth of corrupted DNA. Also hence the mixed-race genetic corruption of groups of people that Israel had to destroy (and notice, God didn't tell them to wipe out every city in the promised land) and the report from Joshua and Caleb that they appeared as grasshoppers compared to the current occupants. I and others would also postulate that the coming trans-humanism (altering our DNA and that of animals and food) is yet another attempt at corrupting the "good" that God has made. It's pretty freaky stuff but Marzulli has things well documented and logically presented.
As far as fiction, an early enjoyable read was Flight of the Shadows by Sigmund Brouwer. He's married to a Christian music artist and while there was a strong current of morality in this book, it would fail the "Chistianese" test of most bookstores. It was also a sequel of which I was unaware. Elysium by Keith Robinson was a smash and a blast, being the best apologetic-science-fiction that I've read yet. Published in 2013, I'm hoping that Robinson is hard at work on the next book in the series. Another good one is The Resurrection by Mike Duran. Part thriller, part character study, this book focuses on a small town that experiences a resurrection of a boy and how this affects people, from the lady who laid a hand on the boy in his casket before he rose, to her family, friends and pastor, to the people in the town who think she has a gift from God. Good stuff, there. Also in the "Christian-Thriller" genre, and quite possibly the best book I read all year, is 3 Gates of the Dead by Indiana's own Jonathon Ryan. Fast-paced, gritty and faith-based, this one takes place in Ohio and incorporates the occult and nephilim-built mounds. Impeccably written but probably not one you'll find on the shelves of your local Family Bookstore as there is some language (though The Resurrection has no such issues). The sequel is due out this spring and my bank account is itching.
While I didn't intentionally seek out Christian books, they certainly do seem to top my list. One that earned a solid ten is by none other than Donald Westlake. What I Tell You Three Times Is False is the third book written under the pen name of Sam Holt. Apparently Westlake wanted to know if his books sold because of his name or if they were actually good and so he started yet another pen name. He was outed after the second book and decided to just have fun with the whole concept and in the process wrote a book that is an immensely enjoyable read. I write more of this book here.