This month, The Arc team is all set for summer fun and good reads! Find some inspiration for your TBR or library list with the ideas below.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
This classic volume has been on my TBR for too long, and finally I scored a beautiful hardcover edition at a used bookstore while on a spontaneous shopping trip with a friend! While Stephen King’s novels will likely never make my reading list (horror is not my genre), I look forward to learning about the writing craft from one of the most prolific authors of our time. So far, I’ve enjoyed reading about how his passion for writing surfaced early in life and developed through the interesting (and often comical) events of his youth. The book is broken up into short sections rather than full chapters, each containing a single anecdote that chronologically builds on the others—perfect for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to read! The language isn’t exactly G-rated, but past the rough edges his masterful storytelling skills shine.
To Read: Under the Magnolias by T.I. Lowe
The Candlestone (Dragons in Our Midst, Book 2) by Bryan Davis
Many years ago, I was intrigued to find a dragon book in my church’s library because of how dragons are usually mentioned in a negative light in the Bible. Encountering a Christian novel where the two heroes are part-dragon was a surprise. I didn’t read Raising Dragons at the time, but I remembered the book enough to contemplate reading it later. Once I learned these books were getting new covers and also received a couple suggestions from others to read the series, I finally picked them up! There are four in total, and I am currently working my way through the second.
Dragons in Our Midst is what I call 110% overt Christian fantasy. Bible verses abound, and characters often find themselves in situations that teach Sunday school lessons akin to how Bible stories are mixed into the plots of VeggieTales. The result is a uniquely interesting read. Perhaps what I enjoy most about the series is how involved the parents are in the battles against gunmen and evil knights! Billy’s mom is a force to be reckoned with and even Billy’s best friend’s dad, an attorney, is actively involved. Bringing adults into the dire circumstances that teenaged protagonists of YA novels frequently face results in greater energy, an additional sense of plausibility, and a fuller cast. I seriously wish I’d see more YA books make use of the parents as characters: the effect is really rewarding.
To Read: Circles of Seven (Dragons in Our Midst, Book 3) by Bryan Davis
The Collected Works of Jupiter Hammon: Poems & Essays edited by Cedrick May
I’m still working through this wonderful birthday gift my wife bought for me. This was also given to me around the time of my one-year anniversary working at Tyndale House Publishers, so it was a truly fitting gift to receive, reading the prose of The United States’ first published Black American author, Jupiter Hammon. Jupiter was born into slavery in 1711 on the Lloyd plantation in Long Island, NY, and his essays and poems began to be published in 1760. His writing is beautiful and pastoral: ink and paper reflecting a man whose hope is in Christ.
Here’s a small excerpt from his most famous poem, An Evening Thought, written Christmas Day 1760:
Salvation Comes by Jesus Christ alone,
The only Son of God;
Redemption now to every one,
That love his holy Word.
Dear Jesus we would fly to Thee,
And leave off every Sin,
Thy tender Mercy well agree;
Salvation from our King.
Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund
I am always looking for books that can convey theological ideas in a down-to-earth, understandable way. It’s a tricky thing to do. Some theology books can feel so dense, it takes 30 minutes to get through a single page. (At least, that’s the case for me!) Dane Ortlund’s writing style is scholarly, yet accessible. Gentle and Lowly’s greatest strength is its ability to show who Jesus is. There were numerous chapters that brought tears to my eyes, simply because they portrayed Jesus so tangibly. I read this book one chapter at a time, often in the morning, and Ortlund’s words often stuck with me all day. Lastly, this book reminded me of the heart posture Jesus has toward sinners, which in turn reminded me of the posture I should have towards others. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about Jesus’ heart for sinners—which is really Christ’s heart for all people.
To Read: The Well-Watered Woman by Gretchen Saffles