After a brief sabbatical (and a trip to Naples as pictured above), I’m back to regular blogging action. Believe it or not, I’ve already plotted out all of this month’s posts, and even some of the next two. So, in other words, it was a productive sabbatical that accomplished its purposes. I stopped doing so I could better contemplate and reflect on what I was doing and why I was doing it. In the meantime, I did offer a few posts, and here they are once again:
- June Editorial
- What Should I Do Differently?
- Book Review: God Without Parts
- Dispatches From The Front DVD Set
- The Drama of Doctrine: Performance
- Book Review: Forsaken: The Cross, The Trinity, and Why it Matters
- The Drama of Doctrine: Conclusion
Not quite the usual level of output, but things should back to normal from here on, with some new changes:
First, with the release of Standard Theme v3.0 last Friday, the look and feel of the site got a facelift. If you’re interested in Standard Theme yourself, get a 15% discount for the next couple of days using the code: standard3. If you’re reading in RSS, click thru and let me know what you think! I’m going to continue to tinker with it here and there, but probably won’t make any radical changes at this point. If you notice something that looks out of place, let me know as this new version has been completely redesigned from the ground up and so it may have altered aspects I’m not even aware of yet.
Second, besides an aesthetic upgrade, I decided I needed to rethink my presentation. Mainly, this is in terms of the kind of content I deliver. Obviously, there will still be book reviews. I’m still tinkering with how I do those since this isn’t an academic journal. If a review looks more like it should fit there, then I should send it to that outlet. Still, I want to offer insightful interactions with my reading. I just want to do so in a way is conducive to the medium I’m using.
As you’ll notice then in the above reviews, I’ve adopted a new framework, and will tweak it further still. In the absence of comments on how helpful the “Audience Appeal” segment of the Book Details section is, I may either discontinue that, or change the focus. I’m going to start cross-posting to GoodReads, so I may add a “Star” rating to my reviews. All of this is just me thinking out loud, which as you might imagine, happens often.
Specifically when it comes to a presentation upgrade, I’ve decided to rely more on formulas. For at least two reasons (they work, and they help me frame blog ideas), I think this is a good move, but I’m also doing so because I think you’ll find the result more engaging. At least that’s what Copyblogger told me. The formulas I’m using are reviews, how-to posts, and lists. A typical week will look like this over the next month:
- Monday: Book Review
- Tuesday: How-to Post
- Wednesday: Another book review (if I have one to deliver)
- Thursday: Lists
- Friday: Misc.
Right now, Fridays are probably will movie reviews will end up, as will other random ideas I have that don’t quite fit the Review/How-to/List mold. Let’s see how it goes for the month of July and then we’ll come back and re-evaluate going into August.
Shifting gears, July is now upon us (obviously), and since it’s already the 2nd, that means the 2012 is halfway gone. I don’t usually bemoan this since my birthday is in July (Amazon Gift Cards make great gifts, by the way), so I’m really just making an observation. It’s a good time to reflect on how the year has gone so far and make adjustments. That was part of what I was up to in June, and will probably continue into July since both months are a schedule break for me (you could also read as: no paycheck).
One thing I’ve realized is that I was too busy reading conquest-reading rather than either content or character-formation reading. Both of the latter were why I shifted from a high schooler that avoided books like the plague, to a college student who could easily spend 8-10 hours a day at Starbucks reading. But along the way it become more about having-read than actually reading.
I also noticed a subtle shift toward making book choices simply for content and neglecting character-formation. The problem with this is that much of the content I was gathering was only really of interest to a select few, whereas insights into character-formation (i.e. growing in Christ) were things I could pass onto most everyone. In short, I was isolating myself by my reading choices. To some extent, that’s the path I’ve chosen by the education I’ve gotten, but there are ways to make the problem worse unnecessarily. And that’s what I realized I was doing.
To help turn the tide, I want to recover slower reading practices. An extension of that is a desire to go back and review books that have been especially formative in my life. Rather than simply reviewing the latest releases I can get my hands on, I want to go back and offer reflective reviews on older books. Part of the benefit of reviewing books on here is building a better library on a tighter budget. The downside is that I’m somewhat biased toward the new, which includes many books that may be long forgotten 5-10 years from now. It is true that more than a handful of the books I’ve reviewed have been helpful in my personal growth, but often the books that have had deep impact are ones that I stumbled upon long after they had ceased to be new. Toward that end, look for some older books to start getting review attention come August and September (and beyond).
Best of 2012 (so far)
Since the top posts traffic wise, would probably look identical to May, and since we’re on the topic of reading (naturally), I thought I’d close out with the top 10 books I’ve read this year so far. I’m not saying these are necessarily the objectively best books I’ve read, these are just the book I’ve enjoyed the most so far this year, the majority of which I haven’t reviewed (yet in some cases). Anyway, here you go:
- Where The Conflict Really Lies by Alvin Plantinga
- Fools Rush In Where Monkeys Fear to Tread by Carl Trueman
- Psalms as Torah: Reading Biblical Song Ethically by Gordon Wenham
- RetroChristianity: Reclaiming the Forgotten Faith by Michael J. Svigel
- Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life by Douglas Wilson
- The Word of God for the People of God: An Entryway to the Theological Interpretation of Scripture by J. Todd Billings
- Deep Exegesis:The Mystery of Reading Scripture by Peter Leithart
- All Roads Lead to the Text: Eight Methods of Inquiry into the Bible by Dean Deppe (review in August and FREE giveaway)
- Popologetics: Popular Culture in Christian Perspective by Ted Turnau (review later this month)
- Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books by Michael J. Kruger (review next Monday)