Friday, November 15, 2013
Your Grown-Up, Keep-Christ-In-X-Mas Christmas List
Christmas is coming. Before you get overwhelmed by ads and relatives, let me put in a quick pitch for a few books that I'm into for these holidays. Books, if you'll pardon my bias, make great gifts; they're an opportunity to thoughtfully match content to recipient, and they "keep giving" as people move slowly through them the first time and occasionally return to them over the years. One of the books below, as a matter of fact, fits comfortably into a Christmas stocking and is priced to buy in bunches. Books also, however, make great companions during the holidays. As things get nuts, reading a book can rest the mind. A book can refocus you from the obligatory madness of X-mas so that you're more aware of yourself and those around you. One of the books below, as a matter of fact, was intended as a kind of companion through the holiday season, to be read as you go, to keep you going. So that's my case for books for Christmas. I should mention that the following books are all related to Christianity, which is, as a matter of fact, related to Christmas. Only two of the books that follow are brand new, by the way, so check your shelves before you click "Buy Now!" Coffee with Jesus--perfect for your coffee table, this book compiles over two hundred of the best offerings from the wildly popular online comic strip, along with book-exclusive special features. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll do a spit-take with hot coffee all over your poor, unsuspecting lapdog. Oh, and Santa Claus makes an appearance. The Gospel of Christmas--Patty Kirk is a powerful writer because, like all the most powerful writers, she leans into what is true however painful the truth becomes. Christmas is not all fa-la-la-la-la, and the days leading up to it are not all merry and bright. But there's good news at the end of it, and Kirk is a great guide to take you there. The Gospel of Matthew (Resonate)--Bible commentaries are rarely found on Christmas lists, but this is no ordinary Bible commentary. Matt Woodley writes beautifully about the theme that weaves throughout the First Gospel: Emmanuel, God with us, which Christmas commemorates. The Twible--Jana Riess set out to entertain herself with tweets summarizing every chapter of the Bible, and wound up entertaining the rest of us. Now it's a book with all sorts of value-added embellishments. Put it on your coffee table alongside Coffee with Jesus and your friends will think you're either the most spiritual or the most heretical person they know. The Parable of the Unexpected Guest--I wrote this. It will fit into any Christmas stocking, any Christmas card; that's how small it is. And it's super cheap, so even people you barely care about will know you care. None of these floats your boat? Not to worry. There are plenty of books in the sea. I have lists posted to Amazon of books I've edited in recent years; you can browse them here, here and here. I endorse the books, although I don't necessarily endorse Amazon.com; I think you should buy books where you want books sold, and for me that's as local as possible. But I'm a realist, hence the Amazon link. I don't make any money off of any of these, by the way--except in the very theoretical sense (I was given an advance on royalties for The Parable of the Unexpected Guest that will never earn back, meaning no future royalties for me) or after several degrees of removal (technically your purchase of IVP books keeps me employed). The only book on this list not published by IVP, by the way, is The Twible, which is a brand-new self-published release by Jana. I include it both because self-publishing is hard and I want to make Jana's life a little easier, and because it's incredibly clever and entertaining and I want to make your holidays more enjoyable. One more thing. In case you've not encountered Coffee with Jesus before, here's a little taste.