The Dark Knight, Veronica Mars, theology by Pope Francis and the Shooks, this week’s “What I’ve Been Reading” has a little bit of something for all kinds of readers.
Batman Eternal Volume I (Scott Snyder): In this graphic novel, Jim Gordon gets framed for a mass murder, and Batman finds himself breaking in new detectives, and setting up more of the New 52 version of Gotham. Carmine Falcone plays a major role (last, most famously in Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale’s take on the Bat); Stephanie Brown, Jason Bard, Batwing, and others also make appearances. I’m a huge fan of Snyder’s Batman run, and I’d been told it would blow me away; sadly, it was just good, not great, and its ending clearly leaves us waiting for another twenty-one issues in Vol. 2. rating: borrow it
Be the Message (Kerry & Chris Shook): Your life should reflect your message; in the case of the Shooks, that’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. Much like Chris White’s “Five-Fingered Gospel” (from Matthew 25), the Shooks believe that how you love shows what you believe. Simple, right? But the thing is that sometimes we and our churches become so focused on speaking the message that we forget to do what we preach or exhibit it in a moment-to-moment way we treat others. The Shooks’ call to arms is to re-embrace actually being like Jesus and let our actions speak for us. Rating: give it
The Escape (David Baldacci): The latest in Baldacci’s series about John Puller is okay but not great. Here, Puller’s brother, Robert, escapes from the military’s maximum security prison after being convicted of treason, and Puller ends up being assigned (or is it blackmailed?) to track him down. Several groups of people seem interested in finding Robert, but their motivation varies, and Puller may be the best chance of keeping Robert alive. Unfortunately, the movement of the book stalls at several spots, as Baldacci seems to try to mold Puller into a Jack Reacher-like character but never gains transaction. Honestly, if I hadn’t read the other Baldacci books, I wouldn’t have finished this one. Rating: borrow it (for Baldacci fans); rainy day it (for everyone else)
The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope (Austen Ivereigh): I really wanted to dig into this book but I just… couldn’t. I’m fascinated by Jorge Bergoglio, and the way he is, well, reforming Catholicism by leaden from the front. But sadly, with a few exceptions, I couldn’t enjoy Ivereigh’s historical backdrop/obsession. Still, there are tasty points, like this one: “I see the Church as a field-hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal the wounds, heal the wounds… And you have to start from the ground up. The Church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you.” Rating: rainy day it (unless you’re specifically researching Pope Francis!)
Lessons In Belonging: From a Churchgoing Commitment Phobe (Erin Lane): Lane shares candidly what it’s like to try to be part of a church community – and struggle with an inability to commit. What follows isn’t just a take on “nones” or “dones” (people who either have nothing to do with church or come to have nothing to do with church), but rather, what it looks like if someone wades in and sticks with church until the community becomes a vital part of who they are. It’s a story of experience and vulnerability and the way that we’re called to be with each other at difficult times and places. Rating: give it
Mr. Kiss and Tell (Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham): Veronica Mars catches a case involving a peer left for dead after a night at the Neptune Grand, and ends up involved in an investigation of prostitutes who are being physically abused. Meanwhile, her father Keith tries to build a case for Weevil that will push a civil suit against the police force who falsely accused him of attacking Celeste Kane and planted evidence. Overall, it’s not as nerve-wracking as the first one, and I’m no Logan fan, but it’s still a quick, entertaining read. Rating: borrow it (unless you’re a VM fan)
The Wake (Scott Snyder): I really dug the first half of the futuristic, Alien-meets-Waterworld graphic novel that Snyder spun out last year. But the second half, with its obsession with the ‘evil empire’ type, and the trippy final act that lead to Mermen and a loopy ending didn’t get it done for me. I recommend you read the first half and leave the second half alone. Rating: borrow it