Mark Miodownik: Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World
This British material science engineer writes a humorous and accessible guide to the materials of everyday life and why they matter. Readable, and even fun, and this from an engineer!
David E. Watters: At the Foot of the Snows: A Journey of Faith and Words among the Kham-Speaking People of Nepal
A fascinating, articulate, honest, and faith-full account of Bible translator David Watters's decades-long translation work among the Kham people of Nepal. Highly recommended.
Leonard Hjalmarson: No Home Like Place: A Christian Theology of Place
Though a bit academic at times, and therefore challenging for lugs like me, this book is an important argument for why "place" matters to Christians, indeed why the placelessness of our theologies is unbiblical. It's about time.
December in Vermont
: December in Vermont
A wonderful singer-songwriter, Zeigler's folky, mellow renditions of carols and originals is warm and intimate, kind of like listening to a female James Taylor.
Jason Gray: Christmas Stories: Repeat the Sounding Joy
Original, upbeat, worshipful, melodic, this album manages to be original while still invoking the memory of more traditional Christmas carols.
Mindy Smith: My Holiday
One of the few good new offerings this Christmas, this release mixes six originals and arrangements of traditonal songs, ranging from homespun acoustic numbers to jazzier takes. Nice.
A Very Rosie Christmas
Rosie Thomas: A Very Rosie Christmas
Touching, diverse, and fun, Rosie Thomas and her nutty alter ego Sheila Shaputo are a delight. Last seen on the Christmas tour by Sufjan Stevens in 2012. I love this record, and the vignette at the end (Sheila a/k/a Rosie) is classic.
Sufjan Stevens: Songs for Christmas (Vol. 1-5)
Like a campfire sing-a-long, only with hymns and carols and some originals, Sufjan's quirky, inimitable style is one I love, and when I listen to these five discs I am moved to worship (and occasionally laugh).
Sufjan Stevens: Silver & Gold (Songs for Christmas, Vol. 6-10)
A wonderful follow-up to his Songs for Christmas Vol. 1-5, this additional five-disc collection is full of more riches (and some throwaways, of course), including the very (as my family agree) depressing but beautiful "Justice Delivers Its Death" (a/k/a "Silver and Gold") and the lengthy and fun "The Christmas Unicorn."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
Forty-one devotions from a man of faith and theological giant, these short reflections paired with scripture can be read in about 3 minutes and pondered for another hour. . . if you have it.
Nancy Guthrie: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas
This work features short sermons and essays from the likes of Whitefield, Luther, Spurgeon, and more modern-day theologians like Francis Schaeffer, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul. (Yes, it is decidedly Reformed in perspective.) Thoughtful, rich, and yet readable in 10-15 minutes each.
Alister E. McGrath: Incarnation (Truth and the Christian Imagination)
In another beautifully illustrated hardcover, Oxford theologian McGrath reflects on the mystery of the Incarnation, as illuminated by a series of fine art paintings. He weaves together poetry, prayer, and theological reflection in a very accessible way.
David McCullough: In the Dark Streets Shineth (Including DVD Narrated by David McCullough)
In a well-illustrated hardcover book, historian David McCullough tells the story of the meeting of Winston Churchill and FDR just days after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and their message for the nation. The DVD is a reading of the story at the 2009 Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Christmas Sermons
This collection of the German pastor and theologian's sermons dates from 1928 to 1944. Reading them, and knowing something of his life, you can witness the spiritual growth and maturity as you read them chronologically.
Various: Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas
A mixed bag, this gathering of readings ranges from C.S. Lewis to Dorothy Day to Sylvia Plath, and yet when they are good, they are really good. Each takes 5-10 minutes to read.