It's now less than a month until Christmas. While I'm not a huge fan of the all of the commercialism that is tied to the holiday, I confess I still celebrate with the family and give gifts (well, actually, my wife picks out all of the gifts, except for what I get her). In light of this, here's a list of some of the most interesting books that I've read in the last year or so while in grad school. Some are related to church history, some to some other field of history, and some to culture in general. All can be purchased at Amazon.com through the wonderful link at the top of this blog.
1. Emily Cockayne, Hubbub: Filth, Noise, and Stench in England, 1600-1770. This book is a bit gross, but it is probably still my favorite that I've read since starting my doctoral program--probably because it's gross. It discusses the life of common folk in early modern England in a, well, sort of gross manner. Not related to church history.
2. D.A. Carson, Christ and Culture Revisisted. Carson critiques Richard Neibuhr's Christ and Culture and looks at the relationship between Christians and society. He discusses postmodernism and church/state relations. If you can get through the first chapter, the rest of the book is a much easier (less deep) read. I've been reading it along with some professors who were nice enough to ask me to join their reading group.
3. Timothy Keller, Generous Justice. Critique of the much of Christian society from an evangelical insider. Causes some serious thinking regarding prevalent evangelical thought on society and economics.
4. Mark Valeri, Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America. This book looks at the change in Puritan attitudes to merchants from the Great Migration of the 1630s to the Great Awakening. They started out pseudo-socialists and basically ended up rabid capitalists. Find out why.
5. Harry Stout, Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War. This book looks in some ways at religious and moral thought during the Civil War, but ties it to thoughts prior to the war. This book influenced my own thinking, and I utilized some of the thinking (with credit given, of course) in some of my recent work.
These are just a few recommendations. Even if you're not going to buy these, you can still utilize the link to Amazon to buy anything that they have for Christmas gifts or at any time of the year.