Discover more from A Newsletter by Aaron Cline Hanbury
Issue 9 | These Are 4 of the Books I’m Excited about in 2021.
Anticipated books, 'Scrubs,' James Davidson Hunter, and more.
Welcome to 2021, friends.
This year, I’m going to publish these newsletters on the first Tuesday of the month rather than the first day. We’ll see how it goes.
Here are five things I’ve been doing lately:
Looking forward to a few books in 2021;
Reflecting on a New Year prayer;
Sharing a chance to listen to Andrew Peterson (talk about writing); and
Reading Jill Lepore (still) and James Davidson Hunter.
1. These are 4 of the books I’m excited about in 2021.
Dozens of interesting and worthy books will come out this year, no doubt. I’ll get to read only a tiny fraction of them, of course. But these are the four I’m most excited about (as of today):
Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion. This is a collection of early writing from the inimitable Didion, apparently pieces that haven’t been collected yet. Of course this is a book to read as soon as it comes out. She honored her craft like a jeweler, and even her work doing captions remains inspiring. January 26.
The Nature of Middle-Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien. Here’s a collection of Tolkien’s “final writings” about Middle-Earth, work he continued well after finishing the Lord of the Rings stories and right up until his death. This seems like one of those books I’ll be more interested in reading about than in reading itself. But I am glad to see these writings published and the abiding — and growing? — interest in Tolkien. July 20.
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. I haven’t read Nickel Boys, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Underground Railroad back in 2016. The story itself works, but what makes Whitehead stand out are his descriptions. Plus, this new novel centers around a hiest, which is always fun. September 14.
Matrix by Lauren Groff. I think we talked Groff last month, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I’ll be preordering her new novel. September 23.
What about you: Are there 2021 books about which you’re excited? Asking for a friend.
2. Scrubs is on Prime now, definitively the best thing to happen in 2020.
Please don’t talk to me about the Mandalorian. Amazon Prime added Scrubs, which makes it indisputably the highest-quality show streaming right now. We like it, at least. And in terms of writing, you won’t find a show that more honestly explores the male interior life.
I’ve not listened to Fake Doctors, Real Friends, but my sister likes it.
3. ‘My heart full of love, my soul free’: Read this prayer for the new year.
If you’re part of similar faith tradition as I am, you’ll recognize this from the collection of Puritan prayers called the Valley of Vision. This passage is from a prayer for a new year.
I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with thee, O Father, as my harbor,
(with) thee, O Son, at my helm,
(with) thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to thy calls,
my heart full of love, my soul free.
Give me thy grace to sanctify me,
thy comforts to cheer me,
thy wisdom to teach,
thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct,
thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.
If you’re not familiar with the Valley of Vision, I recommend it. We’ve used in our home to shape prayers around the calendar, such as Thanksgiving and, now, New Year’s.
4. Y’all should go listen to Andrew Peterson talk about writing. I’ve got a discount code.
Back in May, I posted notes from my talk at a writing conference in Bluefield, West Virginia. The HopeWords Writer’s Conference. It’s coming around again, and you should go. Because of COVID-19-affected logistics, there’s a virtual option.
This year, author and songwriter Andrew Peterson is giving the plenary talks, and authors Karen Swallow Prior, Hannah Anderson, and a few others are speaking, too.
The conference’s man behind the curtain, Travis, is giving y’all a discount. Use code HOPE when you register on the site and he’ll give you $15 off your tickets — in-person or virtual.
*This plug isn’t “sponsored.” I don’t get anything if you attend. I just love the conference and the people who put it on.*
5. Here’s (some of) what I’ve been reading.
To Change the World. This book has been sitting in one of our book boxes for years. I mean, years. Apparenly that’s a mistake on my part. During a conversation with a colleague a few weeks ago, I learned that James Davidson Hunter’s To Change the World has been significant for a lot of reasons and for a lot of people — and central to many conversations in which I find myself. A decade late, but I’m on it.
On the Road with Saint Augustine. This one from James K.A. Smith isn’t easy to categorize, but it’s a pleasure to read. And worth it.
These Truths. Remember this from last month: “I’m reading this 960-page history of the United States by the end of 2020.” Yeah, didn’t happen. Was my goal ambitious? Yes. Did I fail miserably? Also yes. Here’s to a new month.
Let’s do some cool things this year, people. See you in a month.