Every time I go on vacation, I make an effort to read books that are not related to my academic work in Old Testament. I like to read novels that have a lot of action and suspense. I prefer thrillers that have something to do with religion.
My wife is a voracious reader. She works full-time here at Northern Baptist Seminary and yet, she reads one book a week and then she let me know which book is good and which book fits my interests. And guess what: she is always right.
Let me share with you some of the books I read while I was on vacation. These are the best books I read while on vacation this year and last year.
Dan Brown, Angels & Demons. New York: Pocket Star Books 2000.
Dan Brown wrote The Da Vinci Code, but I can assure you that this book is better than The Da Vinci Code. This book deals with the election of a new Pope. The story is set in Rome and is a fast-paced thriller that has many twists, a great plot, and a lot of suspense. The book reveals some of the secrets of the Vatican and deals with the election of the Pope, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Illuminati.
This is a fascinating and fun book to read. If you want to enjoy a great story, this is the book to read.
James Rollins, Map of Bones. New York: Avon Books, 2005.
This book focuses on the legacy left behind by the Magi, the Three Wise Men of the Gospel of Matthew, who came to see Jesus. I cannot tell you more about the legacy of the Magi because that would give away the plot of the book, but believe me, this is a great story.
One reviewer summarized the story of this book as follows: “Raiders of the Lost Ark meets The Da Vinci Code.” I liked the book because it links religious traditions with cutting-edge technology to produce a great thriller.
James Rollins, Black Order. New York: Harper, 2006.
This book follows the Map of Bones but it is an independent story. The story deals with the issues of evolution and intelligent design. The focus of the story is Darwin’s Bible and the notes Darwin wrote in his Bible. In the story, the Nazis want to use the process of evolution to change the world.
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, The Book of the Dead. New York: Warner Books, 2006.
This book deals with Egyptian religion and the practices associated with preparing the dead for the after-life as described in the real The Book of the Dead. The focus of the story is a tomb of the vizier of Thutmosis IV, a pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, which is located in the New York Museum of Natural History.
The book is the third in a trilogy of stories involving FBI Special Agent Pendergast but the story is complete in itself. Those who are interested in Egyptian religion will enjoy the book.
Vince Flynn, Transfer of Power. New York: Pocket Books, 1999.
This book has no religious theme, even though God is mentioned a few times and the work of a Baptist minister is mentioned once.
The book is almost prophetic of the events that happened on 9/11. The story deals with a group of terrorists who invaded the White House, took several people hostage, and killed many more people in the process. This book is fascinating because the reader wants to know what will happen to the President and the White House.
These stories are well written and well researched. At times, it is difficult to know where fiction ends and fact begins. For instance, James Rollins spent six months doing research before he wrote Black Order. This is more research that some people do for their Ph.D. thesis.
The book by Vince Flynn, Transfer of Power, should be a must-read for every politician in Washington. In light of 9/11 and the war in Iraq, what is happening today in Washington, and in our nation, the story of this book has almost a sense of reality.
It is true that this book is only fiction, but the way the terrorists in the story manipulated the media and the politicians resembles the way Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have manipulated the media for their own purpose and how they have played on the sentiments of the American people to turn their hearts against the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The plot of Transfer of Power is almost true-to-life.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Books, Novels, Reading