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Culture Notable Books

Notable Books


Notable Books

Four nonfiction books related to movies

Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 autobiography of Louis Zamperini (“Zamp”) is an uplifting account of the airman’s survival of World War II and his conversion to Christianity. This young adult version simplifies the tale and shields teens from its most graphic details. Readers who can handle frank depictions of war’s depravity will find the ending, including Zamp’s visit to a Billy Graham crusade, inspiring and faith-building. With a film adaptation coming on Christmas Day, this edition will allow families to experience the story together, even if the film is too intense for young teens.

The Stories We Tell

In this much-needed book, Cosper traces how “ordinary, everyday stories intersect with the bigger story God is telling.” With themes like creation, fallenness, and heroes, Cosper scans pop culture for echoes of the biblical story of redemption. It is a valiant effort, with real insights along the way, but in his eagerness to affirm the good in shows like Mad Men, Scream, and Dexter, Cosper often passes over troubling material. My fear is that this tendency, along with his early invocation of God’s sovereignty, may breed a false sense of safety: “You’re not going to watch a movie that will steal your soul; the world can’t really hurt you.”

Sing Over Me

From the moment he was approached in a public restroom at age 5, sexual sin marred Dennis Jernigan’s childhood. Freedom from the homosexual lifestyle came only years later, through his first real encounter with Christ at a Christian concert. One marriage and nine children later, he continues sharing his story of deliverance. Jernigan’s career as a Christian songwriter has put him in the public eye for decades, but Sing Over Me shows the lesser-known side of Jernigan’s struggles. General audiences may prefer the movie version because it is less graphic in its description, but both book and movie offer resounding hope to anyone struggling with sexual sin.  

The Hobbit Party

Most readers of J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories of Middle Earth probably haven’t spent much time considering their political and economic framework. Former literature professor Jonathan Witt and economics professor Jay Richards have, and they argue that Middle Earth reflects a deeply Western and pro-capitalist view of society—from the contract Bilbo signs at the beginning of his adventure to the “gatherers and sharers” of The Lord of the Ring’s ending. The authors overshoot a general audience at times, including too much detail about Marxist critics or other flawed interpretations, but their insights into Tolkien’s vision of private property, “ordered liberty,” and stewardship of the earth are a breath of fresh, Shire-filled air.


Songwriter Dennis Jernigan’s book and movie, both titled Sing Over Me, witness powerfully to what he told me in an interview: “With God, nothing is impossible.” His story of healing from the homosexual lifestyle is also a cautionary tale for the church: He details dozens of abusers and homosexual partners within the Christian community, and he told me “a lot more abuse goes on than we realize.”   

Jernigan’s experience changed his own parenting in significant ways: no sleepovers, clear instructions about sexual purity, and closer relationships with his kids. He hasn’t retreated from the larger battle, and since 1988 has reached out to help others dealing with sexual brokenness: “I really want the church to be educated on how to deal with people who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction.” With so much at stake—including vulnerable children within the church—his voice needs to be heard. —E.W.