What I’m Reading (and More): January edition 2020

[Editor’s note: It seems my blogging is going to consist of this kind of post for the foreseeable future. I’m tentatively putting classics (and the return of the podcast ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ) on hold to make a dent in my 2020 reading. There will be classics (primarily for the Japanese Reading Challenge), but most of them I’ll be saving for the middle/second-half of the year rather than the beginning. Sorry in advance!]


A History of East Asia

This year I want to focus on a couple of reading topics, one of which is Asian history & literature (think Finding Your Roots ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

Holcombe’s book is the quintessential college history textbook: heavy on exposition, low on intriguing anecdotes, and written with an abundance of caution (not usually a bad thing, but overdone here IMHO). That said, I still find the overview useful and expect it will get more readable as it heads into the 19th–21st centuries. (Most interesting thing I learned so far is that a Catholic cleric helped facilitate the first unification of Vietnam, privately funded by Frenchmen roughly around the time of the American Revolution!)

Exodus and Beyond

This month marks my 1-year anniversary of resuming near-daily Bible reading via the New King James Version. I’ve made it roughly halfway…I’m intentionally slow and determined to read this entire translation before starting my New Cambridge Paragraph Bible (which is KJV).

As is well-known, there are many schools of thought on English translations of the Bible. What I appreciate about the NKJV is how naturally (to us moderns) it reads, while having relatively few differences in syntax and wording. It’s helped me keep up momentum, while the KJV remains my gold standard/reference since it contains important distinctions like “thou/you” (sign me up for the NKJV that uses “you all”). I expect this experience will make the KJV easier to read when I return to it next year.

(As a side note, I am completely won over to single-column/paragraph formatted Bibles now. The KJV I read growing up was traditional column-style—maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I find it still very hard to read to this day.)

But back to Exodus. There are many mysteries in this book, from Moses’s troubled beginnings to the magic of the Pharaoh’s sorcerers and the crossing of the Red Sea. Regarding the latter, one verse that jumped out to me was 14:29, which clearly calls out “a wall” of water on each side of the Israelites as they made their crossing. I’d recently heard of a scientific theory that they crossed a “reed sea” at low water level, but that theory obviously doesn’t fit this description. (So yes, Hollywood is more accurate…this time.)


The last movie I watched was It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which was very touching and relevant to me personally. I reviewed it on my other blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

Other than that, my folks gave me the Complete BBC Robin Hood for Christmas! I actually have never watched Season 3 and don’t expect to like it (it’s verrrryyyy poorly rated), but I plan to watch and review it when I can find time. My favorite episodes are still from Season 2 and some of Season 1.

Robin Hood with hoodies—yep, this show is my guilty pleasure. It’s every bit as cheesy as it looks.

Also, I will forever ship Robin/Marian, cause Guy of Gisbourne is a CREEPER, even if he is the one-and-only Richard Armitage.


I desperately wanted to go see Eugene Onegin at the Seattle Opera this month, but a) I completely forgot about it until there were no cheap tickets, and b) Seattle is kind of a scary place right now. So yeah, that’s not happening. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

There’s not much else going on, but that’s ok, as it gives me more time to read. A year ago, I was up to my ears in work, so it’s nice to actually not be busy in January.


  1. That East Asia book has popped up in my reccommended list a few times because of my own Asian history reading in the past…I’ll look forward to your final thoughts on it!

    BTW, I saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood this Sunday and enjoyed it every bit as much as I thought I would. I was, however, the only person in the theater who knew “It’s Such a Good Feeling”. That was somewhat disappointing, considering we all sang with the people on the subway earlier in the film.. ๐Ÿ˜‰


    1. Not at all, Errol’s was my first version of Robin Hood and I still enjoy it. ๐Ÿ™‚ My favorite scene of course is the duel with Rathbone, pure talent!


  2. I really would love to read lots of non-fiction one year, but not this one! The NKJ is my favourite version followed by the ESV. I need to get back to regularly reading the Bible as well. Why is Seattle scary? I’ve been watching Flashpoint, a cop series that’s Canadian. It’s really very good!

    All the best with your reading this year!


    1. Thanks for the rec! I love a well-crafted TV series so will have to check that out. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Seattle has a lot of issues… my main concern is there’s been quite a few random acts of violence in the last year, with people getting threatened, punched, and even stabbed by complete strangers, not to mention hate crimes/vandalism and repeat offenders on the streets. They can’t seem to get a grip on it. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  3. I’ve only ever read NKJV, so you know how that goes. I think I would prefer a single column, but all I’ve ever known or seen is the traditional. Although, lately I’ve been reading Scripture via Bible Gateway, and that’s obviously single column, so I suppose that counts. Do you read the Bible as long as you like, or do you read a chapter a day? Or several chapters? What is your reading schedule like?


    1. I love Bible Gateway! That’s also what I used before getting a single-column hard copy.

      This is the edition I have: https://www.amazon.com/Holy-Bible-Black-Brown-Distressed-Single-Column/dp/1418542547/ref=sr_1_23?keywords=nkjv+single+column&qid=1578525523&sr=8-23

      It’s… not the prettiest (the cover makes me think of dinosaurs for some reason). Of course, it’s what’s inside that matters most, so I’ve grown to love it. Thomas Nelson has some other single-column editions now which look more elegant, like this one: https://www.christianbook.com/nkjv-deluxe-readers-hardcover-board-hardcover/9780785216070/pd/216075?event=AAI

      Schedule-wise, I like to read with my first cup of coffee in the morning. I try for “a section”/scene a day, which usually comes out to a chapter, but sometimes more or less depending on its length and how busy I am. Apart from that, I’ve been going back-and-forth between Old and New Testaments, a book at a time and in no exact order. ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. speaking of sword fights, the one in “The Prisoner of Zenda” with Stewart Granger was one of the best i’ve ever seen…


  5. My first experience with Robin Hood was the Disney cartoon. Then I loved the show “When Things Were Rotten” in the seventies. Ironically I found Howard Pyle’s illustrated version a bore.

    I love King James. My first choice is ESV, followed by NASB, followed by Holman Christian Bible. I like Bible Gateway and on my phone I have the ESV app and the Blue Letter Bible app.

    I’m glad you told me the East Asian book wasn’t that hot, especially since it was so expensive.


    1. Surprisingly I’ve never seen the Disney cartoon. I love the song “Robin Hood and Little John” though. ๐Ÿ˜€

      It’s a hope of mine to read as many Bible translations as possible. Gonna take a while, though…

      Yeah, the East Asian book continues to disappoint. For example, though he talked about Christianity arriving in Japan, he barely mentioned the horrific persecutions (which I’ll be reading more about in Endo’s novel Silence). So while you do get the bare facts, you’re not left with a visceral impression of what was going on and what it felt like to be there.

      Fortunately – and which I somehow neglected to mention! – I’ve also been reading a collection of Chinese Poems alongside and finding it gives me some of that human element I’m missing from Holcombe’s book.


  6. I try to read through the Bible every year, and I have done so with a variety of translations beginning with Kenneth Taylorโ€™s Paraphrased Bible for Children when I was 12. Since then, (MANY decades ago!) I have read the Bible in NIV, KJV, and this year I am reading it through in ESV. I think the KJV is most beautiful, and it is what I did most of my memory work in throughout Sunday School, but I must admit to being a little confused in parts of the New Testament with that translation. Still, the sheer poetry of it is breathtaking…I like the NKJV, too, and Iโ€™m sure youโ€™ll enjoy reading it this year.


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