From last Christmas, I finished Beyond Left and Right: Helping Christians Make Sense of American by Amy E. Black. It's a decent book, and would be more interesting before a significant election. It provides a nice Civics 101 overview of the American political system. It also gives a nice argument on distinguishing between religious / moral truths and political positions. I think many people would well benefit if they could internalize this book's thesis. I'm about halfway through the audiobook of The Magicians by Lev Grossman. It's Harry Potter meets angsty-teenagers, with some faux-Narnia swirled in. Recommended by a friend, I checked it out for the holiday-vacation drive. However, after suffering through the first 10 hours, my wife has banned it from the car. I'm not sure if I'll finish back at home. It has potential, but commits several authorial sins, and is becoming increasingly tedious. It tells me, rather than showing me. Character traits are flatly stated, rather than imbuing the characters with the traits and revealing them through their actions and dialog. Second, in a magical world, halfway through I still don't really believe the characters can command magic. Worst, halfway through, there is no conflict to propel the story; it sprints through year after year of the protagonists life seemingly to no end. Finally, chapter by chapter it demands comparison directly to Harry Potter and Narnia: it suffers in comparison to the greater literature. And having received a number of interesting books for Christmas, I'm less inclined to finish this mediocrity.