I like writing this post each year, but goodness it is difficult. I love to read. I love to read widely. Pastoring requires a love of reading, in my opinion and experience. A significant amount of my reading has to revolve around study. Although I would recommend those books to any student of the Bible, my pool of reading from which I pulled for this does not include those books.
The following books were read for many purposes from distracting entertainment to a desire to satisfy curiosity. I love hearing about what other people are reading and their favorite books. One of my motivations in writing this post is the hope that others would share one or a few of their favorite reads of the past year.
- C.S. Lewis: A Life, Alister McGrath. There are a handful of good Lewis biographies available, but I believe this one is my favorite. I found this one to be completely different than the others, including Lewis’ autobiography. McGrath does a really great job of telling the whole story. With figures like Lewis the temptation is often to over glorify a life by removing the less than glorious issues. McGrath gives a very honest and refreshing telling of the Lewis story that displays an incredible amount of original research. Whether a Lewis lover or one who knows little of him, this is a rewarding journey on which to embark.
- 11/22/63, Stephen King. As much as I love to read, I am not the best fiction reader. This significant pericope of writing from King was a great fit for my reading tastes. This is a fiction book which fits into the historical setting of Kennedy’s assassination. So, although fiction, it is very historically accurate. Being that it is fiction and a read that was 100% entertainment for me, I had to break it into two seasons. I read about 60% while taking some time off with the family in July, then came back to finish it around Thanksgiving. I share this with you to display that I was hooked deeply enough to return to the book at the first opportunity. This, I think, was the the only fiction book I read in 2013, but it was a joy to read.
- What Is Biblical Theology?, Jim Hamilton. Before you allow the title to turn you away, this is a book which stretches out to merely 128 pages short and is extremely approachable. Jim was a professor of mine many years ago and I consider him a friend. This book is a gift to the church because it offers an easily understood lens by which we can read, understand, and apply the Bible as it was intended. I would recommend this book to anyone who has begun a relationship with Jesus Christ. This book will be a great help on the journey of understanding the Word of God.
- The Guns at Last Light, Rick Atkinson. Reading WWII history is what sparked my love of reading in the first place. So, when a new book emerges in this genre that receives the amount of attention this one did, I have to read it. Amidst all of the other books written on this subject, this one is set apart in my mind for one specific reason. Atkinson tells the story of history in an amazing way, but that has been done before (see Ambrose). However, I felt like I saw a deeper glimpse into the leadership dynamics during the final stages of the war in Western Europe through this book. Both the personal interplay as well as the strategic decision making took on a new life as I moved through this book. An extremely enjoyable read for anyone who is enamored with the story of history.
- Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours, Robert Plummer and Mark Terry. A book that forever changed the larger conversation about missions (both local and global) is Missionary Methods: Saint Paul’s or Ours? by Roland Allen. The writing under discussion here is a reevaluation of Allen’s seminal work. The uniqueness of this evaluation is that it is written by a group of great mission oriented scholars who are not trying to deconstruct (i.e. tear down) everywhere ink has touched the pages of history. This book was a good encouragement to me and I would recommend it to anyone who thinks strategically about living life as a missionary in our day.
- In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto, Michael Pollan. This past year brought a lot of health oriented changes in my life which I don’t have space to outline the reasons or details here. To oversimplify, I stumbled, through desire and frustration, into a tome of reading on the effects of food on our overall health. This book was one of the most thought provoking as I began to ask questions that I had never asked before. This book, in combination with others, helped me to address many different issues and concerns about not only health, but questions that I had wrestled with regarding God’s creation and intention for our physical bodies.
Well, there you have a snapshot of a few of my most enjoyable reads of 2013 pulled from several different genres which I enjoy.
I would LOVE to hear from you. Whether fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or comic book, I am always greatly intrigued by what others are reading and enjoying. I am also always looking for a good recommendation. In the comments below share one, two, three, or even your top ten most enjoyable reads of the past year or so. It would be a joy to see.