This year, I am challenging myself to read 35 books. Strangely enough, I had to discipline myself to keep that number and not shoot for 55 or 60. The reason is, at the beginning of the year I would have felt a lot of pressure to always have my nose in a book (with a physical book) or a book in my ear (with an audiobook).
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I figured 35 would be an achievable goal that would allow flexibility of traveling with work and time to dedicate myself to other important things; like listening to sermons and spending more time in Scripture (see my reading resolutions). It would be a tragedy indeed to let a reading challenge suck my delight from God’s Word—it’s the only thing that comes with the 100% guarantee of training me in righteousness and preparing me for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Here’s a list of several of the books I’ve read so far in 2016:
The Church: The Gospel Made Visible by Mark Dever
This short and popular treatise on the doctrine of the church gives a helpful, gospel-focused overview of the church. I read this in preparation to teach on the doctrine of the church, and found it a very helpful introduction. As you might expect, Dever writes from his Baptist perspective and covers a lot of the same ground he covered in 9 Marks of a Healthy Church.
A short and sweet practical primer on evangelism. Read this with Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God for a great one-two punch.
The Imperfect Pastor by Zach Eswine
You can see my thoughts on this book in my review.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
Several people have recommended this author to me, so I downloaded the audiobook from the library to check him out for myself. This was the riveting non-fiction narrative of the sinking of the Lusitania, a ship bound from New York to London at the start of World War I—an event that played a large part of America entering the war.
The Book of Unknown Americans: A novel by Cristina Henriquez
My wife was assigned to read this book for her work and I decided to pick the audiobook up from the library and listen along. It tells the first-person fictional stories of many Latin American immigrants to America and their life and struggles in a new place. It helped me as someone who ministers to Spanish speakers understand their world a little more. While this book isn’t Christian, I think it could be very helpful for Christians who want to learn about the experiences of many Spanish-speaking immigrants. (FYI: I would give this a PG-13 rating for real-life violence and sexual situations.)
I read this to bolster my knowledge and skills at development for Leadership Resources. My goal is to resource our ministry training expositors around the world by encouraging partners with the work God is doing, and also by giving them opportunities to bear fruit with us. If you’re in the non-profit ministry world and want a practical guide to partnership development (that also lays out a nice blueprint), I recommend this book.
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller
This book was a re-read (first read back in 2012?). Readers find so much wisdom and hard-hitting truth in these pages—no wonder many (like myself) call it the best book on marriage there is.
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration Book by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull
This book had been on my to-read list for a while. I try to read on leadership and creativity to help my work and service with Leadership Resources, in pastoral ministry, and with this blog, and this book gave me a front-row seat to much of the genius behind everyone’s favorite animation studio: Pixar. Ed Catmull tells the story of Pixar and shares experiences of leading a creative company through frustrating projects, expensive failures, and setbacks. As a grownup who still loves a good cartoon movie, I loved hearing the behind-the-scenes stories (and leadership struggles) of many of my favorite Pixar movies. I’m not an Apple fan boy (even though I have an iPhone and Macbook), but I did enjoy seeing the massive influence Steve Jobs had on Pixar—a thread that runs through the whole book. If you’re looking for a business book on creativity and leadership that is fun to read, I recommend this one.
My Bible reading plan for 2016 is actually not to follow a plan, but to always be reading from several books of the Bible simultaneously, studying them deeply (thanks Garrett Kell). My goal is to get through a handful of great devotional commentaries (in this case, compiled sermons). Ephesians is an amazing book, and Hughes a great expositor and communicator. Both of those elements made my time in this book extremely rich.
The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis
I put down 5 C.S. Lewis books on my list of books to read this year. The Weight of Glory is a collection of essays/sermons on random topics from Lewis, including the famous sermon that gives this book its title. A fun fact about this book is that the paragraph below influenced John Piper, perhaps more than anything else, to deepen his delight in God:
Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are too easily pleased.
The Glory of Christ (Puritan Paperbacks) by John Owen
This is one I actually just started, but one I have high hopes for. A wise friend at LRI called it a book that made his “Top 5”, and after having my world rocked by The Mortification of Sin by Owen a few years ago, I thought picking up this book would be a good use of my time. Here’s a snippet to whet your appetite and stir your heart to behold Christ’s glory:
It is by faith that we grow to love Christ. So if we desire strong faith and powerful love, which give us rest, peace, and satisfaction, we must seek them by diligently beholding the glory of Christ by faith. In this duty I desire to live and to die. On Christ’s glory I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world. It will become to me like something dead and putrid, impossible for me to enjoy. (Page 7)
What have you read and enjoyed this year?