What I’ve Read This Year

December 7, 2009

I set a goal this past year to read one book a week.  And, other than the two weeks in Anaheim I did ok maintaing that pace checking in at 48 books read (not counting the Bible – which I think ought to be read in its entirety (at a minimum) by every Christian, every year.  You’ll see comments on most books below.

Bible & Commentaries
The Holy Bible English Standard Version (ESV) – it should go without saying that the Bible is at the top of every Christian’s reading list, but sadly, the American church is in the sad state of shape it’s in because it is often unsaid and, therefore, the Bible is unread.  My goal was to read through the Bible three times this past year – I missed my goal, having read it through 2.5 times.
The Message of 1 Corinthians by David Prior
1 Corinthians by John Calvin
Colossians and Philemon by N.T. Wright
The Message of Colossians and Philemon by R.C. Lucas
On the New Testament (A Book You Will Actually Read) by Mark Driscoll
On the Old Testament (A Book You’ll Actually Read) by Mark Driscoll – both of these books by Mark Driscoll are well worth the read.  They’re short, to the point and very readable.

The Way of Ignorance: And Other Essays by Wendell Berry – good book, provocative
Moral Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture by Christian Smith – one of the best books I’ve read.  Can be slow as the material is dense and I’m not a sociologist.

Longing to Know
by Esther Lightcap Meek – another home run book.  Addresses in everyday language the question of how we know what we know.
Who Do You Say That I Am: Christology and the Church
edited by Donald Armstrong – a nice collection of articles by various writers addressing the person and work of Christ.  Helpful for those seeking to understand the uniqueness of Christ in our age.
Household of God (Biblical Classics Library)
by Lesslie Newbigin – One of my all time favorite books by one of my all time favorite authors.  This was about the 5th time I’ve read this cover-to-cover.
The Heidelberg Catechism:
A New Translation for the Twenty-first Century by Lee C. Barrett III – a nice update of a classic Reformation catechism.  Not worth the money, though – instead, go to the devotional section on this blog and read this year’s devotionals based on the Heidelberg Catechism
Kierkegaard for Beginners by Donald D. Palmer – an ok intro.  Accessible to the Average Joe who wants to know more about an interesting man.
Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
edited by Arthur G. Bennett – an all time favorite.  I’ve read this too many times to count.

John Calvin: A Heart For Devotion Doctrine & Doxology edited by Burk Parsons – well worth the money.
To Die Is Gain: The Triumph of John and Betty Stam
by Mrs. Howard Taylor – interesting story told very tepidly.  Too bad.
Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist
by Sam Storms – Good book for the thoughtful Christian wanting to integrate their Charismatic experience with sound theology.
The Yankee Years by Joe Torre – an interesting look into the life of one of the best managers in baseball.

Christianity and Culture
Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church by Michael Horton – Hit book of the year.  Very challenging to the American Christian world.  Must read.
Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church by Reggie McNeal – good intro to “missional church.”  Not much to offer, though, for those who’ve had some exposure to the theme.
No More Spectators: The 8 Life-Changing Values of Disciple Makers by Mark Nysewander – so unremarkable that I cannot even remember 1 life-changing value, let alone 8.
Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth by Jeffrey Satinover – A must read if you wish to engage the cultural question of homosexuality.
Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport: Making Connections in Today’s World by Richard J. Mouw – A bit disappointing.  I was hoping for something more substantial from such an intriguing title and a sharp author.
In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life by Sinclair Ferguson High hopes based on other works by Ferguson were not met in this book.  It is a fine book, though, and worth reading.
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller – As usual, Keller shines in this book.  Well worth the money.
Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters by Timothy Keller – Very good book and analysis of cultural idolatry.
In the Footsteps of Paul by Ken Duncana photo journalistic book portraying images from Paul’s missionary journeys.  A very nice coffee table type book.

Note: Genghis Khan is one of my favorite historical figures.  His military accomplishments are unparalleled in history.  The Conn Iggulden books are historical fiction – exceptionally well written.
The Devil’s Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe by James Chambers
Mongol Warlords by David Nicolle – didn’t think to much of this book.  Perhaps it was because I’d read it late it the game on Genghis, but, actually, I don’t think it was well written book.
Genghis Khan: Life, Death, and Resurrection by John Man
Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden
Genghis: Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden
Genghis: Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden

With the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon walk I was intrigued by the men who traveled into space.  The Piers Bizony book was a nice treatment of the moon landing.  The Neil Armstrong book was a wonderful portrayal of a seminal figure in American history.  The book, “Magnificent Desolation”, about the life of Buzz Aldrin, was a dismal portrayal of a man whose life is aptly described in the title – don’t waste your money.
One Giant Leap: Apollo 11 Remembered by Piers Bizony
The Last Man on The Moon: Astronaut Eugene Cernan and America’s Race in
by Donald A. Davis
First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen
Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon by Ken Abraham

General Interest
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell – save your money, here’s the point: successful people are generally not self-made men/women.  They are, in fact, often the beneficiaries of hidden advantageous, extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies not generally available to the larger populace.  One interesting observation: it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice in your field to achieve excellence.
Rising from the Plains by John McPhee – on my all time favorite list.  An interesting integration of western geological formation with narrative.  A very good read.
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific  – Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel – fantastic book about a surprisingly interesting topic – also on my “glad to have read” list.
In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson – now, my favorite Bryson book.
The Winners Manuel: For the Game of Life by Jim Tressel – good book on leadership and reproducing leaders.
Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan – I saw the movie and had hoped the book would be better – it wasn’t.

Note: When I travel – and only when I travel – I read Louis L’Amour books.  He is one of my favorite storytellers and I love the Southwest/High Sierra states.
High Lonesome by Louis L’Amour
Radigan by Louis L’Amour
Under the Sweetwater Rim by Louis L’Amour
The Trail To Crazy Man by Louis L’Amour

13 responses to What I’ve Read This Year

  1. Very challenging, I need to read more. How do you find time in your week to read this much?

  2. Hey Brett. I read, at a minimum, 30-50 pages every day. You can move through quite a bit of material at that rate.

  3. I believe there are a few books here that I am planning on reading (especially the Keller books).

    I do want another devotional, I have used Chambers’ Utmost for the last year. Any recommendations or suggestions?

  4. Andrew, you might want to check out ‘Tabletalk’ – a monthly devotional magazine published by Ligonier Ministries. You can check out sample devotionals online prior to subscribing. I’ve used it on and off for many years and have found it a very nice resource.

  5. A motivator to review my reads of the year. You beat me in volume. Impressive.

  6. Nice list brother Wood – intriguing compliation and surprising breadth of topic.

  7. Amazing!!! Very challenged.. you inspire 🙂

  8. Steve, I saw that you read some Calvin and calvinist books, do you tend to be more calvinist in your theology? I straddle the fence…

  9. Hey, Brett. While I have read a substantial bit of John Calvin – and admire him deeply – I wouldn’t describe myself as a “Calvinist” (equally, I wouldn’t resist others assignation of this name to my thinking). Too many Calvinists tend to lack the pastoral sensitivity of J.C. (both J.C.’s) and they tend to go places with a sense of certitude that I don’t think Calvin went, nor would have gone (for instance – Calvin and Calvinists tend to approach the question of predestination from different starting points and it seems to occupy a more central place in the thoughts/writings of latter Calvinists that it did for Calvin). Also, I’ve spent quite number of years working through Luther. And, I find him one of the preeminent pastors in history. Because of this I more accurately describe myself as “Reformed.” Pastorally, I find in Reformed thinking a substance (what Tim Keller calls the “crunchiness” of the the Gospel) lacking in other theologies – especially modern theologies. This substance, so clearly rooted in Scripture, has allowed me to the opportunity to impart and apply content to the lives of those entrusted to my spiritual care.
    The image I hold in my mind with regard to “my” theology is of a goal post. Scripture is the crossbar with Luther and Calvin being the uprights and I seek to keep my “football” of theology within those parameters. From a Baptist point of view, you might enjoy reading the works of Charles Spurgeon (whose collected works are easily found online). Conversely, you may wish to start your reading with “John Calvin: A Heart For Devotion Doctrine & Doxology” – it’s a wonderful overview.
    Lastly, one of my seminary professors encouraged me to learn one or two theologians (Calvin & Luther were suggested) well enough to use them as a framework to evaluate other theologies. That was a very helpful suggestion. If you’ve not considered that you might want to. I’d be delighted to suggest a variety of books on a variety of topics if you wish.

  10. Thanks, Francis. It was a good reading year. Several of those books will stay with me for quite a while.

  11. Well said. I have Calvin’s institutes but haven’t had the time to devote to it. I also have some of Luther’s works and sermons. I enjoy them all as well as Spurgeon. If you read something that is a “must read” let me know. I just finished “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. It is awesome and worth the time.

  12. Great list. My favorite read this year was definitely “From Passions to Emotions: They History of a Secular Psychological Concept” by Thomas Dixon. I’m halfway through “The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America” by Wilfred McClay, and it looks like it’s going to be my second favorite read of 2009.

  13. Great list and great books. However I don’t see any of my books on that list.