“But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12, NAS)
Today, I'm not giving you a major book review or anything of that sort. Rather, I thought I'd give you a "year-end" run down of books that I've read that were memorable enough to make the list. Between school, book reviews, and needing to keep sharp for ministry, I read a lot of books, and I don't really read enough books. Here are some that have stood out this year: (beyond the first, these are not in any significant order)
I should give you this disclaimer: I feel it should be self-evident that I've read the Bible much this year, so I didn't put it on the list. However, some people will ask where it is. So, yes, reading the Bible, the Word of God, is always relevant and life-changing.
1. Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. I have been familiar with the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and a little of his legacy since college. This is the first major reading I've done about him since Dr. Buckelew's History of Preaching class. Reading about how Bonhoeffer dealt with the intersection of the life of faith and the evil of this world is challenging and convicting. I could go on, and will at some point. I will say this: if Metaxas' portrayal is right, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a preacher of Christ, I'm far from worthy to also count myself one.
Reading the biography got me back to read through Discipleship by Bonhoeffer and I also have a daily devotional book that uses fragments of his writings to spur short thoughts. I also stocked my Amazon wish list with the rest of Bonhoeffer's writings. If you're trying to sort out Christian responsibility in the face of non-Christian governance and evil behavior, don't start your revolution without reading some of Bonhoeffer. Don't put off the reading, because you'll also see the danger of delay.
3. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell. Wow, a fascinating look through what's missing: real understanding between communicator and audience. This was earlier in the year, so I don't remember it perfectly clearly.
4. The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews. That, and The Traveler's Gift and The Heart Mender. He has become one of my favorite inspirational writers. His book The Lost Choice, which I read last year still resonates through my mind, and I don't think I would have taken the opportunity to be where I am without the challenge I found there. Good reads, all.
5. The Amazon Kindle. Well, that's not a book, but I bought one for Ann and one for me before we left Monticello. We had been saving up for one, and then the price dropped, and we got one each. What's great about it? Mainly: lots of free classics! I've read all the Sherlock Holmes stories, a few Jules Verne, and some others. It's nice to have easy reading available at a touch. Please note that the screensaver has one spooky-looking picture of Emily Dickinson, and yes, I will turn it back on so it chooses a different pic.
One of my 'ironic' Kindle classics is an old book on the repair and care of books. Yep. I'm weird like that. I downloaded a digital book about how to fix real books. (I did mention there's a lot of free, right? I didn't actually pay for that.)
6. Holiness by JC Ryle. Challenging. Along with a book entitled The Baptist Spirit that I found in the church library (from 1912), these books have reminded me that the problems in churches are actually no different now and a hundred years ago. People are people, the Word is the Word. Keep going.
7. Good Eats Cookbook Vol. 2 by Alton Brown. What? Just because I don't have the Food Network anymore you thought I'd given up on Good Eats? I still long for the day Netflix has Good Eats for streaming. They've almost got Scrubs, though they've lost Yes, Prime Minister, and when they get that back and add all Alton Brown shows (Good Eats, Iron Chef America, Feasting on Asphalt) I will swap a kidney for lifetime access. You expected everything I read to be serious?
8. A couple things from Joel Miller: his biography of Paul Revere and his collection of documents from the founding of America. I think the titles are The Revolutionary Paul Revere and The Portable Patriot. Both excellent.
This isn't anywhere near a comprehensive list. You can hit the "Books" category to see the book reviews I've done, and yes, I read every book I review. I even read a different copy of a book I reviewed because my review copy never arrived. I typically re-read the Lord of the Rings every year, so I'm sure I did that.
There's several left to read this year: Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (50% finished); Transformational Church and Essential Church, Chazown (about vision and leadership), The Orange Revolution (By the authors of The Carrot Principle. Really.), a couple of other review books, and maybe something fun. Tom Clancy has a new novel out, which the November 1st rule, and the low budget, has me not purchasing yet.
Get a book! Read!
Note: I linked to author websites or to Amazon for your convenience if you want to learn more or get a book or two. The Amazon links are probably my 'affiliate link' which will make me money if you click and buy.