From time to time, I like to read a book or two. Earlier in the year, I tracked my progress by posting monthly updates. Those fell by the wayside, but if you’re interested (and even if you aren’t), they can be found here:
The reason the posting went by the wayside is that I stopped trying to complete the challenge and reverted to a longstanding habit of just reading what I want. Or, in many cases, reading what I think will be useful for ministry to millennials in a post-Christian culture. If you keep up with our ministry to students at UCF, you’ll have read in our last newsletter how this paid off toward the end of the semester.
Seeing as how it is December though, and people are posting “Best Books of 2017” lists and whatnot, I decided I’d follow suit. I’m more or less on track to complete my Goodreads challenge of reading 175 books. That is actually less than last year (188), but more than in previous years. I’m currently at my 2015 total (you can see my stats here).
Because I’m also a bit behind on reviews, this is going to be more or less a table of contents for posts over the next several weeks. Rather than try to crank out a 1500 word post with something substantial on each book, I’ll actually try to post a reviews and articles on why I liked and found these books valuable. Although you can see them in the picture, here’s a bullet list:
- The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt
- None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
- The Spirituality of Wine by Gisela Kreglinger
- American Girls by Nancy Jo Sales
- Summa Philosophica by Peter Kreeft
- Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
- The Crucifixion by Fleming Rutledge
- Chuck Klosterman X by Chuck Klosterman
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- Movies are Prayers by Josh Larsen
- The Imperfect Disciple by Jared Wilson
- The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest by John Walton & J. Harvey Walton
- When Your Twenties are Darker Than You Expected by Paul Maxwell
- Political Visions and Illusions by David Koyzis
- Was the Reformation a Mistake by Matthew Levering
- Recapturing the Wonder by Mike Cosper
- Beauty, Order, and Mystery edited by Todd Wilson and Gerald Hiestand
- Free of Me by Sharon Hodde Miller
- The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing by Jonathan Pennington
- God Is and Faith. Hope. Love by Mark Jones
- One by One by Gina Dalfonzo
- The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse
- 12 Ways you Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke
Bear in mind these are books that I enjoyed this year, not necessarily the best books that came out this year. Some of these are a few years old, and a few are even older. Because of how reading is and should work, many of your “best books I read this year” will be books that didn’t come out in 2017. Yet, because I make some many requests for reviews, most of the books that come across my desk are newer.
I usually compensate for that over the summer break by reading older and/or non-theological works. There were several threads like this over the year that I should mention. First, I read several books related to beer and thoroughly enjoyed several of them. Standouts are:
- The Brewer’s Tale by William Bostick
- My Beer Year by Lucy Burningham
- A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage (see his other works on social media and food as well)
- The Complete Beer Course by Joshua Bernstein
Second, I finished working my way through David Brooks’ books and really enjoyed The Social Animal, Bobos in Paradise, and On Paradise Drive. The first is the standout in the list and is an intriguing fictional narrative approach to explaining neuroscience. The second is a critique of some millennial tendencies before I think they were associated with millennials as a generational category. The last is an historical look at American surburbia expansion.
Third, I read several books related to physics and geology:
- Reality is Not What it Seems by Carlo Rovelli
- Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
- “T. rex” and the Crater of Doom by Walter Alvarez
- Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by Lisa Randall
In conjunction with this, I read several books on matters related to the earlier chapters of Genesis. Somewhere down the road, I’ll have to tell you all about it. The short version is that dinosaurs are real, but I’m pretty sure they were killed by a comet millions of years ago and I’m trying to figure out how that interfaces with a semi-traditional reading of Genesis. Should be fun right?