Recent Reading

A summary of some of my recent reading:

On the short side (under 1000 words) check out Don Whitney's article The Sinkhole Syndrome. If your devotional life is in decline or your love for Jesus is less than it was a year ago, this is must reading. Here's an excerpt:

At the outset it’s likely that very few will know when the hidden part of your spiritual life begins crumbling. Just as imperceptible movements of water underground can carry away the earth beneath long before anyone on the surface perceives it, so the pressures of life can secretly displace the soil of our private spiritual disciplines long before the impact of their absence is visible to others. The more public parts of a Christian’s life, such as church involvement and various forms of ministry, can often continue with little observable change right up until the awful moment of collapse and the hypocrisy is revealed.

Yesterday I finished Roy Peter Clark's Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. This was a fun book, with lots of good advice for writers of all kinds. Of the several books I've read on writing over the past couple of years, this is the best.

Another recent read was John Piper's Finally Alive. This is a book on the new birth, addressing what regeneration is, why we need it, how it happens, what effects follow, and how we can help others experience it. I agreed with the overall theology of the book and benefited from some of Piper's unique insights in the text of Scripture. But it's not one of Piper's best books. Originally a series of sermons, this book could have been much better if it had received more careful editing and reworking.

On the more academic side, I really enjoyed How to Read Genesis by Tremper Longman III. What a great introduction to this fascinating and perplexing Old Testament book! With a steady hand that doesn't veer too far left or right, Longman covers such issues as the documentary hypothesis (which deals with the authorship and original composition of Genesis and the other four books of the Pentateuch) and the relationship between Genesis and other documents from the Ancient Near East. He also gives a guide to reading the book of Genesis with a lot of attention to its literary features and discusses how Christians should read Genesis in light of the rest of the canon of Scripture.

For fiction I recently read John Steinbeck's East of Eden, a sprawling epic (600 pages!) that takes place mostly in California around the turn of the (twentieth) century and creatively retells the story of Cain and Abel from Genesis. Despite some objectionable language, this was an extremely well-written novel that vividly depicts the human condition, caught as it is in the net of good and evil.

Currently I'm working on Neil Plantinga's Engaging God's World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living. Plantinga is an excellent writer and teases out contemporary implications of fully embracing a biblical worldview with its narrative of creation, fall, and redemption. This would be a great introductory text for someone wanting to dig deeper into the worldview of Christianity.

Another current read is Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen's The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. This may be the best short overview of the biblical narrative I've read yet.

Just started, and am less than 100 pages in to, David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize winning biography of John Adams. If you don't like reading, check out the HBO mini-series based on this book (which I haven't seen yet, but heard is good).

And, for research in the final stages of my book, I recently read Tim Chester's You Can Change (which I liked a lot) and am now dipping into Kenneth Boa's Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation, which, as a college textbook, provides a balanced overview of the varied perspectives on how believers are spiritually transformed.

On my reading list:
Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Prolegomena, Herman Bavinck
Calvin, Bruce Gordon
What the Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell
Planets in Peril: A Critical Study of C. S. Lewis’ Ransom Trilogy, David Downing
Home: A Novel, Marilynne Robinson

What are you reading? I choose to read many books based on the recommendations of others and would love to hear what you've recently read and why you did or didn't like it.

9 comments:

Amanda said...

I just finished Brian McLaren's new book, A New Kind of Christianity. I can't say I'd recommend it ;) unless you're like me and you like to know what others are thinking.

I'm also reading a book on how to knit. :)

I'm still reading some (not as much as I was), but I don't have the time or energy to blog about them.

Anna said...

I'm reading The Prestige by Christopher Priest - the novel that the movie was based off of. I like it, but it's very different from the movie, so it's a little bit confusing trying to see where all of it fits. I like it a lot though!

And I finished reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller. It was very good! Thanks for posting about it!

Anna said...

I'm reading The Prestige by Christopher Priest - the novel that the movie was based off of. I like it, but it's very different from the movie, so it's a little bit confusing trying to see where all of it fits. I like it a lot though!

And I finished reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller. It was very good! Thanks for posting about it!

Greg said...

I just finished Piper's "This Momentary Marriage". Probably the best book I've read on the subject. Really gives the reader God's perspective on this institution. Strongly recommend it.
Just started Greg Koukl's "Tactics". Really enjoying it so far. He provides simple ways to winsomely engage others in spiritual conversations. Also started reading "Wired for Intimacy. How pornography hijacks the male brain." by William Struthers.Intrigued by this one. It does get a bit technical. The author is a biopsychologist and a christian, so this is written from a unique perspective.
I enjoy your reviews, and am always amazed at how you can read so much. Keep up the good work!

Brian G. Hedges said...

Thanks for the responses!

Amanda: I'd like to hear of your thoughts on this McLaren book. I think I'll skip the one on knitting! :)

Anna: Loved the film of The Prestige! Glad you liked Miller's book.

Greg: I didn't mention Wired for Intimacy, but I've bought that one too and have spot-read in it a bit. Looks really helpful. One of our elders has read and really liked Tactics. And, as for my reading, remember (1) that this post covered a month's worth of reading or more and (2) that I count some of this reading as work, especially when it helps with preparing sermons.

Eddie Eddings said...

10 Great Ideas from Church History is an amazing 237 page book. It is written by Mark Shaw and published by IVP. It came out in 1997 so you would have to order it online. The first chapter, "A Vision for Truth: Luther's Theology of the Cross" is worth the price of the book alone. It's one of those can't-put-down books. I took only one box of books with me to Kuwait, and that one made the list.

cgl said...

Right now I am reading
The Constitution of Liberty by
FA Hayek
I have recently finished
The Road to Surfdom
also by Hayek and couldn't really get enough of him so I need to find more. Next on the list from him is The Fatal Conceit.

Also being read right now are

The Lost World of Genesis One
and
Cranford

John said...

I just finished D.A. Carson's Scandalous, which I recommend.

I'm reading Counterfeit Gods (which you recommended) and Style by Joseph Williams.

Jeff said...

Recently finished Tim Keller's Counterfeit Gods. I just finished Thomas Sowell's Conquests and Cultures and Martin Downes' Risking the Truth. I'm currently reading the following:
Piper and Taylor's The Power of Words and the Wonder of God;
Jeffery, Ovey, & Sach's Pierced for Our Transgressions;
Paul Miller's A Praying Life; and
Trevin Wax' Holy Subversion.