2008 Reading Roundup

Justin Taylor linked an interesting article about President Bush's reading habits. In addition to holding the most powerful political office in the free world, he managed to read 40 books in 2008! That gives the lie to the common excuse for not reading, "I'm too busy to read."

Well, I never manage to read everything I want to or planned to in a year, but I did knock out 60+ books this year (but with a lot less to do than the President!). Here are some scattered reflections on some of them. Maybe some of these should make your reading list for 2009.

Most Read Author

It's a tie between D. A. Carson and Sinclair Ferguson. I read three books by each.

Most Helpful Book

Probably, Tim Keller's The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. I've returned to it over and again and will continue to do so. But I say probably, because several others were really helpful in other ways. Keep reading.

Most Disappointing Book

The Appeal by John Grisham. I'm beginning to think that Grisham has lost his touch. I really looked forward to reading this latest of his novels; it was a dud. Don't waste your time.

Strangest Book

Equus by Peter Shaffer. It's a play, actually, and really disturbing. I came across it in Rebecca Pippert's book. It was helpful in illustrating a point in a sermon, but it's not on my recommended reading list.

Best Secular Nonfiction Book

Out of ten books I read, including Neil Postman's fantastic Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, my favorite was Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. It was also the first book I read this year. Everything I read by Gladwell is fascinating and great fun.

What I Failed to Read

The books I wanted to read, but didn’t, or started to read and didn’t finish, are too numerous to list. But I regret that I didn’t read more from John Owen, John Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards, because my soul benefits more from these writers than any others. Next year.

Five-Star Books

I usually rate the books I read with 1 to 5 stars. Here are the ones that earned my top rating, with number of pages, the date I completed it, and a one-sentence explanation for why I liked it.

God's Big Picture: Tracing the Story-Line of the Bible – Vaughan Roberts (160 pgs, 1/29/08). This is a short and accessible (non-academic) overview to the bible's overarching story of redemption.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism – Timothy J. Keller (293 pgs, 2/16/08). Keller's argument for Christianity is literate, well-reasoned, and crafted to engage both believers and skeptics.

Possessed by God: A New Testament Theology of Sanctification and Holiness – David Peterson (191 pgs, 3/7/08). This fine book pays close attention to the text in developing a robust and Christ-centered biblical theology of sanctification.

The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction – Sinclair B. Ferguson (3/24/08). Profound in both depth and simplicity, this book shows that Christian doctrine is practical and Christian practice is doctrinal.

The Holy Spirit – Sinclair B. Ferguson (288 pgs, 5/10/08). Out of the books I read this year, I learned more from this book about Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Christian life than any other.

Hope Has Its Reasons: The Search to Satisfy Our Deepest Longings – Rebecca Manley Pippert. I forgot to write down the number of pages and date of completion, but this was one of the clearest and most winsome arguments for the truth of the gospel that I've read - and targeted to unbelievers.

Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community (Re:Lit) – Tim Chester & Steve Timmis (207 pgs, 10/16/08). This is the best book on church that I've read yet.

The Messiah And The Psalms by Richard P. Belcher Jr. (288 pages, and I haven't quite finished it!). The best book I read on the Psalms, because of its solid scholarship, relentless Christ-centeredness, and especially it's mini-expositions of about thirty psalms.

Honorable Mentions

A few others really worth reading and recommending are: The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie Newbigin, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity by Nancy Pearcey and Phillip E. Johnson, Deepening Your Conversations with God: Learning to Love to Pray by Ben Patterson, How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil by D. A. Carson, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God by Bob Kauflin, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller, Christ and Culture Revisited by D. A. Carson, Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer by Eugene H. Peterson, and How to Read the Psalms by Tremper Longman.

What was your favorite book this year? Any recommendations for me and others as we plan our reading goals for next year?


mwh said...

Impressive list. I think I only completed one book in 2008--The Blue Parakeet. I hope to do a blog review soon.

Maybe 2009 will go better as far as reading.

mwh said...

Now that I think about it more, I did read Carson's book on his father and Pride and Prejudice. Both were good books. Three sounds slightly better than one.

Brian G. Hedges said...

You may have read fewer books than I, but you've also been completing a PhD! I'll look forward to reading your review of The Blue Parakeet.