Because life is a series of edits

Booklist 2006

In Books on December 26, 2006 at 9:03 am

Just in time to put those gift cards to work, here’s my 2006 booklist (with reasons and rankings – 10 is highest) for your consideration. I didn’t take the time to link the books, but you should be able to find them easily enough.

In general, I didn’t get as much fiction in as I would have liked (seminary syllabi tend to have that effect); however, I did exceed my goal of three books/month in a big way, reading 59 books this year. Feel free to post recommendations or links to your own lists in the comments below.


  • Old Testament Ethics for the People of God by Christopher Wright – fascinating look at the “whys” of OT living (9)
  • Fidelity by Wendell Berr – not my favorite, but it’s Wendell (6)
  • The Game Plan by Joe Dallas – one of the better books on the issue of dealing with porn addiction (though that’s not saying much) (5)
  • Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry – variation on the theme of the plight of rural America; I liked Hannah Coulter a whole lot more (6)
  • The Writing Life by Annie Dillard – okay book on writing (6)
  • Before We Get Started by Bret Lott – Megan liked this writing guide more than I did (5)
  • The Soul Tells a Story by Vinita Hampton Wright – could have been 75 pages shorter, but a good take on writing (7)
  • On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner – whoa; read this one, as Gardner writes with authority (9)
  • The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis – they all kind of blur together for me; okay (7)


  • The Heart of Evangelism by Jerram Barrs – deals with (duh) the heart of evangelism instead of just the techniques; helpful (8)
  • Chameleon Christianity by Dick Keyes – more good relational apologetic stuff (7)
  • The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis – a fitting climax to the series, I suppose (7)
  • Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament by Christopher Wright – Wright is the daddy when it comes to the OT (8)
  • The Openness of God by Clark Pinnock, et. al. – interesting (but wrong) theological perspective on the will of God (5)
  • Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Bavinck – some of the best Reformed systematic theology you’ll read; amazing work (9)


  • Above All Earthly Pow’rs by David F. Wells – very educational book on postmodernism (8)
  • Introducing Postmodernism by Richard Appignanesi and Chris Garratt – a fun little book(let) on postmodernism (7)
  • Out of Control by Ben Young and Samuel Adams – was asked to review this one; didn’t like it, so they didn’t use my review (2)
  • The Stand by Stephen King – haunting book on viral contagion in the hands of evil and the end of civilization as we know it; frightening, but needs a better ending (8)
  • To Own a Dragon by Donald Miller – an okay read, especially for someone who doesn’t know his father (6)


  • The Bark of the Bog Owl by Jonathan Rogers – the first in a triology for children re-telling the story of David; the best of the three (7)
  • Evangelism in the Early Church by Michael Green – the church fathers were wild hairs; great look at the spread of the gospel 2,000 years ago (9)
  • Between Two Worlds by John Stott – Stott’s take on preaching; a helpful read (8)
  • Jesus and the Victory of God by N.T. Wright – a bit verbose at times, Wright’s credibility in the critical world is why we need him in the evangelical one (7)
  • Created in His Image by Anthony Hoekema – good, basic book on humanity (7)
  • Salem’s Lot by Stephen King – vampires on the east coast; ho-hum (5)
  • Truth with Love by Bryan Follis – more apologetics, this time from Francis Schaeffer’s perspective (7)
  • Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures by Herman Ridderbos – poorly translated/written, but Hermie has some good things to say about canonicty of the Scriptures (7)
  • The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings by Robert H. Stein – very helpful book on interpreting and thinking through how Jesus taught in the gospels (8)


  • The Secret of the Swamp King by Jonathan Rogers – David’s story continues…and unfortunately gets longer (6)
  • Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be by Cornelius Plantinga – one of the better modern treatments of the topic of sin you’ll read (9)
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding – this one’s always been a favorite since junior high; hence, the re-read (8)
  • Hey, Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland – I never remember his characters or storylines, but I love his cultural observations in the midst of his fiction (6)


  • In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen – powerful little book(let) on leadership and humility (9)
  • Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland – more character development than normal for Coupland; more good cultural observations (7)


  • On Being a Pastor by Derek Prime and Alistair Begg – dated and formulaic take on pastoring; a few practical nuggets, but that’s about it (4)
  • Pastor by William H. Willimon – despite a few of his theological views, this was one of the better (and better-written) books I’ve read on pastoral ministry (8)
  • Pastoral Theology in the Classical Tradition by Andrew Purves – a historic look at five familiar pastors through the ages; interesting (7)
  • Freedom and Discipleship by Jerram Barrs – helpful booklet on the difference between legalism and discipleship (7)


  • Getting the Message by Dan Doriani – full of good tools to properly interpret the Scriptures; written well, too (8)
  • The Old Testament Speaks by Samuel J. Schultz – concise summary of the OT I used to prep for my Bible class this fall (7)
  • Kingdom of Priests by Eugene H. Merrill – ditto, except a little more technical in dates, places, debates, etc. (7)
  • How to Read the Bible Book by Book by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart – if you teach the Bible in any capacity, this book will serve you well; a nice surprise (9)


  • TrueFaced by Bill Thrall – still one of my favorite books in understanding and working through sin cycles (9)
  • The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks – hated it; what Paperback Swap is for (1)
  • Getting Marriage Right by David P. Gushee – okay book on marriage (5)


  • Rabbit, Run by John Updike – Updike is such a good writer, but the dysfunctional story of infidelity was almost too depressing to enjoy (6)
  • The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero – a needed book in today’s fundamental(ist) churches and parachurch ministries (8)
  • Take Back Your Marriage by William J. Doherty – respected secular psychological take on marriage that basically affirms every marital principle in the Bible (7)
  • Red Azalea by Anchee Min – up-and-down story of one woman’s hard life in Communist China (7)


  • Mentoring for Mission by Gunter Krallman – a detailed look at Jesus’ methods in discipling the twelve (8)
  • Holding Hands, Holding Hearts by Richard and Sharon Phillips – good book on dating (and, therefore, marriage) (7)
  • Hebrews by William Lane – one of the more definitive works on the biblical book; great stuff on structure (8)
  • The Way of the Wilderking by Jonathan Rogers – David’s story just keeps going, and going, and going…just read 1 and 2 Samuel instead and call it a story (4)
  • What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Behn – fascinating book about how to help people learn; great resource for teachers of any material (8)


  • The Message of Revelation by Michael Wilcock – believe it or not, Revelation will (sort of) make sense after you read this commentary (8)
  • A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew by J. Weingreen – hate it, hate it, hate it; exercises are good, though (or so my prof says) (3)
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion – Didion’s sad, haunting experience with the near-death of her daughter and the death of her husband, all within five days; still waiting for the “magical” part to kick in (9)
  • Lisey’s Story by Stephen King – famous dead author leaves clues for his still-living wife to traverse worlds and ease her pain; 510 pages of weirdness (6)
  1. Great list, and I want to read a few of these.
    What stands out to me are The Stand and Rabbit Run. Those are two good books.
    I didn’t like What the Best College Teachers Do. After reading/scanning, I never really figured out what they did. They were good teachers and students like them.

    I’m intrigued by the Wright book, the books about David which you weren’t sure about and the Fee/Stuart book. I want to check thos out.

    You’re reading such great stuff. I’m jealous.

  2. You are SO organized! How do you do it!

  3. I too am impressed by the organization exhibited by this list. And I’m inspired to keep a record myself of the books I read this year and what I thought of them.

    Having read many of these books in seminary myself, I more or less agree with most of your assessments; maybe I would give or take away a point or so on some of the ratings. The only one I’d have a more significant disagreement with is Nouwen’s “In the Name of Jesus.” But we discussed that already.

    Book I was most impressed by this year: “Blankets” by Craig Thompson, a graphic novel. This book still haunts me–in a good way.

    Book I need to finish: “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I was reading this during the summer, mostly at night before bed, and it was so intense that I actually couldn’t sleep for a couple of nights. So, I set it aside for a while and never got back to it.

    Book I was disappointed by: “Searching for God Knows What” by Donald Miller, his follow-up to “Blue Like Jazz.” There was nothing wrong with the book, but I’m just not blown away by Miller like everyone else seems to be.

  4. For what it’s worth, the “organization” for this is not much: a Word document in which I enter the title of a finished book. That’s about it (I add the comment and ranking in a ten-minute flurry at the end of the year in the blogpost), so my secret’s out.

    Also for what it’s worth, Serven is probably my hero/model on keeping track of books he’s read (he’s got a list that goes back to like third grade or something) and always manages to get in 60-70 a year (and that’s already having gone to seminary). Check out his site for what he’s reading.

    Nick, I remember our conversation on Nouwen and how we saw things differently, but we do see eye-to-eye on Blankets – what a great book. I need to read Fyodor and probably have the same opinion on Don Miller’s stuff (though I liked Searching for God Knows What better than Blue Like Jazz as his editor didn’t let him get away with quite as much).

    Anybody got any book recommendations?

  5. Brennen Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel (though I may be the last one to read)
    Irrestible Revolution (Shane Claiborne)
    On Holy Fire (Nicky Cruz)
    Transformation (Bob Roberts)
    Present Future (Reggie McNeal)
    The Shaping of Things to Come (Frost and Hirsch)
    Prayer – Richard Foster
    The Traveler’s Gift- Andy Andrews (Fiction)
    Currently reading: Prayer – Philip Yancey

  6. add:
    A New Way to Be Human – Charlie Peacock

  7. Whoa. We both read The Stand this year. Weird. Did you read the recently released “expanded” version or the original?

    Also, I’d be very interested to hear you elaborate further on Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God – in the unlikely event that you ever have the spare time for such an endeavor. :)

  8. I think I read the “expanded” version, which seemed a little “too expanded” by the time I finished it. The story is genuinely scary, but King just seems to kill off his characters too quickly after slowly developing them over the course of the book.

    On New Year’s Eve, I finished King’s latest – Lisey’s Story. Not a bad read (though the chronology and plot line are all over the place), but not comparable to the grand scale of The Stand. Oh, well – at least I got it in before the ball dropped at midnight and therefore added it to my reading list for 2006.

    Regarding the N.T. Wright book, I’ll try to post some parts from the four-page paper I collaborated on with two other students for our attempt to sum up the book. We got a B on the paper, so be forewarned – it may not be the most definitive source to consider.

  9. Matthew, on second thought (and because I’m not sure how interested everyone reading is interested in my thoughts on N.T. Wright), I emailed you that paper. Hope you got it.

  10. Got it, thanks again. :)

  11. You’ve inspired me! Thanks for the book reviews. So many books, so little time.

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