Because life is a series of edits

Booklist 2007

In Books on December 26, 2007 at 12:09 am

After hitting 59 in 2006 , my reading goal this year was 60 books, which I made (barely). September and October were hard because of school, but between the rugged required reading in June and some catch-up time in December, things worked out in the end. I’m shooting for 6 per month for a total of 72 in 2008, so we’ll see what happens.

I’ve ranked each of the books on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) and added a comment or two of explanation, so pick yourself up a good book or two for the New Year. (Of course, if anyone’s looking for a post-Christmas present for little ol’ me, visit my Amazon Wish and Commentaries lists for ideas. No pressure.)

January (5)

  • The Professor and the Madman by Stephen Winchester – psycho prisoner contributes entries to the Oxford Dictionary; a little slow (6)
  • The Shangri-La Diet by Seth Roberts – drink saffron oil, lose weight; whatever (1)
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – powerful novel about everyday life in Afghanistan; now in theaters (8)
  • Handbook on the Prophets by Robert Chisholm, Jr. – good reference book on Old Testament prophets; helpful (7)
  • Cell by Stephen King – cell phones turn people into zombies; how is this fiction? (4)

February (5)

  • Beyond Identity by Dick Keyes – well-written book on who (and whose) we are; Keyes is a favorite (8)
  • Connecting by Paul Stanley and Bobby Clinton – book on mentoring from one of my mentors (Paul); a re-read (8)
  • William the Baptist by James M. Chaney – old-school book(let) advocating infant baptism; I’m still not convinced (6)
  • Maximizing Your Effectiveness by Aubrey Malphurs – leadership book with emphasis on gifts, personality; pretty basic (7)
  • Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts edited by I.M. Marshall – good text covering the acts of the apostles; Marshall is a stud (8)

March (5)

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – re-read for Wash U’s The Big Read; a classic (7)
  • The Pastor’s Guide to Psychological Disorders and Treatments by Brad Johnson and William Johnson – not the most fun read; helpful as a resource, though (8)
  • The Running Man by Stephen King – reads like a bad early 80’s movie – oh, wait a minute…; there’s a reason there’s not been a re-release (3)
  • The Healing Path by Dan Allender – great content, but can’t stand Allender’s over-writing; syrupy goodness (6)
  • The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job & Ecclesiastes by Derek Kidner – small commentary on Wisdom literature; accessible and concise (8)

April (5)

  • Perfecting Ourselves to Death by Richard Winter – more comprehensive than revolutionary in its analysis; nice to categorize my issues, though (7)
  • Intentional Disciplemaking by Ron Bennett – another friend’s book on leadership; good stuff on spiritual parenting (7)
  • Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free by F.F. Bruce – hard to beat the Brucester on matters of the New Testament; love the succinctness of this British scholar (8)
  • Strategic Pastoral Counseling by David Benner – not the most interesting, but really good for what it is; should be on every pastor’s bookshelf (8)
  • Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700) by Jaroslav Pelikan – analysis of original source material; hard to follow, but has its moments (6)

May (4)

  • The Story of Christianity, part 2 by Justo Gonzalez – good stuff on church history; Gonzalez is so readable (9)
  • On Being Presbyterian by Sean Michael Lucas – more information than you might want on the history of Presbyterianism (7)
  • Readings in Christian Thought edited by Hugh T. Kerr – great compilation of original source excerpts from church fathers; some really powerful passages from the past (9)
  • Dreamcatcher by Stephen Kinging – friends fight aliens; see the movie to make the bi-polar alien thing work (5)

June (9)

  • The Person of Christ by Donald Macleod – best book I’ve read on the subject of Christology; probably my book of the year, theologically speaking (10)
  • Calvin and The Atonement by Robert Peterson – my professor’s published dissertation highlights Calvin on Christ; good to have on the shelf (8)
  • The Human Factor by Graham Greene – very 1970’s espionage novel; not bad (6)
  • The Cross of Christ by John Stott – if only Stott could be the face people think of when they think about evangelicalism; solid (8)
  • Why I Am Not a Calvinist by Jerry Walls and Joseph Dongell – philosophy reigns surpreme (but is not convincing); nice try, though (7)
  • Why I Am Not an Arminian by Robert Peterson and Michael Williams – not as philosophically sexy, but more biblically-based; clear and concise (8)
  • Saved by Grace by Anthony Hoekema – hard to beat Hoekema (on anything); good Reformed Dutch guy on the atonement (8)
  • Adopted by God by Robert Peterson – okay book on biblical adoption (7)
  • The Brothers K by David James Duncan – powerful novel about baseball, family, and redemption; reads true on all accounts (9)

July (5)

  • Teacher Man by Frank McCourt – McCourt’s memoir of 30 years of teaching in New York; great writing about teaching high schoolers (9)
  • Moral Choices by Scott B. Rae – good basic primer/text on the history and systems of philosophy; makes sense of a lot of history you never knew you didn’t know (8)
  • The Ishbane Conspiracy by Randy Alcorn – teenage (melo)drama; yuck (2)
  • The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel – evidentialist apologetics written in interview form; credible because of who he interviews (7)
  • The Princess and the Goblin by George McDonald – fantasy story from C.S. Lewis’ hero/inspiration; old school fairy tale (8)

August (6)

  • Doing Right by David Gill – the main text for my Biblical Ethics classes; practical look at the Ten Commandments and their implications (9)
  • The Roads That Built America by Dan McNichol – I’ve always been fascinated by our interstate system; some good retro pics of the process of getting it built (7)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – my second time around trying to get through Rowling’s books; the first one’s a good start (7)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling – more of the same; okay, I guess (7)
  • Uncommon Decency by Richard J. Mouw – helpful book on relating to the world in a Christ-honoring way; civility = public politeness (7)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling – number three is where I got bogged down the first time; felt the same sluggishness this time around (6)

September (0)

October (3)

  • Creed or Chaos? by Dorothy Sayers – holding nothing back, Sayers’ little book is a sassy dose of reality regarding the exclusivity of Christianity; she would never have made it in our politically correct age (9)
  • Losing Moses on the Freeway by Chris Hedges – an agnostic’s take on the Ten Commandments; some interesting ideas and stories that challenge the usual oversimplications (7)
  • Sex and the Supremacy of Christ edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor – for a grace-filled handling of the topic, this is the one; a beautiful summary of biblical sexuality (9)

November (4)

  • Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell – Bell’s first book about rethinking church; chew the meat, spit out the bones (7)
  • J-Pod by Douglas Coupland – his characters are all the same and his plot lines go nowhere, but when it comes to cultural observation, Coupland’s the daddy; fun (8)
  • Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches edited by Robert Webber – the writing from the five contributors is really uneven, but Webber’s summary and perspective at the end is worth the cost of the book (7)
  • The Mist by Stephen King – first read this novella back in 1985 as part of King’s Skeleton Crew short story collection, but had to re-read it in light of the movie; such a scary story (8)

December (9)

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – Harry and company battle Voldemort; (long) variation on a familiar theme (7)
  • Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney – hadn’t read this since high school; had I had this translation then, I might have remembered more of it (8)
  • Living Legacy by Jim Downing – I so wanted to like this book about the founding of The Navigators, but the personalities got in the way; a tough read (4)
  • Teaching for Reconciliation by Ronald T. Habermas – a Reformed perspective on Christian education; really good stuff (9)
  • Christian Education edited by Michael J. Anthony – an amazing compendium of research-laden writing on educating from a biblical perspective; ran out of highlighters on this one (9)
  • A Dark, Oval Stone by Marsena Konkle – a woman’s husband dies at age 39, but life goes on for her; small first novel with some thoughtful marriage moments (8)
  • The Death of the Grown-Up by Diana West – profound (and prolific) cultural analysis of an America that refuses to grow up; the implications are real, folks (10)
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck – a classic fable of finding a pearl of great price; you just can’t go wrong with Steinbeck (8)
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – 370 pages of good story before Pullman’s bizarre Bible revision takes us down a strange path; guessing books 2 and 3 pour on the heresy (8 for good writing)

Post your own pick(s) in the comments. What were your favorites of 2007 and why?

  1. It is wonderful to know someone who could read this fast. So how actually do you read what you read ?

  2. I remember getting this question this summer. Forgive me for cutting and pasting, but my advice hasn’t changed that much, so my answer won’t either. While having a monthly goal helps, I have a few tricks:

    One, we don’t have cable (by choice), so I don’t watch a lot of TV. Blogging/checking blogs is a bigger time-suck for me than television, so I do have to be careful with that, but rarely find myself in front of the tube.

    Second, I keep at least three books of various genres going at once, placing them in strategic locations where there’s always something to pick up. The bedroom and bathroom get the fiction books; my desk gets the theology books; the couch in the living room gets a combination of the two. I also carry whatever is next on the list with me when I go somewhere.

    Third, if I get to bed early enough (say 9:30 or 10:00), I naturally wake up around 3:30 or 4:00 on my own and can’t get back to sleep. I’ll usually get up and read for 45 minutes to an hour or so before going back to bed for a couple more hours. As my best sleep is always before midnight, it doesn’t affect me as much missing sleep later near morning.

    Fourth, I’ve always loved reading and, as a result, have developed a fairly good pace of doing so. I’ve never timed myself, but it doesn’t take me long to knock out a hundred or so pages (maybe an hour or two, depending on what it is and if/how much I need to highlight).

    Reading is like anything else – the more you do it, the better you get. It may not seem like it at the time, but reading an extra 15 minutes here and there really adds up, and you’ll get through an extra book every couple of months as a result (which is encouraging). Just keep at it.

  3. Good list, Craig. well done– though it sounds like you’re done reading for the year… there are six more good reading days, man! I bet you could get another two books in.

    Hey, I didn’t get you a gift from your wish list this year, but I actually have a copy of Freakonomics that I’ll give you as a belated Christmas gift when y’all come this way in January. How’s that?

  4. Great list. I like your succinct explanations for each pick.

  5. I appreciate the feedback (and yes, Ed, I’d be glad to take Freakonomics off your hands). Anybody got any books you’d recommend?

  6. I’m the slowest reader in the whole world and i feel jealous like hell seeing ur stellar list!!
    i’d recommend Tom Holt’s “In your dreams” and Nicola Barker’s “Darkmans”.
    Also there’s a corny trashy book that I wrote called “saddam’s hangover + 3 other equally insane skits” that u might want to get :)

  7. First, your whole list is slightly suspect because you gave Aubrey Malphurs a “7” and I am still slightly resentful of being forced to use graduate school time to read that drivel.

    But secondly, I can’t help but post my own picks. I reread Jesus and The Victory of God this year, which was my favorite theology book. (11, yes, this one goes to 11) And favorite non theology book award goes to Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons. (10)

  8. Also, by my count your list only totals 59 books. Better squeeze in one more book before Monday night!

  9. Sorry to post such a suspect list, Jeff, but I hope you’re seeking counseling on some of your resentment issues. I’ll get on that last missing book…maybe something on doing math or the art of counting.

    N.T.’s al-Wright, but I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of Calvin & Hobbes, probably because everyone else is. Glad you enjoyed both, though.

  10. I’d highly recommend “The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers: Spiritual Insights from the World’s Most Beloved Neighbor” by Amy Hollingsworth I thoroughly enjoyed it, partly due to having grown up watching Mister Rogers. It didn’t take me very long to read it, so you’d probably be able to finish it in an hour or so. It’s now in paperback and Amazon has some rather inexpensive copies under the “Used & New” link. :)

  11. Glad to see your list. I always get a few gems from it.

    I didn’t read a ton in 2007, and I did a not-so-swell of keeping up with what I did read.

    I’m plotting my 2008 reading and writing goals this weekend, and think I’ll follow Megan’s idea of updating my list monthly on the blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. For the record (and for anyone else keeping track – i.e. Jeff), I finished book #60 tonight and added it to my list to avoid further allegations of being a booklist cheater. Thanks for keeping me honest.

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