Because life is a series of edits

Booklist 2008

In Books on December 21, 2008 at 2:00 am

After hitting 60 books last year, my goal this year was 6 per month, for a total of 72. Unfortunately, unless I develop speed-reading capabilities between now and 2009, I'm going to finish at half that with a disappointing 37 for 2008. Nuts.

The year for me has seemed an "off" one in terms of reading. Granted, a lot of the books listed were thicker theologically than the average couple-hundred-page novel that makes for a quick read, but I definitely read less (and less broadly) this year than in previous years and I'm mad about it.

Nevetheless, as we're out of town the next several days, here's my annual list in all its weeniness for you to mock (you know who you are). As usual, I’ve ranked each of the books on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) and added a comment of explanation.
Feel free to leave book recommendations or links to your own list in the comments – I always appreciate them. Enjoy.

January (3)

  • Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor – Episcopal priest(ess) walks away from the church in search of a more spiritual life; bleh (2)
  • The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal – story of a Jewish concentration camp survivor who struggles to forgive his tormentor; heart-wrenching (8)
  • The Chosen by Chaim Potok – another beautiful story of redemption from the man who wrote the Asher Lev stories (some of my favorites) (9)

February (3)

  • The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine – well-written study of the world of wealth, suburban bliss, and teenage boredom; welcome to my classroom (9)
  • Pet Sematary by Stephen King – I read this when I was a kid, but you're never too old (or weird) for the master of throwaway horror novels (5)
  • The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism edited by Gregg Strawbridge – helped push us over the edge (after three years) in embracing the covenantal doctrine of child baptism (8)

March (2)

  • Children Matter by Scottie May, et. al. – helpful book on a variety of philosophies with regard to children's ministry; academic but readable (7)
  • The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls – I remember liking this novel well enough, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was about (7)

April (1)

  • The Reason for God by Timothy Keller – Keller channels C.S. Lewis in writing a most important apologetic for our times; read this (10)

May (5)

  • The Story of Christianity (vol. 1) by Justo L. Gonzalez – I love church history, and no one writes it more succinctly than Justo Gonzalez (8)
  • Buffalo for the Broken Heart by Dan O’Brien – set in South Dakota, one man's memoir of restoring the Great Plains with buffalo; almost as good as being there (which I was this past June) (7)
  • Survey of the New Testament by Paul Benware – basic survey with a hint of dispensationalism; not my favorite by a long stretch (5)
  • The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman – the second in Pullman's series (I read the first last December); the writing is good but the story spirals (6)
  • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins – apologetic for evolution by what seems a very angry (and hurt) man; good to know the arguments, but still not convinced by them (7)

June (2)

  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown – incredibly sad history of the injustices done to the Indians at the hands of the U.S. government; painful to think about (8)
  • Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer by C.S. Lewis – short book of letters on the topic of prayer; the only thing better than reading Lewis' books is reading his letters (7)

July (4)

  • The Holy Spirit by Sinclair B. Ferguson – one of the better treatises I've read on the person and work of the Holy Spirit; solid (8)
  • The Man Called Cash by Steve Turner – enjoyed this "official" bio more than other Cash bios; such an interesting and conflicted man (7)
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – read this out loud to the girls; even to the 10-and-under female mind, Tolkien is the daddy (as am I for reading him) (9)
  • The Church by Edmund P. Clowney – a good treatment of the church in the same series as the aforementioned Holy Spirit book; a reminder of how much we've lost since Acts 2 (7)

August (5)

  • The Lord’s Supper by Robert Letham – basic little book on the sacrament of Communion (7)
  • City of Glass by Douglas Coupland – Coupland's take on his hometown of Vancouver (one of my favorites); all travel books should be written like this (9)
  • The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema – St. Anthony does it again with his very solid Reformed writing on the end times (8)
  • Hell on Trial by Robert Peterson – in case you were wondering, Hell is a real place; Peterson demonstrates what, why, and how (7)
  • Two Views of Hell by Edward William Fudge and Robert Peterson – not sure how many books we  need on the topic, but if you weren't convinced the first time, this might help (7)

September (3)

  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn – coincidentally, I was reading this when Solzhenitsyn passed; One Day is one day from the pen of a master (10)
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris – unlike millions of others who apparently do, I don't think Sedaris is all that funny; seems too contrived (5)
  • A History of the Bible Lands in the Interbiblical Period by Robert L. Cate – a primer on the intertestamental period; good for what it is, but that's about it (6)

October (1)

  • Come Back, Barbara by C. John Miller and Barbara Miller Juliani – one of the worst-written books I've read in a long time; sympathetic to the story, but that's about it (4)

November (4)

  • The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller – Keller's study on Luke 15 in non-fiction format; a good book for believer and non-believer alike (8)
  • A Biblical History of Israel by Iain Provan, V. Philips Long, and Tremper Longman III – an academic look at the Old Testament and its authorial controversies; dense but helpful (7)
  • God’s Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology by Elmer A. Martens – Martens puts forth a helpful and Reformed paradigm for systematizing the OT; accessible (9)
  • Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel – I'm usually not much for parenting books, but this one worked okay for me (7)

December (4)

  • Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns – an intriguing book on inerrancy for which Enns was fired from Westminster Theological; his intentions were good, but his methodology got him in trouble (7)
  • The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry – another beautifully-written story from Berry's fictional Port William township; hardship, heartache, and yes, another tearful ending (mine) (10)
  • Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff – social technologies and their effects on business and consumers; if you're online at all, this book documents much of what you already know, but the authors' systematic is helpful (6)
  • The Shack by William P. Young – a man gets answers from God in the wilderness; the writing was better than I expected, but the theology could be problematic if you don't know your Bible (4)
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  1. That is a real mix of genres. Apparently you’re like me and enjoy books in general.

  2. Interesting mix here, Craig. I’ve begun to think about what my goal will be for 2009. I’m about to start #39. Forty was an ambitious (yet achievable) goal for me. I want to shoot for 50, but am not sure that is realistic.
    Merry Christmas.

  3. 37 is nothing to be ashamed of. I’d’ve ranked Letham and Hoekema lower and Sedaris higher (i guess i’m one of the millions).

  4. I think I’m due for a re-read of Ivan Denisovich. When’s the last time you read Elie Wiesel’s Night?

  5. I’m embarrassed to say, Chels, that One Day was my first meeting with Mr. Solzhenitsyn (though that and his death propelled me into a 2-3 day study of the man). I’ll check out Elie Wiesel’s Night with high expectations.

  6. Susan Wise Bauer is going for 52 books in 52 weeks. I think ‘m going to make it my goal as well for 2009. Anybody up for it?

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