2014 has been a great year for reading. For several years I was averaging 50-60 books a year but last year I really lost interest in reading and I have now realized why. I was reading almost exclusively one genre; non-fiction Christian books related to theology, ministry, and the Bible. Because of that, I became BORED with reading. The more I read, the more I realized all of these books that I was reading were the same and it started to become increasingly dull. I felt like I rarely read anything new or original, but just a rehashing of things I’ve already read. I needed to get outside of the theological/ministerial realm and read broader which I have done this year.
After reading Cornelius Plantinga’s book (listed below) earlier this year, I rediscovered the value and joy of the novel not only for my own soul and personal enjoyment, but for my preaching, my empathy for others whose experience is different from mine, and an overall awakening of feelings to the joys and sorrows of life. There was a time when I read more fiction but in the last three or four years the percentage has depleted significantly. I have also been influenced by Eugene Peterson’s book “Take and Read” which is his personal annotated bibliography that I’m slowly working through.
Out of the 60-some books I’ve read this year it was tough to narrow it down to my top 10 in each category but here’s my best shot!
1. Home – Marilynne Robinson
2. Saint Maybe – Anne Tyler
3. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
4. Dune – Frank Herbert
5. Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
6. A River Runs Through It – Normal Maclean
7. The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell
8. Shampoo Planet – Douglas Coupland
9. The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Murial Barbery
10. A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter Miller Jr.
1. Sabbath as Resistance; Saying No to the Culture of Now – Walter Brueggemann
2. Fail; Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure – J.R. Briggs
3. Slow Church; Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus – Christopher Smith
5. Dakota; a Spiritual Geography – Kathleen Norris
6. The Cross and the Lynching Tree – James Cone
7. Families Where Grace Is In Place – Jeff VanVonderen
8. The Little Way of Ruthie Leming – Rod Dreher
9. Bigger Than The Game; Restitching a Major League Life – Dirk Hayhurst
10. Reading for Preaching – Cornelius Plantinga