Below is the list of books that I read in 2014. My goal for the last two years was to read 52 books during the year, or about one book a week. As you can see, I didn’t quite make it. I only hit 50 books. (For the nerds out there, the numbers come in at 13,075 total pages, or about 261 pages per week.) But I’m not too bummed; by God’s grace, I got closer than last year (34). Maybe in 2015 it will happen.
As you glance at the list, you might notice a few things (some of them a little goofy), so I might as well point them out. First, I removed the “dates of completion,” but the books are listed in the order that I completed them.
Second, I didn’t count partial books, except for one. I only made it through one-third of The Moral Vision of the New Testament by Richard B. Hays. The book is huge. I took it on vacation in August, and, well, you know how it goes. Maybe someday I’ll come back to it.
Third, you’ll see books from several different categories (some about writing, blogging and publishing; others on preaching, theology, and Christian living; and one biography, and a few novels). I do this for a number of reasons, but one of them is cross training; it’s a healthy thing. Another reason is for continuing education. Oh – and don’t forget – for enjoyment. That’s important too.
A few of my favorites were as follows: In the writing cluster, I enjoyed How to Write Short by Peter Roy Clark (everything he writes is helpful), and Spunk and Bite by Arthur Plotnik (the title is a rift on the famous book by Strunk and White).
As for preaching, I re-read Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chappell and The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper (for like the fourth time). Both are excellent in different ways (Christ-Centered Preaching deals with the theology of preaching but also the mechanics of preaching and the anatomy of a sermon, whereas The Supremacy of God in Preaching focuses on the goals and traits of good preaching with a case study on Jonathan Edwards).
As for theology and Christian living, everything Robert Gagnon has written on homosexuality is helpful, but beware: his treatments tend to be exhaustive, which means they also tend to be quite long. Additionally, the essays in Themelios (written by several authors) were full of riveting scholarship.
In the category of biography and novels, I really enjoyed The Grapes of Wrath and The Pearl, both by John Steinbeck, and Justified Conduct by Linda Vargo (she is working on the sequel; I know because she is letting me help edit it). I also greatly enjoyed Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (you can see my book review here).
Fourth, #42 on the list is The Bible. Yep, I count that one too. Actually, I hope it makes this list every year. This leads to the next comment.
Fifth, where page counts are not obvious, I took my best guess based on an average “words per page” of the typical book. I did this for books like The Bible and Robert Gagnon’s 60,000+ words of email correspondence about the topic of “homosexuality and the Bible,” which I printed and read with great interest. Fascinating stuff – firm at times, but always very pastoral. And these types of “books” lead to the last disclaimer.
Sixth, I’m aware that calling everything on the list a “book” is a stretch. For example, Gagnon’s “published” emails; Themelios is a theological journal published three times a year; and Ramona and Her Father is a children’s book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading out loud with my oldest daughter (we alternated reading pages). But if a man is trying to hit 52 books in one year, he tends to want to count it all.
I Hope to Encourage
More could be said, but I’ll end with this. I’m not sure if this list will encourage or discourage – or maybe some of both.
My strong hope is that it will encourage you to read and learn and grow. And if it does happen to discourage, keep two things in mind: First, I used to hate to read and rarely did it. Second, for two years in a row, I have not hit my target, but I try not to worry about that. The reality is this: whether I read the “right” number of books or not, I made progress. And that was always the goal behind the goal. Maybe your goal in 2015 is only to read one book a month. I say go for it; even if you come up a little short, you’ll make some progress, and learn, and grow, and hopefully enjoy it too.
Reading List 2014
- Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page by Larry Osborne (225 pages)
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni (240 pages)
- How Can I Change?: Victory in the Struggle Against Sin by C.J. Mahaney and Robin Boisvert (96 pages)
- Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free by Tullian Tchividjian (208 pages)
- Words for Readers and Writers: Spirit Pooled Dialogues by Larry Woiwode (240 pages)
- Preaching with Purpose: The Urgent Task of Homiletics by Jay Adams (162 pages)
- Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages (revised) by Haddon W. Robinson (256 pages)
- Speaking To Teenagers: How to Think About, Create, and Deliver Effective Messagesby Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins (256 pages)
- Justified Conduct by Linda Vargo (394 pages)
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (120 pages)
- I Am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the Difference by Thom S. Rainer (96 pages)
- The Pearl by John Steinbeck (90 pages)
- Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon (2nd Edition) by Bryan Chapell (400 pages)
- The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper (128 pages)
- Hearing to Tell: Listening for Gospel Inroads in the Stories of Non-Christians (Doctor of Ministry Dissertation) by Jason Abbott (174 pages)
- Self-Publishing 101 by Debbie Elicksen (180 pages)
- How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times by Peter Roy Clark (272 pages)
- The Indie Author Guide: Self-Publishing Strategies Anyone Can Use by April L. Hamilton (304 pages)
- Spunk & Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style by Arthur Plotnik (272 pages)
- Buzz: Blue-collar Blogging and Publishing for Profit (eBook) by Frank Viola (and others) (99 pages)
- The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days by Fern Reiss (224 pages)
- The Elephants of Style: A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English by Bill Walsh (238 pages)
- The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono (72 pages) [Click here to read my review]
- Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions by Timothy Keller (240 pages) [Click here to read my review]
- How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex: A Lifelong Approach to Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Character by Stan & Barbra Jones (280 pages)
- The Grapes of Wrath (50th Anniversary Edition) by John Steinbeck (640 pages)
- Dude’s Guide to Manhood: Finding True Manliness in a World of Counterfeits by Darrin Patrick (208 pages) [Click here to read my review]
- The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Text and Hermeneutics by Robert A. J. Gagnon (522 pages)
- The Bible and Homosexuality: Two Views by Robert A. J. Gagnon & Dan O. Via (128 pages)
- The Bible and Homosexuality: Two Views_Extra_Material (http://www.robgagnon.net/) by Robert A. J. Gagnon (~160 pages)
- Robert Gagnon Email Correspondence (http://www.robgagnon.net/) by Robert A. J. Gagnon (~191 pages)
- Gagnon & Walter Wink interaction (Christian Century, http://www.robgagnon.net/, & Horizons in Biblical Theology) by Robert A. J. Gagnon & Walter Wink (135 pages)
- What is the Meaning of Sex? by Denny Burk (272 pages) [Click here to read my review]
- The Author’s DIY Modern Marketing Workbook: Your Step-By-Step Plan to Marketing Social Media, Blogging & Newsletters by Mixtus Media (20 pages)
- Your Noisetrade Books Strategy: How to Gain Loyal Fans Using Modern Marketing Tools by Jenn & Marcus DePaula (40 pages)
- The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity by Barnabas Piper (160 pages) [Click here to read my review]
- Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis (The Swans Are Not Silent) by John Piper (160 pages) [Click here to read my review]
- Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (528 pages) [Click here to read my review]
- Leviticus (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) by Jay Sklar (336 pages) [Click here to read my review]
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves: A Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss (240 pages)
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (272 pages)
- The Bible by God (2,084 pages)
- Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary (170 pages)
- The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics (stopped at page 187) by Richard B. Hays (187 pages)
- Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible by Mark Batterson (200 pages) [Click here to read my review]
- Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants by Douglas Wilson (199 pages) [Click here to read my review]
- Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke (208 pages)
- Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper (192 pages) [Click here to read my review]
- Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters by Timothy Keller (248 pages)
- Themelios: An International Journal for Students and Religious Studies (Vol. 39, issue 3; November 2014) by D.A. Carson et al. (221 pages)