One of the best benefits of being home schooled was that my mother let me read all the time growing up. My curriculum for a year or two consisted of my parents dropping me off at the Benton Library and leaving me there all day. It was kind of a dream education. It almost outweighed the whole being terrified of girls and social situations.
All that to say I like reading a lot. And I thought I’d share with you some of the best books I read from 2011:
1. To Change the World by James Davidson Hunter. This book was my favorite from last year. It’s heady and a little verbose, but it is entirely worth it. Hunter takes on the way politics have infiltrated the Jesus movement in the West, and why the only way to save the Nation, is to stop Christians from talking about it the way we do. Whatever politics you hold dear, rest assured that Hunter will step on your toes. It’s seriously one of the most helpful books I’ve read in years.
2. Jesus, My Father and the CIA. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s up there with Tattoos on the Heart for me. It’s warm and profound and hilarious all at the same time. Ian Cron writes as someone who has wrestled with God and has found words to speak about it well. It’s a great memoir!
3. Simply Jesus. I have begun to pray for N.T. Wright’s health, because I am pretty sure as long as he’s alive and writing, I will never have a problem with coming up with ideas for preaching. Great book about the historical context of Jesus and what He thought he was doing in his ministry, death and resurrection.
4. The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons. This book is one of the best books I’ve read to help understand the younger Christians. I found myself resonating with every page. It would have been easier to underline what I didn’t want to remember.
5. With by Skye Jethani. I really like Jethani’s writing. Jethani addresses some of the dark sides of the missional impulses that some of the younger Christians have. It was a convicting and healing read.
6. The Leap of Faith by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost. To have Faith is to risk, and if we ever forget that we began to defend a version of civil religion that really doesn’t have that much to do with Jesus at all. Great book.
7. Unbroken Based on a true story about World War II POW Louie Zamperini. It is well Written by Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit) and you will not see the end coming.
8. Bossypants by Tina Fey, Such a funny, honest book about life as a successful woman in what was a man’s world of big time comedy. It was worth the price of the book for her section on the philosophy of improv.
9. The King Jesus Gospel by Scot Mcknight, want to know what the Gospel is? Read this book.
10. Mistakes Were Made This book is about non-apology apologies, why we pass the buck, and what the nature of blame and memory are.
11. Decoded by Jay-Z, I gave this book to a few younger preachers, it’s about the power of language and speaking the truth when the world disagrees with you. You know preaching by Jay-Z.It’s rough, so if you are easily offended, you might just skip on down to number 12.
12. The Rapture Exposed by Barbara Rossing. Tired of being worried about being Left Behind? Rossing does a great job of tracing the idea of the Rapture (only about 180 years old, and found no where in the Bible) and explaining how we got here and how to move further. Her real strength is in giving the context for the book of Revelation. If you are interested in the end times at all, you’ll like this book.
13. Pure Pleasure by Gary Thomas If you are into justice related things at all, you should read this book. There is a real temptation on the part of Jesus followers to avoid things that give pleasure and act as if God wants us to not enjoy life. I’ve noticed this in my own life and in the lives of people who are passionate about justice related things. Great book, very helpful for me.
14. Mud and Poetry by Tyler Blanski, a marriage book written by a single guy. It’s hopeful, helpful and inspiring.
15. The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers, Sayers is a minister in Australia, and I’ve found myself resonating with the way he thinks. This is a book about the way we try to identify ourselves with what we purchase, who we hang out with and where we live, and why all of those things will eventually let you down.
Hope you are having a happy new year! I’ll see you at the library.