Books of the Year

I fell off my normal reading rhythm this past year,
but still read enough to let you know what I enjoyed.
Here we go (in no particular order):

  • The Brothers: Road to an American Tragedy
    • Haunting, but I would argue balanced, account of the Tsarnaev Brothers and the Boston Marathon Bombing (which we lived through during our time in Boston). The most interesting part of the book revolved around the reflections of a Russian gangster who urged people not to rush to try to “figure out why this happened.” His thoughts: maybe they were just angry, and maybe that anger drove them to evil.
  • Disappearing Church: From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience
    • Mary Sayers is the best going right now when it comes to exegeting Western Culture. Having read a few of his books, the awe factor in this effort was not the same, but his conclusions are still excellent and worth pondering.
  • The Lost World Of Genesis 1: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate
    • John Walton’s work is a gift to the church. This (and The Lost World of Adam and Eve) helped shape my teaching on Genesis (summer of 2016).
  • You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit
    • If I had to pick the best/favorite of the list, here it is. Smith’s thoughts on worship, liturgy, and desires should change a lot of our thinking and practice when it comes to everything from how we parent to how we craft Sunday services.
  • Strong And Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk, and True Flourishing
    • Andy Crouch takes a simple 2×2 chart and turns it into a brilliant explanation of what true leadership looks like.
  • The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture
    • This fun read explores how Batman has emerged as the preeminent 21st century super hero and how his rise correlates with the widespread mainstreaming of “nerd culture.” If you like Batman, nerds, or pop culture check this out.
  • Between the World and Me
    • The heaviest of the 2016 reads (but the shortest/smallest book), this book helped me understand the physicality of racism (as opposed to the reality or theory). To understand what I mean by that: read it. It will stay with you for a while.
  • Modern Romance
    • Hilarious and, at times, inappropriate, this book deepened my compassion for my single brothers and sisters. Modern dating is not for the weak of heart.
  • The Tortoise Usually Wins: Biblical Reflections on Quiet Leadership for Reluctant Leaders
    • The most refreshing leadership book I’ve read in years. It’s written by an Aussie, and it’s a bit hard to find, but worth the time and effort to get your hands on a copy. As a quiet/reluctant leader it both (a) confirmed many inner feelings and tensions, and (b) helped me see my strengths in new ways while offering some great guidance and challenge on how to lead in this way.
  • Here I Am
    • Easily the most anticipated book of the year for me. I’ve been waiting 11 years for a new Foer novel. In many ways this is his most ambitious effort to date (which is saying something for a guy who tackled the Holocaust and 9/11 in his first 2 novels). Parts of this book are intended to make you very uncomfortable, and it is not as perfectly brilliant as his other efforts, but the voice is there and at times it can be breathtaking.
  • The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity
    • Speaking of being uncomfortable: this is a confrontational work, but important, and never more timely than now (it was originally published in 2008). Rah’s words are must reading for those doing ministry in a multi-ethnic/multi-cultural context.
  • Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer
    • Finally, it wouldn’t be a reading list from this blog without a Eugene Peterson reference. This is an older work that I had not gotten to yet, but picked up for a series I am doing on the Psalms. Eugene helps us get into the human experience and the language the Psalms use to give voice to that experience.

Happy reading in 2017!


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