2020 Reading Challenge

I didn’t not reach my goal last year, so I’m trying to be even more realistic this year. I was really torn on setting the goal at 12 or 15. Going with 12 really seems doable, but that isn’t very challenging is it? So, I’ll try to push myself and get the 15 I’d like to read. I have 10 laid out already, one more fiction that will be one or the other depending on which one is in stock at the Library this weekend. The other four will be some combination of the many books on my past few challenges that I have not gotten to yet, a book I want to borrow from a buddy, and ARC books (which, I really plan to ramp down this year).

Non-fictionGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, at 822 pages, this is the second biggest book on my list for this year and one of my top five life goal, big book, non-fiction books to pick up. I started it last year, and only went a few chapters in, it isn’t really the amazing book I had heard, but maybe it picks up. If not, it will be the first major book I’ve given up on. If I have time, I want to get to is The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, which is a book I bought for Mrs. MMT a few years ago on the advice of MxPx front man Mike Herrera

Biography/autobiographyA Full Life: Reflections at Ninety was on my list the last three years, but I didn’t make it to it, so I’ll stick it back on this list. Thankfully, Jimmy has hung on with me.

Fiction – At 864 pages, Anna Karenina, will be my biggest book this year and the third longest single volume fiction book I’ve ever read. This was on my list last year, but Mrs. MMT stole it; however, she did enjoy it. Next up for fiction is either Dune or The Gunslinger. I’ve heard good things about both, and I always like sci-fi, but even better, they are both intro’s to long series, which is nice because I don’t have to think about what to read next. Not sure which it will be, heading to the library with Sprout this weekend and I’ll grab which ever they have. Rounding out fiction for the year will be The World’s Great Short Stories, because I like short stories.

Christian-y type books – Only four books are planned in this category this year, though this categories tends to be the largest due to ARC books and loans from friends. Technically, I’ve already one (Jesus Skeptic). The other three are The Meaning of Marriage by Keller, which is supposed to be one of the best and one my community group may do. One we’ve already started is The Great Divorce. Another book I’ve had on my list for a few years is Speaking Truth in Love, so I fully intend to finally knock that out.

This category is also good for my unplanned mostly due to ARCs, but also my long list of books I’d like to read such as Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand, Basic Christianity, and Church History in Plain Language. I also have the idea of potentially read reading Prayer (Keller), which is something I rarely do.

Commentaries, Theology, and Language – No big commentary this year and Greek for the Rest of Us, will, unfortunately, remain on the backburner for now. The only goal I have this year is Foundations of the Christian Faith (Boice). I’ve read chapters of this at various time for different studies of Theology, but I’ve never sat down to read the whole thing cover to cover, despite it being the one I recommend to people. Boice was a pastor, so this volume is less technical than others, while still being thorough (740) pages. To that end, it is on the list because Mrs. MMT wants to study theology, so I am reading it with her.

Time permitting, I’ll finally knock out Five Views on Biblical Inearrency. This has also been on my list for about three years, and it has been awhile since I’ve been able to read one of the X Views on… type books, so maybe I will be able to get to it at some point.

Devotional – I read the Bible last year (ish), so I’m back to a true devotional. It must be the year of Keller for me, so I’m doing Songs of Jesus, which is a devotional based on the Psalms. I did a devotional/commentary on Psalms a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

That is it for this year, hopefully life will permit me to get to these.

 

2019 Reading Challenge Review

TL;DR – Fail.

I had 20 book on my 2019 Read Challenge, 16 that were specifically called out and four that were TBD’s, overall, I only hit 10 (depending on how you count) with only four that were on my specific list. Turns out that a twin pregnancy, and actually having two infants, is a bit more tiring and time consuming that I had originally thought. Who knew?

I didn’t get to many on my list, six of them I never opened, but two I started and didn’t finish. One was Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, which I’m a few hundred pages into, and may actually give up on. It is well written, and kind of funny, but it is long and tedious and incredibly repetitive. I know people on the internet love this book, but I’m either too dump or too smart, so I guess I’ll never know. It sounds funny, but the other book I didn’t finish was the Bible. Specifically, the M’Cheyne reading plan, which I’ve written about before and generally liked. This year, however, I didn’t like it. So, there will be a forthcoming post about the pros/cons. I also didn’t have 30 minutes to read the Bible each morning as I had hoped. I feel good that I read all the parts that I wasn’t sure I’ve read before, so at least now I’m confident I’ve read the Bible in it’s entirety.

Here are the books I did read:

The Rise of Endymion (reviewed) – Final book in the Hyperion Cantos series. Somewhat of a weak ending, but overall on of the great Sci-fi series I’ve ever read.
Just After Sunset – Collection of short stories from Stephen King, who might be favorite fiction writer of all time. The stories were hit or miss, but mostly good, with one story line making it into my nightmare, so that is a good sign.
Einstein Never Used Flashcards – I’ve had this book on the list of a bit, but thought it had more to do with that 3-5 range for children. Instead, it is more broadly about how small children learn, starting as young as six months. It has a lot of cool experiments you can run on your own children.
New International Greek Commentary on Mark – I’ll have a review of this later, but a different kind than usual with thoughts on the other two-three commentaries I skimmed.
Knowing God – Short study on the attributes of God, even better than I thought it would be. Still need to review it.
The Bible Tells Me So – I still need to get a review out for this, but I was little disappointed. In some ways, if you’ve followed Enns at all, there was knowing new, and the subtitle (how defending the Bible left us unable to read it) was less a part of the book, and therefore less challenge, than I anticipated.
12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (reviewed) – This was an interesting read after reading Irresistible. I wouldn’t say it is necessary a Christian take on it, but maybe how we should react as Christians. It is also specifically focused on smart phones.
Confronting Old Testament Controversies (reviewed) – Probably the best book I read this year, would recommend it over The Bible Tells Me So.
The Power of Christian Contentment (reviewed) – This was one of the few ARC titles I read this year, and providentially came at an important time in my life.
Narrative Apologetics (reviewed) – Another one of the ARC books I received this year.
A Christmas Carol – I’ll probably put of the review of this book until December, for obvious reasons. I know the story well, I watch two-four of the movie adaptations every year and have done so for decades. I’ve even seen this play (as an adult, I think it is the only one I’ve ever seen). It is one of my all time favorite stories, and now one of my favorite books.

So, that’s it for me this year. I’ll reload a few more on to the 2020 Challenge and see if I can do better this time.

2019 Reading Challenge

As I recently posted, I beat my goal for 2018 in terms of number, but didn’t really read all the books I wanted to read. So much so, that I am going to straight up cute and past a good bit from last year’s goal. Once again this year, I plan to lower the number of books I plan to read, this is partly so I can make sure I get to the books I really want, and because some are fairly long, but also, and I may post about this a bit later, but I plan to interact more with each book. With that taken into account, my goal this year is 20 books this year.

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I currently have 14 of them on the mantel in my living room to remind me to focus on actually getting these books done. You can check out my Goodreads 2019 Challenge page if you like list form, it actually shows 16, because I added three commentaries, but I may not read word for word, two of them, and am only counting one towards the challenge. After these 14, I have three other books (stretch goals I guess) that I’d like to get to, time permitting and somewhat depending on what review books seem incredibly interesting and what the library has available that I have requested, more on those below. The books are as follows:

Non-fictionGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, at 822 pages, this is the second biggest book on my list for this year and one of my top five life goal, big book, non-fiction books to pick up. As Sprout just turned four, I’ve added Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn–and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less

Biography/autobiographyA Full Life: Reflections at Ninety was on my list the last two years, but I didn’t make it to it, so I’ll stick it back on this list.

Fiction – After reading The Fall of Hyperion and Endymion (Hyperion), the sequels to one of my favorite books from 2017, Hyperion, I plan to end the series this year with the final book in the Cantos, The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion) At 864 pages, Anna Karenina, will be my biggest book this year and the third longest single volume fiction book I’ve ever read. Rounding out the fiction section will be a collection of stories from one of my favorite authors, Stephen King, Just After Sunset: Stories.

Christian-y type books – Only four books are planned in this category this year, though this categories tends to be the largest due to ARC books and loans from friends. Knowing God is a classic at this point, but I haven’t yet read it.

Commentaries, Theology, and Language – Because two 800 page books won’t take me long enough, I’m also picking up two more 600+ page books. First, I want to get back into finishing Bavnick so I have Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, on the list with the ridiculous hope that I will actually make it to the even longer (912 pages) Volume Four. Second, my church is a doing a 40+ week study on Mark, so I’ve picked up The Gospel of Mark (The New International Greek Testament Commentary, and will likely skim the Tyndale and Bible Speaks today commentaries as well, but I don’t think I will count them towards the challenge.

Finally, for something different in this new category I just made up, I’m attempting to gain an understanding of Biblical Greek. For that I’ve chosen Greek for the Rest of Us: Using Greek Tools Without Mastering Biblical Languages.

None of the books in this category will be read all at once, but studied or read-through, throughout the year. I’ll use the commentary as we move through the sermons and go in and out of Reformed Dogmatics, probably after each major subject. I’m not entirely sure yet how to study the Greek, but likely either a few days a week for the year, or every day for a few weeks/months. Maybe there will be some guidance in the book itself.

Devotional – I’ve typically read a whole year devotional, such as My Utmost for His Highest (my review), but this year I’m going back to the whole Bible with the M’Cheyne reading plan, which I’ve written about before. The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It  looks like another great and challenging book from Peter Enns. Both Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Resources for Changing Lives and Speaking Truth In Love are pretty well known in Christian Counseling circles, so I’d like to check them off the list.

Stretch Goals – So, I have 14 books on the list, which leaves six others unplanned. These will most likely come from review request, a book someone lends me, or if one of the books on my long library list becomes available. However, if that doesn’t come through, and I finish the previous 13, I have a few other plans. One is to read another book on church history. I’m torn on what I’ve heard is the best in Christian history – Church History in Plain Language or I may start another 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power Vol. 1: The Age of the Early Church Fathers (Grace Publications), which is the first in a four volume series (I’d love to hear from anyone who has read either or has a suggestion as to which would be better).

I’ve also had Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy on my list from 2017 and 2018, but also didn’t get to it. This book and the history one are obviously somewhat long, and can be dense, so another book I think I want to get to is The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, which is a book I bought for Mrs. MMT a few years ago on the advice of MxPx front man Mike Herrera. Finally, as a pair, I was given a book that reviews a Christmas Carol from a Christian perspective, and as that is one of my favorite all time stories, I’ll read the story then the review together and then respond to both.

That’s it. Hopefully I’ll tighten down and actually get to the ones I wanted this year. Feel free to share goals or insights on any of the books in the comments.

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