Book Review: I’d Rather Be Reading

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life

My Rating – If you have time

Level – Short, easy

Summary
It is hard to summarize this book other than it is about loving books and the impact books can have on your life. Each of the 21 chapters is basically a short essay (maybe former blog post) about a different topic related to reading and being a book love, such as – organizing your bookshelf, working for bookstores, and recommending books to other people, etc.

My Thoughts
While the essays are funny, witty, and (to me) pretty relatable, I wish there was a little more coherence to this book. There is no real build or order through the chapters. Some stories are repeated, sometimes more than once, as the book is little more than a collection of essays. The chapters are quick and funny, but sometimes leave you wanting. For instance, she has a chapter on organizing your bookshelf that has some funny observations, but no actual practical help. In her defense, that may not be her intention, but as my personal physical book collection approaches a thousand, I’m looking for suggestions.

That’s pretty much it, a short review for a short book. I do wonder why Baker published it. Not that the book shouldn’t have been published, but Baker tends to have a ‘Christian’ focus on books. That’s not a knock on Bogel, I certainly don’t think Christians should read only Christian books, I’m just genuinely curious as to their criteria for publishing.

For someone trying to become more involved in reading, you should probably pass on this book. You won’t get too much in the way of choosing a book or finding a reading system. On the upside the wife finds the cover of the book to be very ‘cute’, so we’ll probably put it somewhere as decoration.  If you are an avid reader and book collector and are looking for something this could be worth your time.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Excursus 6/8/18

Reading
Probably the biggest news this week came from the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Jack Phillip, a Colorado baker who refused to make a specialty cake for a gay couple’s wedding. This is an interesting case with a unique ruling, and I’m not sure what to think about all of it. There is a lot going on here, but a few points from the beginning: he apparently didn’t refuse to sell them any cakes, he refused to make a cake specifically for their wedding (or, really for their reception that was held a little over a year later), and offered them names of other bakers who would make them a cake. So, part of the argument his attorneys made was free expression based on cake decorating being an art (what a time to be alive). I wonder if the fact that he didn’t refuse any service to the couple, just the decorating, and that they insisted he be their baker, not any of the others, factored into the Court’s decision.

The biggest factor seemed to be that the court found inconsistencies from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, from the article –

Kennedy noted that the commission had ruled the opposite way in three cases brought against bakers in which the business owners refused to bake cakes containing messages that demeaned gay people or same-sex marriage.

Also that Phillips himself faced discrimination from the Commission, noting –

The Commissioner called baker Jack Phillip’s faith “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use.”  He compared Phillip’s “sincerely held religious beliefs” to slavery and the Holocaust.  As a result, Justice Kennedy argued in his majority opinion: “the Court cannot avoid the conclusion that these statements cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commission’s adjudication of Phillips’ case.”

It seems the court looked at the results of the commission as discriminatory (or handled very poorly/illegally), that he didn’t refuse all services, and that decorating the cake falls under ‘expression as an artists’.

To me, the most important thing is the Court recognizing the inconsistencies. The commission was fine with a few other cases who refused to make a cake when they weren’t Christians. There have also been a case of a Muslim baker refusing service (entirely) to a gay couple, that hasn’t (not to sound too Foxnewsish) been covered much in the news. Personally, I wonder if there is a case to be made for extra protections for extremely minority religions like Islam, however I doubt there are any legit legal ones. However, there seems to be the bigger issue of what level of non-service is allowed? An incident last year where a coffee shop owner who was gay kicked a pro-life group out because they were Christians (I’m not linking anything because the only articles I found were rightwing sites or far-left site that celebrated the incident); it is unclear whether the group was causing a disturbance. When you compare that to the Starbucks case recently, it would seem you can’t even kick someone out for not being a paid customer.

While I fully support churches and and pastors from not preforming ceremonies for certain people, purveyors of other goods and services make me nervous. Maybe it is because I’m from the South, and the concept of ‘no X allowed’ whether X is Muslim, gay, or Christian, just really hits me the wrong way. I do see the slippery slop argument on both sides. Can you ban gay people from your restaurant, can you force a Muslim to draw a picture of Muhammad? It is a strange, delicate balancing act and I wish people would recognize the nuance in their discussions instead of just attacking each other as seems to be the go to in these cases.

That was longer than I anticipated so, on to other things I’ve been reading or listening to.

In the ‘not understanding the Bible, but a huge fan of Christian Nationalism’ category this week we have Franklin Graham holding rallies, with this brilliant quote –
“Progressive? That’s just another word for godless,” Graham told a group of supporters, according to the Times.

Word

Rethink Now has a list of the Seven Books Every Christian should read. I’ve only read on (Mere Christianity) and really only plan on reading two others on the list, I hadn’t even heard of some of them. Thoughts?

I finished reading Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give, so look for the review next week.
I also started reading The Stand a few days ago, and while I’m over 300 pages in, that just means I still have almost 800 to go.

Finally, have you ever looked at a clock (especially an analog) and it seems like the at which you looked last longer than the other movements? That is because your mind didn’t register what you saw at first, then interpolated it back as the time you first registered in a phenomena known as Chronostasis. Not really related to anything, but interesting nonetheless.

Podcasts
Whitehorse Inn has some thoughts on Finding Jesus in the Psalms. I didn’t start reading the Psalms until about a year, year and half ago. They are incredible, especially for understanding emotions for yourself and your expression to God. It is also a massive book, the longest in the Bible. Psalm 119 itself is longer than James, but somehow in many churches (baptist and non-denom) we miss them almost entirely.

The Gospel Coalition has a talk from Don Carson, What is an Evangelical. Among others, he points out the sociological, political, and linguistic issues with the word. It will be interesting to see what Christians (at least American Protestants) call themselves in the next generation, or the following one, especially after the damage Trump has done, but also due to the word expanding to mean so much, that it basically no long means anything.

2018 Reading Challenge

I slight exceeded my goal of 25 books last year, by reading 29 books. Now, the prior year, I had a goal of 30, but pretty well passed that, reading 52. I lowered my goal last year as I took some Counseling courses, but as I am not doing that this year, I am raising the goal back to 30. I’d love to set the goal at 48 or 52, to match my 2016, but Sprout doesn’t sleep as much as she used to (bedtime moved back and naps went from 3/4 to zero), so I don’t think that is reasonable, but in the back of my mind, I am kind of hopeful.

So, what am I reading? I have 13 books specifically planned (check out my Goodreads 2018 Shelf for a quick list). I’ll probably tack on another 12 (or less, mostly likely, as I ratchet down the number of review books I request) and then leave myself a little room for randomness in the other five. Of those five, two or three will probably be novels, and at least one will be another counseling book. The 13 I have set out already include:

Devotional – I’ve typically read a whole year devotional, such as My Utmost for His Highest (my review), but this year I’m doing something a little different. I have one, Shalom in Psalms, that goes through, well, the Psalms. This won’t take a whole year, so I have a Lenten one, From the Grave, and an Advent one, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy“, lined up. That should finish out the year, but I may have to find a 30-40 day one in addition and toss it in there. So, kind of sneaky with the numbers, typically the devotional gets me one book, this year it might net me three or four.

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

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 lift goal, big book, non-fiction books to pick up. Unless this takes me all year, I’ll probably have another, shorter, non-fiction in this list.

FictionThe Fall of Hyperion, the sequel to one of my favorite books last year, Hyperion, and the only book I’ve already started reading. At 864 pages, Anna Karenina, will be my biggest book this year and the second longest single volume fiction book I’ve ever read. If that wasn’t enough Russian Literature, I’d also like to work through the two stories (which come packaged in one book, so I’m counting it as one) Notes from the Underground and The Grand Inquisitor. Hopefully, I’ll get to a few more in this category.

Christian-y type books – because two 800 page books won’t take me long enough, I’m also picking up two more 500+ 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 is what I’ve heard is the best in Christian history – Church History in Plain Language. Outside of the big ones, I had Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy on my list from 2017, but also didn’t get to it, so I’ve move it to this year; Work and Our Labor in the Lord, which is also technically a review book; and finally, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. This general category will be the biggest, as I fill it out with review books and commentaries.

That is the plan for 2018, a few less books than I think I could probably handle, but a few of them probably to large. Feel free to share your goals in the comments.

2017 Reading Challenge Update

For 2017 I challenged myself to read 24 books, with 19 books called out specifically. I was successful in the number of book, with 29, but didn’t hit many of my specific books. I think this is mostly due to having less time to read, so I didn’t hit the big books (like Capital in the 21st Century) and because I ended up reading mostly review books that were sent to me by Baker Books.

This year I will likely read less review books. Originally, I would request every book they offered, because at first I wouldn’t receive many, if any, of them. Then as I did more and more reviews, they started sending every single one I requested. I had planned to read five or six, and ended up reviewing 12.

I ended up knocking out two of the three novels I had planned, reading Brave New World  (my review) and Hyperion, but not Lolita.

I read all of the required books for school, but haven’t reviewed a single one. I think I also over estimated the amount of time I’d have left to read after finishing schoolwork as well as the impact of a new job that tripled/quadrupled my commute. Throw in Sprout sleeping even less and somehow becoming even more rambunctious, I ended up with far less time than I anticipated. Just in writing this post and reviewing my reading from 2017, I’ve already downgraded my goal for 2018 from 36 to 30 books, realizing that I likely will not have time.

I’ll have that goal up in a post sometime next week. Hopefully, I’ll finish reviewing a few more books from last year and have a rundown on the ESV M’Chenney Reading Bible.

Review of My 2016 Reading Challenge

I had never heard of the reading challenge until about February of 2016. I set out a goal of 30 books, which I thought was pretty ambitious. I basically had the idea that I would be able to do 2.5 book a year. Well, that really got me going, and back in the reading heavily, as by the end of the year I had read 51 books, and about 850 pages of War and Peace. That is 15,607 pages, but who’s counting?

The biggest book I attempted was obviously War and Peace, but the biggest I completed was The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, with a meaty 886 page count. The smallest was Meditations , at 99 pages long. I read everything from novels, to history, personal writings/thoughts, daily devotionals to heavy theological tomes. I’d say the challenge plays an interesting aspect in it all. On the one hand, you are, in fact, challenging yourself. This can push you towards things that are a little tougher, like Reformed Dogmatics Volume 2, or long, long books, like War and Peace (Vintage Classics).

On the other hand, there is a bit of a feeling like you are just powering through. Yes, powering through can make you finish a book you started that you might otherwise have discarded, but it can almost give you the feeling of reading for school. You are reading to finish the book, not because you are necessarily interested in it. It effects some of your choice, too. The three largest books I completed had page counts of 685, 704, and 886; plus War and Peace has over 1,300. This makes shorter books seem more appealing, simply because it will help add to your book count. Though, in my defense, my average book was 289 pages.

Anyway, it can be a fun way to challenge yourself, but this year I will put less on the Challenge. Probably the biggest difference going forward will be to lay out a number of books first. So, not just say 24 books, but say this book, that book, and then 10 more, or something to that affect. I won’t know completely what will be on the list, as I hope to receive more review copies. This year, I received 13 review copies, so that is kind of cool. I also already have about five or six that I need to review. More on that later. See below for my challenge list and check out my book review page for all the books for which I have written reviews.

J.K.’s bookshelf: 2016-challenge

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
liked it

My Rating –Put it on the ListLevel – Not very readable, seems longer than it is

Summary
The book is exactly what you think it is based on the title. He jumps straight in with the first chapter explaining what he thinks (based on scrip…

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2016-challenge
The Millionaire Next Door
it was ok
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2016-challenge
Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity
really liked it
It is really difficult to write a summary that doesn’t just rip off the table of contents. Basically, he explains the system that works for him. This includes a mission statement (he calls this a productivity catechism), then finding thi…
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2016-challenge
A History of the World in 6 Glasses
really liked it
First of all, it isn’t a history of each individual beverage, though there is plenty of that, but a history of the world (as the title indicates) viewed through the lens of what (and why) people were drinking at the time. The drinks and …
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2016-challenge
Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will
it was amazing
Many people search for God’s will, but American Evangelicals, especially Millennials, have made it an art form. He claims that doing this ‘leads us to no where’ and calls us ‘directionally challenged’ (these are names of the chapters in …
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2016-challenge
How to Read Genesis
it was amazing

My Rating – Must ReadLevel – Easy, short

Summary
This book is exactly what the title says it is a guidebook to understanding and reading Genesis. Longman explains what the book (Genesis) is, who wrote it, whom it was written to as wel…

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2016-challenge
Four Views on the Historical Adam
really liked it

My Rating – Put it on Your ListLevel – Somewhat technical, requires a higher level knowledge of Genesis and some theology, somewhat short, but at times reads longer than it is.

Summary
This book is exactly what the title says, though …

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2016-challenge
Pirate Latitudes
really liked it

My Rating –If You are Looking for SomethingLevel – Easy & quick, medium length

Summary
It’s about pirates. If you are like me, what more do you need? Actually, it’s technically not about pirates, it’s about privateers and they are ver…

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2016-challenge
The Church: The Gospel Made Visible
it was ok

My Rating –If You are Looking for Something – about Baptist view of church, Probably Not Worth Your Time – if you are already familiar with Baptist viewsLevel – short, easy read

Summary
This book could basically be a few sections in…

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2016-challenge
Meditations
did not like it

My Rating – PassLevel – Short, writing can be long and choppy, knowledge of history and philosophy would be helpful

Summary
Basically random thoughts from a guy who thought he was going to die. Most ideas are a reflection of the tim…

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2016-challenge
The Mighty Weakness of John Knox
liked it

My Rating – If You are Looking for SomethingLevel – Short, easy

Summary
It’s difficult to write a summary of a biography. The book itself is a biography of the life of John Knox. To hit some high points: Knox was friends with John Cal…

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2016-challenge
How Would Jesus Vote?: Politics, the Bible, and Loving Your Neighbor
it was amazing

My Rating – Must ReadLevel – Fairly Easy, moderate in length

Summary
The book seeks to look at broad topics in American politics and see what we can determine about them from the Bible. Bock does this mostly by listing verses and how …

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2016-challenge
Crime and Punishment
really liked it

My Rating –Put it on the ListLevel – Tough, dense, fairly long

Summary
Rodion (Rody) Románovich Raskolnikov is a poor college student in St. Petersburg who decides to murder an old pawnbroker with an ax so that he can rob her. Things …

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The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards
really liked it

My Rating – Put it on the listLevel – Easy, Medium length

Summary
The first chapter is a short biographical stretch of the man many consider to be the greatest American Theologian of all time. The rest of the chapters are devoted to E…

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The Lathe of Heaven
it was amazing

My Rating – Must ReadLevel – Moderate read, short

Summary
Sometime in the future a man is caught using someone else’s pharmacy card for access to sleeping pills. He is evaluated and sent to a psychologist and sleep specialist to whom …

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2016-challenge
The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest
it was amazing

My Rating – Must ReadLevel – Easy read, medium length, but reads quickly

Summary
Blue zones, so named because while researching the first one, a blue circle was drawn around they area under discussion, are areas in the world where peo…

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2016-challenge
The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal
it was amazing

My Rating – Must ReadLevel – Easy, fast read; medium length

Summary
The story, broadly, is about the CIA field office in Moscow and its operations. Under different CIA directors and even field office directors, their focuses change or…

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2016-challenge
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
it was amazing

My Rating – Must ReadLevel – Easy, quick read

Summary
The book is broken up into two main parts, C.V. and What Writing is, Toolbox, and On Writing, plus a longish post-script chapter, which is followed by two more short post-post-scri…

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2016-challenge
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
liked it

My Rating – If You Are Looking for SomethingLevel – Quick, easy read

Summary
Arthur Dent is trying to stop bulldozers from demolishing his house when his friend Ford Perfect stops by and convinces him to go to the pub instead. Perfect…

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2016-challenge
Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis
really liked it

My Rating – Put it on your listLevel – short, easy. A quick read, but I’m also going to add compelling, especially as you read the personal stories.

My Thoughts/Summary Mix
This is an important and timely book. I think two overarching…

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2016-challenge
Thinking, Fast and Slow
really liked it

My Rating – Put it on your listLevel – moderate to difficult read, it is well written but some of the concept are tough, fairly long, but ready a little quicker then the 400+ pages

Summary
Broadly speaking, this book is about thinking…

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2016-challenge
Mile Marker Zero
really liked it
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2016-challenge
The Year without a Purchase: One Family's Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting
liked it

My Rating – Put it on the List – if you struggle with spending/consumerism, Probably Not Worth Your Time – if you don’tLevel – Short, easy.

Summary
Title pretty much sums it up. Dannemiller comes to a realization that he and his wife…

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2016-challenge
Trout Bum
really liked it

My Rating – Put it on the list (if you are a fishermen; if not, pass)Level – Short, easy, requires some familiarity with fly fishing.

Summary
It is hard to summarize this book. Basically it’s just a guy writing a few short essays/stor…

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2016-challenge and to-read
What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles' Creed
it was amazing

My Rating – Must ReadLevel – Medium length, fairly easy and does not require more than a basic knowledge of the Bible or Theology.

Summary
The book is essentially an exposition of The Apostles’ Creed. That is, he goes line by line and…

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2016-challenge
The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life
liked it

My Rating – If you are looking for somethingLevel – Choppy read, short but reads longer than it is

Summary
First of all, if you’ve been recommend this book by a friend or pastor and they tell it is written by a guy named Guinness, no …

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2016-challenge
The Letter of James
really liked it
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2016-challenge
Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Plan for the World
really liked it

My Rating – Put it on your listLevel – Easy read, medium length

Summary
This is another book that is hard to summarize with just repeating the title or copy/pasting the table of contents. I guess the title isn’t super clear, it comes …

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2016-challenge
Don't Waste Your Life
liked it
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2016-challenge
Disciplines of a Godly Man
it was amazing

My Rating – Must ReadLevel – Fairly easy read, moderate length

Summary
As the title implies, this is a book about disciplines for men who are trying to live a ‘Godly’ life. After the introduction Hughes goes into the 17 disciplines he…

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2016-challenge
Four Views on Hell: Second Edition
really liked it

My Rating -Put it on the listLevel – Medium length, get’s mildly technical, but overall fairly easy.

Summary
As the title say, the book argues four thoughts on hell. Well, really it is three views of hell, and another who goes on a ta…

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2016-challenge
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
really liked it

My Rating – Put it on your listLevel – His style makes it moderate, but the book covers topics like biology, physics, philosophy, anthropology, economics, and of course, history. So, not everyone will be able to jump right into this bo…

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2016-challenge
One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America
really liked it

My rating – Put it on your listLevel – easy, a little wordy, medium length but reads quickly

Summary
The title might be a bit of a misnomer. People expecting this book to be about whether or not America was founded as a Christian nati…

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2016-challenge
A Different Kind of Happiness: Discovering the Joy That Comes from Sacrificial Love
really liked it

Rating – Put it on you listLevel – Easy, moderate in length

Summary
First of all, do not be thrown off by the cover/title. This is not a fluffy self-helpy type book. Instead Dr. Crabb challenges the readers to love like Jesus, but not…

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2016-challenge
The Pursuit of God
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2016-challenge
Speaking of Homosexuality: Discussing the Issues with Kindness and Clarity
it was amazing

Rating – Must ReadLevel – Medium length, reads quickly and easily

Summary
The book, as the title indicates, is about homosexuality in the church and the world today. Dallas covers a large swath of the topic, from how to talk to people…

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2016-challenge
Light In August
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2016-challenge


goodreads.com

Share book reviews and ratings with J.K., and even join a book club on Goodreads.

Personal Reading Survey

One of the resources listed in R. Kent Hughes’ Disciplnes of a Godly Man (my review), is the Personal Reading Survey. In it, Hughes has contact several prominant evangelicals and asked them the following four questions:

What five book, secular or scared, have infuenced you the most?
Of these, which is your favorite?
Favorite novel?
Favorite biography?

Now, according to my editor, I can just rewrite the whole freaking thing. So, I’ll list some of the people asked, and then give you his list of books mentioned at least five times (he list all that are mentioned twice, but I don’t want to type that much, go buy the book). He asked 34 people, men and women, preachers, academics, and authors, including James M. Boice, Charles Colson, Elisabeth Elliot, J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, Charles Swindoll, and Warren Wiersbe. Somewhat annoyingly, not everyone answered all the questions, or answered the correctly, so to speak.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity was the most listed book with 10 mentions, followed by
Calvin, Institutes – 8
Tozer, The Pursuit of God – 6
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest – 5
Dostoyevski, Brothers Karamazov – 5
Tolstoy, Anna Karenina – 5
John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress – 5

Lewis made in on the list further down with thee votes for The Great Divorce. Tolstoy is the only novelist with two books, War & Peace also received two mentions. Three people in the survey made the list, which is pretty cool – Elliot actually had two books, Shadow of the Almighty (4) and Through Gates of Splendor (2), Colson with Loving God (2), and Packer’s Knowing God also had two mentions.

No surprise to see Mere Christianity on there. They may have been the first explicitly Christian book I ever read (if not, it was the second, after Screwtape Letters). The number of reformed people means Institutes was bound to show up. Buswell’s A Systematic Theology of Christian Religion (though one mention came from a guy that actually listed the Bible) received two mentions (though didn’t make the list in the book) and was the only other systematic to make it.

Tozer also received a few mentions for Knowledge of the Holy. C.S. Lewis had five other books mentioned (no Chronicles). Looks like Utmost for His Highest was the only devotional mentioned (though I don’t know some of the books). Maybe the most surprising is the preponderance of Russian Literature among the list for novels. I enjoy Russian Literate, having read Crime and Punishment (my review), currently reading War and Peace, with the rest of the books mentioned still on my list. They are great books, but it seems odd that they would be so common on a Christian list. Maybe it is something I haven’t gotten to yet.

So there you go, if you didn’t have enough books to read, there are some more. Sadly, I’ve read only one of those listed five times or more. Though I have Institutes on my list as the systematic and Utmost as the devotional I plan to read next year. I was torn on whether I wanted to read Anna Karina or Brother’s next, but I guess I should read both. I’m going to go buy Pursuit of God right now. Honestly, Pilgrims Progress just doesn’t interest me, but it’s place on the list makes me want to give it a try. We will see, I hope to read and review them all, but like Goodreads says, ‘So many books, so little time.’

Read This, Not That

I’m excited to launch a new series called “Read This, Not That”– the purpose of which is to help people with finite time and money decide which books would be best for them.

From my teenage years through my late 20’s, I subscribed to Men’s Health magazine. One of its more popular regular features was called “Eat This, Not That,” which compared the same meal from two different places and told you which one you should eat, and which one you should not. The column featured everything from a burger and fries to a variety of salads.

Now, Men’s Health used actual, measurable metrics such as total calories, fat and protein content to support why one meal was good while another was bad. That’s not quite what I will be getting at – however, if a book is bad and I think you should avoid it, I will say so. In fact, both books I compare might actually be good, but not everyone has the time, money, or inclination to read multiple books on one topic (and have a life). I guess that’s what I’m here for.

While I will attempt some metrics (cost, number of pages, and a made-up scale of readability), for the most part, my choice will be purely subjective. Whereas the “not that” in the Men’s Health series often meant you should avoid it, that will in no way be what it means in my series.

Hopefully, you will find it helpful in selecting from all the books out there, even if my analysis makes you think you should actually go with the ‘not that’ book. I’ll kick off next week with a post on discipline.

 

Book Review: The Blue Zones

The Blue Zones – Dan Buettner

*Please ignore the Dr. Oz endorsement on the cover. The book is a really interesting look at lifestyle and does not offer magic pills or tonics to purchase.

My Rating – Must Read

Level – Easy read, medium length, but reads quickly

Summary
Blue zones, so named because while researching the first one, a blue circle was drawn around they area under discussion, are areas in the world where people live the longest. Not only do they live longer, but live better as centenarians (100 year olds) then many people much younger do in other parts of the world.

The book takes us through the four blue zones, and shares interviews, history, diets and other fact about the life of the people who live there. The four blue zones are – Sardinia, Okinawa, Loma Linda (California) and Costa Rica. They have since discovered another one in Greece.

The final chapter gives the tips they found in common in all the blue zones so that you can create your own ‘blue zone.’

  • Move Naturally – Everyone studied for the book was extremely active. They walked miles a day, gardened, etc. His point is no one has to run marathons or become powerlifter, you just need to move often.
  • Hara Hachi Bu – A phrase said by the Okinawans before every meal reminding them to eat until they feel 80% full. Calorie restriction has been shown to be very important in longevity.
  • Plant Slant – With the exception of the Adventist in Loma Linda, no one was a vegetarian. However, they all ate meet rarely, anything from once a week to only a few times a year.
  • Grapes of Life – Wine. It plays a big role for the Sardinians and the Okinawans drink Sake, but the others consumed no alcohol. Either way, studies have shown a drink or two a day, especially of wine is beneficial to your health.
  • Purpose Now – Having a sense of purpose, or a reason to get up in the morning, something that drives you.
  • Down Shift – taking time to relax, meditate or slow down and enjoy life.
  • Belong –To a community, but a part of something bigger than yourself. Religious communities, regardless of which one, have been shown to help people live longer.
  • Loved Ones First – Relatedly, take time to cultivate relationships and spend time with friends and family. Prioritizing social life is something we really fail at in America.
  • Right Tribe – People who share common goals and healthy lifestyle. Many studies have shown that who you hang out with has a huge impact on your lifestyle. Have an obese friend increases your chances of becoming overweight. Seek people who have the same above traits in mind.

My Thoughts
Things like this are utterly fascinating to me. Both of my granddads are currently 91 years old and show only a few signs of stopping. Much of their life has included most of the traits. Modern America has us moving further and further away from these things. We eat lots of cheap, processed food. We don’t spend much time with friends or family. We do not rest often. We don’t move.

I’m currently writing this at my desk, I spend far too many hours a day sitting at a desk and wondering how I can move. Adopting as much of the Blue Zone lifestyle will not only help you to live longer, but the time you do spend will be better and healthier.

2016 Reading Challenge Mid-Year Update

I’m pretty pumped to report that the challenge is going well. With a set goal of 31 books to read this year, I have knocked out 28 at the halfway point. They are as follows:

A History of the World in 6 Glasses – My Review
A Walk in the Woods
Crime and Punishment
Do More Better – Review
Four Views of the Historical Adam – Review
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
How to Read Genesis – Review
How Would Jesus Vote – Review
Just Do Something – Review
Meditations – Review
Mile Marker Zero
The Billion Dollar Spy – Check back next Wednesday
The Blue Zones
The Church – Review
The Lathe of Heaven
The Mighty Weakness of John Knox – Review
The Millionaire Next Door
The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen
The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards – Review
The Year Without a Purchase
Tyndale Commentary on First Peter – Reviewish
On Writing – Review
Pirate Latitudes – Review
Sailor and Fiddler
Seeking Refuge – Review
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life – Review
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Who Moved My Pulpit

Best Fiction – Lathe of Heaven
Best Non-fiction – Billion Dollar Spy, On Writing was a close, close second. I considered breaking these into two categories and call the former best narrative non-fiction.
Best Christiany book – How Would Jesus Vote

Currently, I am reading a few different books: Light In August, Pillar New Testament Commentary on James, Trout Bum, just started What Christians Ought to Believe (great so far), and still rolling through Morning by Morning. I had also put aside Presidents and the first volume of Reformed Dogmatics, so I need to pick those up again and get moving. If I can finish these up, I’ll have exceeded my goal, which is pretty exciting.

Here is a short list of what I’d like to hit next. Obviously, I won’t know them all out by the end of the year, but I should burn through a few. Having knocked out one good sized piece of Russian literature and closing in on my goal for books read this year, I think I am going to try and take down War and Peace. Hopefully, with six months left in the year, I can knock it out. In no particular order:

Fiction

  • Just After Sunset
  • Hyperion
  • True Grit
  • Last Girl
  • Something free on lending library
  • Greatest Short Stories
  • Everything that Rises must Converge
  • It’s a Brave New World
  • Anna Karenina
  • War and Peace

Non Fiction

  • Reflections at 90
  • Better Angles of Our Nature
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach
  • Misbehaving

 Christian Life

  • The Call
  • Discipline for Christian Men
  • 4 Views of Hell
  • Plan of Salvation
  • Don’t Waste Your Life

Theology/Bible Study

  • Core Christianity
  • Second volume of Reformed Dogmatics
  • Church History in Plain Language

Book Review: Meditations – A Short review, for a short book

Meditations – Marcus Aurelius

My Rating – Pass

Level – Short, writing can be long and choppy, knowledge of history and philosophy would be helpful

Summary
Basically random thoughts from a guy who thought he was going to die. Most ideas are a reflection of the time in which he wrote as well as stoicism.

My Thoughts
The story of how/why he wrote the book is probably the most interesting aspect of the book. There is not systematic organization to the book, so writings seem unorganized and disjointed and occasionally repeat themselves.

If you have any familiarity with philosophy, any religion, any famous idioms or maxims, you will not get much from this book. You could probably save yourself the $1 (Dover Thrift Edition all the way) and just google Marcus Aurelius quotes and find the good parts.