Book Plan for 2020

open-booksLast year, in an effort to read more of the books on my list, I dropped the number of books on my book plan to 24. I still was only able to get through a little more than one third of those books.

It hasn’t discouraged me at all that I’ve never made it through a year having successfully read all the books on my book plan. Life has a way of taking us through twists and turns that we never expected. I find myself picking up books that have sat on my shelf unread for a long time only to find that when I come to that book, it’s the perfect moment in time for its contents to hit me in a way that I will be shaped and formed by it.

Some of these books are carryovers from last year, books that I never finished or didn’t even start. Hoping to get through those. If I can get through half this list, I will be happy. Having a focus is the most helpful thing about this list.

Without further ado, here is my plan. Feel free to comment or add your suggestions. I am always open to hear new thoughts and ideas.

James Baldwin “Notes of a Native Son”

Samuel Chand “Leadership Pain”

Ashley Cleveland “Disunity in Christ”

James Cone “The Cross and the Lynching Tree”

Matthew Everhard “A Theology of Joy”

Dominique Gilliard “Rethinking Incarceration”

Darrell Guder “Missional Church”

Daniel Hill “White Awake”

Wesley Hill “Spiritual Friendship”

Alan Hirsch and Debra Hirsch “Untamed”

Alan Hirsch & Mark Nelson “Reframation”

Zora Neale Hurston “Their Eyes Were Watching God”

John Irving “A Prayer For Owen Meany”

Philip Jenkins “The Next Christendom”

Tim Keller “Ministries of Mercy”

Tim Keller “Center Church”

Jack Kerouac “On the Road”

Stephen King “It”

Patrick Lencioni “The Ideal Team Player”

Alister McGrath “C.S. Lewis”

Sally Morgenthaler “Worship Evangelism”

Michelle Munger “Margins of Grace”

Carey Nieuwhof “Didn’t See It Coming”

John Pavlovitz “A Bigger Table”

Soong-Chan Rah “The Next Evangelicalism”

Alan Roxburgh “The Missional Leader”

Fred Schruers “Billy Joel”

Robin Scruggs “The New Testament and Homosexuality”

Sylvia Thomson-Smith, Johanna W.H. Van Wijk-Bos, et. Al. “Called Out With”

Howard Thurman “Jesus and the Disinherited”

Jemar Tisby “The Color of Compromise”

Frank Viola “Reimagining Church”

Mark Yarhouse “Understanding Gender Dysphoria”

Books Read (and finished) in 2019

20180103_090939In 2019, I read 51 books. That’s down from 2018 when I read 66 books. Of the 51 books that I read, 14 were books that were reviewed for publishers (that’s about 27% of my total 51). 9 of the books were from my reading plan (about 18% of my total 51). My reading plan for 2019 contained 24 books total, so I didn’t quite get through half of the books that I planned to get through.

I’ve been doing this for about 5 or 6 years and I continue to set myself up to be as successful and efficient as possible, but focus has never been one of my strengths and I easily get like a dog with a squirrel when it comes to books. Distracted. But having a list is helpful to provide some amount of focus that I don’t have without it.

Out of all the books that I read in 2019, these were among the top. Two of the five of them have reviews written on them by me, click on the titles to get to those reviews.

Tod Bolsinger “Canoeing the Mountains”

David Kinnaman & Mark Matlock “Faith For Exiles

Will Mancini “Church Unique”

Simon Sinek “Start With Why”

Ryan Thomas “You of Little Faith

Here are the other books read this year:

Mark Achtemeier “The Bible’s YES to Same Sex Marriage”

Vicky Beeching “Undivided”

Nadia Bolz-Weber “Shameless – A Sexual Reformation”

D.A. Carson “Basics For Believers”

Edmund Chan “A Certain Kind”

Francis Chan “Letters to the Church”

Phil Collins “Not Dead Yet”

Andy Crouch “Culture Making”

Dominic Done “When Faith Fails”

David Duchovny “Bucky F*cking Dent”

Shusaku Endo “Silence”

Christopher L. Heuertz “The Sacred Enneagram”

Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers “I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening)

Brian Hunter “The Hunter Equation”

Wayne Jacobsen, Arnita Taylor, and Robert Prater “A Language of Healing for a Polarized Nation”

Skye Jethani “Futureville”

Beth Felker Jones “Faithful – A Theology of Sex”

Erik Larson “The Devil in the White City”

Lecrae “Unashamed”

Justin Lee “Talking Across the Divide”

Patrick Lencioni “Death By Meeting”

Tremper Longman III “Confronting Old Testament Controversies”

Bryan Loritts “Right Color Wrong Culture”

Eric Mason “Woke Church”

Alister McGrath “Narrative Apologetics”

Cara Meredith “The Color of Life”

Henri Nouwen “Adam: God’s Beloved”

Barack Obama “The Audacity of Hope”

Kevin Palau “Unlikely”

Jackie Hill Perry “Gay Girl, Good God”

Kara Powell and Steven Argue “Growing With”

Thom Rainer “Scrappy Church”

Jim Russell “Between the Ears”

Fleming Rutledge “Three Hours – Sermons for Good Friday”

Scott Sauls “Irresistible Faith”

Francis Schaeffer “The Church at the End of the 20th Century”

Nelson Searcy and Jennifer Dykes Henson “The New You”

Kim Walker-Smith “Brave Surrender”

Steven K. Smith “Ghosts of Belle Isle”

Ron Stallworth “Black Klansman”

P.L. Travers “Mary Poppins”

Dee Ann Turner “Bet On Talent”

Timothy B. Tyson “The Blood of Emmett Till”

Dan White Jr. “Love Over Fear”

Albert L. Winseman, D. Min, Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D., and Curt Liesveld, M. Div. “Living Your Strengths”

J.R. Woodward “Creating a Missional Culture”

Ravi Zacharias “The Logic of God”

 

Book Plan for 2019

Library with a book ladder and lampWhen it comes to focus, I’m not always very good. At this point in my life though, I’ve learned that it’s a weakness and so I’ve tried my best to create guardrails along the way that help me to stay a little more focused than I naturally would. White boards. Notebooks. Post-It notes. Whatever it takes to help me get brought back to center after veering off the path. Yearly book plans, for me, act as a sort of guardrail to help me stay somewhat focused on what to be reading.

Over the last few years, I’ve been doing this with mild success. Mild success means that I haven’t ever read more than 50% of my list. At the same time, I’ve averaged about five and a half books per month, nothing to shake a stick at. So, success, in my book, isn’t making sure that I conquer my list, it’s helping me stay focused on something. I’ve learned that if I focus on nothing, I’ll hit it every single time.

Still doing my best to diversify my list. I’ve had a knack for choosing non-fiction books that would be most likely categorized as evangelical and Christian and span around two hundred pages. Pretty consistent with that here with a few diversions thrown in here and there for good measure. A few novels. Some books that peers read decades ago. Doing my best to round the list out as best I can.

So, without further ado, here is my list for 2019. This is no promise to get through all these books, it’s just helping me to stay more focused than I would have if left to my own devices.

G.K. Chesterton “Orthodoxy”

Zack Eswine “Preaching to a Post-Everything World”

Matthew Everhard “A Theology of Joy”

Darrell Guder “Missional Church”

John Irving “A Prayer For Owen Meany”

Philip Jenkins “The Next Christendom”

Tim Keller “Ministries of Mercy”

Tim Keller “Center Church”

Jack Kerouac “On the Road”

Stephen King “It”

Erik Larson “The Devil in the White City”

Justin Lee “Talking Across the Divide”

Patrick Lencioni “Death By Meeting”

Will Mancini “Church Unique”

Alister McGrath “C.S. Lewis”

Sally Morgenthaler “Worship Evangelism”

Barack Obama “The Audacity of Hope”

Jackie Hill Perry “Gay Girl, Good God”

Soong-Chan Rah “The Next Evangelicalism”

Alan Roxburgh “The Missional Leader”

Francis Schaeffer “The Church at the End of the 20th Century”

Nelson Searcy and Jennifer Dykes Henson “The New You”

Simon Sinek “Start With Why”

Frank Viola “Reimagining Church”

Like I said, there isn’t a huge expectation that I will complete this list. Fifty percent completion is good for me. There will be book reviews along the way (they accounted for 44% of books read last year). There will also be books that grab my attention along the way, books which have been recommended to me which feel significant enough to me that I need to set other things aside to pursue.

My biggest concern in all of this is that while filling my mind with what’s in these books, I miss what’s going on around me. Doing my best to remain present and focused at the same time.

The 2018 Book Plan

20180103_090939This is Year #5 for me doing an annual book plan. I’ve been trying to streamline the process year by year to see if I can get better. Last year, I read 69 books. My book plan had twenty-two books total of which I read eleven. So, 50% isn’t a horrible number, but I certainly want to do my best to move closer to achieving 100% read on my list.

I never used to be the guy who would read halfway through a book and then just leave it, but it’s been happening more and more. A number of the books on my list for this year are books that were started in 2017 or before which I never finished. Call it a Year of Jubilee, trying to play catch up a little bit.

I’ve tried to pepper my list with books that are strictly for enjoyment. Finally going to finish the Lord of the Rings trilogy of books for the first time in my life.

I’ve also got a number of books that are related to my position as a pastor. They run the gamut on topics as my role is fairly diverse. Just like baseball teams have utility players, I feel like I’m a utility pastor in many ways, playing roles across the board and filling in gaps as they need to be filled.

There are 30 books total on this list, a bolder number than the 22 books that were on last year’s list. But I have been intentionally setting aside books over the last few months, piling them up on my desk and keeping them in front of me as I’ve looked towards compiling this list.

As always, I am open to book suggestions. As I’ve posted my Books Read In 2017 post on social media, I have had people make recommendations which I hope to follow through on in 2018.

Here’s hoping for a more successful completion of my list in 2018!

Bill Bryson “A Walk in the Woods”

Steven Curtis Chapman “Between Heaven & the Real World”

G.K. Chesterton “Orthodoxy”

Bruce Cockburn “Rumours of Glory”

Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, M.D. “Younger Next Year”

David Daniell “William Tyndale – A Biography”

Kevin DeYoung “The Hole in Our Holiness”

Shusaku Endo “Silence”

Zack Eswine “Preaching to a Post-Everything World”

Michael Frost “Incarnate”

Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch “The Shaping of Things to Come”

Nicky Gumble “Alpha – Questions of Life”

Caleb Kaltenbach “Messy Grace”

Tim Keller “Center Church”

Erik Larson “The Devil in the White City”

Joseph Loconte “A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and A Great War”

Barack Obama “The Audacity of Hope”

Stacy Perman “In-N-Out Burger”

Eugene Peterson “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”

John Piper “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals”

Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin “Growing Young”

Soong-Chan Rah “The Next Evangelicalism”

Francis Schaeffer “The Church Before the Watching World”

Francis Schaeffer “The Church at the End of the 20th Century”

James K.A. Smith “You Are What You Love”

Paul Tillich “Dynamics of Faith”

J.R.R. Tolkien “The Two Towers”

J.R.R. Tokien “Return of the King”

J.R.R. Tolkien “The Tolkien Reader”

Tish Harrison Warren “Liturgy of the Ordinary”

Books Read (and finished) in 2016

open-booksIn 2016, I read 52 books. Out of those 52 books, 16 of them were read for publishers and reviewed on my blog. 9 of those books were on my 2016 Book Plan (which consisted of a total of 28 books). So, I struggled again to even hit the 50% mark of books that had been on my plan. While that may be discouraging to some people, it’s not so to me. This is not a science and I just see every year as an iteration to work towards making this process more efficient. If I’m not enjoying what I’m reading and having fun with what I read, there’s really no point in doing any of this.

Seeing as I’m a pastor, the bulk of my reading focused on spirituality. I went on a three month sabbatical this past summer. 3 of the books that I read this year were included in my sabbatical plan. These are the books that I read this year that focused on spirituality: 

Michelle Anthony “Spiritual Parenting”

Eugene Cho “Overrated”

Michael Frost “The Road to Missional”

Bob Goff “Love Does”

J.D. Greear “Gaining By Losing”

Craig Groeschel “#struggles”

Abraham Joshua Heschel “The Sabbath”

Kent Julian “99 Thoughts on Leading Volunteers”

Madeline L’Engle “Walking On Water”

C.S. Lewis “Mere Christianity”

Brennan Manning “The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus”

Russell Moore “Onward”

Steven L. Ogne and Kenneth E. Priddy “The Leadership Ladder”

Eugene Peterson “Five Smooth Stones For Pastoral Work”

Nik Ripken “The Insanity of God”

Bob Roberts, Jr. “The Multiplying Church”

Nelson Searcy “The Renegade Pastor”

John Stott “The Radical Disciple”

Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird “The Multi-Site Church Revolution”

Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird “Multi-Site Church Road Trip”

John Van Sloten “The Day Metallica Came to Church”

Ravi Zacharias “I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah” 

Reviewing books for my blog is a big part of my list (about 30% of the total books that I read). I reviewed the following 16 books for my blog in 2016:

George Barna “America at the Crossroads”

Jimmy Evans & Allan Kelsey “Strengths Based Marriage”

Elyse Fitzpatrick “Home”

Brandon Hatmaker “A Mile Wide”

Michael Horton “Core Christianity”

Bryan Loritts “Saving the Saved”

Erwin Lutzer “Rescuing the Gospel”

Albert Mohler, Jr. “We Cannot Be Silent”

Mac Pier “A Disruptive Gospel”

Matt and Beth Redman “Finding God in the Hard Times”

Judah Smith “How’s Your Soul?”

Scotty Smith “Every Season Prayers”

R.C. Sproul “What Is Reformed Theology?”

Chad Veach “Unreasonable Hope”

Jon Weece “Me Too”

Jared C. Wilson “Unparalleled” 

I also read a few biographies/autobiographies (not sure all of these qualify for that category, but if they were on the edge, I put them here):

George W. Bush “41 – A Portrait of My Father”

Alan Chambers “My Exodus: From Fear to Grace”

Martin Dugard “To Be A Runner”

Laura Hillenbrand “Unbroken”

Jennifer Knapp “Facing the Music”

Nabeel Qureshi “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”

Gene Simmons “Kiss and Make Up”

I tried to branch out and read some books that focused on business, marketing, or other leadership principles. Here are those books:

Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”

Jim Collins “Good To Great”

Seth Godin “Tribes”

Patrick Lencioni “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”

I didn’t read many novels this year, just one to be exact, but I did read a few plays by August Wilson after hearing about him over the years. Here are the novels and plays that I read:

Stephen King “11/22/63”

August Wilson “Gem of the Ocean”

August Wilson “Fences”

While the books that I read in 2016 can’t very well be called diverse, I think I had a fairly decent mix of genres this year. I will continue to try to mix things up this year. My Book Plan for 2017 can be seen here.

Postscript:

After the publishing of this post, I started and finished “How Full Is Your Bucket?” by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton. It’s tied into some of what I did on my sabbatical and actually brings my total books read number up to 53 to equal my total in 2015.

Book Plan for 2017

Library with a book ladder and lampThis is my fourth year of putting together a reading plan. I’ve still not got a good rhythm on it. I think there are far too many unknowns for me and there are far too many good books out there that I am longing to read. So, I’ll keep plugging away and trying.

I’m trying to broaden my horizons a little bit more. I’ve been feeling a pull to more diversity in my plan, so I’m adding some touches here and there. I know that there will be blog books as well, books that I will review for my blog, which is always an unknown. I’m, never quite sure just what kinds of books will be offered, so it’s hard to predict those books. 

My plan for 2017 will be to lessen the number of books in the plan in hopes that I will be able to be more efficient in reading books from this list. It hasn’t gone well in the past when I have tried to read books on my plan when I’ve had an extensive list. Out of the 28 books on my plan for 2016, I only finished 9 of them, but I still managed to read 52 books for the year, one less than 2015, an average of one book per week. 

Maya Angelou “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

Rachel Held Evans “Evolving In Monkey Town”

Victor Frankl “Man’s Search for Meaning”

Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch “ReJesus”

Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon “Resident Aliens’

Howard V. and Edna H. Hong, editors “The Essential Kierkegaard”

Walter Isaacson “Steve Jobs”

Tim Keller “Center Church”

Tim Keller “Preaching”

Stephen Mansfield “The Search for God and Guiness”

Brenda Salter McNeil “Roadmap to Reconciliation”

Matt Mikalatos “My Imaginary Jesus”

Jürgen Moltmann “A Broad Place”

Flannery O’Connor “The Complete Stories”

Andrew Peterson “The Warden and the Wolf King”

David Platt “Counter Culture”

Preston Sprinkle “Living In a Gray World”

Preston Sprinkle “People To Be Loved”

John Steinbeck “Of Mice and Men”

Howard Thurman “Jesus and the Disinherited”

Mark Twain “How To Tell A Story and Other Essays”

N.T. Wright “Simply Jesus”

This is my plan which I know will most likely shift and change a little bit, but if I don’t start out with something, I’ll have a hard time hitting anything.

Would love to hear about some of your favorite books and whether or not you have interacted with any on this list.

Happy reading!

At Just the Right Time

IMG_4276I love to read. It’s not uncommon for me to be in the middle of 3 or 4 books at a time. I have stacks of books that I am waiting to get into. I have a reading plan that I do my best to follow throughout the year (check it out here). I review books here on my blog. People give me books that they recommend.

With all of the books that I have waiting in the wings to be read, I don’t always follow an order or a linear path. I’ll often put aside some books and pick up others that weren’t even on my radar before I pick them up.

I say all this because I am constantly amazed at the countless times in life when I have pulled a book off of my shelf that has sat their idle for months or even years only to have it drip with relevance as soon as I start reading it. It seems that the moment I crack the book open and begin reading was ordained so much that it hits me square between the eyes, speaking to me in the intimacy of my own thoughts and exposing me at the very moment in which I find myself. It’s almost as if I had purposely waited for just that moment to begin reading.

A few weeks ago, I finally got around to a book that had been on my radar for at least a year, Brennan Manning’s “The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus.” My lead pastor and friend had recommended it sometime last year. I ordered it, put it on my shelf, and then promptly forgot about it.

As I journey through the sabbatical that I am on, it seemed incredibly relevant for me to read these words, “Am I getting too serious about life? Have I let my sense of childlike wonder fade? Am I so caught up in preaching, teaching, writing and traveling that I no longer hear the sound of rain on the roof?” As those words jumped off the page at me, I silently snickered as I thought of how apropos these words were for such a time as I am in.

In the middle of a section of the book where he talks about Christmas, I read the above phrase. It struck me as even more relevant because for the past few years, I have worked hard to slow myself down in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year: Christmas. I’ve realized that the four weeks of Advent can too easily be lost to me if I don’t intentionally journey through them.

But these words could hardly be relegated to just the Advent season. Looking at my children, I can see that childlike wonder of which Manning speaks if I simply stop and pay attention. If I look hard enough and silence myself and all that is within me long enough, I can see a living example of wonder right there before my very eyes.

To read this during a sabbatical seemed like so much more than just coincidence. It was as if I was supposed to be reading it at this time and place in my life.

No sooner had I read these words about slowing down and taking things in then I read this, “The early Christians considered themselves supermen not because of superhuman willpower but because of reliance on the supernatural power of the Spirit.” I was pretty sure that I had said something similar in a sermon as one of my “go to” Greek words is the word dunamis which means, “power.”

These two points were incredibly relevant and poignant to read in this season of life. Reminders to not take myself too seriously and to try to keep a childlike wonder about myself, but also a reminder that I’m not nearly as important as I might convince myself and that the power that I have to do things doesn’t originate from me.

As John the Baptist said, “I must decrease and he must increase.” The Apostle Paul spoke of his boasting in his weakness and his boast being in Christ alone. My confidence and strength resides within me, but it does not originate within me, it comes from outside of me, and I can never forget that.

Brennan Manning continues to stretch me and challenge me every time that I engage one of his works. I am not nearly as gracious to myself as I need to be. I far too often find my flaws and flagellate myself with them rather than releasing them or, as Paul did, rejoicing in them. My flaws don’t show my weakness so much as they show Christ’s strength, and that’s an important distinction that I can’t forget.

I know that there will be other books that have been collecting dust on my shelves, waiting for me to pick them up, that will speak to me at the particular and specific moment in which I pick them up. It’s happened far too many times to be considered coincidence. For now, I’ll rest in the lessons that I’ve learned in this reading and do my best to savor them and soak them in.

My 2016 Reading Plan

booksI put together a book plan for 2015 and did not get through the list nearly as well as I would have liked. I only was able to read 11 of the 35 books that I had listed, not a bad percentage if I’m playing baseball, but I’d much rather do better in accomplishing my reading goal. The biggest drawback that I faced was the books that would pop up along the way, books recommended by friends, colleagues, and others, as well as all of the books that I review for my blog, of which there were 19 total last year (approximately 36% of my total books read).

This year, I am shortening my list and including many books that I have started and left unfinished for some time. So, 2016 may be the year of closing up some loose ends. Some of the books are carry overs, books that I missed in 2015.

I’m knocking the number down from 33 books last year to 28. I read 53 books in 2015 and I expect I will read at least as much this year, but I want to make sure that I am leaving room for spontaneity as well as edification, growth, and enjoyment in my reading.

I’ve tried to mix up different genres and go with some books that I may not normally read or gravitate towards. Trying to expand my horizons a bit and see what I can learn along the way. I’ve been trying to read books by people with whom I may not agree in an effort to stretch myself.

Without further ado, here is my list:

Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, M.D. “Younger Next Year”

Martin Dugard “To Be A Runner”

Rachel Held Evans “Evolving In Monkey Town”

Michael Frost “The Road To Missional”

Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch “ReJesus”

Craig Groeschel “#struggles”

Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon “Resident Aliens’

Laura Hillenbrand “Unbroken”

Howard V. and Edna H. Hong, editors “The Essential Kierkegaard”

Tim Keller “Center Church”

Tim Keller “Preaching”

Patrick Lencioni “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”

Madeline L’Engle “Walking On Water”

C.S. Lewis “Mere Christianity”

C.S. Lewis “Perelandra”

C.S. Lewis “That Hideous Strength”

Brennan Manning “The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus”

George R.R. Martin “A Game of Thrones”

Paul E. Miller “A Praying Life”

R. Albert Mohler, Jr. “We Cannot Be Silent”

Jürgen Moltmann “The Crucified God”

Jürgen Moltmann “A Broad Place”

H. Richard Niebuhr “Christ & Culture”

Flannery O’Connor “The Complete Stories”

Neil Peart “Ghost Rider”

Andrew Peterson “The Warden and the Wolf King”

David Platt “Counter Culture”

N.T. Wright “Simply Jesus”

I would love to hear about some of your favorite books and whether or not you have interacted with any on this list.

Happy reading!

Books I Read In 2015

books to readI read a total of 53 books over the course of 2015. I had written up a plan with titles at the beginning of the year to try to be more structured and intentional about my reading throughout the year. Overall, I did all right with my plan. I didn’t read everything that had been on my list, mostly because my list was much more extensive than I had considered at the beginning of the year.

In 2014, I read 39 books (here’s my post). My original list had 33 books on it but I only read 7 of those 33 books. I began reviewing books for my blog that year and that continued in 2015. So, I thought I would do a little bit better going into 2015. I posted my list and thought I was being more realistic.

My 2015 reading list included 35 books. Of those 35 books, I read 11 of them (marked below with a +). The other 42 books on my list were a compilation of books that I read to review for my blog (marked below with a *, 19 total), books that I read to check out and preview before my son read them (marked below with a ^), and books that just kind of popped up along the way. Some books satisfied multiple categories and are marked as such.

My 2016 plan will be posted later this week and I hope that I’m getting better as I go.

Sam Allberry “Is God Anti-gay?”

The Arbinger Institute “Leadership and Self-Deception”

+* Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III “God Loves Sex”

* Mark Batterson and Richard Foth “A Trip Around the Sun”

Nadia Bolz-Weber “Pastrix”

* Andy Braner “No Fear In Love”

+^ Eoin Colfer “Artemis Fowl”

^ Suzanne Collins “Gregor the Overlander”

+ Suzanne Collins “Mockingjay”

Peter Criss “Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss”

* Rachel Held Evans “Searching For Sunday”

Michael Frost “Surprise the World! The Five Habits of Highly Missional People”

* Andrew Gant “The Carols of Christmas”

* John Greco “Manger King”

* Don C. Harris “Think Red Ink”

* Jen Hatmaker “For the Love”

Gary A. Haugen “Just Courage”

Wesley Hill “Washed and Waiting”

+ Tim Keller “The King’s Cross”

Justin Lee “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-Vs.-Christians Debate”

^ Madeline L’Engle “A Wrinkle In Time”

* Amy Lively “How To Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird”

+ C.S. Lewis “Out of the Silent Planet”

David Lomas “The Truest Thing About You”

+ Brennan Manning “All Is Grace”

* Jonathan McKee “More Than Just the Talk”

* Jonathan McKee “Sex Matters”

* Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson “Mormonism 101”

* Scot McKnight “A Fellowship of Differents”

* Matt Mikalatos “Into the Fray”

* Donald Miller “Scary Close”

* Dr. Linda Mintle “We Need to Talk”

Joseph Myers “Organic Community”

Larry Osborne “Thriving In Babylon”
Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon “The Art of Neighboring”

^ Ridley Pearson “Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark”

^ Ridley Pearson “Kingdom Keepers: Disney At Dawn”

+^ Ridley Pearson “Kingdom Keepers: Disney In Shadow”

Dr. Kara E. Powell, Brad M. Griffin, and Dr. Cheryl A. Crawford “Sticky Faith – Youth Worker Edition”

Kevin Roose “The Unlikely Disciple – A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University”

+ Veronica Roth “Allegiant”

^ J.K. Rowling “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

^ J.K. Rowling “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

^ J.K. Rowling “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”

Francis Schaeffer “Art and the Bible”

* Peter Scazzero “The Emotionally Healthy Leader”

* Judah Smith “Life Is _______”

+* Sam Storms “Kept For Jesus”

John R.W. Stott “The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus”

+^ J.R.R. Tolkien “The Hobbit”

* David Vogel “The Truth With Love”

+* Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman “The Daniel Plan”

August Wilson “Seven Guitars”

 

+ 2015 List

* Blog

^ Preview

 

Happy 2016 and happy reading!

Scary Close – A Book Review

scary closeDonald Miller has the ability to seem like one of those friends who you don’t talk to or see frequently, but when you do, it’s as if you just saw them yesterday. He cozies up to you as if he’s never left, as if you’ve been friends your whole life long. You pick up where you left off and sit enthralled as he weaves his latest yarn.

Miller has made a writing career out of telling his stories. Whether it’s about growing up without a father, going on a road trip, living in Portland, Oregon, or something else, he has a knack for telling stories. He’s also made an art form of standing naked and vulnerable in front of people with his words. He has focused his books on the transformations that take place in his life, the ways that he is being made new and different.

“Scary Close” is no different. Miller tells the story of how he had to work through his own mess before he could finally feel fit enough for a long-term relationship. Of course, he didn’t come to the conclusion on his own, he had help from friends who spoke truth into his life. He’s honest about the various ways that he had sabotaged so many relationships with the opposite sex in the past. “Scary Close” is the story of how he finally entered into one of the greatest adventures that life holds: marriage.

Miller’s honesty and candor are refreshing, he never claims expertise. He paints himself as a sojourner, learning from his own mistakes and hoping that others might do the same. From a layman’s perspective, he lays out his own observations of his own mistakes as well as the mistakes that are common among relationships. He identifies some of the characteristics that have stood out as hindrances to his own relationships in the past.

Miller’s work isn’t for everyone. Anyone coming to this book expecting a theological treatise or something deeply theological will be disappointed. There may even be some who would criticize the work for seeming steeped in psycho-babble, but alas, we will all have critics. Miller’s work wasn’t written for scholars but for the common man or woman. Through his unfolding story, he gives hope to the average man or woman who might stumble onto his work and find comfort and solace in the fact that there are other people out there who feel inadequate and fall short of their own expectations of themselves. Through his story, he encourages others who may have found themselves traveling down a similar road to the one which he was on.

“Scary Close” is a quick and enjoyable read. While there were no major “aha” moments or deep takeaways, the book had lots of insights and nuggets that will be a helpful reference as I consider the idea of intimacy and why it seems to elusive to so many.

(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Harper Collins Publishing. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)