When 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.