This is a list of the books I read summer of 2010. I tried to blurb/recommend/comment on each, and I’ve linked the titles to Amazon so you can click and go. So much to read; so little time!
- The Two Towers and The Return of the King (Tolkien) – Great books. Read them if you haven’t. There are some extraordinarily good parallels between the Christian life, holiness, heaven, hell, and sinfulness here. Read’em.
- The Great Divorce (C.S. Lewis) – Really a fantastic little book. Quick read. Don’t agree with all of Lewis’ theology, but the picture of heaven and glorified saints he paints is achingly beautiful. You do see his universalist theology coming out, which isn’t Biblical…but it’s still a good book.
- Brothers, We Are NOT Professionals (Piper) – This may be one of the most stirring and practically useful books on the ministry I have read. The passion with which Piper writes overflows to the reader, or at least it did for this one. A must for ministers.
- Finally Alive (Piper) – In agreement with one of the reviewers, I don’t think I can too highly recommend this book. An incredibly thorough and Biblical look at the new birth of Christians – what it is, what it means, and how it’s accomplished. And as it usual with Piper, you don’t have to be a theologian to read it. Fantastic.
- The Gospel for Muslims (Anyabwile) – This was a concise, easy and extremely encouraging read. Thabiti Anyabwile breaks down some of the fears Christians generally have about evangelizing Muslims, challenging us to trust the power of the gospel to save any and every person.
- Bradbury Classic Stories 1 (Ray Bradbury) – Bradbury became my favorite short-story author with this book. His prose often reads with the gliding beauty of poetry. The stories are thought provoking and brilliantly imaginative, often with unexpected resolutions or twists. This is my standard for the genre now.
- Answering Islam: The Crescent in the Light of the Cross (Geisler & Saleeb) – An incredibly thorough and well rounded evaluation of the beliefs of Islam, written from the perspective of a former muslim quoting the most respected muslim scholars. The responses from a Christian perspective are insightful and powerful. If you want to know more about Islam and how a Christian might respond to it, read this book.
- Harry Potter: Books 4, 6 & 7 (Rowlings) – I admit it, I’m a Potter-nerd. I scoffed at friends who read these for years, and was hooked as soon as I read the first. I’ve read quite a few books, and these are some of the most difficult to put down I’ve ever picked up. The depth of imagination is staggering – approaching the creativity of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. You simply get pulled into the story and characters as the plot hurls you through unexpected turn after turn. You’ll pull these off the shelf to re-read year after year. (I only read these 3 because I don’t have the others on my shelf, for some reason.)
- What is the gospel? (Greg Gilbert) – Another book that carries a weight of importance disproportionate to its size. Gilbert’s clear, concise, thoughtful, and thorough articulation of the gospel will be helpful to any Christian who reads it. It could also be a valuable tool for helping non-Christian friends understand what we believe. Even if you think you know the gospel, you should probably read this book.
- Healing the Broken Family of Abraham: New Life for Muslims (Don McCurry) – This book is less scholarly than Geisler’s, but more personal and perhaps more practical. McCurry spent decades among Muslim people, and his insight and wisdom on how to minister to them is deep. The most moving thing about this book is the unmistakable love, and anguished sense of desire he has for Muslim people to come to know Christ.
- Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (J.I. Packer) – To say that this book is a “classic” doesn’t do justice to it’s importance on the subject of evangelism. Packer, as always, puts mountains of truth into simple sentences. This book will challenge your ideas about evangelism in very, very good ways. Read on!
- For Whom the Bell Tolls & The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway) – What can you say about Hemingway? He is brilliant. His stream of consciousness writing seems tedious at times, but I think that’s because it’s so similar to sitting and listening to your own thoughts that you forget you’re reading a book and not simply thinking the story out of your own experiences. Old Man and the Sea is shorter, and perhaps easier to read, but both leave you aching.
- Marks of the Messenger (J. Mack Stiles) – Where Packer’s book on evangelism may be one of the weightiest, this book is one of the most encouraging I’ve ever read. Rather than presenting a method or process to evangelize, Stiles addresses the WHY of evangelism, and shares personal stories and experiences in the process. This makes for a grand, personal, heart-enflaming read that may finally give you the courage you need to share your faith.
- The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation(Michael Reeves) – Reeves is one of those rare writers who can present history in such a way that anyone would enjoy reading about it, whether you generally enjoy history books or not. His snappy prose and constant wit keeps your eyes and mind on the page, all while presenting you with an incredibly informative historical wide-screen of the period.
- The Holiness of God (R.C. Sproul) – As for theologians, there are few who have been as influential or consistently Biblical as Sproul. This is a tremendous book on God’s holiness that will be profitable for ANY person to read, and re-read. But beware, it will also be convicting and humbling, as any discussion of God’s holiness should be.
- The Plight of Man and the Power of God (Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones) – I was delighted to find that Lloyd-Jones’ preaching is incredibly applicable to our day, though this was written during the years of WWII. In fact, these short sermons may be more applicable and needed in our day than his own. I’m not sure there is any better test of a brilliant preacher relying on Scripture: his sermons only become more potent with time instead of decaying in usefulness.
- Beyond Our Selves (Catherine Marshall) – This book caught me by surprise. I am generally very skeptical of popular books (this one was popular during the 1960′s), and find them to be vapid and dry theologically. Catherine Marshall is neither. Aside from the fact that she is an excellent writer, she has depths of insight which will echo with you long after you finish the book. You will be convicted and encouraged by her faith and the stories she shares. I have no qualms about recommending this book to anyone who finds general, run of the mill religious/theology books tedious.