The online journal of Luke Dockery

Reading in 2012

I like statistics, I like making lists, and I like competing with myself, so a few years ago I started keeping track of the books I read each year.
Here is my reading list for 2012:
  1. Garden of Beasts, by Jeffery Deaver
  2. In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon
  3. Jesus and Jonah, by J. W. McGarvey
  4. How we Got the Bible, by Neil R. Lightfoot
  5. Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane
  6. Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara
  7. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
  8. Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man who Led the Band of Brothers, by Larry Alexander
  9. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
  10. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller
  11. The Days of My Life, by George L. Dockery
  12. Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in your Kids, by Kara E. Powell and Chap Clark
  13. V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
  14. Will God Run?, by Charles Hodge
  15. For Freedom: The Biography of John Nelson Armstrong, by L.C. Sears
  16. Determining the Form: Structures for Preaching, by O. Wesley Allen Jr.
  17. Greek To Me: Learning New Testament Greek Through Memory Visualization, by J. Lyle Story and Cullen I.K. Story
  18. Steeped in the Holy: Preaching as Spiritual Practice, by Raewynne J. Whiteley
  19. The Practice of Preaching, by Paul Scott Wilson
  20. The Witness of Preaching, by Thomas G. Long
  21. Emergence of the “Church of Christ” Denomination, by David Edwin Harrell
  22. The Mystery of Cabin Island, by Franklin W. Dixon
  23. The Sinister Signpost, by Franklin W. Dixon
  24. A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  25. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
  26. Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases, by Ida B. Wells
  27. Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, by John Updike
  28. Fielder from Nowhere, by Jackson Scholz
  29. The Status of Missions in Churches of Christ: A Nationwide Survey of Churches of Christ, by Gailyn Van Rheenen and Bob Waldron
  30. The Fall of the House of Usher, by Edgar Allan Poe
  31. The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster, by Cheeseburger Brown
  32. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry, by Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas
  33. Christianity in Culture: A Study in Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, by Charles H. Kraft*
  34. The Church of Christ in the 21st Century, by Mark Adams
  35. Reading New Testament Greek: Complete Word Lists and Reader’s Guide, by Bernard Brandon Scott, Margaret Dean, Kristen Sparks, and Frances LaZar
  36. The Mark on the Door, by Franklin W. Dixon
  37. It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, by David Alan Black
  38. Set Free? Stay Free! The Fallacy and Failure of Legalism, by Larry Deason
  39. Using Twitter Effectively as a Congregation, by Adam Faughn
  40. Is The Bible Really Completely True? A Deeper Understanding of Biblical Inerrancy, by Matt Robertson
  41. Friend-O-Nomics: How Friendliness Can Make Your Youth Ministry Grow, by Rick Lawrence
  42. A Church That Flies: A New Call to Restoration in the Churches of Christ, by Tim Woodroof
  43. My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf
  44. Stars in the Shadows: The Negro League All-Star Game of 1934, by Charles R. Smith Jr.
  45. The Story, by Biblica**

I stated at the beginning of last year that I intended to write more book reviews in 2012, but I didn’t do very well in that regard. I would like to do better in 2013, but I also realize that for whatever reason, I hate writing book reviews so I’m not sure that I will. Still, even if I don’t write formal reviews, I will try to share helpful quotations and ideas from books that I enjoy.

I read some really good books in 2012. The Devil in the White City and Mystic River were both great (though disturbing), and I also enjoyed Biggest Brother and Killer Angels. Moving over to biblical and theological books, For Freedom was an excellent biography on J.N. Armstrong, the first president of Harding University, and a helpful window into Restoration Movement studies as well. How We Got The Bible was a useful primer on the history of the Bible, The Church of Christ in the 21st Century is an excellent book for Bible class study, and The Status of Missions in Churches of Christ was a very helpful survey book which every Church of Christ elder and minister should read. Undoubtedly though, the gem of the year was Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in your Kids. This is a wonderful book which I believe should be read by every minister and Christian parent in the world. Seriously (it’s so good I just linked to it!).

Disappointing books that I read in 2012 include In His Steps (why is this book famous?), Is The Bible Really Completely True? (a very poor and barely coherent defense of inerrancy), In The Garden of Beasts (which was pretty good, but just disappointing after reading The Devil in the White City), and Christianity in Culture (which was truly unreadable). I also forayed into the graphic novel medium in 2012, but was rather disappointed by some of its highly-rated volumes: Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (none of them were awful; neither were they very good).

My overall book total increased from 39 in 2011 to 45 in 2012. Realistically, I think this is about my limit. Maybe I could push it to 50, but with the delicate time balance that I currently maintain, I’m fairly pleased with this amount.

I’ve already started reading in 2013 and have a long list of books to read (I got 15-20 books for Christmas!), but I’m also interested in the recommendations of others. What were your favorite books from 2012?

(For comparison’s sake, you can see the books I read in 201120102009, and 2008).

*Full disclosure: I didn’t read this entire book. I read the first 1/3-1/2, and then skimmed the rest because of time constraints (it was an assignment for a class). As I mentioned above, I thought it was almost unreadable—some good ideas, but in need of significant editing.

**This was part of Biblica’s new Bible translation which puts the NIV in chronological order and removes chapter and verse numbers to make the text more readable. “The Story” was a compilation of Luke and Acts which we used for our youth group Bible class this past quarter. Since it was self-contained and over 100 pages on its own, I listed it on my reading list separate from my regular Bible reading for the year.


  1. Angela Frederick

    I’d say that’s pretty good for someone who is a new dad, working full time, and taking grad school courses!

  2. Jared Pack

    Well, this list is impressive, I must say. And I completely understand your disdain for book reviews. Unfortunately, I don’t have much option about reviewing most of the books I read. And, I also figure that while I could give you some great book suggestions, you probably aren’t interested in my books. lol

  3. Adam Noles

    Interesting Post. I think I read about 27 books this year.
    The best of 2012 for me :
    Why they Left – Flavil Yeakley
    Radical – David Platt
    Who is my brother? F. Lagard Smith
    Erasing Hell – Francis Chan
    Communication for a Change – Andy Stanley
    Other interesting reads of 2012:
    Seeker Small Groups – Poole
    Taking your church to the Next Level – McIntosh

  4. Mark

    Great work! And thanks for including mine!

  5. Luke Dockery


    Thanks…I know your list is much more impressive than mine!

  6. Luke Dockery


    I was interested in the book you were telling me about last night, but for the life of me can’t remember the title or author.

  7. Luke Dockery


    Your best of 2012 list looks great:

    I’ve intended to read Flavil’s book for awhile; I’ve only heard great things about it.

    I was interested in both Radical and Erasing Hell, but was waiting to hear good feedback from someone I respect—you count. 🙂

    F. Lagard Smith’s book sounds interesting too.

    Argh, you just added so much to my “To Read” list!

  8. Luke Dockery


    I enjoyed your book, so I’m happy to give it a little publicity. It really is a good Bible class study and is something you should be proud of.

    Hope you’re doing well.

  9. Rusty

    What? You didn’t like the Dark Knight Returns? I still reread that every couple of years.

  10. Luke Dockery


    Sorry to disappoint. I like The Dark Knight Returns more than the other two, but I think part of the problem was that I just had very high expectations. I had heard that it was very good, and I really like Batman in some other forms (The Dark Knight Trilogy and the Animated Series), and I just didn’t like it as much as I hoped or expected.

  11. Matt Robertson

    Hello, I wrote a booklet that you reviewed (the one that was a “very poor and barely coherent defense of inerrancy”). First off, I’m glad you were able to read it. But since you have, and found it wanting, I feel it might be worthwhile to explain its true purpose.

    First, I didn’t actually intend on anybody reading it. While I understood that somebody may possibly download it, I knew when I put it up on the iBookstore that its scholarly value was quite proportional to its cost (that is, free). In reality, I put it up there in order to test out the iBooks Author app that had just been released. I feel that it helped me immensely in getting something of a grip on self-publishing, which will hopefully prove useful after I’ve finished my own graduate work. The book itself was really an outlet to help ensure that I did not slip and stop working on projects to further learning and writing, which many unfortunately do.

    Second, while you likely gathered this from its preface, the booklet was written towards a high school audience, and I tried to keep more in line with the thought processes of those high schoolers I knew personally. Scholarly my work was not, but that was never its intent. What to you, who would at that time have been well-versed in the inerrancy conversation, seemed like a “barely coherent defense of innerancy” may well have been a suitable introduction for a high schooler who is just beginning to realize that the Bible didn’t drop out of Heaven with a leather cover and red-lettering.

    Even though your minor review was mostly negative (at least I was a LITTLE coherent!) I am happy that someone took the time to read my work. I will be the first to admit that for someone in your position that time certainly could have been spent on something of a far higher caliber, but I am elated nonetheless. I hope at some time to expand upon this work, and refine it into something worthy. If that happens, at least I’ll have a review to describe its first edition!

    • Luke


      Thanks for your comment.

      I read your booklet almost three years ago now, and I’ll admit that I don’t remember much about it, or what exactly prompted me to say what I said. Very possibly as you surmised, I was looking for something a little more scholarly and that led to my disappointment. At the same time, as someone who ministers to high school students myself and knows that it can be quite challenging to present difficult theological concepts in ways that they can grasp, you would think that I would have been a little more understanding in my evaluation of the work! I’m sorry that I was not.

      You showed a lot more grace to me in your comment above than I showed to you in my dismissive remark about a project that you undoubtedly put some hard work into. I sincerely apologize for that.

      Thanks for caring about high school students, and for your devotion to the ministry of study. I hope you do expand on your work someday—I’d love to read it. But I doubt that anything you write will impress me more as what you have written tonight, and the high character that it reveals. Blessings to you.

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