The online journal of Luke Dockery

Reading in 2013

For several years now, I have kept track of the reading I do and then, at the beginning of each year, posted the list of the previous year’s reading. For some reason, keeping track of stuff like this is fun for me, and shockingly, this is always one of my more popular posts each year, so apparently it is interesting to others as well.

Without further ado, here is my reading list for 2013:

  1. Scandalous: Lessons in Redemption From Unlikely Women, by Sean Palmer
  2. When To Leave: How To Know It’s Time To Move On (Before You Stay Way Too Long), by Wade Hodges
  3. Soul Work: Confessions of a Part-Time Monk, by Randy Harris
  4. The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission, by Christopher J.H. Wright
  5. Understanding the Love Chapter, by Adam Faughn
  6. The Shepherd’s Pipe: Songs from the Holy Night, by Georg Johannes Gick
  7. Size Transitions in Congregations, edited by Beth Ann Gaede
  8. 25 Questions Every Youth Minister Should Ask, by Chad Landman
  9. The Good News from North Haven: A Year in the Life of a Small Town, by Michael Lindvall
  10.  The Middle-Sized Church: Problems & Prescriptions, by Lyle E. Schaller
  11.  The Rechurching of Rural America: A report of the restudy of rural churches in America, by Gary Farley, John Bennett, Jere Giles, and Arnold Parks
  12.  Effective Youth Ministry: A Congregational Approach, by Roland D. Martinson
  13.  Building Together: Developing Your Blueprint for Congregational Youth Ministry, by Carol Duerksen
  14.  Small, Strong Congregations: Creating Strengths and Health for Your Congregation, by Kennon L. Callahan
  15.  Technology in Youth and Family Ministry, by Joey Sparks and Scott Bond
  16.  Turnaround and Beyond: A Hopeful Future for Small Membership Churches, by Ron Crandall
  17.  The Indispensable Guide for Smaller Churches, by David R. Ray
  18.  Thriving Youth Ministry in Smaller Churches: Secrets for Cultivating a Dynamic Youth Ministry, by Rick Chromey and Stephanie Caro
  19.  The Churches of Christ in the 20th Century: Homer Hailey’s Personal Journey of Faith, by David Edwin Harrell, Jr.
  20.  Family-Based Youth Ministry, revised edition, by Mark DeVries
  21.  Grandpa was a Preacher, by Leroy Brownlow
  22.  Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction, by Jonathan T. Pennington
  23.  Know Who You Are: Discover Your Identity in the Book of Ephesians, by Robbie Mackenzie
  24.  Prima Scriptura: An Introduction to New Testament Interpretation, by N. Clayton Croy
  25.  1 Peter, by David G. Horrell
  26.  The Blockade Runners, by Jules Verne
  27.  Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith
  28.  Star Wars: Jedi Academy, by Jeffrey Brown
  29.  Sing His Praise! A Case for A Cappella Music as Worship Today, by Rubel Shelly
  30. Why They Left: Listening to Those Who Have Left Churches of Christ, by Flavil R. Yeakley Jr.
  31. The Noticer, by Andy Andrews
  32. The Epic of God, by Michael Whitworth
  33. Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi
  34. City of Darkness, by Kim Wright
  35. Polar Star, by Martin Cruz Smith
  36. Sequels: Love After First Sight, by Jonathan Storment
  37. Muscle and a Shovel, by Michael Shank
  38. The Derision of Heaven, by Michael Whitworth
  39. Calico Joe, by John Grisham
  40. Centered: Christ in Colossians, by Joseph Horton
  41. Exegetical Fallacies, by D.A. Carson
  42. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, by Joshua Foer
  43. Bible Wines, or The Laws of Fermentation, by William Patton
  44. 1 Peter: A Handbook on the Greek Text, by Mark Dubis
  45. Genesis in Space and Time, by Francis A. Schaeffer
  46. The Story of Churches of Christ, by Douglas A. Foster
  47. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes Book One, by Bill Watterson
  48. Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church, by Kenda Creasy Dean
  49. The Christ of Christmas: Readings for Advent, by Calvin Miller
  50. Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free, by Tullian Tchividjian

One thing about 2013 that was a little different than years past is that I got into eBooks more. Some eBooks are pretty short, which makes for quick reading, while others are longer. One thing that’s nice about them either way is that if you have them on an iPad/tablet or even your smart phone, you can read them in all sorts of places where you just have a few minutes of extra time and didn’t have the foresight to bring a book with you. This is a cool thing. In general though, I much prefer reading out of a book with pages than on a tablet.

You’ll notice from the list above that 2013 was a year where I read a lot about ministry (I think 16 in all). Of course, this is greatly influenced by the fact that I am a minister, and that I took a ministry grad school class early in the year that required a ton of reading. Of these books, some were poor, most were helpful, and two were outstanding. First,  Family-Based Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries has become a youth ministry classic, and with good reason. I would highly recommend it to any youth ministers reading this, or anyone who may not technically be a “youth minister” but is interested in working with young people and helping them to become disciples of Jesus Christ. And also, Why They Left: Listening to Those Who Have Left Churches of Christ was really, really good.

In addition to the ministry books, I read several good books on theology and the Bible (if you search for these titles in my blog you’ll see that I quoted from many of them): The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission, Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological IntroductionThe Epic of GodThe Derision of Heaven, Exegetical Fallacies, and Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free (I hope to write reviews of the last two soon).

Concerning other books in no way related to ministry, grad school, or theology, City of Darkness was a fun mystery placed against the backdrop of the Jack the Ripper killings in 1880s London. Gorky Park is, in my opinion, a masterpiece: in addition to providing a thrilling and thoughtful mystery, it also provides a brilliant look at the USSR during the decline of the 1980s. Polar Star, a sequel to Gorky Park, was good, but not as good. And for Christmas I got the Complete Calvin and Hobbes and read the first volume by year’s end; it was glorious, as Calvin and Hobbes always is.

My overall book total increased from 45 in 2012 to 50 in 2013. I pushed hard to get to the 50-book mark, and honestly, I think is about my limit with all of the other things I have going on. In fact, I expect to read less in 2014 than I did in 2013.

I have already started reading in 2014, and my to-read shelf already has over 30 books on it (these are books I already own; there’s even more on my Amazon wish list), but I always like to hear the recommendations of others. What were your favorite books from 2013 (or whenever you read them)?

For comparison’s sake, you can see the books I read in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.


  1. Keith Caselman

    That’s awesome that you read so much. The only thing we read in common was Soul Work: Confessions of a Part-Time Monk, by Randy Harris. 50 books, wow I wish I could say I read half that last year. My favorite book of last year had to be Josh Ross’ book Scarred Faith, it was a good reminder that faith is a life time journey and not just a destination.

  2. Adam Noles

    I think I got about 23 books this year, which is down from last year by 4. Taking two classes in the Spring and Fall as well as moving to a new house really diminished my ability to read this past year.
    Also, I took my time reading one book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton. This book was very helpful (you should read it). The book takes you through difficulties and deficiencies in ministry through the life of Moses. At the end of each chapter, it gives you opportunities to put the content into application. Very reflective in nature.

    • Luke

      I definitely understand the workload getting in the way of reading. I don’t actually think that 50 books is a sustainable level for me moving forward.
      Thanks for the Barton recommendation; it has now been added to my Amazon wish list as well.
      It’s frustrating; there are SO many books that I want to read…sometimes I want to take a break from grad school just so I can read what I want to!

  3. Jared Dockery

    Impressive list, Luke!

    I recommend “With The Old Breed” by E. B. Sledge when you can get to it. It is considered to be one of the very best memoirs of World War II; since it was written by a Marine in the Pacific War, you will probably get a sense of some of what Grandpa Neal went through.

    I notice you read “Calico Joe.” What did you think of it? For me, the exploits of Calico Joe were too improbable; but the forgiveness story was quite compelling. Plus, it’s set in Arkansas and mentions Searcy!

    • Luke

      You gave me With The Old Breed, and it is on my non-theological/ministerial/biblical to-read shelf at home. I will try to get to it this year for sure.
      Calico Joe…improbable, predictable. I did enjoy the Arkansas setting, and the scene with the two old-time ballplayers sitting together at the end to bury the hatchet was touching.

  4. Bill Hooten

    Luke, I thoroughly enjoyed Calico Joe. I also read both of the Duck Commander books (one by Phil, and one by Willie — have got the one by Si, but have not read it yet). I just finished Ben Brewster’s TORN ASUNDER: “The Civil War and the 1906 Division of the Disciples”, and I would recommend it. Right now I am reading LaGard Smith’s ANGELS, DEMONS, AND THE DEVIL — quite interesting.

    • Luke

      Hey Bill, thanks for the comment and recommendations.
      I love Restoration history, so I’m definitely interested in Brewster’s book (though I hadn’t heard of it before). Who is Brewster? Is he Independent/Conservative Christian Church? I see that it’s published by College Press.
      I need to read more LaGard Smith—I’ll add this one to the list.

      • Bill Hooten

        Brewster, when he wrote the book, was the preaching minister at the Airline Drive church of Christ in Bossier City, LA. This is his Master’s Thesis for Cincinnati Christian University and Bible Seminary (conservative Christian). James North wrote the foreword, church history professor from Cincinnati Christian. Some really challenging things about the personalities involved — particularly (to me) McGarvey and Lipscomb.

        • Luke

          Very cool. Thanks for the recommendation; I look forward to it!

  5. Angela Frederick

    As always, I’m pleased when my own weird reading habits encroach upon your list… 🙂

  6. Luke

    You’re generally around me when I’m on break/vacation, so I have extra time to read. And I am susceptible to whatever random things you have lying around. 🙂

  7. Mark Simmons

    I highly recommend Henri Nouwen’s “In His Name”. It’s a quick read, but it is dripping with wisdom about what Christian leadership should look like.

    • Mark Simmons

      My mistake…”In Jesus Name”

      • Luke

        Thanks, Mark. I need to read some more Nouwen. I’ll look into it.
        Hope you’re doing well.

  8. Marion

    Luke, that’s quite a list. I’m sure you may have seen the movie, but I really enjoyed the book True Grit written by Charles Portis, an Arkansas native who still lives in Little Rock. Another good read is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Just trying to add to your already long list!

    • Luke

      I didn’t even know that True Grit was a book first. That’s great—I’ll have to check it out!

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