Somewhat ironically, right after writing a post about my intention to write more on my blog in 2016, I learned that my blog had become infected with malware and then the process of removing it took a few weeks. All of that means that it is now late January, and I have some catching up to do.
It has become a tradition on The Doc File at the beginning of each year for me to share a list of the books I read in the previous calendar year. Without further ado, here was my reading list for 2015:
- Take Route, by Philip Jenkins
- Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings, by Lindsay Faye
- The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, by Shane Claiborne
- Scarred Faith, by Josh Ross
- Sons of Dust: The Roots of Biblical Manliness, by Chris Clevenger
- Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith
- The Lunch Ladies: Cultivating an Actsmosphere, by Philip Jenkins
- Intergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community and Worship, by Holly Catterton Allen and Christine Lawton Ross
- A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media: Helping Your Teenager Navigate Life Online, by Mark Oestreicher and Adam McLane
- Torn Asunder: The Civil War and the 1906 Division of the Disciples, by Ben Brewster
- Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President, by Candice Millard
- I Died Last Night, by John Orr
- Women in the Church, by Everett Ferguson
- Megan’s Secrets: What My Mentally Disabled Daughter Taught Me About Life, by Mike Cope
- Family Ministry Field Guide: How Your Church Can Equip Parents To Make Disciples, by Timothy Paul Jones
- “If A Man Dies Will He Live Again?” A Study of Eternal Life, by Bobby Deason
- Primer on Biblical Methods, by Corrine L. Carvalho
- The One Minute Manager, by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
- Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking a Pauline Theme, by Stephen Westerholm
- Writing on the Tablet of the Human Heart, by David Carr*
- God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship, by Kenton L. Sparks
- Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, Second Edition, by John J. Collins
- These People Should be Dead, by Scott Bond
- More Than A Conquerer: The Ups and Downs of a Christian Manic Depressive, by Tom Kelton
- The Worldly Church, by C. Leonard Allen, Richard T. Hughes, and Michael R. Weed
- Bringing Heaven to Earth: You Don’t Have to Wait for Eternity to Live the Good News, by Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment
- A Week in the Life of Corinth, by Ben Witherington III
- Am I Ready to Be Baptized?, by Kyle Butt & John Farber
- First Corinthians: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, by Richard B. Hays
- 1 Corinthians: Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament, by David E. Garland
- Conflict & Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, by Ben Witherington III
- 2 Corinthians: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary), by David E. Garland
- The Pouting Preacher, by Michael Whitworth
- Alabama Moon, by Watt Key
- Renewing God’s People: A Concise History of Churches of Christ, by Gary Holloway & Douglas A. Foster
- Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers, by Chap Clark
- Before I Go: Notes from Older Preachers, edited by Jeff and Dale Jenkins
- Five Minutes With God, by Rusty Hills
- Living & Longing for the Lord, by Michael Whitworth
- Leaving Behind Left Behind: The False Fear of the Rapture and the True Hope of the Return of Christ, by Omar Rikabi
- When Mountains Won’t Move: How to Survive a Struggling Faith, by Jacob Hawk
- 5 Discipleship Principles I Live By, by Neil Reynolds
- Beautiful, by Abbé Utter
- From Mule Back to Super Jet with the Gospel, by Marshall Keeble
- Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent, by John Piper
- Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith
- The Complete Calvin and Hobbes Book Four, by Bill Watterson
- Restoring New Testament Christianity, by Adron Doran
A few major observations before I talk about a couple of specific books.
In some ways, I was disappointed with my reading in 2015:
- My total number of books dropped from 56 to 48. Ultimately, the point of reading is for learning and enjoyment rather than reading as many books as possible, but I do like to compete with myself and was a little disappointed at how my total number of books dropped. The reasons for this were understandable though. First, I read several books (commentaries, Old Testament introduction texts) that were several hundred pages long and each equivalent to 3-4 regular books. Second, I did a ton of reading of articles this year for grad school classes, and that reading is not reflected in the list above. Finally, I spent significant portions of 2015 involved in two large writing projects and two large editing projects, and those efforts (also not reflected above) took a lot of the time that would typically go to my reading.
- I didn’t read much in 2015 that really blew me away. There were several books that I thought were interesting, or useful, or contained some good information, but not much that I thought was just outstanding.
As is typical for me, a lot of books that I read were related to the fields of Bible study, theology, and ministry. My favorite book of 2015 was probably Megan’s Secrets: What My Mentally Disabled Daughter Taught Me About Life, by Mike Cope. Mike writes as a minister from Churches of Christ and shares his experiences as the parent of a special needs child and the lessons he learned from her all-too-brief life. As the parents of a beautiful, incredible special needs daughter myself, this book hit close to home for me, and in fact, it took me about 2 1/2 years to summon up the courage to read it. I basically cried through the entire thing, but I thought it was beautiful, poignant, and important.
Another great book I read this past year was The Lunch Ladies: Cultivating an Actsmosphere, by Philip Jenkins. Though the book is primarily geared toward youth ministry, the principles apply to ministry and the work of the church in general. Succinctly put, in Lunch Ladies, Philip describes the culture of neglect that existed within the youth ministry at the church where he serves and how they went about changing that to a culture where everyone is cared for and where everyone belongs. This is the best book on youth ministry I read this year, and it has implications far beyond youth ministry; we are in the process of implementing a lot of these ideas in our youth ministry at Farmington. If you are involved in youth ministry in any way (minister, deacon, shepherd, parent, whatever), small groups ministry, or church involvement, I would highly recommend this work.
In Churches of Christ, the vigorous discussion over the role of women in the church continues on, and earlier in the year I read Women in the Church by Everett Ferguson. Ferguson’s scholarship is impeccable, and in addition to his careful exegesis of biblical texts, also brings his wealth knowledge on the practices of the early Christian church to the discussion. Perhaps most important was Ferguson’s tone and perspective, in which he frames the entire discussion by first focusing on all the ways women did serve in the early church and how vital they are to the work of the church today, before moving on to other areas in which the biblical text and early church practice limit the role of women in specific areas. Again, this is another book that I would highly recommend.
Additionally, I did read a few commentaries and works on specific New Testament books this past year which are worth mentioning.
I have written about Michael Whitworth’s books before, and have recommended them because the way he excels at balancing readability with good study and research. This year I read Living & Longing for the Lord, which is a study of 1-2 Thessalonians, and it was great. Michael is a friend of mine, and I have been blessed by his books over the last few years. I think The Derision of Heaven, Michael’s book on the the Book of Daniel, is still my favorite, but Living & Longing for the Lord might come in second place.
I took a grad school class on 1-2 Corinthians and read literally thousands of pages related to those epistles. A Week in the Life of Corinth by Ben Witherington III is a charming little book which gives the reader a good grasp of the cultural context of first century Corinth. First Corinthians: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching by Richard B. Hays, was enjoyable because of its focus on bringing points out of the text that are specifically relevant for teaching and preaching in the modern church. Conflict & Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians by Ben Witherington III was interesting because it explored 1-2 Corinthians through the lens of ancient rhetoric, and brought a lot of historical background information into the discussion. For those interested in better understanding 1-2 Corinthians, all of these are helpful resources in my opinion.
That was my year in reading in 2015!
For comparison’s sake if you are interested, you can see my reading lists from previous years:
I have already started reading some good stuff in 2016, and I have a large number of books on my “To-Read” shelf that I am hoping to get to. What are some of the best books you read this past year?
*Books that I did not read in their entirety, but read significant portions of.