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:
- Garden of Beasts, by Jeffery Deaver
- In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon
- Jesus and Jonah, by J. W. McGarvey
- How we Got the Bible, by Neil R. Lightfoot
- Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane
- Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara
- Watchmen, by Alan Moore
- Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man who Led the Band of Brothers, by Larry Alexander
- The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller
- The Days of My Life, by George L. Dockery
- Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in your Kids, by Kara E. Powell and Chap Clark
- V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
- Will God Run?, by Charles Hodge
- For Freedom: The Biography of John Nelson Armstrong, by L.C. Sears
- Determining the Form: Structures for Preaching, by O. Wesley Allen Jr.
- Greek To Me: Learning New Testament Greek Through Memory Visualization, by J. Lyle Story and Cullen I.K. Story
- Steeped in the Holy: Preaching as Spiritual Practice, by Raewynne J. Whiteley
- The Practice of Preaching, by Paul Scott Wilson
- The Witness of Preaching, by Thomas G. Long
- Emergence of the “Church of Christ” Denomination, by David Edwin Harrell
- The Mystery of Cabin Island, by Franklin W. Dixon
- The Sinister Signpost, by Franklin W. Dixon
- A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
- Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases, by Ida B. Wells
- Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, by John Updike
- Fielder from Nowhere, by Jackson Scholz
- The Status of Missions in Churches of Christ: A Nationwide Survey of Churches of Christ, by Gailyn Van Rheenen and Bob Waldron
- The Fall of the House of Usher, by Edgar Allan Poe
- The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster, by Cheeseburger Brown
- Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry, by Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas
- Christianity in Culture: A Study in Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, by Charles H. Kraft*
- The Church of Christ in the 21st Century, by Mark Adams
- Reading New Testament Greek: Complete Word Lists and Reader’s Guide, by Bernard Brandon Scott, Margaret Dean, Kristen Sparks, and Frances LaZar
- The Mark on the Door, by Franklin W. Dixon
- It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, by David Alan Black
- Set Free? Stay Free! The Fallacy and Failure of Legalism, by Larry Deason
- Using Twitter Effectively as a Congregation, by Adam Faughn
- Is The Bible Really Completely True? A Deeper Understanding of Biblical Inerrancy, by Matt Robertson
- Friend-O-Nomics: How Friendliness Can Make Your Youth Ministry Grow, by Rick Lawrence
- A Church That Flies: A New Call to Restoration in the Churches of Christ, by Tim Woodroof
- My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf
- Stars in the Shadows: The Negro League All-Star Game of 1934, by Charles R. Smith Jr.
- 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 2011, 2010, 2009, 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.