At the start of each year I set out to read, on average, one book per fortnight. By the end of the year I’ve usually achieved this goal. What can I say? I enjoy reading. There’s usually a mix of fiction (40%) and non-fiction (60%), this year is no different. The list of books I read don’t include those I simply dip into here and there. These are the ones I read right through. If you’d like to see every book I’ve read this year then head here. Otherwise, below is a list of the top books I read. These all achieved 5-stars in my subjective rating system.
Few books I read significantly shape me. The last would’ve been around a decade ago. Yet, in January one more was added to that elite list, this biographical account of the life of Adoniram Judson. Perhaps it was the timing, just before our miscarriage and a rather painful time for us as a family. It was helpful for that period but also for deeper reflection in what it means to live a life following Jesus and making him known to others.
The book was so good I had to review it. The review gives you a better outline and idea of the book than I can give here. I also quoted him a little in some previous posts. It’s a great read and was significant to me at the time and as I’ve continued to reflect on it.
In brief Judson was the first American Baptist missionary sent out, ever. He had a great impact on current day Burma/Myanmar, fruit which continues to be seen today. He endured so much personal and ministerial hardship, including the deaths of many of his children and two of three wives. He seems like an amazing man and very much worth the read.
Michael Jordan was the most iconic sportsman while I was growing up. Probably still is. He’d certainly be the best basketballer the world has ever seen. This biography is a comprehensive outline of his life and family. Lazenby begins generations before MJ was born and makes his way through the family tree before spending much of the 720 pages talking about his career. The Life outlines Jordan’s relationship with his father, family, coaches and team mates. It is a great read and even more so if you remember the glory days of Jordan and his Bulls.
Another biography makes the list here too. Can you tell the stories of others interest me?
Bonhoeffer was a pastor during the time of Hitler-led Germany and into World War II. He was one of few who saw Hitler for what he was and went against the traditional German church at the time. This leads him to be a main player in seeking to assassinate Hitler during the war, which he is consequently imprisoned for. Metaxas is a great writer and gives a detailed account of Bonhoeffer’s life. It took longer than I would’ve liked reading this on Kindle but it was still worth the 5-stars.
As part of my role with Global Interaction I have had the privilege of facilitating and leading short-term mission or exposure teams. This involves preparing people to engage in missions in another culture and with other religions. At the same time questions are often raised as to the validity and method of these trips, quite often seen as a waste of money with little help to others. I have my own thoughts on this of course but this book helps put many of these things in perspective.
This is a good primer on poverty and dealing with people who are impoverished. It also has some good chapters on what non-profits can do to safe guard themselves in dealing with the poor, whether that be processes or programs or finances etc. I was particularly interested in how they approached short-term teams and there is a whole chapter dedicated to that. Consequently they have elaborated that chapter into and entire book now too. In any case, this one was excellent and gave me a real insight into dealing with things regarding the poor and social justice.
So in January I become an Associate Pastor. I thought it worthwhile to read up on what some of this may entail. This book was rightly recommended to me and very much worth the read. It is written by two guys with much experience in associate roles and delves into three particular tensions those who lead from the second chair may face. It gives a good picture of the realities of this role, whether it be in a church or other place of work.
Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Knowing God is a Christian classic and remains so today. This is a re-read for me but it had been 10 years since I last picked it up. Packer outlines the Christian faith and the central aspects of it. As the title suggests, it helps us in getting to know God, who he is and what he is like. As I read this it reminded me of how ‘lite’ the Christian Living books are today. If you’d like something of substance to read this coming year then give this one a go.
This time of year often produces ‘best of’ type lists on various websites. I mainly stick with books and you can read 2014’s list too if you like.