Friday, January 8, 2016

A Year of Reading Badly: My 2015 Reading List

There were the three books I brought home from a used book sale that all hit the trash within the first two chapters.

There were the two books I couldn't finish. Divine Rebels by Deena Guzder is a series of mini biographies in the social gospel crowd, people who cite Jesus as the reason they do good deeds. As with other redletterchristian presentations, it was heavy on social, lite on gospel, a paean to self-righteousness. There is more to say here, enough for another post, but let it suffice for now, there was nothing divine about these rebels.

The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor, I'm more reluctant to pan. She comes highly recommended by serious saints, and some of the stories were good. But. Perhaps I'm revealing my shallow side, but it is very hard for me to identify the redemptive among so much raw. Maybe someday I'll pick it up again. Maybe not.

There was 'Til We Have Faces by CS Lewis, proof that even the best authors have their off days. I managed to have some fun with it when my kids read it. During discussions, I was literally chewing the inside of my cheek so as to not burst into laughter as their eyebrows worked up and down in puzzlement. And I put on my best poker face as I assigned them an analysis paper in which I gave them permission to opine. They managed to pull it off with less snark than I expected, and only then did I show my cards. I think they were relieved that I agreed with them.

And then there were the bad books, in terms of bad ideas.  This fantastic article makes a good case for reading the 'worst' books. Of course, the notion of 'worst books' implies there are the 'great books,' and great is in the eye of the beholder. I find I am less and less enthused with other people's lists of 'great books', much of which is mere intellectual gibberish. In other words, I'm far more impressed if you knocked out Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology than if you hung on through Plato.

I read a couple bad ideas this year. I gagged my way through, but I did it.
And that is my year of reading badly.

It wasn't all bad, though. I did accidentally discover a new author. It was one of those crap shoots, standing in the library, desperate for a decent summer read that wouldn't be crass or depressing or just plain dumb. May I introduce Charles Martin? I was so taken with the first book I read by him that I went back for two more.  I also discovered and enjoyed Khaled Hosseini and Wendell Berry.

Sixty-nine books in all. Some good, some bad.
Some of them I read with or for the kids.
One or two I read with Brett.
This is my reading list for 2015.

Know the Heretics by Justin Holcombe
Greenmantle by John Buchan
Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry
Iliad and the Odyssey by Padraic Column
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brendan Manning
The Unadjusted Gospel by Mark Dever et. al.
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
The Blessing Book by Linda Dillow
Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey

BFG by Roald Dahl
Introduction to Covenant Theology by Michael Horton
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
Uncle Dynamite by PG Wodehouse
Liberty Defined by Ron Paul
Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Future Men by Douglas Wilson
Children of Hurin by JRR Tolkien
What's Best Next by Matt Perman

Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry
Wisdom of Father Brown by GK Chesterton
Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks
Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
Aunts Aren't Gentlemen by PG Wodehouse
Magician's Nephew by CS Lewis
Singing Sands by Josephine Tey
Inklings of Oxford by Harry Lee Poe
Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George
The Supreme Court by William Rehnquist

Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother's Heart and Hope by Desiring God
Napoleon's Buttons: 17 Molecules that Changed the World  by Jay Burreson
Instructing a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
Accidental Feminist by Courtney Reisig
At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Five Points by John Piper
The Last Battle by CS Lewis
Girl Talk by Carolyn Mahaney

Women's Ministry in the Church by Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt
The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien
'Til We Have Faces by CS Lewis
When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin
Life With Strings Attached by Minnie Lamberth
A Life Intercepted by Charles Martin
On Earth As It Is In Heaven by Wyman Richardson
Love or Die by Alexander Strauch
Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney
Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin

The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
The Gospel's Power and Message by Paul Washer
The Church of the East edited by John Holzman
The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall
The Shining Company by Rosemary Sutcliffe
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
Sermon on the Mount by Sinclair Ferguson
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Way of Ignorance by Wendell Berry

Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen
A Parcel of Patterns by Jill Paton Walsh
Courtship in Crisis by Thomas Umstattd, Jr.
More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow
The Harvester by Gene Stratton Porter
What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? by D. James Kennedy
Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum
How Long, O Lord? by DA Carson

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