Friday, April 6, 2012

Books I've Read This Year, Part 1

As a New Year's Resolution I set out to read at least 12 books over the course of 2012. My idea was that they would be 12 books in addition to my reading for graduate school, but I also wasn't too concerned with being legalistic on this goal. Now as we are about 3 months into the year, I thought I would give an update as to what I have been reading, and the books I plan to read over the next quarter of this year.

A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin

About a year ago I heard about an amazing book called A Game of Thrones that HBO had recently made into a 10-part miniseries. I regrettably watched the TV series prior to reading the book, but over Christmas break I finally found the time to begin the first book in Martin's much-acclaimed series A Song of Ice and Fire. The books are in the fantasy genre, and maintain references to a time when dragons and zombies (the 'white walkers') roamed the earth, but the first installment is primarily medieval in nature and centers around the dangers and betrayal of the struggle for power.

There are five books in the series, and I am hopeful to have finished them all by this time next year. Each one is about 800 pages long, so, while they are a fantastic and quick read, it is still a time-consuming process, especially as I've been trying to finish seminary and now have a baby on the way. Great fiction. Highly recommend.

The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel

This book was assigned in a class on the Sabbath, but was a book I had been wanting to read for quite some time. Heschel is a Jewish rabbi, and his book is THE book on the Sabbath. Everything I had heard and seen said that if you want to read one book on the Sabbath, this is the one to read. And their counsel did not disappoint. This is far from a self-help manual on how to practice Sabbath, but provides a lovely framework for this important biblical and theological concept. A must-read for pastors and anyone serious about living into the rhythm and rest of God.

Shaped by Stories, Marshall Gregory

This was also an assigned book, for my Narrative Hermeneutics class, but was also incredibly powerful. I am not always excited about reading books for class, and sometimes feel disappointed in the books I am forced to read, but Gregory's book was phenomenal. He begins by working the reader through his 2 primary assumptions: 1) that we all encounter stories all day, everyday, everywhere, and 2) that stories maintain great ethical power to shape and transform us. With those assumptions, his basic thesis is that me must learn to be aware of the ways in which we are being shaped for good or ill by the stories we ingest. He also has much wisdom for those of us whose careers are steeped in stories (i.e. pastors). I highly recommend this book. Perhaps my best recommendation for it would come through admitting that I plan on reading it again in the near future...and that doesn't happen very often.

The Wisdom of Each Other, Eugene Peterson

This was a book that I quickly read to see if it would be helpful for a paper I was writing about discernment and wisdom. While it was not very beneficial for my paper, the book definitely maintained a great deal of wisdom and was a fun read, as is with most of Peterson's work. The book is formatted as one side (Peterson's) of a letter-writing-interchange between two friends. While Peterson says at the onset that these letters and the recipient are not actually real, he makes clear that the nature and content of each letter is derived from actual conversations or letters from congregants or friends throughout his life. This book was good, not great.

Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard

The fifth book that I have finished in the past 3 months is a biography on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, written by Martin Dugard and Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly. While I am not normally a Fox News guy, my dad loves O'Reilly, had received this book as a Christmas present, and was planning on reading it. So I figured I would read it too. I have always loved history, but rarely taken time to read about the history of our country and world, so it was nice to finally make time for this. The book is arranged as a series of journal entries that begin 13 days prior to Lincoln's assassination and document the end of the Civil War, the assassination plot by John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln's death, and the hunt for, and execution of, Booth. While O'Reilly is mainly a public speaker and I Know nothing about Martin Dugard or his work, their writing was good and definitely kept me engaged throughout the entirety of the narrative.


Now that I am almost finished with seminary, I will finally have time to start reading some books that I have been wanting or needing to read for a while, including books on pregnancy, giving birth, and being a parent. Here is a quick list of some books I am planning or hoping to read over the next few months:

The Birth Partner, Penny Simkin
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn, Penny Simkin
A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin (book 2 in A Song of Ice and Fire)
To Change the World, James Davidson Hunter
The Pastor: A Memoir, Eugene Peterson

1 comment:

  1. I am reading a book called "PregMancy" that is pretty darned good.