I read a lot because I have no life! But I love it (the reading, not the not having a life thing). Lord willing, I will post my 12 favorite books of 2012 in December but, until then, here are my 6 favorite of the year so far.
6. Adventures in Churchland by Dan Kimball (Zondervan 2012). Have you been burned by the church? Know someone who just is weirded out by the evangelical subculture? This is the book to read!
5. Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012). How do the most creative minds pull it off? Lehrer’s fine prose will give you a lot to think about especially if you are preachers/teachers trying to figure out how to creatively present the Gospel on a weekly basis.
4. The Intolerance of Tolerance by D.A. Carson (Eerdmans 2012). Surgically skewers the secular left and their Machiavellian approach to culture.
3. No, They Can’t! by John Stossel (Threshold 2012). Not only the best introduction to libertarianism but the best introduction to politics. A must.
2. The Permanent Revolution by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim (Jossey Bass 2012). A game changer for Christian leaders.
1. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson (Crossway 2012). Chandler is the most gifted preacher of our time and somehow manages to capture his passion and humor in his prose. A must read.
Honorable mentions, which are also well worth your time: Sifted: Pursuing Growth through Trials, Challenges, and Disappointments by Wayne Cordeiro with Larry Osborne and Francis Chan (Zondervan 2012), Reimagining the Kingdom: The Generational Development of Liberal Kingdom Grammar from Schleiermacher to McLaren by Jeremy Bouma (THEOKLESIA, LLC, 2012), The Last Enemy: Preparing to Win the Fight of Your Life by Mike Wittmer (Discovery House Publishers 2012), The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller (10 Publishing 2012), Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together by Mark Driscoll and Grace Driscoll (Thomas Nelson, 2012), How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens by Michael Williams (Zondervan 2012) and Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, an Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship by Ted Kluck and Dallas Jahncke (Bethany 2012).
Here is an annotated list of everything I have read so far this year. Hopefully, it will help you find something worth your time and money. Happy reading.
1. Fasting by Scot McKnight (Thomas Nelson 2010). An insightful and balanced view of the spiritual discipline. Recommended.
2.Revolution: A Manifesto by Ron Paul (Grand Central Publishing 2009). A cogent modern defense of libertarianism. Recommended.
3. Union with Christ by J. Todd Billings (Baker 2011). The best resource on the subject. It may very well change the way you look at your faith. Highly recommended.
4. End The Fed by Ron Paul (Grand Central 2009). I have to admit, the odd little dude makes a persuasive case. Highly recommended.
5. Enter Night: A Biography of Metallica by Mick Wall (St. Martins Press, 2011). A well-written overview of the band that makes the occasional error (Slayer was never named Dragonslayer). Not bad.
6. Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt (Penguin Classics 1962). An eye-opening look at how an ordinary person can become an instrument of evil. Recommended for history buffs.
7. Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship and Life Together by Mark Driscoll and Grace Driscoll (Thomas Nelson 2012). An honest and practical tool for married couples. Highly recommended.
8. The Fraternity by Diane Brady (Spiegel & Grau 2012). The fascinating tale of how one priest in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. recruited and mentored a number of young African-American men at Holy Cross University including Justice Clarence Thomas and future Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Jones. Recommended.
9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner 1925). The greatest indictment of the “American Dream” I have ever read. Brilliant.
10. In My Place Condemned He Stood by J.I. Packer and Mark Dever (Crossway, 2008). Four classic pieces on the atonement by Packer and Dever. A must read.
11. Ulysses by James Joyce (Modern Library Edition 1992). The Modern Library declared this to be the greatest novel of the twentieth-century. I’m not sure I agree but it is great. It was controversial when it was published and is still rough at times but I was touched by Stephen’s search for a father figure and Leo’s search for a son.
12. Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies by Robert Sklar (Vintage, 1994). An elegantly written history of American film from the 19th Century to 1993. Highly recommended for fellow film buffs.
13. Artemis Fowl–The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer (Hyperion 2010). The weakest book in the series but, unfortunately, also the last one. My son and I really dug these tales about a teenage criminal mastermind and the fairy underworld. I recommend the series.
14. The Ice Balloon by Alec Wilkinson (Knopf 2012). An interesting account of the 19th century attempts to reach the North Pole.
15. The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns (Brazos 2012). Enns argues that one must accept the conclusions of evolutionary biologists that human beings could not have descended from common ancestors, which means that we must re-read Genesis 1-3 as ancient literature rather than ancient history. A well-written and gracious argument but one that is not quite convincing. Still, it is worth reading.
16. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic 2008). A well-written but dark dystopian novel for “young adults.” Recommended but only for children over 12.
17. The Transforming Power of the Gospel by Jerry Bridges (Navpress 2012). A biblical, clear, practical outline for growth in holiness. Recommended.
18. Call of the Wild by Jack London (Macmillan 1903). A dark tale for a “family book” about an ill treated dog’s adventures in 19th century Alaska. Very well-written but recommended for those over 12 only.
19. The Games That Changed the Game by Ron Jaworski (ESPN 2011). Calls for a bit of knowledge of the game but for hardcore fans this is a great read. Recommended.
20. Red by John Logan (Oberon Books 2010). An eye opening look at the life of artist Mark Rothko. Highly recommended.
21. The Action Bible by Doug Mauss and Sergio Cariello (David Cook 2010). I love the artwork of this “graphic novel bible” but I thought they crafted the Old Testament stories as moralisms rather than foreshadows of Christ. Still, I recommend it.
22. The Intolerance of Tolerance by D.A. Carson (Eerdmans 2012). An incredible indictment of the mindless fascism of modern “tolerance.” I highly recommend it. Easily one of, if not, THE best book of the year.
23. Rich Man, Poor Man by Adam Carolla (Crown Archetype 2012). A funny but short e-book on how the very rich and very poor share a lot in common. For example, both lounge around in their pajamas all day. Recommended.
24. Chosen for Life by Sam Storms (Crossway 2007). A fine exposition of the biblical doctrine of election. Recommended.
25. The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams (American Ltd. Ed. 1986). A brilliant and eccentric biography of the great-grandson and grandson of ex-presidents who records his life (including gossip) as if it were all an education. Highly recommended.
26. Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul? by Daniel Kirk (Baker 2012). Kirk is a gifted writer and seems like a likeable chap and his argument that Jesus and Paul harmonize nicely in the grand narrative of Scripture works but his reliance on a version of the New Perspective and his conclusions, including welcoming monogomous homosexual couples into the Christian community uncritically is poorly argued. I can’t recommend it.
27. Proof by David Auburn (Faber & Faber 2001). Tony Award Winner for 2001. I wasn’t blown away.
28. How To Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens by Michael Williams (Zondervan 2012). A great reference tool for studying the Scriptures as they were intended…all pointing to Jesus. Highly recommended.
29. Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner (HarperOne 2012). A compelling, painful, honest read about wrestling with doubts in the midst of divorce. Highly recommended.
30. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic 2009). The follow up to the best seller The Hunger Games was a little disappointing to my son and I but we will wait to see what happens with volume three Mockingjay.
31. By The Renewing of Your Minds by Ellen Charry (Oxford 1999). An excellent work arguing that theology is not just an abstract academic discipline but key to living the Christian life day-in-and-day out. Recommended.
32. The Permanent Revolution by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim (Jossey-Bass 2012). A challenging work arguing that Epheisans 4 provides a template for ministry. Highly recommended.
33. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Too long but still a compelling read that applies not just to African-Americans but to anyone who feels as if they are not treated as fully human. Recommended.
34. The Varieties of Religous Experience by William James (1905). 20 famous lectures delivered by James to the University of Edinburgh arguing that religion MAY be the product of psychological failings but may still produce an overall good for society and he breaks down each facet of religion. I disagreed with almost all of it but was still challenging. Recommended.
35. The Story of the World: Volume 1 by Susan Wise Bauer (Peace Hill Press, 2006). The first volume of an excellent history written for children. My son and I have really enjoyed it and look forward to the other 3 volumes.
36. The Yellow ‘M’ by Edgar Jacobs (Cinebooks 2007). A graphic novel collecting a series of the 1950′s “Blake & Mortimer” adventures from the late, great Edgar Jacobs. Recommended.
37. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (B&H 2012). Jen led her family into drastically cutting down on food, clothes, media, spending, possessions, waste and stress in order to grow closer to Christ. A wonderful, funny, challenging read that you will not be able to put down. Highly recommended.
38. God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza. A Tony Award winning play about two parents whose meeting about their children’s fight devolves quickly into chaos. I frankly wasn’t that impressed.
39. Righteous Indignation by Andrew Breitbart (Grand Central 2011). A brilliant bio/manifesto by the late, great conservative activist and entrepreneur. Highly recommended.
40. Dallas and the Spitfire by Ted Kluck and Dallas Jahncke (Bethany 2012). A funny and moving chronicle of a sports writer discipling an ex-con as they work together on a Triumph Spitfire. A truly great read. Highly recommended.
41. Evangellyfish by Douglas Wilson (Canon 2012). A brutal piece of satire about a womanizing megachurch preacher–not exactly Tom Wolfe but a compelling read. Recommended.
42. The Avengers #1-10: Marvel Masterworks by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (Marvel 2009). Marvel Masterworks re-publishes original issues of favorite superheroes. My son and bought this one to prep for the movie. Many will mock the plot, dialogue and villains as outdated but we dug it. Recommended for die hard comic book fans.
43. The Last Enemy by Mike Wittmer (Discovery House 2012). With his usual warm but challenging voice and sharp theological insight, Wittmer tackles the way followers of Christ should view death. Highly recommended.
44. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (Collector’s Library Edition 2009). A classic portrait of the struggle to realize how messy life can be as we age. Joyce portays his alter ego Stephen Dedalius as a heroe for shaking off ideaology and faith but, as a Christian, I read it as a sad tale. Recommended.
45. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic 2010). My son and I have read through several book series together (Narnia, LOTR, Harry Potter, 100 Cupboards, Artemis Fowl) and the Hunger Games really intrigued him at first but his interest waned as worked through books 2-3. Not recommended.
46. Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington (1901). An amazing story of a man born a slave but died having founded and overseen a college for African-Americans in Alabama. His advice? Work hard and seek to get along with everyone–what a thought! Highly recommended.
47. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson (Crossway 2012). A great book urging churches and Christians to know the Gospel and make it the center of everything we do and arguing that one of the reasons the church is in trouble is that it has assumed the Gospel rather than preaching it. Highly, highly recommended! Buy it now.
48. You’re Not Doing It Right by Michael Ian Black (Gallery Books 2012). Frankly, I thought this would be funnier.
49. The Collected Works of Paddy Chayefsky: The Television Plays by Paddy Chayefsky (Applause Books 2000). With the exception of The Goddess, this is a wonderful collection of plays. Recommended.
50. No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails but Individuals Succeed by John Stossel (Threshold 2012). One of the clearest explanations of liberterianism I have ever read. Highly recommended.
51. God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution by Thomas S. Kidd (Basic Books 2010). A thorough but readable history arguing that the Founding Fathers were flawed and many held unorthodox beliefs but still envisioned a nation that could not exist without religion and never entertained a government antagonistic to the faith. Highly recommended.
52. Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden (Viking 2012). A harrowing account of the life of the only known person to escape from a North Korean “total control” prison camp. It reads like an action novel but is actually a vivid plea to help the millions living in hell under the Kim dynasty. Highly recommended.
53. Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus by Jonathan Leeman (Crossway 2012). A short but very helpful overview of the Biblical basis for a good church membership program. Recommended.
54.Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012). A fascinating book that looks at the various ways people create. Highly recommended, especially for preachers and arists.
55. Libertarianism: A Primer by David Boez (Free Press 1998). A good but dry introduction to libertarianism. I would go with Stossel’s latest book instead if you were looking for a good overview.
56. Reimagining the Kingdom: The Generational Development of Liberal Kingdom Grammar by Jeremy Bouma (THEOKLESIA 2012). Bouma does a great job of tracing the way liberals have redefined key phrases and concepts within Scripture and how they were appropriated and sold as something “new” by emergent leaders like Brian McLaren. Highly recommended.
57. Sifted: Pursuing Growth through Trials, Challenges, and Disappointments by Wayne Cordeiro, with Larry Osborne and Francis Chan (Zondervan 2012). The authors argue that suffering is not just a down side to ministry, it is essential to the growth of the minister. These three influential Christian leaders make a compelling case that heartbreak and disappointment must be embraced and viewed in a Biblical way in order for pastors to better serve our Lord. Well written and practical. Highly recommended.
58. Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation by Tom Bissell (Believer Books 2012). A collection of short essays on everything from the unjust randomness of publishing to an interview with the rogue writer Jim Harrison. I had not heard of Bissell before picking this work up but now I can’t wait to read everything he has ever done. Highly recommended.
59. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (1929). A feminist diatribe arguing for complete independance for women so that they may truly create art…well written for a chick.
60. Hit by Pitch: Ray Chapman, Carl Mays and the Fatal Fastball by Molly Lawless (McFarland 2012). A great graphic novel chronicling the lives of two very different baseball players forever connected by one of baseball’s few fatal incidents. Recommended.
61. This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace (Little Brown & Company 2009). Wallace’s only commencement speech before his tragic death. An instant classic and a better sermon than ever delivered by most pastors. Highly, highly recommended.
62. Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov (Penguin Edition 2010). Eerier than most horror novels I have read. Disturbing.
63. Flesh Eaters by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle 2011). The Bram Stoker Award winner for best novel for 2011. A good zombie novel. Recommended.
64. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace (Back Bay Books 2000). A collection of Wallace’s short stories. I prefer his essays but the prose is masterful. Recommended.
65. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Harper 1892). Read this with my son and he really dug it. Forgot how much cocaine Holmes used and how Doyle really liked to use the verb “ejaculated.” Other than that, it was a lot of fun. Highly recommended.
66. The Rising by Brian Keene (Leisure 2004) A good zombie apocalypse novel with the evil twist that demons possess the dead once their souls depart. Prepare yourself though, it has a cliffhanger ending leading to a sequel.
67. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (Simon & Schuster 1962). Re-read with my son after Bradbury’s passing. He loved it at age 9 as much as I did at age 10.
68. Consider the Lobster by Daniel Foster Wallace (Back Bay Books 2007). An incredible collection of essays by the late Mr. Wallace, who I truly miss. Recommended.
69. Adventures in Churchland by Dan Kimball (Zondervan 2012). Do you know someone burned by or just annoyed by the church? This is the book to help them re-connect. Highly recommended.
70. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (Doubelday 1950). A brilliant collection of short stories, in which, Bradbury uses the future colonization of Mars to analyze life in 1950s America and the nation’s long, harsh treatment of Native Americans. Highly, highly recommended.
71. The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance by Susan Wise Bauer (Peace Hill Press, 2007). My son and I are digging this series. Recommended.
72. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies by Matt Mogk (Gallery 2011). The dude takes this stuff seriously. For example, he quotes a number of scientific journal articles as to how a zombie apocalypse could really happen. For the truly committed.
73. Gone by Mo Hayder (Grove 2012). Winner of the Edgar (best crime novel) and it earned it. A good read.
74, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller (10 Publishing 2012). A great sermon. Highly, highly recommended.
75. Defending the Free Market by Rev. Robert Sirico (Regnery Publishing 2012). A fine introduction to the merits of capitalism. Highly recommended.