Unshelved ~ What I Read in May, 2017

A well-written book rightly placed can be a source of energy, motivation, and growth. As Tony Reinke reminds us, every book except the Bible is flawed to some degree, having been written by human authors. Therefore, we must be cautious to read every imperfect book in light of the perfect book. From those imperfect books though, God can provide cultivation of new life in Christ rather than complacency of the old life in the culture.
Reading for me, is foundational to my learning, impacting both a head knowledge in understanding the world around us and also the heart knowledge of a deeper relationship with God. Reading causes me to consider and ponder upon God’s workings in this life and His teachings through His Word in ways that I would have not done so otherwise. Therefore, I believe reading to a fundamental competency for the Christian.
Making my way through over a hundred books per year, my hope is that others will also be motivated to read more as well. And, perhaps this list can give you some ideas of where to start. So here’s what I read in May 2017:
  • Books Leading to Christlike Character: One of my top reading goals is not merely to gain knowledge, but to garner transformation. Books of theology, apologetics, and Christian living provide opportunities to learn from others. After a year of reading, I finally finished John Piper’s God is the Gospel. Yet, it’s less than 180 pages, but he packs some powerful teaching into those few pages that require effort to dwell upon. I highly recommend it. Last year saw the release of The Vine Project. I enjoyed some practical implications for how to grow the church but based on the status and culture of my current ministry, it was not as helpful to me as The Trellis and the Vine, which I read last month. My reading also consisted of several Christian books for review, which included the following (click the titles to see my reviews): Martin Luther In His Own Words, The Most Misused Stories in the Bible, and A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer.
  • Books Leading to Cultural Context: Whether it be a historical biography or a contemporary issue, there are some books that offer great value and insight into the world around us. I found myself reading Tony Reinke more this month, first by reviewing his book 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You, and I followed that up by rereading Lit! just as a refresher. If you don’t know Tony Reinke or haven’t heard of him, I urge you to pick up his books. They are well-written and consider impacts from a Christian worldview. On the opposite side, I picked up a book from my time in college to read: Socrates Cafe by Christopher Phillips. I must say I was severely disappointed. Partly because I am reading this now as a believer (my first time through I was not) but also because the book seemed to have no purpose other than to promote the cause that truth is relative.
  • Books Leading to Concocted Circumstances: No reading list is complete without some easier fiction reading, which has great benefits in itself. Except for the book to be released in November, I have made my way through Clive Cussler’s Oregon Files by finishing Piranha. I must say I enjoy some good mystery novels, and these ones offer a different flair that made them fun for me. And yes, I finally jumped into the realm of Harry Potter, completing The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets. I initially stayed away from them based on the initial Christian response. However, these weren’t just typical books, and so I didn’t think it was appropriate to condemn them like the others based on other’s prompting. Aside from that, there may come a day in the future when my children want to read them and I want to make an informed decision on them. I plan to continue, partly because I hate leaving series unfinished.
All in all, my month accounted for 11 books and almost 3000 pages (2,853 to be exact) not including my works in progress. Frankly, most of the books I read this month were fairly light reading, so I am looking forward to some of the ‘heavier’ reading that I have outlined for June. What about you? What’s your reading plan for the upcoming month?
To read about or purchase any of the books mentioned in this post, click the following titles: