Reading in 2008

This year I’ve read a ridiculous number of books – at least for me (my reading log). I’ve read a lot of great books and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading more than ever. However, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to read in the same way for 2008.

In November I did a little experiment and fasted from reading books. It was hard. But I think it was good for me. Instead of reading books, I read the gospels (I made it through Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and spent more time in other (hopefully) productive ways. The experiment came about because I was feeling quite convicted that I needed to stop reading and thinking so much and start acting. I don’t think this means I should stop reading completely, but I do think it means I should read differently.

My normal reading program is to read, read, read, and read some more. I start a book, finish it as quickly as possible, and then pick up the next one. For some books this works just fine, but overall I don’t think this is best. For 2008 I want to read at least some books more slowly and deliberately.

Here’s what I’m thinking.

In 2008 I will read as many books as I want – no limits. However, my goal is to read 6-8 books slowly and deliberately (one every month or two). I will read the book, reflect on the book, and then blog about practical ways the book should impact the way I live my life. In addition, these 6-8 books need to be potentially profound and deeply impacting books. In short, I want to focus on ‘must-reads.’ I can read other books during the year, but for the 6-8 I am going to read deliberately, I want these books to be some of the best books out there. The genre of the books doesn’t matter. It also doesn’t matter if the books are popular, academic, recent, old classics, etc – they just have to be ‘must-reads’ that are potentially deeply impacting.

So here’s where you come in. What books should I read? What are the books that have changed you profoundly? What are the two or three books you would recommend above all others? Remember, the genre is not important. Please comment with your recommendations.

And lastly, is anyone interested in joining me for this 2008 reading experiment? There are lots of ways we could do it. We could do the experiment separately from each other, we could read the same books at the same time, we could blog about the books together – there are lots of options. Are you interested?


7 Responses

  1. Knowing God by J.I. Packer – a classic I just read for the first time and I cannot speak highly enough of its richness; it’s probably comes from a very different theological perspective than a lot of your favorites, but it’s always good to get another point of view, right?

    Flannery O’Connor’s fiction – have you read her work at all? Astonishing, shocking parables of grace…

    Living the Cross-Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney – a basic book I return to again and again to combat the tendencies of legalism and/or condemnation with the blessed truth of the gospel

    I have a lot of other fiction favorites, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

  2. Thanks Andrea. I’ve wanted to read O’Connor but haven’t. Where would be a good place to start with her work?

    Also, I think you are exactly right – I definitely should read from perspectives different than my own. Thanks for the reminder of that – I will choose at least one book for the 6-8 that comes from a perspective I normally would not choose to read (because of assumed disagreement).

  3. Adam, a book that changed my life was The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis. Not exactly an academic book, and a fairly easy read, but one that completely opened up a new path in my spiritual thoughts and beliefs and longings. Not sure if it’s your thing, but thought it was worth throwing out there!

  4. I just recently re-read O’Connor’s story “Revelation” from the collection Everything That Rises Must Converge; that would be an excellent intro to O’Connor’s style. Her short novel, Wise Blood, would also make a good first read. But really, just about anything of hers is strangely captivating. If you get her collected works (I have one published by the Library of America), you have all her fiction as well as her letters and essays, which provide a lot of her thoughts about the relationship between fiction and faith.

  5. Annika – I’ve actually read TSR and really did like it – thanks for the rec.

    Andrea – thanks for the info about O’Connor – I definitely want to read some of her stuff.

    Where is everyone else? No book recs, eh?

  6. My two most anticipated books for 2008 are:
    1. Shane Claiborne: Jesus for President
    2. Peter Rollins: Fidelity of Betrayal
    So I would say you should save space on your list for those two.

    I’m also looking forward to N.T. Wright’s new book: Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.

    I can’t think of any books I’ve read recently that you haven’t. You read too much! Since it is an election year, perhaps you should read Obama’s Audacity of Hope. He offers a thoughtful and fresh perspective on current issues. I read it, and he’s got my vote.

  7. Hi Adam,

    If you haven’t already read “so you don’t want to go to church anymore,” by I highly recommend that…..also

    -seeking the heart of God by Mother Theresa and Brother Roger……a classic devotional!

    -I agree w/ the other post “knowing God” is a great book

    -well…..I’ll have to think some more ha ha!


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