This morning I find myself sitting in the Atlanta airport with a medium sized city’s worth of people. One of my former students (shout out to Lonnie!) tweeted me asking what are the best 10-12 books I have read recently. I thought I would comment on that here since 140 characters is useless for that.
I am en route to Youth Metro, the annual gathering of the student pastors of the largest churches in the SBC. I love these men. I taught many of them and have invested in many others, not to mention all they have taught me. Usually in a setting like this when I speak to such a fine group (I will be representing SEBTS here, something I truly enjoy) I ask them to give me the last 2-3 books they have read. I like to see where people are in their growth.
Here are the last 12 books I have read in no particular order. I try to read about 50 books a year on a lot of topics. As I am on sabbatical this will not be a typical list. For instance, while early in the year I read a ton on student ministry, missional Christianity, etc, the last part I have read more non-theological works as well, as you will see.
1. Gabe Lyons, The Next Christians. Fantastic book that offers realistic yet hopeful info on the coming generation. Gabe gets, for instance, that this gen needs the whole gospel in the whole Bible, not just tidbits and moralisms. Must reading for all church leaders.
2. The Best American Sampler. Kindle collection of the best short stories of 2011. Interesting articles by a variety of people on a variety of subjects, none of which are intentionally evangelical. I read a truly fascinating story about a surfer named Marzo, for instance.
3. The Hunger Games trilogy. I will count these as one book since I read them all at once and they tell one large narrative. Collins is a great writer in my opinion, and this book is the anti-Lord of the Flies. Very easy to see why this series is a hit with the Millennials and their penchant for social justice.
4. D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation. I re-read this fine book on prayer by D. A. Carson for a course I taught in Kiev. This look at the prayers of Paul should be read by all. And I even rhymed telling you this.
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Okay, I saw the movie on the airplane from Kiev (and was told it was better that I saw the airplane version). So I got the book. But I doubt I will finish it. I already saw the movie!
6. Ken Ham, Already Gone. A book about how we are losing or have lost so many young people. Honestly I did not finish it but have scanned it for some helpful info.
7. Andy Crouch, Culture Making. I like books like this and I like how Crouch thinks, and it is fine that I do not always agree with him. He makes me think, and helps me lead, or so I think.
8. Knowing God by J. I. Packer. This classic was the biggest thing going when I was in college. I am rereading it and being reminded how genuinely theological this book is. This is not to be confused with The Shack, or Wild at Heart for that matter.
9. Michael Goheen, Light to the Nations. I am honestly just starting this one but cannot wait to read it. Must reading also for pastors who are discovering (or need to find) the importance of teaching the gospel in the whole story of the Bible.
10. Greg Gibson, Reformational Manhood. This one is yet to be released but was read to write an endorsement. Those who agree with me that we must mentor young men today in a way to help them be men and not boys will want to read this helpful book when released.
11. Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods. I am thinking you should read a book by Keller annually. That would be a good thing.
12. I also read a book for my own personal growth that I will not give the title because it is none of your stinking business. Smile. Seriously, Like you I have areas where I constantly need to grow, be pushed, and stretched. There will always be something, some area where we need to grow and change. So I will leave this one intentionally nebulous as where you need to let the Spirit probe you may well be some area other than mine.
There you have it. More non-theological or at least more fiction books than I normally read in a list of twelve, but otherwise pretty typical. If you substitue a couple of books on leadership or missional Christianity for these you would have a more typical list, at least for me. What are you reading?