Reading is not a discipline I developed early in life. During my teenage years, I perceived reading to be a nuisance and necessary evil. Somewhere during my college years, however, I learned to enjoy reading, not just for assignments or entertainment, but for personal growth. At this point in my life I need books like I need food, to satisfy cognitive hunger and to probe intellectual curiosity. Books stimulate my thinking, exercise my memory muscles, and challenge my prejudices.
I typically read a variety of genres including fiction, spirituality, theology, history, and biography. And I usually keep from three to five books going at the same time, a practice that was recommended by one of my favorite university professors. This discipline invites a variety of conversation partners into my internal dialogue. For example, right now I am reading Rick Bragg’s biography of Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story, John Grisham’s Gray Mountain, Philip Yancey’s Vanishing Grace, and David Baldacci’s The Escape. Such diverse
Somewhere near the first of each year I make a list of books that I plan to read during the coming year. In addition to the books I hope to read for pleasure, I have compiled a list of 15 books I plan to read in 2015 that focus on church leadership, spiritual formation, and theological inquiry:
- Vanishing Grace: Whatever Happened to the Good News by Philip Yancey
- Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott
- Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church by Scot McKnight
- Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul by Bill Hybels
- Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most by Marcus Borg
- Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus by John Ortberg
- The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus by Dallas Willard
- Disarming Scripture: Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did by Derek Flood
- The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgment, the Hope of Holy War by Joshua Ryan Butler
- Visions of Vocations: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber
- David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
- From Tablet to Table: Where Community Is Found and Identity Formed by Leonard Sweet
- Kingdom Come: Why We Should Give Up Our Obsession with Fixing the Church and What We Should Do Instead by Reggie McNeal
- The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings by John Philip Newell
- We Make the Road by Walking: A Year Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation and Activation by Brian McLaren
In my experience, reading a variety of authors who write from assorted faith perspectives stretches my mind, enriches my daily walk, and expands my capacity to relate to variety of people.
This year don’t just read the spiritual stuff that reinforces what you think you know with certainty. Dare to read something that challenges you to think about life and faith from a different vantage point.
Happy reading in 2015!