Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Reading List - Part 1

This must be a new record low for me: I’ve read 54 books this year. Last year - due to the six-month sabbatical? - I set a record high at 122 volumes. What happened in 2011? I think I did more of my reading in a disjointed, online kind of a way instead of curling up with a good book. Also, in February, I both entered a new and rather all-encompassing relationship and began work on a Master’s program. That gave me more stuff to read but also kept me from reading as much for pleasure.

When I moved to Oregon in October I decided to pack up most of my books and put them into storage - and had to say goodbye to my public library too. I may be able to get a local library card here, yet, but it is a little tricky. Either way, will probably be looking to download more content in ebook form. I wonder if my reading life will ever be the same?

Here's my 2011 reading roundup (including, for your convenience, non-affiliate Amazon links). Since the list isn’t that long I’ll fold in some commentary. This post will cover the nonfiction; I’ll list the fiction separately.

This was one of the first books I read in 2011 and I may see if I can hunt it down for a re-read. As I said in my posts about this book here and here, I love Buechner's essays. He captures and is honest about nostalgia and longing in a way that helps me accept both the ways life satisfies and the ways it doesn't. That you cannot go "back home" but it's okay that you still wish you could, that something in you needs this.

Goodwin, a pastor in Spokane, WA, tells the story of the journey he and his family made toward living more intentionally and simply by limiting themselves to locally produced food and other products, e.g., from their own garden. I appreciated both his attempt to speak to environmental issues from a biblical perspective of stewardship and the winsome way he told his own story.

This 2001 book provides a very helpful, “sticky” introduction to what it feels like and what it takes to make successful cross-cultural adjustments when you are a Westerner taking an international assignment. I’m looking for something to recommend to (or require for) professionals heading out on one-month to one-year postings with my mission organization in settings all over the world. Don’t know if I can come up with something that fits the niche as well as this does. The fact that it’s secular means it leaves out a few of the wrinkles that we mission-types face, but also means you can carry or pass it around more freely than if it was full-up with Christian jargon.

Seminary Reading

These are two of four books I need to read for a January class on “Islam in the 21st century.” (The others are Colin Chapman’s Whose Promised Land? And Jimmy Carter’s Palestine Peace not Apartheid. Sandy Tolan’s The Lemon Tree and Mike Kuhn’s Fresh Vision for the Muslim World seem to top the recommended list.) The Burge book provided a helpful survey of the theories and players. 

Jabbour is teaching the class. I’ll be interested in what he has to add about developments in Egypt since his book on the topic was published almost 20 years ago. 

The paper I have to write is supposed to answer this question: “In the war for the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world what would it take to empower the moderates and open minded, and marginalize the fanatics in the Muslim world? Who are the main players and what can each do?” If you have any other weighty questions to ask me, perhaps you can hold onto them until I settle this one...!

Other books I read for school, along with various articles:

·         The Old Testament

Related to Global Outreach

These six books were given to me (sometimes by my request) that I might write about them in our Missions Catalyst Resource Reviews. 

Christie’s book wasn’t bad, though it didn’t measure up to two really excellent John Pollack books about the same era which I read on my own (The Cambridge Seven and Hudson Taylor and Maria).

Yohannan’s book felt too much like an advertisement for his ministry, and I think it’s fair to say it was designed to be.

MacLeslie and Shelby’s works both had what seemed to me like significant flaws, but they added something to the world of mission biography, especially through their commitment to personal transparency.

Wright’s book was (as the title might suggest) a breath of fresh air; I’d give it high recommendations – Debbie Meroff’s, too, if you’re interested in Europe. Carter’s book is a novel about mentoring people for ministry. I thought it was very helpful, though as a self-published book it could have used a bit more spit and polish and will be hard to find (link goes to my published review).

Other mission-related books I read and would recommend:

Miscellaneous Nonfiction

I read all three of these on the recommendation of others and for reasons that are probably obvious to anyone who knows what's going on in my life. Found each one to be well thought out and helpful.

Read these four with my book club in Denver. We tended to alternate fiction and nonfiction. These were good choices, I thought; Boyle's was probably the best. Some got bogged down in Packer’s book which was rather long.

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