Thursday, January 01, 2015

Books read in 2014

My book-reading life continues to be a modest one, as in the last few years I’ve been living in a place with limited library access and also spent far more time playing games, perusing random stuff on the Internet, and watching movies and TV shows with my less book-oriented family. Even so, I'm still able to do a good bit of book-reading as part of my job and graduate studies.

Here’s a list of the 45 books I read in 2014.


  1. Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, by Jan Karon [Latest Mitford novel; some really good bits but not very cohesive] 
  2. Shepherds Abiding, by Jan Karon [Mitford “Christmas” novel; quite good] 
  3. Goodnight June, by Sarah Jio [just for fun, but rather flawed] 
  4. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis [probably my favorite Narnia book] 
  5. The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis [another Narnia book; audio recording by Patrick Stewart] 
  6. Home, by Marilynne Robinson [well-written but darker than her related novel, Gilead
  7. Clouds of Witness, by Dorothy L. Sayers [Lord Peter Whimsey mystery] 
  8. The Faith of Ashish, by Kay Marshall Strom [Christian historical fiction, but didn’t ring true] 
  9. The Finishing Touches, by Hester Browne [just for fun; charming “chick lit”] 
  10. The Storm, by Frederick Buechner [he always gives me something to chew on] 
  11. The God of the Hive, by Laurie R. King [Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell mystery series] 
  12. The Bridge, by Karen Kingsbury [I read one of hers every now and then but they’re rather sentimental and simplistic; therefore, popular!] 
  13. Emergence, by David R. Palmer [re-read of a favorite sci-fi novel]
  14. The Colors of Space, by Marion Zimmer Bradley [another sci-fi book, new to me. Pretty good.]
  15. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, by Jeanne Birdsall [re-read of a wonderful kids book] 
  16. The Magician's Elephant, by Kate DiCamillo [lovely children’s book by a great author] 
  17. The Boy on the Porch, by Sharon Creech [OK, if not her best; focuses on foster parenting]


Mission Books

  1. A Wind in the House of Islam, by David Garrison [a look at movements to Christ in the Muslim world; significant book, though it was overpromoted in my circles, and didn't really deliver, I felt.]
  2. When Missions Shapes the Mission: You and Your Church Can Reach the World, by David Horner [exposes, challenges how many churches give little more than lip service to world missions; a tough read, really. Written primarily to pastors who want to change that.] 
  3. Mission Smart, by David Frazier [for church leaders and prospective missionaries, on key questions and issues to deal with in preparing for mission service] 
  4. Here to There: Getting From Commitment to Commissioning, by David Meade [similar to Mission Smart in its aim, but far too prescriptive for me to recommend it widely]
  5. Beyond Ourselves: How Can the Unreached Be Reached? by D. Kroeker [a thoughtful call to stop asking “what can I do?” instead of “what needs to be done?”] 
  6. Contagious Disciple Making: Leading Others on a Journey of Discovery, by David Watson, Paul Watson [how/why to implement a “discovery method” to disciple-making in any context.] 
  7. Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission, by Larry E. McCrary, Caleb Crider, Wade Stephens [great practical material about approaching the world with the tools of a missionary, but made less useful by it’s “everyone’s a missionary, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!” stance]
  8. Go Tell It: How--and Why--to Report God's Stories in Words, Photos, and Videos, by James Killam, Lincoln Brunner [small audience, but I’m in it: a guide to missions journalism] 
  9. Distant Fields: The Amazing Call of George Markey from Farmland to Missions, by Jed Gourley [A tribute, from protégé and son-in-law, to a missionary whose life was cut short. More of a life story than a missionary bio, though; focus is on his early life and U.S. ministry, and mission career did not model approaches I'd commend to others] 
  10. The Finish Line: Stories of Hope Through Bible Translation, by Bob Creson [Inspiring, though it is kind of an infomercial for their work] 
  11. Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption, by Katie J. Davis, with Beth Clark [call to surrender to God; passionate young woman tells the story of her move to Africa to give her life to working with orphans and the poor]

Seminary Books

  1. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, by Mark A. Noll [a bit unnecessarily reductive, but that makes it easier to grasp; good scholarship; readable]
  2. Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction, by Bryan M. Litfin
  3. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, by Wayne A. Grudem [OK, I only read half of Grudem’s massive work; the other 600 pages are on my syllabus for 2015!] 
  4. When Temptation Strikes: Gaining Victory Over Sin, by Larry Dixon 
  5. Five Views on Sanctification, by Melvin E. Dieter [bit of a muddle, I’m afraid – felt more like an excuse for five academics to get something published than a guide to help readers understand the views; might have been more helpful if it included more divergent views]
  6. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, by J.I. Packer [I may blog more about this one]

Other Nonfiction (probably the best books I read this year)

  1. If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C. S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life, by Alister E. McGrath [one charming and beloved English theologian researches, helps readers discover and appreciate another, though likely more readers know Lewis than McGrath]
  2. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen [good essays from a fine writer about her views (not as universal as she may suppose) on being a woman, feminist, baby boomer] 
  3. Painful Blessing: A Story of Loss, Recovery, Hope, and Faith, by Jill Krantz Viggiano [Jill writes about the experience of walking with her husband in recovery from a serious stroke. Informative; could help people know they aren’t alone and get perspective on the experience]
  4. And Life Comes Back: One Woman's Heartbreak and How She Found Tomorrow, by Tricia Lott Williford [Tricia writes about the experience of suddenly losing her husband and becoming a young widow and single mom; a good read] 
  5. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, by Timothy Keller [recommended; a contemporary apologetic from the New York City pastor] 
  6. Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York, by Adam Gopnik [essays from a gifted columnist about life in the city] 
  7. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell
  8. First Family: Abigail and John Adams, by Joseph J. Ellis [very interesting; recommended]
  9. Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother, by Eve LaPlante [great book on the family and cultural context in which Alcott lived and wrote] 
  10. In Search of Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage Into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity, by Jim Belcher [personal memoir and literary/theological travelogue; favorite genres all in one!]

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