For the past couple of years, I’ve had this goal of reading 52 books in a single year. I know that reading a book a week is pretty ambitious given the frenetic pace of life around the Bybee house, but I keep aiming for this number just the same. When I finish my current read (N.T. Wright’s After You Believe), I’ll be up to 30 books for the year. That’s significant for a couple of reasons: a) it means I might finally have a shot at the 52 mark, and b) that’s the same number of books I read in 2009. I always wish I had more time to read, but it’s at least satisfying to blow past last year’s number so early in 2010.
One of the things that’s helped has been my relationship with a few distribution outlets that send me free copies of books to review. But I’m also enjoying my final summer of “leisure reading” before I hit the books again next summer for my next (and final!) leg of schooling.
Just for kicks, here are some of the best books I’ve read so far in 2010. (For a look at my Year End book lists from 2006-09, click here.)
- Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. I reviewed this book a few weeks ago, but it’s stayed with me. Mikalatos writes with humor and depth that I find uncommon in this genre. Imaginary Jesus cuts through the veneer of our projections and assumptions and brings the Nazarene Rabbi back to us in a fresh and living way. Good stuff.
- The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers. Another review, this one back in March. But this text caught me at just the right time; a good friend and I were in the midst of teaching a class at church exploring God’s mysterious command for Israel and later the Christian church to “be holy as I am holy.” Sayers makes the conversation accessible, relevant, and — best of all — hopeful.
- The Yankee Years, Tom Verducci & Joe Torre. I always mix in a baseball read or two each summer; this year, I immersed myself in Torre’s autobiographical account of the Yankee dynasty of the late 90’s / early 00’s. I’ve never been a Yankee fan, but Torre’s class and character won me over a long time ago. Even Sox fans can appreciate Torre’s recollection of the bitter postseason showdowns between these rival organizations. A great summer read.
- Weezer Changes the World, David McPhail. I read this one to my kids at the library the other day. I know, I know…it’s a kid book that took all of five minutes to read, so it’s pretty much a cheap way to pad my numbers. But it’s another one that has stayed with me, which is saying something, especially for a kiddie book. I think there’s much gospel to this little story.
- Jesus Feast, Joshua Graves. Graves has written a powerful and clear-eyed meditation on the realities of discipleship in an emerging, post-modern culture. Writing with a prophetic yet authentic voice, Graves articulates the challenges of Jesus’ radical call to follow Him into the world and participate in His mission of reconciliation and healing.
- The Intimate Mystery, Dan Allender & Tremper Longman III. Maybe the best book on marriage I’ve ever read. Outstanding.
Although these books have been really good, I feel as if I’m still waiting for that ONE book that blows me away and speaks to me like Mere Discipleship or The Sunflower or The Road or The Hole in Our Gospel. Here are a few of the books I have queued up; maybe one of these will claim the top spot?
- The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch. Several people I respect have recommended this book to me, but they’ve warned me it’ll eat my lunch. But in a good way! Looking forward to it.
- American Lion, Jon Meachem. Andrew Jackson has always fascinated me. He’s not my favorite President (not by a long shot), but this promises to be a highly readable account of a rather colorful and iconic figure in American history.
- The Prophets, Abraham Joshua Heschel. Heschel is a stud. And so is this behemoth work (900+ pages). But it looks awesome.
- Radical, David Platt. Another one that I’ve heard a lot about. I doubt it’ll plow any new ground, but I’ll give it a shot.
- Who Made God? by Edgar Andrews and Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias. These two texts (I hope) will help equip me for some conversations I’ve been having recently in my ministry with some more “science minded” individuals who are wrestling with various levels of doubt.
- The Associate, John Grisham. I’m kinda cheating on this one — I have the CDs, so I can listen while I drive to work. But it counts. Right?
What about you? What are you reading right now?