Recently, I read an article by Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on the subject of reading. In it he says what I have long known:
There is no way to read everything, and not everything deserves to be read.
We must, he says, guide our eyes towards books worth of our attention.
A voracious reader himself, Dr. Mohler gives several tips for reading well in his article. I won’t go through all of them, but I want to highlight one in particular:
- Maintain regular reading projects. Dr. Mohler strategizes his reading into six main categories: Theology, Biblical studies, Church Life, History, Cultural Studies, and Literature.
While I personally don’t divide my reading into that many categories, I am a big believer in planning your reading and reading a wide variety of books.
Without further ado, here is what I’m reading this fall (in case you’re wondering what I read this summer, click here) Bear in mind, I only read two books at a time–one fiction, one nonfiction–and I try to alternate between older classic works and more modern works.
My Fall 2015 Reading List
The Pearl by John Steinbeck.
This short novella, one of Steinbeck’s most enduring works, is based on a Mexican folktale the author heard while traveling in the Baja California Sur region in 1940.
The story, sometimes considered to be a parable exploring man’s nature as well as greed and evil, is about a pearl diver named Kino who discovers “the Pearl of the World.”
Steinbeck wrote that he created The Pearl to address the themes of “human greed, materialism, and the inherent worth of a thing.”
Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling by Andy Crouch.
I was first introduced to this book through a seminary class I took in the Charlotte Fellows program.
I remember being totally blown away by Crouch’s vision of culture and our Christian call to be culture makers. As the book’s back cover says:
It is not enough to condemn culture. Nor is it sufficient merely to critique culture, copy culture, or consumer culture. The only way to change culture is to create culture.
Andy Crouch unleashes a stirring manifesto calling Christians to be culture makers. Culture is what we make of the world, both in creating cultural artifacts as well as in making sense of the world around us. By making chairs and omelets, languages and laws, we participate in God’s own making and transforming of culture.
This landmark book is a rallying cry for a new generation of culturally creative Christians.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
One of Hemingway’s most famous works, this short novella centers upon Santiago, an aging fisherman who struggles to catch a giant marlin far out at sea.
This was the last major work of fiction published in Hemingway’s lifetime. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1953 and was cited by the Nobel committee as contributing to the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Hemingway in 1954.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.
Considered a classic of Christian apologetics, this book was adapted from a series of BBC radio talks made between 1942 and 1944, while Lewis was at Oxford during WWII.
In 2006, Mere Christianity was placed third in Christianity Today‘s list of the most influential books among evangelicals since 1945.
The Los Angeles Times said that “Lewis, perhaps more than any other twentieth century writer, forced those who listened to him and read his works to come to terms with their own philosophical presuppositions.”
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.
This book, widely considered to be Christie’s masterpiece, was, in her words, the most difficult to write. It is Christie’s best-selling novel, with over 100 million copies sold (also making it the world’s best-selling mystery and one of the world’s best-selling books of all time).
To my surprise, I recently discovered that Christie, often called “The Queen of Mystery,” is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Her books have sold more than a billion copies in English and another billion in a hundred foreign languages. Who knew?
According to the back cover, “This is a comprehensive treatment of how God uses people as tools of change in the lives of others, people who themselves are in need of change.”
The Red Pony by John Steinbeck.
Another classic work from Steinbeck, this novella tells four stories around a boy named Jody Tiflin growing up on his family’s farm in the Salinas Valley of Southern California.
According to Dr. Susan Shillinglaw, a professor at San Jose State University, “The Red Pony was written at a time of profound anxiety caused by the incapacitating illness of Steinbeck’s mother. Steinbeck started writing the story while tending her in the hospital, thus testing his ability to focus and create under any circumstances. As he writes in a 1933 letter: ‘[…] if I can write any kind of story at a time like this, then I can write stories’ (A Life in Letters).”
1776 by David McCullough.
McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize for his biographies on Harry Truman and John Adams.
Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a “powerful account of a storied year in the American revolution.”
The Library Journal said that this book is an “altogether marvelous contribution that deserves to be read by every American.”
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.
According to the The Los Angeles Times, in this book Lamott gives readers “a warm, generous guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps.”
Lamott captures the essence of her book in one poignant story: “Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien.
In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge fan of Tolkien’s works (click here to read a few of my thoughts on the Lord of the Rings).
According to the book’s back cover, “Tolkien considered The Silmarillion his most important work, and, though it was published last and posthumously, this great collection of tales and legends clearly sets the stage for all his other writings.”
The Washington Post called the book “A creation of singular beauty…magnificent in its best moments.”
Question: What are you reading this fall? Share your answer in the comments below or through Twitter. Also, feel free to email this post to a friend.