In terms of reading, 2017 has been a good year so far. I’m on pace to read more books this year than ever before. Everybody is different, but these two tips have helped me a ton: 1) I’m only reading one book at a time and 2) I’m reading the books I’m most excited to read.
January Reads and Reviews
Book 1: Silence by Shusaku Endo
Few stories have impacted me the way this one did. Endo’s book about a pair of Catholic missionaries enduring Japanese persecution in the 1600s is a haunting, beautiful, and utterly thought-provoking story on the nature of faith, doubt, and grace. Don’t expect to walk away with easy answers. I highly recommend the book and the recent Scorcese film.
Book 2: When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy by John Piper
No other book speaks to the daily reality of my experience as a follower of Jesus the way this one does. If you’re like me and sometimes struggle to find joy in your relationship with God 1) take heart, you’re not alone 2) read this book. I commend it to you.
Book 3: Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
Blake’s book is a fun and quirky read on the essential principles of screenwriting and storytelling. If you’re a writer, storyteller, or just a fan of movies, you’ll love this book. (Though it may end up ruining movies for you.)
Book 4: The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
Before there was Seth Godin, there was Zig Ziglar. And before there was Zig Ziglar, there was Og Mandino (or so I’m told). This is a short little book given to me by a friend. It’s a fun parable with seven sales principles built into it. If you’re into Zig’s stuff, you’ll dig this one.
February Reads and Reviews
Book 5: The Course of Love by Alain de Botton
A dear friend gifted me this book, and it’s unlike any I’ve ever read. Instead of writing another typical book on marriage, De Botton wrote a novel. What results is an interesting blend of fictional, philosophical, and psychological prose that charts the complicated course of a married relationship. Though I don’t agree with everything in it, De Botton nails the modern culture’s over-romanticized view of marriage and what’s been called “the romantic solution.”
Book 6: Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical by Tim Keller
Why should anyone believe in Christianity? “In this book, pastor Tim Keller invites students of secular philosophy and those skeptical of faith and religion to consider a Christian God that still makes sense.” In simple, clear language, Keller explains why Christianity provides unsurpassed resources for humanity’s basic needs: a meaning that suffering can’t take away, a satisfaction not based on circumstances, an identity that doesn’t crush you, a justice that doesn’t create new oppressors, & a hope that can face anything. Highly recommend to both the skeptic and the person of faith.
Book 7: Wise Blood by Flannery O’Conner
O’Connor’s first novel tells the story of Hazel Motes, a 22-yr-old caught in a struggle against the faith he grew up with. I’m not going to lie: I wish I read it with others so I could process it more. It’s deep. But what I love most is that it’s the story of a man trying to rid himself of Jesus and being unable to do so. Favorite line from the book: “Later he saw Jesus moving from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild and ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark where he was not sure of his footing, where he might be walking on the water and not know it and then suddenly know it and drown.”
Book 8: On Writing by Stephen King
Can’t say I’ve read a lot of King’s work, but I really enjoyed this book. If you’re interested at all in writing fiction, you should check it out. It’s loaded with helpful advice, humorous anecdotes, and practical wisdom.
Watchmen by Alan Moore
What have you read so far in 2017? Let me know in the comments below!