I’m convinced that my dad knows a lot because be reads a lot. Over the course of his 82 years (celebrating his 82nd birthday today!) the man has read more books than you can imagine. As a result, he’s been a wealth of information. After suffering a stroke almost ten years ago (the kind of stroke that kills most people we were told. . . and one that left initially left him unable to move or speak), one of the weapons he used to sharpen and improve his mind was reading. While his mobility has decreased since that stroke, his mind remains sharp. Every time I go to visit him he’s got a book in his hand.
My dad’s commitment to reading along with my years spent with people who love to read and at places where reading and learning is highly valued (Geneva College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and the Coalition for Christian Outreach), I’ve committed myself to reading as much as I can. . . which is usually not nearly enough.
A couple of my reading friends who are always looking for book recommendations typically manage to insert a “What are you reading now?” question into the conversation on a regular basis. That’s a great question and one that we should all be asking on a regular basis. But with reading on the decline due to a number of cultural realities, I’m afraid that fewer and fewer of us will even want to know what we should be reading.
Because I’m not that smart a guy, I know that reading is one avenue I can travel down in an attempt to sharpen my mind and learn about God’s world. I read several good books during 2013. For any of you who might want to sharpen your minds and learn more about God’s world, here are five recommendations for you to pursue in 2014. . .
Arrested Adulthood: The Changing Nature of Maturity and Identity, by James Cote. Penned all the way back in 2000, this book’s value has increased over time as many of Cote’s predictions and analyses have proven true. This book has helped me unpack how adolescence is changing in America. It also serves to bring together an understanding of many of the cultural forces that are converging in a perfect storm that’s shaping the young adults you know and love. This one will take some time as you need to stop to ponder and process almost every paragraph. It’s a must-read for anyone doing ministry or parenting.
Popcultured: Thinking Christianly About Style, Media, and Entertainment, by Steve Turner. This is the freshest overview of how to approach and engage with pop culture from a Christian perspective that I’ve read in a long time. Turner is a seasoned rock critic, writer, and thinker from over the pond. . . which makes this book something special. It’s going to become a text book for the classes I teach.
Living Into Focus: Choosing What Matters In An Age of Distraction, by Arthur Boers. I listened to Boers speak on this topic at Gordon-Conwell Seminary back in June. I was gripped by his diagnosis, analysis, and prescriptives. As we cross the threshold into full immersion in the Digital Age, this book could be a game-changer for us and for the kids we know and love. It’s better than any blood pressure medication on the market.
The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith, by Rosaria Butterfield. I first heard about Butterfield in a short article in Christianity Today magazine. She was a leftist-lesbian professor who despised Christians. That was timely as I was ready to embark on an ongoing quest to understand as much as I can about homosexuality and a God-glorifying response to those who experience same-sex attraction. All I can say about this multi-layered book is WOW!
Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith, by Scotty Smith. Ok. . . so 2013 was my second time through this book. . . and I went back to the beginning of this daily prayer companion as we celebrated the start of 2014 yesterday. However, this is one of those books that throws something new at me almost every day. Perhaps it’s the way that my groanings, brokenness, and sinfulness parallel those of Scotty. But since I’ve handed this book on to several dozen friends, I’ve learned that the book resonates with everyone at a deep level when used to supplement your daily prayer life. In other’s words, Scotty’s vulnerability makes this book connect with us all.
So there you have it. My list is certainly not exhaustive, but it’s a start. Now, let me ask you. . . . what books did you read during 2013 that you would recommend to me?
If you’re interested in learning more about reading and good books, be sure to subscribe to Byron Borger’s “Book Notes” . . . it’s awesome stuff!