I tracked my reading on Goodreads to see how I would do. I also counted audible books because I drive a lot and it’s my favorite way to consume fiction. Looking back, here are some books I really enjoyed (that word also means “challenged by” for me), and not in any particular order:
Dead Man’s Walk and Comanche Moon by Larry McMurtry. I got into the Lonesome Dove saga and loved it. These were on audio. I look forward to Lonesome Dove in 2020. McMurtry is a great writer.
The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge. Somehow I was introduced to her writing in the past year and I am so glad. She is a solid theologian/pastor who goes right at the basic issues of faith. More and more I am learning about the breadth of power in the crucifixion and she has aided greatly in my learning.
Furious Hours by Casey Cep. My wife and I were fortunate to meet the author at a book signing. What a talent! Cep was fascinated with the life of Harper Lee and found a gem of a story to tell about Lee’s life and the book she never wrote. The book tells the story of a gruesome killer near Lee’s hometown and how Lee followed the murder trial. It’s a shining tribute to Harper Lee PLUS a true crime story.
The Second Mountain by David Brooks. This one was probably the most personal to me. Along with Arthur Brooks and a speech I heard him give online, I was challenged about where I am in life. This is about evaluating where I am in my age and what I desire to leave behind in life. Brooks’s journey has been something to chronicle as I’ve read his columns over the years. This book is his most personal and most impactful.
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III. Again, the influence of Fleming Rutledge is found here. She had a list of fiction books every guy should read. I listened to this one on audible. It’s a fascinating, heart-breaking, tale of human thought and action.
The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. I have become a fan of Haidt’s work. I heard him on a long interview about the contents of this book, so I had to get into it as well. This is all about our echo chambers and how desperately we need to break out. Conservative or liberal, we’re in trouble in this country because we’ve refused to acknowledge people with different views. We have dehumanized opposing thoughts. We’re in a dangerous place and we need to get off the merry-go-round. This book helps chart a path.
The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper. A marvelous challenge to understand the justice of God. The Kingdom of God is powerful and needs to be lived out in a more tangible way that will impact our culture and world. This is a book to be absorbed.
I will say this: I set a goal of 30 books this year and exceeded it. I am not a fan of exceeding that goal. The whole “leaders are readers” thing is a true mantra… but we’ve warped that mantra. For some reason we’ve fallen into the race of reading and not absorbing what we’ve read.
This is a tough habit to break, but I need to bring a challenge here: read with more purpose. Read fewer books. Absorb more books.
I have no idea if I can break this habit or not, but in the next year I will work on habits that will slow me down. I am hoping to join a group that will help me walk through Crime and Punishment so I can finally understand what in the world Dostoevsky in saying!
I am working on a thick biography now on a person I never knew about, so I’m taking notes in a small notebook to try and absorb as much of his life and thinking as I can.
It’s not a race, friends. You don’t get extra credit for reading a book a week, especially if you look back at a book and can’t remember a thing about it.