The Ten for 2014

I am a voracious reader. I haven’t been as quick to read a LOT of things recently, but I do love reading.

What I am horrible at is getting back INTO books that are significant and worth studying. And I’m REALLY bad about reading fiction… even once.

I was meditating on this earlier in the month and thought of the depth of thinking demonstrated in men like Abraham Lincoln. He had few books growing up, but he learned to devour them and didn’t mind reading them over and over. It lead to an ability to think through serious situations with a field of vision very few had in his time.

I am not going to be Abraham Lincoln, but I want to challenge myself to read more deeply in 2014.

The goal is to have only ten books available. I may read a few more for review purposes on this blog, but I want to make my goal to re-read ten books that have influenced me greatly. It is quite possible I could then pick ten in 2015 that I haven’t read as yet but SHOULD read… I don’t know.

With that in mind, here is my list for 2014 (not in the order I will read them):

Discipleship, Bonhoeffer
The Divine Conspiracy, Willard (like THAT is a big shock)
Seven Storey Mountain, Merton
Byzantium, Lawhead (my only foray into fiction… sorry)
Patriots, Langguth
The Pastor, Peterson
Confessions, Augustine
Simply Jesus, Wright
In the Name of Jesus, Nouwen
Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy, Green (ed.)

The Ten Book Project

The time in which we live gives us far more accessibility to truly great writing. It also gives us access to truly bad writing as well.

Yesterday I was reflecting on life in the 1800s in the United States and thinking of how few books there were. Abraham Lincoln had limited access to books growing up, but he read deeply.

There are only a handful of books I’ve ever taken the time to read again.

So my thought for the next year is this: If I had my Bible and ten other books, what would those books be?

There are certainly others I want to read, and that might be another project for another year. (For instance, I have not read Mandela’s autobiography, but just purchased it. Not having read it, I wouldn’t put it on my top ten list yet.)

I have 6-7 books listed that I know off the top of my head I HAVE to have if I had to give up everything else. Now it’s fitting those last 3-4 in.

My new year resolution might be to ONLY read those 10 books again… and again… for the year and see if I can capture a little more depth.

If you had a “TOP TEN” book list, and you got the automatic for the Bible or your main religious text, what would be on that list?

The Funeral for Bookstores Has Long Passed

At my age, living in two worlds of digital and print, I lament one passing as I try and embrace another medium. There is an advantage to BOTH, but it’s a world that is not allowing “both” very well anymore.

My wife and I were traveling through Des Moines, Iowa yesterday so we stopped at a Christian bookstore that was a good one. We have a few here in the Cities, but I’m generally not a fan of them. This one was more independent and had a decent variety of books.

At least they DID have a wide variety. While they are still there, the shelves are incredibly sparse. It’s a struggle for them.

This morning, I see this post by Ben Witherington lamenting the passing of the bookstore as well.

I am using digital far more these days. I can carry so many more books around this way. But, I understand Witherington’s lament as well:

Disembodied books have the same problems as disembodied education in general. It doesn’t involve ethos, or real contact with actual other human beings in person. It doesn’t involve incarnational presence. It doesn’t involve a social dimension, say consulting your favorite owner of a book shop and building a friendship over the years. In short, it is a more gnostic approach to reading, learning, knowledge.

It’s the same with anything we’ve done online. Online shopping, banking, networking… we’ve really removed a social dimension and we truly are not better for it.

It doesn’t mean I’m going to go back to all print books. I have to shift and in the process try to add more meaning to what I am doing, and try to demand more of people in the process. It’s a tough road, but one we have to travel in this fast-changing world.