Krista and I decided to come up with a reading challenge for ourselves this year and we ended up coming up with a list of ten challenges to help us develop our reading for the year. She has written her list and you can find it here, but here is my list:
(1) A fun book – All the books I read are for fun in one sense, because I love reading and love reading diversely. This category, however, focuses on simply enjoyment with no other particular practical benefit. I am not reading for any other reason than to enjoy the book. So, I chose to read a 1970’s science-fiction work by much acclaimed American author Walker Percy. I sense that it will be more relevant today than it was at the time of its release: Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy
(2) A book to deepen your faith – This is a book that specifically focuses on helping me grow my knowledge of and affection for God. In some ways I read lots of these types of books every year, and this year I am particularly focused on the doctrine of Christ’s humanity and therefore expect to read a lot of faith-strengthening monographs. But, for this particular category I chose a more devotional book. Since I loved Dane Ortlund’s Gentle & Lowly so much I decided to read its companion volume: Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners by Dane Ortlund.
(3) A book you’ve been putting off – There are countless volumes that I keep meaning to read but just never get around to it (such is the life of an avid reader). I have really wanted to read a particular systematic theology from female theologian Katherine Sonderegger. So, I will attempt to read volume one of her systematic: Systematic Theology, vol. 1: The Doctrine of God by Katherine Sonderegger
(4) A short read – Short is a somewhat relative word, but the intent with this category is to read a book that will not take a long time or a lot of investment to read. I chose another devotional, but this one was a counseling devotional on grief. I’ve wanted to read Bob Kellemen’s contribution to the 31 Day Devotional for Life series for a while, and since we have a workshop on grief coming up this year this seemed like a good time to dive into it: Grief: Walking with Jesus by Bob Kellemen
(5) A book recommended by a friend – Thanks to all the Facebook friends who shared their favorites and encouraged me to check out a number of different books from different genres. I ended up going with a recommendation from Jenny Solomon and diving into a fictional work: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
(6) A challenging read – There are lots of books that fit this category that I want to read. These tend to be bigger and more dense philosophical/theological books. The one that made my list for this year is the latest attempt at theodicy: What About Evil?: A Defense of God’s Sovereign Glory by Scott Christensen.
(7) A book from a different viewpoint – I actually love reading outside of my own tradition and background. I find it fascinating to look at things from diverse angles, even where I end up fundamentally disagreeing with the author. This year I chose to read this award winning volume from black theologian and New Testament professor Esau McCaulley. McCaulley writes as a black man about reading the Bible from a black perspective, that is something I obviously know nothing about. I am not sure where the book will go or what it’s point is but I am willing to read and listen to the author: Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope by Esau McCaulley
(8) A book for character development – Here again I think there are a number of books I regularly read which might fall into this category. I am always reading and researching for counseling situations and therefore a loft of material would qualify as character-development. Nonetheless, I wanted to pick a book that addressed particular weaknesses in me. I ended up with a two-way tie. I struggle with healthy self-care, and tend to be pretty imbalanced moving towards either self-indulgence or complete neglect. So, in order to help with a good balance I am reading these two volumes: The Whole Self: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care by Eliza Huie and Esther Smith; Comfort Detox: Finding Freedom from Habits that Bind You by Erin Straza
(9) A genre switch – This is a book outside of my normal reading routines. This one was difficult for me because, in truth, I feel like I read fairly widely. One area I don’t ever read in, however, is in the area of sports and I already had a book that I kind of wanted to read: The Complete Guide to Coaching Soccer Systems and Tactics by Jacob Daniel
(10) An old book – This is a category aimed at keeping my perspective grounded. Often contemporary books can give us the impression that we see more clearly now than in past generations, when in reality we often just see some things differently. Our contemporary blindspots, however, are often more visible from the vantage point of past generations and so it’s useful to read older works too. Here I have chosen to read a book that came up in my study of James last year. Much to my surprise Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard loved the book of James and deals with it at points in some of his work. So, I will be reading Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard.
For those interested, here is Krista’s list.
Image credit: Tim Challies