3 reasons why you should read (and my favorite books of 2013)
One of the great pleasures in life is reading a good book. I love to read. I always have a book in my hand (or nearby). I’d hate to find myself with some extra time and nothing to read—I’d probably end up (horror) wasting that time flipping through Facebook on my phone—and miss out on the chance to enter the world of story or learn a thing or two about philosophy or science or theology.
I love to read. I think we all should be readers. Here are three reasons why:
1. Good stories awaken us to truly live. When a story is done well, it helps us to enter into that world and it awakens within us a desire to live (in the real world) a great life. It stirs us, it awakens us, and it calls us to be better. I think that any good story is good because it points us to the gospel story.
2. Books help us to be well rounded. Reading a good book in any area opens us up to different perspectives, new information, and the thoughts and experiences of the author. We can’t help but be a better person as we follow an author’s train of thought or well-reasoned argument. In an increasingly specialized culture, it is important to strive to read broadly in order to avoid group-think, tunnel vision, and narrow-mindedness.
3. Books help us to be interesting. As we read good literature, or good non-fiction, or good philosophy, theology, science (or whatever) we become knowledgeable about the world around us. We can speak into things from a broad base of knowledge and assess things from more than one angle. And we can develop a depth of insight into human nature and the world around us that is often lacking in our shallow/feel-good/sound-bite/ culture.
Undoubtedly, there are many more good reasons why we should read books. Feel free to add your reasons to the comment section of this post.
Three years ago, I began the discipline of keeping a book log, recording every book that I read in a year. For each completed book I list the date finished, the title and author, and a one-sentence description of the book. In this post I want to share with you my favorite reads, out of the 39 books read, of the year:
Best in Philosophy:
1. Beyond the control of God? Six Views on the problem of God and Abstract Objects, ed. by Paul Gould. Various accounts of God’s relationship to abstract objects are set out and debated by philosophers. (Full Disclosure; yes, I contributed and edited this book, so I read it a ton this past year—and it is really good and challenging—so stay tuned, the book will be released to the world in the spring 2014).
2. The Republic, by Plato. Why be moral? Because it is intrinsically good in itself and for what it brings.
3. Where the Conflict Really Lies, by Alvin Plantinga. The conflict is not between Christianity and science, but naturalism and science.
Honorable Mention: Utilitarianism, by John Stuart Mill, Timaeus, by Plato.
Best in Apologetics/Theology:
1. Loving God with your Mind: Essays in Honor of J.P. Moreland, ed. by Paul Gould and Richard Brian Davis. A ground breaking book setting out J.P. Moreland’s key insights and extending them to contemporary issues in philosophy, apologetics, and spiritual formation. (Full Disclosure, I contributed and edited this book too!)
2. Mapping the Origins Debate, by Gerald Rau. An excellent survey of six models of the origin of the universe, life, species, and humans.
3. Reordered Loves, Reordered Lives, by David Naugle. The happiness God gives is found in loving the creator and the creatures in proper proportion.
Honorable Mention: The Lost World of Genesis One, by John Walton; The Lost Virtue of Happiness, by J.P. Moreland and Klaus Issler; Is God anti-gay? by Sam Allberry; Belief in God in an Age of Science, by John Polkinghorne; The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, by C.S. Lewis.
Best in Fiction:
1. Till we have Faces, by C.S. Lewis. An allegory about love and how we develop morally through suffering.
2. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. A story of two nations, the French Revolution, and dying for the love of another.
3. The Bridge to Teribithia, by Katherine Paterson. A story of wonder, friendship, tragedy and the power of love to transform another.
Honorable Mention: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald; Life of Pi, by Yann Martel; Andy Catlett: Early Travels, by Wendell Berry; Farmer Giles of Ham, by J. R. R. Tolkein; The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis.
Best in Non-Fiction:
1. Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxes. The story of a courageous German pastor and his obedience to Christ in the face of the evil that was Hitler’s Germany.
2. Wittgenstein’s Poker, by David Edmonds and John Eidinow. A fascinating journey of the circumstances leading up to a 10-minute confrontation between Wittgenstein and Popper.
3. Night, by Elie Wiesel. A story of human cruelty and the silence of God in the face of evil, told through the eyes of a 15-year old holocaust survivor.
Honorable Mention: Still Alice, by Lisa Genova.
Best in Devotionals:
1. Reflections on the Psalms, by C.S. Lewis. Lewis focuses his typical wit and insight on the Psalms—excellent work.
2. Forever, by Paul Tripp. A devotional encouraging me to live life in light of eternity.
3. Waiting on God, by Andrew Murray. Waiting on God is the call of the deep life with God.
For my favorite reads of 2012, see here.
My challenge: become a reader of books—children’s books, big people books, popular literature, biographies, books in philosophy, theology, science, leadership books, and so on. You’ll learn a thing or two, you’ll be awakened and stirred to live a dramatic life of your own, and you’ll just be more interesting. So, pull up a chair, fill your coffee mug, and join me this year as we read together. And of course, stay tuned as many of the books I’ll be reading make their way onto this blog.