Friday, January 30, 2009

my 2009 reading list

I've been thinking about which Christian books to read this year. I'm planning to set aside 15-30 minutes a day for serious reading. I don't need any extra encouragement to read novels!

I want to be more intentional about which books I read. So I've made this list, which you can see in the right hand column of this blog. I'm sure I won't read all these books, and I know others will make their way onto the list, but it's a starting point.

Here's how I picked the books on my 2009 reading list:

  • Books about grace. I'm a little tired of books on women's issues. How easy it is for me, and I suspect for many women, to think so hard about our emotional states and the tasks we have to do every day, that we forget to think about Jesus! And I need a refresher course on God's grace (don't we all?). So I'd like to read some books about grace and the cross.

  • Books about change. I'm still working through a pile of books on biblical counselling, people-pleasing, anxiety, depression and feelings. In term 2 I'll be writing and teaching on Tim Chester's You Can Change. As for personal change, I'm reading CJ Mahaney's Humility: True Greatness: expect to hear more about how God is dealing with my pride.

  • Books on the Bible. I'm leading a Bible study and teaching Sunday School this year. You can probably tell what I'm covering from my book list: Proverbs, Hebrews, and the tabernacle.
  • Christian biography. There are few things more inspiring than reading about the lives of God's faithful people. Don Carson's story of his dad, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, sounds inspiring. Any other ideas?

  • Christian classics. I want to keep reading books by the Reformers and Puritans, both for my own sake and so I can share them with you. So there are books by Martin Luther, John Owen and Richard Baxter on my shelf: I haven't decided which to read yet!

  • Books about ministry to women. I've dipped into Sharon James' God's Design for Women and would love to finish it, and Wendy Alsup's Practical Theology for Women looks interesting. There are also a couple of books on women mentoring women, which I might write about in term 3.

  • Books about marriage, parenting and homemaking. I'll be honest, I don't enjoy reading books on these topics, as they often leave me drowned in rules and guilt. But since these are the main spheres of obedience for me and many women, I thought I'd aim to read a book on each of these topics every year.

  • Books about other stuff. If you look closely, you'll notice books on mid-life, writing, prayer, exercising, and spiritual warfare: an interesting hodge-podge!

Any other books I should read? What are you reading?


Lara said...

Looks like an awesome list, and an encouragement to me to seriously think about what I can read once the evil, evil thesis of doom is done. I'm addicted to craft blogs at the moment, and I've been bookmarking a whole host of projects to have fun with once I'm free, but how much more important to think about enriching my spiritual life and my relationship with God!

Spiritual Depression is on my bedside table at the moment, and I want to get my hands on John Piper's This Momentary Marriage. I'd also like to read some more systematic theology, as well as Calvin's Institutes, which I really should have read in full by now (I've dipped into them for my thesis).

I'm also looking forward to getting back into the Moore College evening lectures in the second half of the year. I always need motivation to study, but I'm a chronic high-achiever, so aiming for high-distinctions means I'm generally keep to work hard, once I've got a clear goal.

Jean said...

Hi Lara! Yes, I'd love to read Piper's "This Momentary Marriage" too. I did get through Calvin's "Institutes" at some stage during my uni years, I think(!). I especially enjoyed his chapter on God's providence, and think of it often when I'm locking doors at our house (see if you can work out why). And as you probably know, MLJ's "Spiritual depression" is one of my all time favourites - so happy reading!

Meredith said...

This is an amazing list. I am especially in awe of your plan to carve out 30 minutes a day for serious reading. May I ask when you fit this into your day? I remember reading how you were going to organise your time/days/week late last year and you already looked pretty busy then!

I am starting smaller, inspired by your example, aiming for 15 minutes a day. And mostly re-reading books from the year I did at theological college - Gonzales' church history books, Bruce Milne's doctrine book and so remember all that good stuff I learned eight years ago and have seem to have misplaced in my mind in recent years. Some John Piper has crept into my list as well and also, dare I confess (confessing because I have never read it), J.I. Packer's Knowing God. Can one have been a Christian over 20 years without having read that??? :-)

Jean said...

Hi Meredith! I'm sure it won't be 30 minutes every day - many days I'll be busy and won't have time to read. I was planning to either do it just after my quiet time and squeeze them both into an hour (I'd love to have longer, and I might not manage this!), or just after I drop the kids off at school, or maybe in the early evening. Haven't quite decided yet. And if it ends up being 15 minutes, so be it - I think 15 minutes is a great amount to aim for, and would be happy if I managed this! Maybe I should change it to 15 minutes in my post, since this is more realistic, and won't give other mums the guilts!! I'll do that now.

And yes, you can be a Christian and not read "Knowing God" - the Bible would be more of a worry. But JI Packer's not God, wonderful as he is, so I think you're ok! ;)But I bet you love it!!

Sharon said...

I read Mark Driscoll's Confessions of a Reformation Rev. in January and I've made a deal with a blogging friend in the US that we will read GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy together in March. I think I'd like to read Augustine's Confessions this year as well. It made enough of an impression on my husband that he brings it up in conversation occasionally even though he read it four years or so ago.

I am glad to be reminded of Carson's book about his father. I heard it recommended a while back, but forgot about it. Perhaps I'll add that to my list. At the moment, I am about half way through Carson's A Call to Spiritual Reformation (which examines Paul's prayers as models for our own) and God has used it to make a dramatic change in my own prayer life, even though I have taken months to get this far.

In a few years time I'd like to read Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion as well, but I don't think I have the time for it yet. Perhaps one of his earlier versions, which weren't nearly so long as his final product?

Thanks for the inspiration, once again. And thanks also for the children's book list. I didn't comment before, although I meant to, but I really appreciate the way you have sorted them out into separate age ranges.

~ Sharon

Jean said...

Hi Sharon! They sound like great choices.

I have read, and enjoyed, the Carson book you mention.

I should read Driscoll - I'm embarrassed to admit I've never read a word he wrote, or listened to one either! How about that?! Did you find it helpful?

I would love to read Chersterton, but don't know where to start. How did you choose "Orthodoxy"?

Sharon said...

Umm, I chose Orthodoxy because it was on Amy's to read list and we had it on our bookshelf already. One of those second hand books that are easy to pick up but languish unread on the bookshelf if you don't actually have a reason to open them. And also because CS Lewis, in his book Surprised by Joy, mentions it as formative to his Christian faith. Also, we don't have The Everlasting Man on our bookshelves, and that's is the only other book of his I know of.

I did enjoy Confessions of a Reformission Rev. It was very easy reading, in a fairly laid back narrative style, and quite short. Driscoll is brutally honest about some of the challenges and temptations he has faced in his time in ministry. I couldn't relate to the situation he was in at the beginning of the book, but it was helpful to me, given that my husband has just begun his first job as a pastor of a smallish church which he hopes to help grow through evangelism leading to conversion rather than just being the next big fad and attracting Christians from other less popular churches. I actually bought it for him for Christmas and he has appreciated it a lot as well. From that perspective, it helped spark some ideas for my husband and, compared to theological college, it did provide lots of practical ideas, even if they don't come with a detailed explanation. Of course, Seattle is very different to Perth. One of the major impressions I was left with was Driscoll's determination, at every cross-roads or new opportunity, to spend time in prayer and reading the Bible, trying to work out what was the biblical thing to do, rather than the easiest or most fun or popular.

~ Sharon