Wednesday, February 1, 2012

what I'd like to read in 2012

One of the best things about a new year is that you can read books during it. Just think! Books to read! And all that unused time to do it in!

It's a sad fact, but I didn't post a reading list at the end of 2010, thus breaking a proud two-year tradition. I was feeling more than a little burnt out, and a grand plan for reading lots of challenging books was low on my priority list. Rightly so, as it turns out: I did very little Christian reading last year. Instead, I took the year off to rest with my family.

But I am now re-energised! Re-enthused! Re-invigorated! Ready to do some serious reading! And what better year to do it in? For the first time, all my kids will be at school, and I'm not taking on any major new challenges. So I should have plenty of discretionary time to delve into some good books.

As usual, as I dream happily about what to read, I think in terms of topics. What would I like to learn more about? Where is God stretching and challenging me? What responsibilities do I have? Here are eleven topics that occur to me, with the books I'd like to read on those topics - as well as a few I've read already.

Every year I try to read at least one book about Jesus, because he matters more than anything, and because my eyes are all too easily drawn away from him. In 2010 it was CJ Mahaney's Living the Cross-Centred Life. This year, Tim Chester's The Ordinary Hero is looking eagerly at me from my shelf. My friend also recommended Tim Keller's King's Cross, because it's a great book to give to friends. And to read too, I hope!

The Bible
You might remember that I'm attempting to read the Bible through in a year or two. I'm about to get to the prophets, and they don't make much sense if you don't know when and why they spoke! So I've just ordered Mark Dever's The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made and The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept. I'm planning to read one of his whole-book sermons before I read each book of the Bible.

I've been ve-e-e-ry slowly working my way through Paul Tripp's Lost in the Middle: Midlife and the Grace of God for two years, and I'm one chapter from the end. This book has helped me in all kinds of profound ways. It's been my own personal guide to the confusion of mid-life, but it's so much more than that. I'd give it to a 20 year old to read! It's a book about the dreams we build for our life, and what happens when these dreams fail. It looks at big issues like idolatry, identity, values, control, regret, decay and suffering from the perspective of God's story.

I deal with technology just about every day of my life (don't we all?). I blog, email, Facebook, and even, these days, Tweet. I've always had mixed feelings about the impact of this on my godliness and relationships. I don't usually read Christian books during our vacation, but I gobbled up Tim Challies' The Next Story, which tells you how much fun it was to read! It's an invaluable guide to using technology in a God-honouring way. The questions at the end of the chapters are fantastic.

Sharing my faith
If you don't want your life to change, here's a hint: don't pray. At the start of last year, I made a mistake an excellent decision: to pray with some friends about sharing our faith. By the end of the year I had a bunch of new opportunities and relationships. I'd like to learn how to make the most of them! I've just finished John Dickson's The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, which gave me heaps of ideas. I'd also like to read Mark Dever's The Gospel and Personal Evangelism and Christine Mallouhi's Miniskirts, Motherhood and Muslims.

This is one area I'd really like to grow in this year. And what does a book-worm do when they want to grow? They read, of course! I've just finished the latest prayer-book doing the rounds - Paul Miller's A Praying Life - and while I don't agree with everything he says, especially about listening to God, I was greatly encouraged by this book. I'm currently reading the heavier Praying by JI Packer's and Carolyn Nostrum: I'll tell you how it goes. Do you know of any other good books about prayer?

Biblical womanhood
Sometimes I dream of writing my own book about biblical womanhood, perhaps focusing on equipping women for ministry to other women. So it's about time I did some more reading on the topic! Top of the list are some excellent books I've dipped into but never read cover-to-cover: Kisten Birkett's The Essence of Feminism, Sharon James' God's Design for Women, Carolyn McCulley's Radical Womanhood, and Mary Kassian's The Feminist Mistake. We'll see how many I get through!

When I made my 2009 reading list, I decided to read about some of my primary areas of responsibility: marriage, motherhood and homemaking. I hate reading this kind of book, so I wasn't looking forward to it! I've been pleasantly surprised - mainly because I pick books that don't do the "perfect housewife" thing, but encourage and challenge me from the Bible. Last year my husband and I read John Piper's excellent This Momentary Marriage. This year, we're thinking of reading Christopher Ash's Married for God (which I've dipped into and love), Tim Keller's The Meaning of Marriage, and/or Tim Chester's Gospel Centred Marriage.

For my daughter (and my sons)
My thirteen-year-old daughter and I are slowly reading Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre's Girl Talk, and we're enjoying it. It's helped us talk about all kinds of issues we wouldn't otherwise discuss. My husband and I are also enjoying Paul Tripp's Age of Opportunity, about parenting teens: if you read one book on raising teenagers, try this one! I'd also like to trial Alex and Brett Harris' Do Hard Things so I can give it to our kids to read.

What's on your reading list this year?


Unknown said...

Love your opening line Jean! Books to read - how wonderful! I totally agree =)

Great selection of books. We should book-club of sorts with one of them =P

Maddi x

Jean said...

Hi Maddison!

Informal book club sounds great. Which would you like to read?

Love Jean.

Sarah said...

When People are Big and God is Small - Edward T Welch
Prayer - Philip Yancey
Why Trust the Bible? - Amy Orr-Ewing
The Heavenly Man - Brother Yun
The Essence of the Reformation - Kirsten Birkett

On the fiction side I'd like to try Gone with the Wind and a heap of Bryce Courtenay books.

Jean said...

Hi Sarah,

I've read and loved the first. Read and - from memory - enjoyed the fourth. Haven't read the others! Kirsten Birkett is always good.

Love Jean.

Fiona said...

Thanks for this list Jean. I find it all too easy to read secular books but seem to always avoid Christian books. I have no doubt that it's probably because Christian books challenge me and make me uncomfortable!! Going to try to alternate this year and you've given me a good place to start.


Anna Thomas said...

Wow! That's quite a list! I like the idea of thinking strategically about what to read year by year... I tend to read books that fall in my lap. I'm soon to read "Our Father, Enjoying God in Prayer" by Richard Coekin, which takes a good look at the Lord's Prayer - will let you know what I think once I'm done. I am gradually working my way through all the Gospel Centred series - Marriage (with Matt, of course!), Life (with Kate Harrower) and Parenting (on my own)... I now just need to convince my church to do Gospel Centred Church! I think it's a fantastic series that really takes you to what's really important, whilst so many other books hover round the periphery.

Jean said...

Hi Anna,

Yeah, it is quite a list, but I won't read everything on it! (I probably forgot to make that clear in my post.) It's just a guide.

I, too, love that gospel-centred series. As you say, it's so wonderful how it talks about the centre not the periphery! None of those niggly little legalistic rules: just the gospel and some good general advice.

Love Jean.