Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Favorite Books of 2012

My Books of the Year: These are some of the books that stood out to me in 2012 . . . which I'm posting mostly for my own amusement, I suppose.

The Fire of the Word by Chris Webb: Formerly of Renovare, this book is an excellent way to get an understanding of how to read Scripture with fresh, new eyes. If your Bible reading has grown stale this is a good book to inject new life into your reading.

Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron: This memoir is one of the best I have read. Cron is a fascinating storyteller. He has you laughing hard one minute and wondering how he ever survived the next.
[Sidenote: another great memoir that wasn’t a bestseller but should have been is Earthly Fathers by Scott Sawyer:]

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron—A novel that in some ways describes the journey I feel I’ve been on in recent years.

Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson, M.D.—This is a fascinating look at brain science and attachment theory from a psychiatrist who’s thought deeply about Scripture.

Do the Work by Stephen Pressfield-This book is primarily addressed to writers but really it’s great read for anyone taking on a project, starting a diet, or any kind of endeavor where you’re bound to meet inner Resistance.

The Summer of 43 by Joseph Bottum—This is a short book written this past summer during pitcher R.A. Dickey’s amazing season with the Mets. The author brought in a lot of baseball history, which I really enjoyed.

Wherever I Wind Up by R.A. Dickey—Oddly enough, Dickey’s autobiography was released during this past baseball season right in the midst of his greatest season as a major leaguer. It was a good season for any pitcher, not to mention a knuckleballer. I enjoyed it for several reasons, including the fact that I love hearing and reading other people’s stories. R.A. Dickey has a very interesting story. It was also fascinating to me because his book started out as an assignment from his counselor to write his life story. As a counselor, I also regularly ask clients to write their life story. I can’t help but wonder what effect it might have on my clients if they took the assignment as far as Dickey took his.

In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham—I don’t know why I didn’t read this one when it first came out several years ago. Susanne read it this summer and said it was great. I had some time to kill one day in early July and thought, “I’ll just read a few pages.” Let’s just say that for the next several days I didn’t get much work done. Such an amazing story of Martin and Gracia Burnham,their captivity in the Philipines, their struggle to trust God and persevere through many months of captivity and near starvation and separation from their families. It tells of Martin’s eventual death, which is so truly sad to read about.

Genesis for Normal People by Peter Enns and Jared Byas—It’s an interesting look at the Book of Genesis by Old Testament scholars who have a different view of Genesis than the one I’ve held all my life. It’s an easy read and has some great humor sprinkled throughout. They addressed some explanations I heard growing up and in Bible college that never made sense to me and offered some explanations that do make sense. While I cannot say I’ve changed my entire view of Genesis I can say I’ve enjoyed reconsidering some of my views.

Sanctuary of the Soul by Richard Foster—I’ve read, and love to read, books on lectio divina and contemplative prayer. I have several excellent ones. Reading Foster’s book, though, you understand why he’s the guru to many of the authors on spiritual formation. While reading Foster’s book I felt like I really wanted to be like Foster, not because he was tooting his own horn, but because he’s taken his relationship with God so seriously, tended it so well, and really has the life of Jesus formed in him. Of course, I really mean that I want to be like Jesus, but I say this of Foster meaning the same thing I think the Apostle Paul meant when he told some of his followers to be like him, to follow his example. Foster’s is an example I want to follow.

Surfing for God by Michael Cusick—There are better-known books on sexual addiction but there are none better than this one (see my earlier review here: Most of the Christian books on sexual addiction are frustrating because they take the try harder, do better, white-knuckling approach that has nothing at all to do with the Gospel of Jesus. Read Cusick’s book and you’ll come away with a comprehensive understanding of addiction, any kind of addiction, and the path to freedom. By the way, after Thanksgiving I was privileged to serve as a counselor at a retreat for men struggling with sexual addiction. More are planned, including one scheduled for early May. Find out more about it here:

Junia is Not Alone by Scot McKnight—I like anything Scot McKnight writes, and this one is no different. It takes a historical look at women in the Bible and church history and makes the case for women to play the role they were always intended for, preaching and teaching right alongside the men.

When a Daughter Dies by Ben Witherington III—His daughter suddenly died a year ago around Christmas. This short ebook talks about his and his wife’s process of grief. As a New Testament scholar, he has much to say about what the Bible does and does not say about dealing with grief.

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