Once again, it’s time to post my favorite books of the year. (Previous years: 2004, 2005, 2006) This isn’t necessarily a list of the books I enjoyed the most. As I looked over the list of books I’ve read, I asked myself which ones have stirred the most thought and helped shape my thinking. Which ones initiated thoughts that continue to swirl around in my mind? There were other books that did some of this, but these books, I think, did this to the greatest degree. I recommend any of them. Here they are, presented in the order in which I read them:
The Rise of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida
Blog entries: some recent reading
I was familiar with Florida’s work prior to reading this book as it has become well known since this book was published in 2002, but it was good to get a more holistic understanding by reading his work directly. I identify a lot with this book as the “creative class” which he describes are those I consider to be my peeps.
Slaves, Women & Homosexuals, by WIlliam Webb
Blog entries: some recent reading
You’ve got to be intrigued about this one just because of the title. Webb describes how all three of these categories of human have something in common in that how they are treated in the Bible is often considered archaic by today’s culture. Webb does an in-depth study of how they are treated and shows the the Bible is always trying to advance the cause of women and slaves, but does not treat homosexuality in the same way. I think the first section alone is a worthwhile read for any serious student of the Bible.
Exclusion & Embrace, by Miroslav Volf
This book is probably one of the most important theological reflections of the last few decades. I read through it in a few weeks for a class. I know there is far more to it than I was able to fully digest, but the parts that stuck with me were profound. Definitely worth another read…
Jesus Through the Centuries, by Jaroslav Pelikan
Pelikan traces the different ways Christ has been understood through different contexts of history. I got frustrated as I read it by how much Christ was twisted into what was most convenient for each era, but then I realized that is the point. We often think that ours is the best understanding of Christ, or any topic. It is in hearing the perspective of others that we can begin to honestly critique and evaluate our own.
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
Blog entries: the poisonwood bible
A great reminder of how moving fiction can be and why I need to read more. As I described in an earlier blog post, “she brought me to a new place of considering what it means to be involved in the mission of the church, not just abroad, but across the road.”
unChristian, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
Blog entries: unchristian
David is a friend, but that’s now how this book landed on this list. Continuing with the theme of listening to the voices and perspectives of others, this book has much to say about how those of us who might wear the label ‘Christian’ are perceived by those who don’t.
Organic Community, by Joseph Myers
Blog entries: organic community
This is one I will definitely want to read again with others in the process of shaping a faith community. Meyers offers a lot of good points to talk through and questions to ask.
The Starfish and the Spider, by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom
Blog entries: the starfish and the spider
This is a book I have definite plans to revisit in the coming year as there are a lot of ideas presented that I want to grapple with more fully in the context of starting a new faith community.
The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson
I didn’t anticipate this one would be on the list, but my mind keeps returning to many of the concepts that Anderson wrote about. In a lot of ways, I think some of the concepts present crossover with The Starfish and the Spider at both books talk about the how much more value is placed on hearing a multitude of voices in our evolving culture.
Transforming Mission, by David Bosch
Blog entries: bosch on contextual theology
I’m still reviewing my notes and underlines from this book, so there will probably be a more indepth blog post forthcoming. Simply put, this is arguably the most important book written on Christian mission.