favorite books of 2009

December 18, 2009 | 2 Comments

The time has come for my annual ‘favorite books of the year’ post. (Previous years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004)

This year, I again reached my goal of averaging a book a week over the course of the year. Only a few of these books were published in 2009, but that is when I read them. As usual, my main criteria for this list is to ask 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? Which ones stuck with me after I was done? Which ones am I still thinking about? 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 Christ of the Indian Road by E Stanley Jones
Blog entries: intimately theirs, the real thing seems strange and impossible, some advice from Gandhi, contribution through difference
This book is 80 years old. It was, from what I understand, controversial then, and still might be for some today. It is fantastic insight as Jones tries to navigate how Christianity should look in 1920s India, without all of it’s Western influence. The questions he deals with are important as today in North American culture as they were then.

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Blog entries: blog series on Creativityist
I’ve had a passion for making/creating things for quite some time, but it was a central theme this year — represented by this book and a few others on this list. This book has become a standard for those who do creative work, and I’d recommend it no matter what medium you are creating in.

The War of Art by Steve Pressfield
Blog entries: blog series on Creativityist (in progress)
I’ve had a passion for making/creating things for quite some time, but it was a central theme this year — represented by this book and a few others on this list. This book has become a standard for those who do creative work, and I’d recommend it no matter what medium you are creating in. (Sound familiar?)

How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins
I’m surprised I never blogged about this one. Rollins talks about the limits of language, and it’s inadequacy for use in describing and understanding God. It’s deep philosophical stuff, but written in a way the’s pretty accessible. The second half of the book focuses on how they’ve tried to explore understanding God through creative gatherings he is a part of in Ireland.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Blog entries: recent reading, to rest is to trust
An insightful, involved, and sometimes stunning, look at the food industry and consumption habits of the US. This is a hugely important conversation that deserves the broadening exposure it is getting. Pollan published a kids’ version this year. It’s half the length and includes more illustrations, but looks like a worthwhile way for an adult to read his work as well.

Culture Making by Andy Crouch
Blog entries: recent reading
This book continues the theme this year of making and creating things. In short, Crouch argues that Christians’ primary mandate is not to oppose or copy culture, but to make culture — culture that is shaped by their Christian worldview. Sounds like a ‘no, duh’ topic, but it’s not. He’s right on.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Blog entries: 18 months of ebooks
This year, I continued my goal of always having one narrative book, usually fiction, in progress. There were a few that almost made this list, but this one was my favorite. Some seem to love this book. Others not so much. I’m the former.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
Blog entries: reading from my travels
I like all of Miller’s work, but I think this has emerged as my favorite. Miller points out that the tension that makes for a great story is the same tension that makes for a great life.

The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight
Blog entries: reading from my travels
I don’t know that there was anything paradigm changing for me in this book, but it was a well-balanced and thoughtful view on how to read and engage with the Christian Bible. It makes it on this list simply because I hope that this will be one more nudge for others to read it.

Manifold Witness by John Franke
Blog entries: manifold witness: the plurality of truth
I started this list with a book that was controversial in it’s day, so I’ll end with one too. This is a good complementary text to Rollins book above, further exploring some of the questions raised by Rollins. Again, it is written at the popular level, bringing deep philosophy to a level where most will be able to engage with it.

How about you? What books from your 2009 reading list have rattled your brain the most?

2 thoughts on “favorite books of 2009


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