Here’s a rundown of the nine books that I read in October. It was a big month because I was in the middle of a few books when the month began. November will be another big month because I’m once again already in the middle of a number of books. Happy reading!
Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This is a classic and has to rank in the top five of the most influential books in my thinking and theology. I reread this work for a 8 week sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount. Bonhoeffer’s work on the Sermon on the Mount comprises the bulk of this read.
This is not light and easy reading but I would recommend this book to all those who claim to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Going a bit further I would recommend the edition from Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 4. It is a great translation and provides helpful annotated footnotes that give important contextual information. Many people are familiar with the Simon and Schuster edition under the title “The Cost of Discipleship.” It is just fine if you already have a copy or can find one cheap in a used bookstore.
Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary) by Scot McKnight
You’ve seen this commentary mentioned on this blog before. It is a fantastic work on the Sermon on the Mount. For those of you who have read Biblical commentaries you might be thinking, “Really, you read the whole thing? Come on, that can’t be true.” Well, I’m not stretching the truth. Promise.
This is a highly exegetical yet readable work filled with references to other academic works and trains of thought but also filled with information that is flat out helpful in teaching and preaching. If your doing work on the Sermon on the Mount I’d recommend this as the go-to source.
A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel by Bradley Jersak
This book was recommended to me during a casual conversation during my Doctorate of Ministry seminar in September. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It is now filled with underlines, asterisks, and margin comments. Yet, that’s not to say that I agreed with every point and paragraph.
The underlining thesis that the gospel we preach and the atonement theories we cling to must be shaped by Jesus gets a hearty “Amen!” from me. I wont bore you with details but there are some other arguments that I thought were a bit off center and/or could be refined. It’s an interesting book for those who have read Scot McKnight’s “The King Jesus Gospel” or other contemporary works on the gospel and atonement theories.
Baylor at the Crossroads: Memoirs of a Provost by Donald Schmeltekopf
This is a book solely for those interested in Christian identity in higher education or those in love with Baylor University. I happen to check both boxes – thus I devoured this thin memoir.
Schmeltekopf served as Baylor’s provost from 1991 to 2003 during a time of whirlwind change at the world’s largest Baptist university. He chronicles his service under two presidents and his effort to move Baylor to a top-tier research institution while maintaining its Christian (and Baptist) identity. The memoir speaks of Schmeltekopf’s achievements while maintaining an attitude of humility and a critical eye.
Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, And Why people Follow by Tom Rath and Barry Conch
This was a required read for a self-assessment paper for my Doctorate of Ministry program. Its a reworking of Strengthfinder 2.0 built around leading teams. It has some helpful info but I take it all with a grain of salt. I believe that a person with an ounce of discernment, a critical eye, and a desire to improve can better assess strengths and weakness than any online assessment could ever dream. Yet, I’m sure its helpful to many and helpful in many ways.
In case you interested, my top five strengths according to the assessment are learner, belief, relator, achiever, and focus. I think those are accurate but I would also add communication as a strength but failed to show up through the assessment.
The Martian by Andy Weir
If you love science – you’ll love this book. If you love foul language – you’ll love this book as well. I found the science fascinating. I found the humor delightful. I put up with foul language.
The Martian is a classic man VS nature story. A man is accidental left behind on Mars and must fight for his survival. His greatest strength? Botany.
Don’t judge the book by the movie. The plot of the book is pulled along by science. The movie removes much of the science and leaves behind a simple and slow plot. The movie is entertaining. The book is recommended.
Realign: Finding God’s Purpose For Your Money
I read this book in advance of a church member using this material as the basis of a Sunday School class option starting in the new year. I read the book prior to giving the class a thumbs up.
I don’t read in the area of finance but I enjoyed this book and found it refreshing. As the title suggests, the core of this book is about aligning your finances with the purposes of God rather than simply talking about budgeting and getting out of debt. I think this concept is crucial and critical to those looking to get help with finances.
State of Fear by Michael Crichton
Here is the latest Michael Crichton book that I’ve read. Faithful readers of my reading logs know that I’m working my way through the works of Crichton – a huge step outside of my normal reading genre. I’ve found it fun thus far – but this one was tough.
The core topic of this book is climate change. Yes, a fiction work about climate change. That’s bound to get a million different reactions. The topic did not interest me and the writing style and story line made this a difficult read. In fact, after reading 250 pages I decided to give up on it. It is beyond rare for me to give up on a book but I was at that point with this one. I mentioned giving up on the book to a friend who has read Crichton works. He stated that reading the book is worth it simply for one chapter I had yet to reach. He grabbed my copy and point it out. I decided to keep reading.
The chapter he enjoyed so much detailed a character in the book who studies “the ecology of thought.” It is indeed a fun chapter. I’m glad I finished but I did so with weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Harry Potter And the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
Yes. You read that title correctly. This is another book well outside my normal reading pattern but I decided it was time to jump into the world of Harry Potter. I’m tired of not picking up on the references.
I finished the book in two days. I admit it was a fun read. Yet, I usually judge books by the sentences it provides me. I love reading a sentence and sitting back and whispering, “Wow.” The first volume in the Potter series gave me such a moment. In the middle of the book Dumbledore tells Harry, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” I’ve allowed that sentence to roll around in my head for the last week. Some days I agree. Some days I disagree. But I always love the sentence. That line alone is worth the price of the book and the time spent reading it. On to the second book in the series.