Here’s a rundown of the 6 books I read in September. I had a two week Doctorate of Ministry seminar at the end of September that greatly reduced my ability to complete a number of books. October’s list will be lengthy because I’m currently nearing completion of a handful of books.
Telling God’s Story: The Biblical Narrative From Beginning to End by Preben Vang and Terry Carter
I used this book to help prepare for a Bible overview sermon series. I can’t recommend it enough. It is written and formatted like a undergraduate textbook but it is incredibly readable and helpful. If you look it up on Amazon do not be frightened by the price (currently $32.69). It is tremendous at reducing large themes into concise chapters and paragraphs without oversimplifying. Its treatment of the Old Testament narratives and history is fantastic. It is filled with helpful charts (many of which I’ve adapted into slides for sermons) and full-color pictures.
Dr. Vang happens to be director of my Doctorate of Ministry program but that fact in no way influenced my endorsement of the book. I type that with a smile – but its true.
When To Use What Research Design by W. Paul Vogt, Dianne Gardner, Lynne Haeffele
I spent two nights locked in my office with this book. Don’t make me relive too much it. Please. This book was a required read for my D Min seminar. This is a research textbook – and it reads like a research textbook. It provides information on various ways to conduct academic research projects. Honest confession? While I flipped through every page of this book, I can’t claim that I read every page. This is a reference resource. It is helpful to have at arms length for the moments when you need it but you will not find yourself fondly flipping through the pages for pleasure.
The great news hidden in the fact that I was forced to read this? My D Min project is one step close to completion. Around one million steps more to go.
The Singer by Calvin Miller
This book is a masterpiece … for those that like poetry and/or allegory. Calvin Miller, perhaps in the tradition of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, presents the story of Jesus through a poetic and allegorical narrative of a Singer who voiced a song that could not be silenced. The book provides vivid names and images. I love that God is referred to as “Earthmaker.” The Devil is referred to as “World Hater” as he leads people astray. The Singer is part of a trilogy that includes The Song and The Finale.
I have a old edition that I picked up at a used bookstore years ago. It’s a bit worn and contains simple illustrations throughout the pages that give it a special charm. I love used copies that contain personalized notes. My edition includes: “To Reilly, Christmas 1988. Enjoy! Love, Sue.” I don’t know about Reilly but I greatly enjoyed the book. You’ll see the rest of the trilogy appear on my reading log soon.
Coaching 101: Discover the Power of Coaching by Robert Logan and Sherilyn Carlton
No, this book does not contain diagrams about football plays or practice schedules. It’s not about that kind of coaching. You can mark this book down as one in need of a new title and cover artwork.
It actually discusses coaching as the agreed upon relationship in which one person encourages, prepares, equips, and helps someone succeed. It is a popular movement that is a bit different than the mentor/mentee relationship. Rather, than providing advice, recommendations, or perspective from past experience, the coach helps the coachee achieve goals through asking clarifying questions that allow the coachee to come to conclusions on their own.
This book is thin – 117 pages. I almost feel bad counting it as book on my reading log. Yet, this book provides great information. Some publishers would take this book and ruin it by adding another 200 pages of fluff, stories, and illustrations. This book provides the basics in a concise format. You can’t get upset with that!
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph Ellis
My fascination with presidential history has reached new heights. My fascination with Alexander Hamilton (obviously not a president but a influential force in early America) is off the charts. I’m still listening to Hamilton (the musical) everyday on as I run and I’m in the middle of a number of books that have Hamilton at the center. This book has a heavy dose of Hamilton. The impact of this one man is beyond comprehension.
Joseph Ellis won a Pulitzer Prize for History for this effort. The book devotes six chapters to six different pivotal events in the early history of America. He looks at the duel between Hamilton and Aaron Burr, the dinner between Hamilton, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson that led to Washington DC becoming home to the capitol, Ben Franklin’s move to end slavery and the congressional refusal, George Washington’s farewell address, the relationship between John and Abigail Adams and Jefferson and Madison, and the later years of the relationship between Adams and Jefferson.
It’s great read for two groups: 1) Those well-versed with the individuals looking for more info on key events or 2) Those unfamiliar with the individuals looking merely for highlights.
One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon by Tim Weiner
After completing two books on the Watergate scandal, I decided to pick up a book devoted to Richard Nixon. My one question throughout the book: How in the world was this man elected president! This reappearing question revealed to me the bias of the three books I’ve read on Nixon. All three paint Nixon in dark and sinister tones. He seems ruthless. He seems untrustworthy. He seems flat out peculiar. Surely there is more to the story. This book simply doesn’t include the fuller picture.
With that said, this book is masterfully written. Weiner’s sentence structure is gripping and fast paced. Here’s the third paragraph in the book:
“But Richard Nixon was never at peace. A darker spirit animated him – malevolent and violent, driven by anger and an insatiable appetite for revenge. At his worst he stood on the brink of madness. He thought the world was against him. He saw enemies everywhere. His greatness because an arrogant grandeur.”