Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Other 41 – Part II

To read the Top 11, click here. To read The Other 41 - Part I, click here.

21. Why Work [Stinks] and How to Fix it by Ressler and Thompson- Excellent book that offers a different way to think about work. Previously reviewed here. - A

22. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – I've always wondered why so many outcasts felt drawn to this book, but I've hesitated to read it until this year, when a friend of mine convinced me to read it with him. This friend was my roommate when joining Campus Crusade for Christ staff. We've maintained a friendship and have had discussed a variety of books over the years, including the un-abridged versions of War and Peace (probably my favorite novel) and Les Miserables. The attraction of Catcher remains a mystery to me. - C

23. Lincoln by David Herbert Donald – Excellent bio of one of America's greatest presidents. Gives insight into many of the forces at work in America politics shaping Lincoln's decisions. Shows how he was wise and witty with his down-home colloquialisms. Increased my respect for his bravery and endurance to stand for the right thing no matter how hard it was. - A

24. Manhunt by James Swanson – This is the story of the chase for Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. The most amazing part of this story was the reality that Booth most likely would have escaped if not for breaking his ankle when jumping from the presidential box at Ford's Theater. Since most news only traveled as fast as horseback at this time, he was able to stay ahead of the story for a while, until his broken body could last no longer.

I read this book as the result of a tradition my mother and I have enjoyed over the last two years. It happened that she was in town both years near Mothers Day, so we carved out some time to peruse the local bookstore together, discussing our favorite hobby, books. Last year we (or I should say she) purchased three books: Manhunt
(reviewed by another person here), Team of Rivals (which was also on President Bush's list), and A World Lit Only by Fire. Our plan was to read the three and share what we learned with one another. Mom made quickly plowed through all three. The last was an outstanding book by another one of my favorite authors, William Manchester.

This past year, after much deliberation, we settled on Brave Companions, which we have since completed (reviewed here).

Manhunt is a gripping book that is worth reading - A

25. The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter – Written in 1656 by the Puritan author, Richard Baxter, this book gives practical wisdom and insight into how one should approach ministry. Baxter understood the importance of personal piety and ministry in the home, and structured his ministry accordingly. For instance, he made it his personal goal to visit in the homes of every family in his town every year and personally help guide their spiritual development. This activity alone completely transformed this town. - A

26. Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni – A leadership fable on a more efficient way to run meetings. A fast read and valuable book. - A

27. Lost Mountain by Erik Reese – A must read for everyone with a social conscious – especially if you live in Kentucky. Reviewed here. Visit the author's site here. - A

28. Heloise and Abelard by Etienne Gilson – Story of one of the greatest theologians of the Middle Ages who falls in love with the young girl he is tutoring. She gives birth and they marry secretly. Unfortunately, her father is the most powerful man in the region, and he sends a group of bandits to Abelard's home to make sure he's no longer equipped to impregnate. If you're not already familiar with some of this story, then I would not recommend this book on the topic. So much of the details are assumed by the author who spends the bulk of the book dealing with the results and the motives that drove Heloise and Abelard for the remainder of their lives. However, these details are also inspiring, as you see two people living separate lives of piety, seeking to redeem their past mistakes. A good reminder that brilliance is ignoble without self-control and wisdom. - B

29. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell – Unpacks the way the mind works when required to make snap decisions, with limited information. Gladwell utilizes many seemingly unrelated studies and examples to illustrate how accurately the mind can make decisions in the blink of an eye. - A

30. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath – Why do some ideas 'stick' in people's minds and others do not? Gives examples of urban legends that everyone can cite (drugged people waking up in tubs of ice with missing kidneys; or kids being poisoned with Halloween candy) which have never been verified. Helpful for preachers and teachers to think about the way scripture is presented to people. The book reinforces Jesus' approach to teaching, using stories and parables to convey the bulk of the truths he taught. - A

31. Stop Dating the Church by Josh Harris – after reading this book, I started writing a 'brief' response which has since turned into the beginning of a book length response. I appreciate Josh Harris on so many levels, but I think his fundamental assumptions about Church and its role in spiritual development are wrong. - C

32. Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard – Another leadership fable on how to run a customer first company, one that builds true 'fans', instead of just 'customers.' Many principles would be helpful for ministry leaders as well. - A

33. Collected Works of Flannery O'ConnorA good friend of mine has raved about Flannery for a while now. Having never read her works, I picked up a copy at the library and read about 10 stories all of which I found fascinating. I don't think I've ever felt such a mixture of emotions as I did while reading her stories. I wept after The River, and chuckled to myself off and on for days after reading A Good Country People. Her literary skills are clearly excellent, though I found her stories come to such a quick climax that they must be read carefully at the end. Much of her works emphasize the hypocrisy of many parts of southern culture. Interesting note about her: When showed up to study under a professor in Iowa, her southern accent was so thick that he could not understand her. After repeating herself 5 times, she eventually had to write out her words for the professor. - A

34. Execution/The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Bossidy and Cham – Written by the former CEO of Allied Signal and a high level management consultant. Excellent book on how to make decisions and keep projects moving forward. The authors are constantly driving towards productivity – making sure that all systems help leaders make decisions. - A

35. Faith Begins at Home by Mark Holmen, and…

36. Building Faith at Home by Mark Holmen – Skimmed both books before approaching this publisher about my book (since the titles seemed of similar content). The first is worth skimming. – B, C

37. Everyday Talk by John A. Younts – Another good parenting book based on Deut 6.6-7. I especially appreciated his insight on the horrible habit of "Parentspeak" (i.e. talking without listening) that all parents practice unconsciously. - A

38. Quitting Church by Julia Duin (pronounced 'Deen') – Religion editor at the Washington Times, Duin wrote this book because of an interesting trend she noticed among faithful Christians that had stopped attending church regularly. She cites a wide array of statistics and examples building a case for why those who have left have had good reason to do so. - A

39. Executive Power by Vince Flynn
(see #13 of previous list). - B

40. The Master of Geneva by Gladys H. Barr – A novel based on the life of John Calvin that gave me a new appreciation for the work he did to advance the gospel in his age. The most amazing part for me was to consider that he wrote his massive work on the Institutes of Christian Religion, large commentaries on almost every major work of the Bible, wrote other books as well, all without the aid of computers or typewriters, while facing the constant pressure of persecution, and giving leadership to the city of Geneva. A must read if you can find a copy. – A

41. Life After Church by Brian Sanders – Finished #52 with two days to go! Good book for those who are frustrated with the ineffectiveness of their church. Sanders gives wise words to consider when making a decision about the next step one should take. - A

Two Other Books I Started in 2008 and Plan to Finish in 2009

1. The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville by Shelby Foote – if you enjoy military history, Foote is the master of the civil war narratives. His flowing prose invites the reader to stay for long portions. First in the trilogy. Highly recommended - A

2. Protestant Biblical Interpretation by Bernard Ramm – I picked up this book because of a church history professor, Ed Blumm, I had at Phoenix Seminary. He was one of the most amazing and well read people I have ever met. He led the translation team for the Holman Christian Standard Bible and is also lead editor for the Study Bible they are developing. I always like knowing what books have shaped people, and he listed off a number of works by Bernard Ramm as some of the most influential in his life. This is a great book for learning more about rules for interpreting the Bible. It is the kind I enjoy nibbling on, taking in a few pages a week. – A

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