Books for the New Year: Non-Fiction

Finally made the time to sit down and finish the other half of my book list! Many of the non-fiction works I read over the past few months were biographies. Their stories of courage, leadership, strength, and humility in times of crisis challenged my complacency and stirred in me a desire to pursue growth in these areas of my own life. It is inspiring to read about the lives of those who have lived in times so different from today, and yet often facing many similar challenges. The last two on the list are books I used to accompany my Bible Study – reading a chapter or portion of a chapter (in the case of Scandalous) each day.

Churchill, by Paul Johnson

churchill

Johnson’s short but thorough biography focuses primarily on Churchill’s varied and dramatic political life from before WWI through the Korean War. I have long been fascinated by the life of Winston Churchill, and this book only deepened my respect and admiration for him. He was a man of discipline, resolve, and gumption, willing to stand and fight in the face of ridicule, abandonment and fierce opposition. Johnson also shares about Winston’s personal life – his faithful marriage to Clementine (they were married 57 years before his death at the age of 90), the 5 children they raised, his hobbies as an artist and writer. If you want to read about a life well lived, I encourage you to read this engaging work.

 

 

 

No Ordinary Men: Resisters against Hitler in Church and State, by Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern

No ordinary men

Much is known, written, and celebrated about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his work in the resistance against Hitler and the Third Reich, but very little seems to be known about the equally important life of his brother-in-law, Hans von Dohnanyi. In this book the authors reveal the essential collaboration between Hans, who worked in the Abwehr (government agency), and Dietrich, who served in the Church. The success that Dietrich had in his efforts would have been virtually impossible had Hans not had the inside knowledge of what was happening in the government. Well worth your time and attention.

 

 

 

 

Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

same kind

A true story of friendship, faith, and unconditional love, this book will move you from tears, to laughter, and back to tears again. Denver grew up without a name in rural Louisiana, caught in a cycle of modern-day slavery through sharecropping. He escapes and eventually lands in Fort Worth Texas, where he lives on the streets and struggles to survive. Ron is a wealthy international art dealer, separated from Denver by far more than a set of railroad tracks. Ron and his wife Deborah begin volunteering at a homeless shelter, and it is there that they first meet Denver. Written by both Ron and Denver, learn about the way the Lord brought these two unlikely people together, and turned them into brothers. An amazing story that will encourage your faith and challenge your complacency.

 

 

 

The 23rd Psalm for the 21st Century, by Lon Solomon

23rd-psalm-for-21st-century-paperback-cover-art

This is the first book I’ve read written by the Senior Pastor at my church here in northern Virginia, and it in Pastor Lon takes the well known Psalm 23 and exposits the text for our current generation. Pastor Lon has been leading trips to Israel each year for the past 20 years or so, where they still have Shepherds dotting the hillsides. He utilizes the knowledge he has gained over the years of watching the Israelites shepherding to bring this text to life and help us understand why this imagery is so important in the life of a believer.

 

 

 

 

 

Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, by D. A. Carson

scandalous-carson

Carson is one of the most engaging modern-day theologians I have had the pleasure of listening to or reading. I first heard Dr. Carson speak on this subject back in March 2012 when he came to the THINK conference hosted by my church in Indiana. This book is an in-depth look at five passages of scripture that illustrate the scandal of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he writes with clarity and conviction. This book will give you a deeper understanding of this Jesus we follow, and of the eternal ramifications of the most beautiful news in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Have you read any of these? What are the non-fiction books have you been reading and enjoying lately?

Books for Fall

Looking for something good to read? I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading as of late, and thought I would share a few good ones that would make for excellent fall reading. Everyone makes summer reading lists, but fall is a glorious time to read as well, sitting outside on a crisp day with a cup of hot tea and the sun shining….smelling the leaves changing and enjoying all the delights of the best season of the year!

So, without further ado, here are the books, separated by genre:

Biography: Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. Written by Taylor’s grandson and grand-daughter-in-law, it is a sweet look at the life of an amazing man of faith. Taylor was the founder of China Inland Mission during the 1800’s when China was still a much unexplored area, and he and his team laid the foundation for much of mission work that is still going on in Asia today. He lived in the same time as George Müller – another hero of the faith I mention often – and had a similar life of trust in our great God and sacrificial love and dedication to the mission God gave him. This book will challenge complacency in your life, and help you to see that we have the same Spirit and ability to trust God just like Hudson Taylor.

 

Lifestyle: The Colors of Hope, by Richard Dahlstrom. This book examines how we live out our relationship with Jesus. Dahlstrom argues that as believers we are created to be artists of hope, called to color our world and the people in it using the gifts and abilities the Lord has given us. He shares stories from his life, and gives a lot of practical application to help us learn ways in which we too can be artists of hope in bringing the gospel to a dark and troubled world. I highly recommend this to anyone who is living to make an impact for Christ in their life!

Classics: Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott AND Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. I read Little Women earlier this year, and am currently enjoying Treasure Island. Although very, very different genres, both are classic works of literature that explore the themes of family, friendship, and trust. Little Women is more of a drama, and Treasure Island more of an adventure tale, although they do have elements of both found within their pages. And if you’ve seen the movie Muppet Treasure Island, reading the book will help make sense of the movie. 🙂 At least it did for me.

 

 

Challenge: If you are up for a challenge and are looking for something a little more lengthy and in-depth, I recommend reading Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Miserables. I have been reading it pretty consistently for a couple months now, and am still only 20% of the way through the book, to give you some idea of its length and depth. Hugo masterfully weaves the stories together of a the various lives of a group of people who suffer misfortune upon misfortune, yet with such beauty and authenticity that it leaves you wanting more. You get to know and love (or hate) the characters extremely well as Hugo spends much time sharing intricate and personal details that many books today leave out for sake of space.

 

Book Lists

I love books. All kinds of books, from stories that take you away to another world, to words that make you really think, to authors who make you laugh and cry (often at the same time). I almost always have a stack of 3,4,5, even 6 books going at the same time. Rarely do I have only one going on its own. I love jumping back and forth between books, switching genres, depth, humor factor, and length to suit whatever I am feeling at the moment. In the past few months I have added a bunch of new books to my home library. Some I whipped through in a few days, a few I’m in process, and a bunch are on my still-to-read list. Here are a few I would highly recommend:

Books I've recently finished reading

Books I’ve already read…..top to Bottom:

The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis. Well, I’m technically not finished with this one yet, but almost. Enough to tell you that it is an excellent treatise on how we love others, the four kinds of love in the world (hence the title), and what true love should look like. C.S. Lewis continues to amaze me with his writing.

When A Crocodile Eats the Sun, by Peter Godwin. A beautiful, haunting, heavy-hearted memior of the civil war that occured at the beginning of this decade in Zimbabwe and the life of Godwins family during those years. Godwin was born and raised in Zimbabwe by parents who immigrated there from England. Through the course of the book a secret past is discovered about his father, leading Godwin into a struggle of heart and identity that closely parallels the war raging in his home country. Well worth the read, although be prepared to cry.

The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. This is a must-have for anyone who desires to know the heart of God. Lloyd-Jones weaves the gospel in every story she tells, from creation to revelation. With beautiful writing she points us to the heart of the bible. This book is perfect for new parents, old parents, grandparents, children (with or without parents), single people, anybody and everybody!

Ruth Bell Graham: Celebrating an Extraordinary Life. This is a collection of stories gathered from close family and friends of Ruth Bell Graham, the late wife of evangelist Billy Graham. I am in awe of the godly, spunky, character-filled, loving-well woman she was, and have officially made her one of my role models in life. The others are (in no particular order after the first): Jesus, my mom, grannie, grandma, Elisabeth Elliott, and more. All in all, this book was a great picture of what it looks like to walk through life with Jesus as your best friend, loving people well.

Her Mother’s Hope, by Francine Rivers. One of my favorite modern day novelists, Francine Rivers has a unique method of blending history with fictional characters. She does it again in this book, weaving a story loosely based on her own mother and grandmother from WWI through the 80’s. Like the rest of her works, I highly recommend reading this one and the sequel coming out this fall!

…..And now…..the books still to be read…..get excited!! Again, top to bottom

Next up on the reading list

Practical Theology for Women, by Wendy Thorger Alsup. An overview of major theological topics designed to speak into the practical daily lives of women striving to live for Jesus. I am excited to get started on this one soon.

The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, by John Piper. The name and author pretty much sum this one up. In our postmodern world, it can be hard to make anything ‘supreme’, especially the God of the universe. Piper addresses this serious need in our culture today, calling us back to the biblical truths of the Supremacy of Christ, regardless of the culture. Also looking forward to this one.

Respectable Sins, by Jerry Bridges. He is one of my all-time favorite Christian writers. His other works that I love include The Pursuit of Holiness and Trusting God. I am guessing this one will be just as down to earth and yet also convicting and truthful in its message of how we tend to make certain sins ‘respectable’, and what the Bible has to say about that.

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. He just keeps showing up on my book list because he is just that great! I’ve read this book by him before, but I finally own it in my library! I want to read it again, thus its presence here. One of the greatest explanation of Christianity ever written, by someone who once believed that God didn’t exist.

The Hole in our Gospel, by Richard Stearns. This book was given to me by a friend, and I am interested in the topic. It is a look at the lack of passion and care for social justice in the church today, which is also something the Lord has been bringing up in my life the past few months. Hopefully this book will help ignite a passion in my heart for the poor and needy.

The Call, by Os Guinness. I have heard that this book is amazing and a must-read for believers, especially those in the ministry. I look forward to seeing if it lives up to its reputation.

The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard. Another one that I have heard much about, but never before read. And another one that I look forward to discovering its worth and reputation. Also, I like that it has pears on the cover.

The Ragamuffin Gospel(Not Pictured), by Brennan Manning. My brother has made this required reading for me. I haven’t started it yet, but will now that I am done with some of my other books. It changed his life, which is good enough for me to recommend it to others. It will be great to read through it and enjoy being smacked in the face with the truth of the gospel (again, because it is always good to be reminded).

Hope you’ve enjoyed this seasons book list! I’ll post another one in the winter or spring….many of the bottom picture books will have moved up to the top, with my evaluations of them, and more new books will fill the bottom picture!