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When do you find time to Read?

Much of my reading is done in the morning during my quiet time of devotion and prayer. Additionally, I almost always carry a book with me in case I find myself waiting for an appointment, and I select a few books when I travel (I have not converted to electronic books yet). Little by little, with as much concentration as I can muster, I slowly read, mark up, and contemplate each book I read.

Here are the books of 2017; may you find one or more suitable for your reading in the coming year.

Three of the best Novels I’ve read this year:

The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis, 1950. Winner of “my favourite series of the year”. Yes, this is the first time I read this delightful children’s series; better late than never! (See “Further Up and Further In“).

The Sympathizer, by Vietnamese-American author, Viet Thanh Nguyen, 2015. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Do not say we have nothing, by Chinese-Canadian author Madeleine Thien, 2016. Winner of the Man Booker Prize.


Three excellent little booklets:

A Theology of the Ordinary, Julie Canlis, 2017. The best 65 pithy pages you will read. Highly recommended.

The Christian Life East & West: Toward the Mutual Enrichment of Japanese & Western Christianity, James Houston, 2017.

Humility: The Journey toward Holiness, Andrew Murray, 1828-1919.



Two Marvellous short books by Henri Nouwen:

It’s safe to say I have become an expectant learner to Nouwen. Here are two more of his gentle insights:

The Way of the Heart: Connection with God through prayer, wisdom, and silence, 1981.

The Living Reminder: Service and Prayer in Memory of Jesus Christ, 1977.


Three Stimulating Anthologies:

Objects of Grace: Conversations on Creativity and Faith, James Romaine, 2002. Insightful & imaginative interviews.

One Hope: Re-Membering the Body of Christ, by numerous authors from different Christian traditions, 2015.

Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-ups, Ned Bustard, 2015. A storybook intended to provoke surprise, even shock in order to awaken readers to the depth and breadth of the Bible.


Two wonderful little booklets on the Psalms by Walter Brueggemann:

The Psalms is a subject about which I have the most books in my personal library. I am always delighted to come upon authors who have deeply contemplated them. Paradoxically, authors like Brueggemann have written short booklets – as if to not burden the reader with another Psalmic tome. Here are two short pieces well worth reading reflectively.

The Spirituality of the Psalms, 2002.

Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit, 2007.


A (moving) book written by a friend of mine:

It’s not often that you get a chance to read the story of someone you know – of a family you’ve known for some time and whose lives you’ve intersected. It was a moving experience to read the pain, the faith, and yes, the beauty of their spiritual journey.

A Season of Ashes: One family’s journey from pain back to beauty, Charleen Raschke, 2016.


Two very accessible books on Christian living:

Soul Keeping: Caring for the most Important part of you, John Ortberg, 2014.

Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to find God, Jim Palmer, 2006.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting regularly with a friend who read these books to me; it was an opportunity to listen, discuss, and pray together. Try it sometime if you haven’t done this since you were a child.


Two rather Academic Books:

The Final Days of Jesus, Andreas J. Kostenberger, and Justin Taylor, 2014

Eternal God: A Study of God without Time, Paul Helm, 1988.



Here are two “racier” novels written by award winning authors – I suggest you read under advisement.

Love in the Time of Cholera, by Nobel Prize winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1988.

Submission, by award winning French author Michael Houellebecq (2015) is a book that begs more explanation; Heller McAlpin writes:

“Billed as a satirical, mordantly funny moral fable, Submission is provocative, all right, but too distasteful to be amusing. To the degree that it works at all, it does so by engaging us in intense intellectual tête-à-têtes about political movements, nationalism, religion, Nietzsche and Roman emperors — and then spinning scenarios that play on our fears. But if the insidious, passively accepted anti-Semitism and misogyny don’t turn you off, Houellebecq’s gratuitously graphic, loveless sex scenes will.”


The Problem with reading too much:

I was not much of a reader growing up; when I came to faith in Christ as a 13 year old, I began to read the Bible in earnest, but I was not prepared for the amount and depth of reading needed for University. Somehow I managed though I suffered for my lack of skill and enjoyment. Sometime into my career I noticed I wasn’t really reading much of anything, so I decided to set a goal to read a book a month. I have been comfortable with this pace, as it has allowed me to remember what I’ve read.

So… when I read as much as I have this year (even though many were more like booklets than books), I tend to forget what I’ve read – which kind of defeats the purpose of reading excellent books.

Nevertheless, I take some pleasure in this exercise of remembering in order to offer you some books for your enjoyment.

I welcome your suggestions for good books you’ve read.

Merry Christmas!