I love to read. If I could find a job that paid me to read, I would take it. There are so many good books that I have yet to read that my reading list grows exponentially each year. Last year I began a system of intentional reading. I selected a variety of reading categories from which to choose books to read. This ensures a well-balanced diet of reading. The following outlines my reading categories and books for 2019.
Reading is not the thing . . . it is not the end in and of itself, it is the way God has chosen to help His people grow.
I share my reading list with you for three reasons. First, I hope to challenge those who are readers to read intentionally, expand your reading, and experience something new in your reading. Second, I hope to challenge those who are not readers to begin reading. Third, I hope to share some good books that I have come across. I often ask others what they are reading or what significant books they have read that greatly challenged them. This practice has proved valuable as I have discovered some new excellent books to add to my reading list. Maybe some of the books on my reading list will interest you and you will have a new book to add to your reading list. I do not share this list because I think everyone should read each of these 19 books (in fact, I cannot recommend these books because I have not read them myself), but if there is a book or category that interests you, then add it to your reading list or ask me about it throughout this year.
My reading list is divided into roughly five categories: (1) discipleship, (2) ministry, (3) family, (4) history, and (5) literature. These categories are then divided into subtopics and books. Enjoy!
A Gospel-Centered Book. Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus by Jared Wilson. I have had this book on my shelf for a few years, yet have not read it. I listen to Jared Wilson’s weekly podcast often and generally like his perspective and insight into the gospel.
A Christian Classic. How Then Should We Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Francis Schaeffer. I come across this book often in reading. It may be the most quoted and referenced book of any that I come across, outside the Bible. It is on almost every Christian must-read list I have seen. So I decided to pick up and give it a read this year.
A Book by a Puritan. The Puritans can be difficult to read, but every time I have challenged myself to read a Puritan, I have greatly benefited. This is also a reread category for me this year. Several years ago I was challenged to read John Owen’s The Mortification of Sin. While reading this book was a great struggle, it challenged me to think about sin very differently and I’m hoping it does so again this year.
A Christian Biography. Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas. William Wilberforce was a member of British Parliament in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He is quite possibly the single greatest force in ending the slave trade in Great Britain. I’m excited to dive into the life and career of the man William Wilberforce.
Student Ministry. Youth Ministry in Modern America: 1930 To the Present by Jon Pahl. It is hard to find substantive books on youth ministry that I have not already read. I came across this book several years ago and because of my love of history I picked it up. I hope that as I read of the past I will be given a fresh vision for the future.
Counseling. Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture by David Powlison. A significant aspect of pastoral ministry is counseling. Counseling also represents a serious lack in pastoral training. I have decided to add one counseling book to my yearly reading plan. This year I chose a book by David Powlison, who is considered one of the best guys writing about counseling from a biblical perspective.
Education. Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, and Mark McDaniel. The thesis of this book is that most people utilize inefficient or ineffective learning methods. My goal as I read Make It Stick is to gain some new ideas for more effective and efficient learning and teaching.
Contemporary Issue. Each year I choose an issue within the contemporary Christian culture to study. I try to read a few books and journal articles throughout the course of the year to better inform myself on the issues surrounding the issue. This year I have chosen the issue of racism. I e-mailed a friend of mine who is an ethics professor to ask for some book recommendations on a biblical worldview of race.Of his many suggestions, I chose Oneness Embraced: Reconciliation, the Kingdom and How We are Stronger Together by Tony Evans to add to my reading list, though I plan to read a few other books as well.
Leadership. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Similar to many contemporary leadership books, this book is written as a fable. The story maps out five common failures of teams and how to overcome them.
Theology. Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord’s Supper by Ben Witherington. Each year I choose a theological subject to read. This year I am challenging myself to think through the Lord’s Supper. I generally like Ben Witherington, though I find myself disagreeing with him as much as I agree, but he always challenges my thinking. I hope he continues to do so regarding the Lord’s Supper.
Marriage. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller. I’ll be honest I chose this book because it it the only marriage book on my shelf that I have not read.
Parenting. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp. I have grown to love and respect Paul David Tripp and his passion for the family (both in marriage and parenting). I appreciate Tripp’s method of offering principles rather than tasks, and look forward to his insights on parenting.
Manhood. Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole by Eric Mason. Much like Tim Keller’s book on marriage, I choose Mason’s book on manhood because it is the only book on my shelf in this category I have not read.
Biography. I am picking up my trek through the presidential biographies in 2019. I decided to go back to the beginning and choose the earliest president that I have not already read their biography. So, I’ll be diving into the life of our 4th president, James Madison through Richard Brookhiser’s highly recommended biography. I chose Brookhiser’s biography because it is medium length yet very thorough.
Story from History. Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon by Robert Kurson. I discovered this book listening to an Art of Manliness podcast interview with the author. Kurson did such a great job sharing pieces of the story that I knew this was I book I needed to pick up and read.
Church History. In the Year of Our Lord: Reflections on Twenty Centuries of Church History by Sinclair Ferguson. This relatively short book provides a summary history of the church and Christianity broken down by century. If you are interested in church history, but do not want to read multiple, thousand-page volumes, this book might be a great option for you.
I have never been a big fiction reader, but I am challenging myself to add some fiction works to my regular reading list.
Literary Fiction. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien. I was introduced to The Lord of the Rings through the movies and now am working my way through the books. This year I come to The Two Towers. FYI, the e-Book is currently free on Kindle.
Literary Classic. Last year I began a goal of reading one book off the average high school reading list. Since I never read any of these in high school, I am making up for all those book discussions and reports I faked. This year I’m taking on 1984 by George Orwell. I have always been fascinated by this book and am looking forward to the read.
Christian Fiction. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. I generally tend to stay away from Christian fiction, however, Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is a staple in Christian literature and so I’m giving it a shot this year.
I will read more than these 19 books this year, but these represent my intentional reading plan for 2019.
Have a great book recommendation? Leave a comment with the title, author, and one sentence why you think it is a book worth reading.