Per my usual year-end tradition, I take some time to consider what I read this year. In part to reflect on the things I’ve learned, but also to challenge myself to keep on keepin’ on in the new year. I hope that maybe these recommendations can inspire others as well.
By far, the most riveting book of the year for me was Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story by Timothy Tyson. Wow, part memoir, part history, he tells an amazing civil rights story of his youth and its effect on him through to adulthood. Couldn’t put it down! To The Mountain Top: Martin Luther King’s Mission to Save America was also quite good. It had sat on my shelf for some time until this year and I wish I had picked it up earlier! The Last Days: A Son’s Story of Sin and Segregation at the Dawn of the New South was another memoir of one of my favorite authors on Civil Rights (Charles Marsh), but alas, it was a bit of a buzz kill for me and I kind of forced my way through it to the end. Cold War, Civil Rights was another interesting read on a part of the Civil Rights Movement that I had only paid scant attention to. Not wonderfully written, moved somewhat like a text book, but it added to my understanding of the era. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America was a fun read, although it tended to go on a bit long for me. I loved the details about Chicago more than the macabre details of the killer and I guess I’ll never look at a Ferris Wheel the same way again. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President was an easy read and I found this book by Candice Millard a better tale than her previous River of Doubt about Theodore Roosevelt’s charting of the lost river in the Amazon. What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States … I bought it for its title and an intriguing topic, but it was an academic book that was hard to slog through.
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House was not as good as some of the reviews made it out to be, the story was a bit chopped up for me. Nevertheless, it’s amazing to think, given today’s media-political climate, that a man like Jackson could have made it to the presidency! Things have changed … or have they? David McCullough’s The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge, was “epic” indeed! McCullough, of course, is a wonderful story teller and historian, but the narrative of how they built this monstrous bridge during the 1870’s when technology was raw and suspension bridges were in their infancy was amazing. And the thing still stands! I read it in anticipation of getting to go to New York City this summer, so walking the bridge back in July was a real treat.
And of course, there’s Timothy Keller. I can’t get enough of his logical and intellectual approach to the call of Christ and its application to daily living. I can count on one hand how many books I’ve read a second time, but add Keller’s Every Good Endeavor: Connecting your Work to God’s Work to that very short list. His fine work King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus is another astute study, walking the reader through the Gospel of Mark and demonstrating the centrality of Jesus to the human experience.
On my iPad I read Francis Chan’s little book, Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. Chan packs a punch, and while it didn’t take long to read the book, it was full of pointed truth. NT Wright’s, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters was not an easy read, but the challenge was worth the effort. I need to grow in that area!
Recently I finished a good book by Paul David Tripp called Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens. Now that Mackenzie’s a teenager, I figured I needed all the help I can get! It was full of practical help and advice, but I most appreciated how Tripp urges the reader when parenting through crises to see the bigger picture of how God’s Word applies to all the bumps in the road. Indeed, it’s an age of opportunity. So that was my year of books … not as many as I wanted to get through, but much was learned along the way.
On to 2014 and the stack of untouched tomes, waiting to be discovered!