My 2017 Reading List: April


by John Ellis

After the month of April, my goal of reading two hundred books in 2017 may be out of reach. Having read nine books last month, my total for the first four months of the year is fifty-one. This means that I will need to read one-hundred and forty-nine books during the remaining eight months of 2017. At an average of 18.6 books per month, it’s doable, but highly doubtful. To be fair, in April I began reading Paul: An Outline of His Theology by Herman Ridderbos. That dense tome has eaten up (in a good way) much of my reading time.

Possibly more important than my goal of reading two-hundred books in 2017, however, is my failure to make up ground in the “friendly” competition with my daughter. April was a missed opportunity for me. I’m not proud of this, but I didn’t tell Infinity that I had only read nine books during April when I asked her how many she had read. I did immaturely cackle at her when she told me that she had only read fifteen books last month. She protested, “My ceiling fell in last month!”

She’s right, of course, but I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of knowing that she has a legitimate excuse. She’s still kicking my butt, after all, which is disrespectful.

Update on the Daddy VS Daughter Reading Challenge: Daddy – 39 books. Daughter – 77 books.[1]

The Jacksonian Era by Robert Remini

Regardless of your opinion of the 7th president of the United States, Andrew Jackson is one of the more compelling figures in our nation’s history. Furthermore, like most people, his life, beliefs, and public service were not as monolithic as many believe.

The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive by Mark Dever & Jamie Dunlop

The quickest and best (I believe) way to describe The Compelling Community is as a IX Marks handbook/instructional manual for church Elders. That being said, it’s a highly valuable resource for all Christians concerned about a having a robust ecclesiology.

Ghosts by Henrick Ibsen

Ghosts is not my favorite Ibsen play, but it is an important play in his canon and in the history of theatre, in general. For the record, I’ve never read an Ibsen play that I don’t like, and I’ve read ‘em all. So, saying that it’s not my favorite isn’t really saying much. At the time of its writing (1881), Ghosts was highly controversial, dealing with themes of infidelity, abuse, incest, venereal diseases, and euthanasia. Like most of Ibsen’s plays, modern critics and theatre artists assume quite a bit about Ibsen’s views on the thematic elements found in Ghosts. Read it for yourself, and see if you can pick up on tone/mood.

Communism for Kids by Bini Adamczak

I reviewed this atrocious book here.

John Donne: Selected Poems

I love poetry. Sadly, I don’t read poetry often enough. I’d forgotten how much John Donne captivates me, in good and bad ways.

An Enemy of the People by Henrick Ibsen

After the outrage over Ghosts, Ibsen wrote An Enemy of the People. If you read it, ignore the critics and scholars who claim ideological positions for Ibsen based on the play. Ibsen wasn’t concerned with ideology; he was just pissed off at his treatment by those who didn’t understand Ghosts. Ibsen knew the importance of conflict to a good story. His choice(s) of conflict often merely reflected his desire to tell a good story, not his desire to promote any ideology.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill

Three plays in one month. That may sound like a lot, but keep in mind that I used to read five to six plays a week.

Eugene O’Neill is my favorite American playwright. Many of his plays contain deep autobiographical elements, but Long Day’s Journey Into Night is basically nothing but an autobiography singling in on a day in the life of his family. That day (and play) contains so much brokenness, despair, and pain that reading it takes my breath away at times. At the moment, I can’t think of another play that so honestly and poignantly reveals the effects of the Fall on humans.

Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective to the Evangelical Gender Debate by Michelle Lee-Barnewall

Looking at the debate from a Biblical Theology perspective, Michelle Lee-Barnewall offers what I believe is a helpful corrective to both sides of the debate. And since this debate is so fraught with heightened emotions and the potential for misunderstanding, I’m going to refrain from attempting to say more about the book in this post. A short paragraph or three is not enough to adequately interact with the book and its overriding debate. For the record, I will say this, do not worry my conservative brothers and sisters in Christ, I still confidently and boldly affirm the clear teachings of Scripture regarding female Elders.

Money Counts by Graham Beynon

My pastor asked me to write a review of Money Counts for our church’s newsletter. I’m going to hold my comments for the review.

[1] The contest began in February. Hence the difference in the number of books between my 2017 total and my reading challenge total.


3 thoughts on “My 2017 Reading List: April

    • Sadly (and embarrassingly), my knowledge of contemporary poets is beyond woeful. Almost all of the poets living on my bookshelf lived and wrote prior to the mid-twentieth century. Billy Collins and Aaron Belz are the two contemporary poets that I enjoy reading. Are there any contemporary poets that you recommend?


      • I’m always looking for new poets. I think Madeleine L’Engle’s poetry is lovely, and it is from a Christian world view that I appreciate. (You should buy The Ordering of Love. The poetry is well crafted and true.) Luci Shaw. I was drawn into Diana Der Hovanessian’s poetry because of her intriguing poetry book titled How to Choose Your Past. Great book of poetry. I have enjoyed Mary Oliver (I own American Primitive and House of Light). Also David Wagoner (Traveling Light). Good Poems is a nice collection edited by Garrison Keillor, and I’ve found some success exploring the poets from that book.

        Liked by 1 person

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