My 2017 Reading List: May

manreadingabookby John Ellis

Ok, having read thirteen books in May, my pace has picked back up a bit. Not enough, mind you, to reach my goal of reading two-hundred books in 2017, but that’s alright, I think. As long as I read between twelve to seventeen books a month the rest of the year, I won’t be too disappointed to not reach two-hundred books this year. There’s always 2018, right? I’d also like to point out that we are in the midst of the NBA Playoffs. This means that I’ve watched more TV this past month than I normally watch.

My eleven-year old daughter, however, is on pace to read just over three-hundred books this year (our contest started in February, so the total numbers below reflect four months of reading, not five). Not only is she going to beat me, but she’s going to put my goal to shame. I keep telling her that she needs to remember who controls her allowance. I’m also considering allowing her unlimited technology time. If I do, maybe that will help me close the gap.

Update on the Daddy VS Daughter Reading Challenge: Daddy – 52 books. Daughter – 101 books.

The Theatre of the Absurd by Martin Esslin

I won’t lie. After having not even looked at what was once one of my theatre “bibles” for around five years, rereading The Theatre of the Absurd stirred more than a few of the theatre-making instincts that still live inside of me. Not going to happen, though. I’m done. However, if you are an active theatre artist and you have yet to read this book, there’s no better time to do so than the present. At the right price, I may even be persuaded to sell you my well-worn, marked up copy.

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

We all struggle with contentment. This classic from the Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs may be one of the ten books that I believe should be on every Christian’s bookshelf.

Do Not Hinder Them: A Biblical Examination of Childhood Conversion by Justin Peters

For a while now, I’ve wanted to write an article about why my church doesn’t generally baptize anyone until they’re an adult (at least 18). I haven’t done so, because I have many friends and family who have been baptized as young children or have proudly (in a good way) and thankfully seen their young children baptized. It’s the kind of topic that could easily offend and/or be misunderstood.

When I heard about Justin Peters’ new book, I was excited because I thought I would finally have the opportunity to write about the topic in a manner that might prove less inflammatory. A book review seemed(s) like a non-threatening way to express my beliefs about childhood baptisms. Sadly, though, I cannot recommend Do Not Hinder Them, and I’m not interested in writing a negative book review.

Kingdom Come by Sam Storms

I purchased Kingdom Come five years ago, read the first two chapters, and then shelved it. For the life of me, I don’t remember why I stopped reading it. Sam Storms does a masterful job of navigating the thorny issue of eschatology (end times), and he does so in a way that is easily readable. In other words, while I don’t remember why I “paused” my reading, I do remember enjoying the book and learning from it. I finally picked it back up this last month, because some of my teaching at church has dealt and continues to deal with eschatology, and I wanted to shore up my eschatological categories and arguments.

In brief, I hold to the eschatological view called amillennialism. Quoting Kingdom Come’s dust jacket because I can’t say it more succinctly or better, amillennialism is “the belief that the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 is symbolic of the reign of Christ and His people throughout the present church age.” If you’re unsure about your own eschatology or you’re curious about amillennialism, Kingdom Come is an excellent book that will serve you well.  

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

Two things:

One – After having read several biographies of Tolstoy, I have a hard time reading any of his books without hearing the religious kook’s chirping in the readers ear about his religious kookery (Tolstoy was a religious kook, in case that wasn’t clear).

Two – For the last three years, I’ve had an unexplained pain in my left side (I’ve been to doctors). So, this book wasn’t the best book for me to read late at night, which is when I generally read fiction. Seeing as how I’ve read The Death of Ivan Ilyich in the past, I knew what it was about and should have known better.

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph Ellis

Reading about Thomas Jefferson’s unflagging optimism in progressivism during 1789 as France exploded in violence reminded me of today’s progressives who refuse to acknowledge the violence being done by SJW’s.

American Sphinx is an enlightening and enjoyable read about one of our most popular yet misunderstood historical figures.

The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse

Everyone’s favorite GOP senator wrote a book, and it’s as good as advertised. Since I’m planning on writing a review, I’ll save my thoughts for later.

Discipling by Mark Dever

All Christians are disciples, and all Christians should be engaged in making disciples. Furthermore, we should be submitting ourselves to being disciple in and through our local body of believers. Whether or not you agree with that, you should read Discipling (especially if you don’t agree with my first two sentences).

Union With Christ: A Biblical View of the New Life in Jesus Christ by Lewis Smede

I’m still processing this book on the Christian’s union with Christ and, in fact, I’m rereading sections of it. It’s a wonderful, edifying book that has also confronted me with some definitions, categories, and explanations that I’m not quite sure about yet. Regardless, Lewis Smede’s book has sparked a renewed interest in my heart for this important doctrine of Christianity.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

It’s been said before, but there are two main dystopian visions that almost all dystopian movies and/or books adhere to – that of George Orwell and that of Aldous Huxley. In Orwell’s dystopian world, pain is used to control people and books are burned. In Huxley’s, pleasure is used to control people and books don’t need to be burned because no one wants to read them. As I was rereading Brave New World for the first time in about ten years, I couldn’t help but think that our society has moved quite a way down one of those dystopian paths. Guess which one.

The Tempest by Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s final play (at least, his final play that he wrote all by his lonesome) is also one of my favorites. I lead-ish a Shakespeare discussion group with some of my church family, and The Tempest is probably going to be the next play that we read and discuss.

Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry by Billy Collins

Helping my daughter find a poem to memorize for her classroom’s poetry performance is what prompted me to reread this anthology of contemporary poems curated by Billy Collins. Some of the poems are forgettable, some are very enjoyable, but all are worth your time reading.

Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: 1 Corinthians by Leon Morris

While I read Bible commentaries quite frequently, I rarely read a commentary cover-to-cover. The fact that I’ve been teaching 1 Corinthians at church combined with the fact that Leon Morris’ commentary of the book is quite short (for a commentary) is really the only reason that this book made this list. For those interested, out of the seven commentaries on 1 Corinthians that I’ve been consulting, this one by Leon Morris is actually (and surprisingly) proven to be one of the least helpful. There that is.


2 thoughts on “My 2017 Reading List: May

  1. GREAT list, John. Your daughter is going to smoke you, sir. Good for her. It’s a good “loss” for you. Just this week, I read FOR THE GLORY, a biography about Eric Liddell. The book was magnificent. Keep reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard many good things about For the Glory. I need to read it.

      You are correct, she is going to smoke me. The other day in the grocery store, she complained that her reading time was being taken away. I jokingly countered, “You read too much, anyway. You should watch more TV.” The looks on the faces of the people within earshot were quite funny. Sadly, no one confronted me about my “bad” parenting.


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