One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to replace my Youtube binge watching habit with reading (although I am still a regular with Honest Trailers, Fail Army and bait pranks).
Here is a list that I’ll be updating throughout the year of what I’ve read. I’ll write a little somethin’ somethin’ about the books.
The Holy Bible
Married for God, Christopher Ash
One of the best book on Christian Marriage I’ve ever read. A very Biblical and practical way to understand what a Christ-centred marriage may look like and seeking a higher vision for our married (or unmarried) lives.
Union with Christ, Rankin Wilbourne
Ever wonder about those passages of the Bible that say we’re ‘in Christ’? This book is a fairly easy read but offers incredible insight into our place with Christ now.
Zeal Without Burnout, Christopher Ash
Small but helpful book on how to be fuelled by grace in ministry rather than burning out from taking too much on and losing sight of God’s grace to fuel our zeal. We’ve likely all been burnt out before and need to be reminded of God’s grace in ministry.
You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, James K. A. Smith
This book was a good companion to Union in Christ as it helped me to think through good habits to deepen my knowledge and love for God. The chapter on church gatherings is one of the best things I’ve ever read and reshaped how I consider each service from the point of view of cultivating my relationship with Christ. Think of good spiritual habits this way: we are like boats that need to open our sails in order to catch the wind and be carried along. We won’t get anywhere without opening the sails.
Silence, Shusako Endo
I don’t read many novels, but this is now one of my top 10. The story of Jesuit missionaries sent to Japan to uncover rumours of an apostate priest. Really challenging and complex read.
What’s Best Next?, Matt Perman
A great read on what is means to have gospel-centred productivity. I cannot recommend this book highly enough; it has changed so much of what I do now in my routines and work. One I’ll definitely be revisiting.
Silence and Beauty, Makoto Fujimura
Makoto Fujimura’s book is biographical, historical and theological. His meditations on Shusako Endo’s Silence were really valuable and made me passionate about mission to Japan. I’m still digesting much of what Fujimura says here, but at its heart the thesis claims that Japan is in need of deep healing from past trauma and Christ is the answer to that healing.
The Scars That Have Shaped Me, Vaneetha Rendall Risner
Candid reflections of someone who has suffered tremendous things. Vaneetha’s book was very helpful with Biblical reflections that helps discern the reader into God’s purposes in suffering. Highly recommended.
Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, Peter Hook
Biography written from Peter Hook, the bass player from Joy Division, recounting the Manchester punk (and post-punk) scene in the 1970s to the rise of Joy Division to the suicide of lead singer, Ian Curtis. This was a fascinating read and entertaining insight into a band that was really just a group of lads enjoying what they were playing and the grit it took to make their music heard. The most poignant parts of the biography (of course) are around Hook’s reflections on Ian’s condition and processing of regret despite all of the signs that, Ian Curtis, who suffered from epilepsy and likely depression, needed to stop playing music and get help. (There are also reflections on the lyrical content that Ian Curtis wrote that none of the band was aware of at the time – content that spoke to his struggles).
I’m seeing Peter Hook later this year and this biography gave me a glimpse into how he got to where he is now. Joy Division is also one of my favourite bands of all time. Check them out!
Christians Get Depressed Too, David Murray
Easily the most helpful book I’ve read on suffering depression as a Christian that considers all sides of the equation (spiritual and physical). It was health to my soul. A short read but full of wisdom.
Dementia: Living in the Memories of God, John Swinton
Very helpful book in framing the issue of dementia and personhood from a Biblical perspective. There were so many great insights; especially the section on what it means that God remembers. Definitely worth reading if you’re involved in elder care.
Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those that Suffer with Depression, Zach Eswine
This book complimented Christians Get Depressed Too by charting similar ground, however this book focuses on the great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, and his wrangle with depression. A mix of Spurgeon’s own experience and Biblical insight, this book was a helpful read, if only for the comfort of someone who has walked there before and pastorally understands the spiritual entanglements one can get into whilst battling the black dog.
Understanding Japan Through the Eyes of Christian Faith, Samuel Lee
This brief book about Japan’s history, religious and social practices is a helpful little volume for the casual reader interested in reaching Japan for Jesus. It felt, at times, a little too general, but its main purpose was simply to introduce the reader to some concepts of Japanese culture and how Christians can understand their culture. After reading this book, I realised how profoundly the Japanese need Jesus (but don’t we all?).
No Longer Human, Osamu Dazai
No Longer Human is written by Japanese author Osamu Dazai and is written in the form a notebook that chronicles a man’s life as he tries to fit in. It reads like an existentialist novel from the likes of Jean Paul Sartre or Albert Camus, but with understanding of Japanese customs, its also a critique of post-war Japanese culture and customs. The most fascinating parts of the novel are when the protagonist fears being ‘found out’ for playing the part of a clown and exposed as a phoney. Really interesting stuff.
Charity and its Fruits, Jonathan Edwards
Welcome to Nightvale, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor