This year I have been participating in Tim Challies’ 2016 Reading Challenge. Particular books are not specified, but rather, categories. I’m enjoying the challenge. It has pushed me outside my comfort zone to read things I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise, yet it’s flexible enough that I have been able to find a way to fit in books I really wanted to read.
I set my goal at 42 books. I’m now 9 months into it and I’ve finished 38 so far, which means I’m ahead of schedule. I decided not to follow the list straight through, but to pick from all over as things interested me and I was able to find a category for them.
So far, 25 of my 38 books have been non-fiction, all but 2 of them theological works. 12 of the books I’ve read so far are novels (11 if you count the Shakespeare play), several (the Narnia and Andrew Peterson books) are one’s I’ve read aloud to the girls.
What follows are the books I completed in September and the reading challenge category they fulfill. I’ve listed them in the order in which I completed them.
#30 Blandings Castle [Amazon.com affiliate link] by P.G. Wodehouse (A humorous book). P.G. Wodehouse is brilliant and brilliantly funny. I loved this book and laughed out loud a lot while reading it. Each chapter is a stand-alone story, though the first 6 are all related, as are the final 5, taking place in the same local with many of the same characters. Wodehouse is a wordsmith who knows how to turn a humorous phrase. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, you won’t regret it.
#31 The Life Story of William Carey: or Opening the Door that Never will be Closed, by J.J. Ellis (A book with 100 pages or less). This is older, out of print biography of the Baptist missionary to India. It was a short, easy read. I’ll be reading a more thorough biography of Carey soon.
#32 Greatness: Reagan, Churchill & the Making of Extraordinary Leaders [Amazon.com affiliate link] by Steven F. Hayward (A book about leadership). This is not a long book, but it is a nice treatment comparing the lives and leadership of two great men. It is more than just a look at leadership styles. It delves into their family backgrounds, their self-education, their personal views of faith and destiny, and the historical circumstances which gave rise to their leadership. A good book I recommend for anyone interested in leadership, history, or politics.
#33 Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ by Nehemiah Coxe & John Owen [publisher, has the best price on print edition] (A book with an ugly cover). This is an important one. It took me a while to work my way through it, but it worth every minute spent. The first half of the book is the work of Nehemiah Coxe, one of the great Baptist theologians of the English Reformation, dealing with the covenant of works with Adam, and the covenants with Noah and Abraham. The second half is an excerpt from John Owen’s commentary on Hebrews 8:6-13 (to which Coxe referred his readers), dealing with the distinction between the Mosiac Covenant and the New Covenant. Owen’s argues that the Old Covenant was not the covenant of works, but neither was it an administration of the covenant of Grace. This book will clearly distinguish between Baptist Covenant Theology and that of our Presbyterian brothers. The hardcover is cheapest directly from the publisher (linked above). But it is available on Amazon in kindle format [Amazon.com affiliate link] if you’re so inclined.
#34 The Glorious History of Redemption [Amazon.com affiliate link] by James Boyd & J. Gresham Machen (A book about the bible). The amazon description says “This is the perfect book to give to a new believer.” It’s pretty good, but I don’t think I’d go that far. It is a very compact summary of the entire Bible story. With one exception, the lessons from the Old Testament would be a great way for a new believer to learn the vast sweep of history covered and see how it all fits together. But I think they’ll need to read it in tandem with a more mature believer to get the most out of it.
#35 Letters of Samuel Rutherford [Amazon.com affiliate link] by Samuel Rutherford (A book you have started but never finished). This is a great pastoral volume. Samuel Rutherford spent many years shepherding his flock from prison by letter.There are letters here to those suffering the loss of a loved one, suffering illness, approaching death themselves, wrestling with doubt, and all sorts of other common issues. This book will be helpful for both the average Christian looking for encouragement and for the pastor shepherding God’s people.
#36 Family Driven Faith [Amazon.com affiliate link] by Voddie Baucham Jr. (A book you have read before). This book calls fathers, families, and churches back to biblical faithfulness in the discipleship of children. If we want to continue to exist as the people of God in the midst of a pagan land, we will have to do so by training and discipling our children.
#37 North! Or Be Eaten [Amazon.com affiliate link] by Andrew Peterson (A Christian novel). This is the second book in the Wingfeather series, which has become a favorite for the kids and I. This installment sees the Igiby family taking an epic journey, fighting for their lives, and learning for about their enemies. The story is fantastic and left us in tears at the end and decrying the two days it will take Amazon to deliver the next book!
#38 Persuasion [Amazon.com affiliate link] by Jane Austen (A book by Jane Austen). This is the second Jane Austen novel I’ve read. She’s a very good writer and I’m sure I’ll eventually read the rest of her work. This is one of her more mature books. The characters are older, approaching 30, more mature emotionally, and still struggling with life. But Austen’s books aren’t really about the romance. Her books are satire and social commentary. In this novel, she seems to be addressing the aristocracy and social class structure of her day in England. Our culture isn’t that different. In Austen’s day, social class structures revolved around the aristocracy and old family wealth, but things were changing and people were moving upward through the social circles because of wealth acquired in the first generation (in this case by Navy men). Our social class structures today in America are based on celebrity, money, and physical appearance. It’s a good story, well written, and the social commentary still speaks today.