2016 Reading Challenge September Update

2016 Reading Challenge September Update

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.


The following is the complete list of categories, with completed categories marked and the book for that category in parenthesis.

The Light Reader (13 Books)

  • ☐ A book about Christian living
  • ☒ A biography (The Confessions of Saint Augustine)
  • ☒ A classic novel (Northanger Abbey)
  • ☐ A book someone tells you “changed my life”
  • ☐ A commentary on a book of the Bible
  • ☒ A book about theology (Roman Catholic Theology & Practice: an evangelical assessment)
  • ☒ A book with the word “gospel” in the title or subtitle (What Is The Gospel?)
  • ☐ A book your pastor recommends
  • ☒ A book more than 100 years old (Truth Made Simple)
  • ☒ A book for children (The Silver Chair)
  • ☒ A mystery or detective novel (The Rover Boys At College)
  • ☒ A book published in 2016 (Evenmere)
  • ☒ A book about a current issue (The Biology of Desire: why addiction is not a disease)

The Avid Reader (26 Books)

  • ☒ A book written by a Puritan (The Travels of True Godliness)
  • ☒ A book recommended by a family member (A Chance To Die – The Amy Carmichael Story)
  • ☒ A book by or about a missionary (The Life of Adoniram Judson)
  • ☐ A novel that won the Pulitzer Prize
  • ☒ A book written by an Anglican (Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark…)
  • ☒ A book with at least 400 pages (Confessing the Impassible God)
  • ☒ A book by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien (The Horse and His Boy)
  • ☒ A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title (The Four Loves)
  • ☐ A book with a great cover
  • ☐ A book on the current New York Times list of bestsellers
  • ☒ A book about church history (Church History 101)
  • ☐ A graphic novel
  • ☐ A book of poetry

The Committed Reader (52 Books)

  • ☒ A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with (Fresh Power)
  • ☒ A book written by an author with initials in their name (The Magician’s Nephew)
  • ☐ A book that won a ECPA Christian Book Award
  • ☐ A book about worldview
  • ☒ A play by William Shakespeare (Macbeth)
  • ☒ A humorous book (Blandings Castle)
  • ☐ A book based on a true story
  • ☒ A book written by Jane Austen (Persuasion)
  • ☐ A book by or about Martin Luther
  • ☒ A book with 100 pages or less (the Life Story of William Carey)
  • ☒ A book with a one-word title (Manliness)
  • ☐ A book about money or finance
  • ☒ A novel set in a country that is not your own (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness)
  • ☐ A book about music
  • ☐ A memoir
  • ☐ A book about joy or happiness
  • ☐ A book by a female author
  • ☐ A book whose title comes from a Bible verse
  • ☒ A book you have started but never finished (Letters of Samuel Rutherford)
  • ☐ A self-improvement book
  • ☐ A book by David McCullough
  • ☐ A book you own but have never read
  • ☐ A book about abortion
  • ☐ A book targeted at the other gender
  • ☐ A book by a speaker at a conference you have attended
  • ☐ A book written by someone of a different ethnicity than you

The Obsessed Reader (104 Books)

  • ☒ A book published by The Banner of Truth (The Valley of Vision)
  • ☐ A book about the Reformation
  • ☐ A book written by a first-time author
  • ☐ A biography of a world leader
  • ☐ A book used as a seminary textbook
  • ☐ A book about food
  • ☐ A book about productivity
  • ☐ A book about or relationships or friendship
  • ☐ A book about parenting
  • ☐ A book about philosophy
  • ☐ A book about art
  • ☒ A book with magic (The Tombs of Atuan)
  • ☐ A book about prayer
  • ☒ A book about marriage (This Momentary Marriage)
  • ☐ A book about a hobby
  • ☐ A book of comics
  • ☐ A book about the Second World War
  • ☐ A book about sports
  • ☐ A book by or about a pastor’s wife
  • ☐ A book about suffering
  • ☐ A book by your favorite author
  • ☒ A book you have read before (Family Driven Faith)
  • ☐ A book about homosexuality
  • ☐ A Christian novel
  • ☐ A book about psychology
  • ☐ A book about the natural world
  • ☐ A book by or about Charles Dickens
  • ☒ A novel longer than 400 pages (The Sword of Shannara)
  • ☐ A historical book
  • ☒ A book about the Bible (The Glorious History of Redemption)
  • ☐ A book about a country or city
  • ☐ A book about astronomy
  • ☒ A book with an ugly cover (Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ by Nehemiah Coxe & John Owen)
  • ☐ A book by or about a martyr
  • ☐ A book by a woman conference speaker
  • ☐ A book by or about the church fathers
  • ☐ A book about language
  • ☐ A book by or about a Russian
  • ☒ A book about leadership (Greatness: Reagan, Churchill & the Making of Extraordinary Leaders)
  • ☐ A book about public speaking
  • ☐ A book by Francis Schaeffer
  • ☒ A book by a Presbyterian (The Masculine Mandate)
  • ☐ A book about science
  • ☐ A book about revival
  • ☐ A book about writing
  • ☐ A book about evangelism
  • ☐ A book about ancient history
  • ☐ A book about preaching
  • ☒ A book about the church (The Glory of a True Church)
  • ☐ A book about adoption
  • ☐ A photo essay book
  • ☒ A book written in the twentieth century (The Puritan Family)

Bonus (109 Books)

  • ☐ A book from a library
  • ☐ A book about business
  • ☐ A book by an author less than 30
  • ☐ A book published by a UK-based publisher
  • ☐ A book you borrow
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