By Barry Howard
My love for reading was slow to develop. During my teenage years, I perceived reading to be a nuisance and necessary evil. At some point during my college years, however, I learned to enjoy reading, not just for assignments or entertainment, but for personal growth.
In my current stage of life I need books like I need food, to satisfy cognitive hunger and to probe intellectual curiosity. Books stimulate my thinking, exercise my memory muscles, and challenge my presuppositions.
Typically, I read a variety of genres including fiction, spirituality, theology, history and biography. And I usually keep from three to five books going at the same time, a discipline that was recommended by Opal Lovett, one of my favorite university professors. This practice invites a variety of conversation partners into my internal dialogue.
As the current year comes to a close, I make a list of books that I plan to read during the coming year. While I hope to read 40 to 50 books this year, I have already compiled a list of 16 of the books I plan to read in 2016:
1. Grounded: Finding God in the World — A Spiritual Revolution, by Diana Butler Bass
2. My Southern Journey: True Southern Stories from the Heart of the South, by Rick Bragg
3. The Call: The Life and Message of the Apostle Paul, by Adam Hamilton
4. Chosen?: Reading the Bible Amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, by Walter Brueggemann
5. Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, Finding the Church, by Rachel Held Evans
6. Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow, by Carey Niewhof
7. Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People, by Nadia Bolz-Weber
8. I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian, by Thom Rainer
9. Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, by Tim Keller
10. Thinking About God: An Introduction to Christian Theology (3rd edition), by Fisher Humphreys
11. Did God Kill Jesus? Searching for Love in History’s Most Famous Execution, by Tony Jones
12. Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham
13. The Guilty, by David Baldacci
14. Albert Einstein: The Life of a Genius, by Jack Steinberg
15. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
16. A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God’s Design of Our Life Together, by Scot McKnight
I have discovered that reading authors who write from diverse perspectives stretches my thinking and expands my capacity to relate to a variety of people.
This year don’t just read the spiritual stuff that reinforces what you think you know with certainty. Dare to read something that challenges you to think about life and faith from a different point of view.
Happy reading in 2016!
This post has been modified to correct the name of the author of Did God Kill Jesus? Searching for Love in History’s Most Famous Execution.