My 2017 Reading List, and Top Reads of the Year!

A year-end tradition here at the 4thDaveBlog, so here ya go–what I read in 2017 (in dozens of bulleted lists)!

January

  • A Year of No Sugar – Eve Schaub
  • Why Pro-Life? – Randy Alcorn
  • Silence – Shusaku Endo

February

  • The Only Living Boy (vol. 1-3) – Gallaher/Ellis
  • Silent Night – Stanley Weintraub
  • Narrative of the Life… – Frederick Douglass
  • March: Book One – Lewis/ Aydin / Powell
  • The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Under Our Skin – Benjamin Watson

March

  • The Long Walk – Stephen King
  • The End of the Affair – Graham Greene
  • The Circle – Dave Eggers

April

  • The Truth of the Cross – RC Sproul
  • The Final Days of Jesus – Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor
  • Year of No Clutter – Eve Schaub

May

  • Unparalleled – Jared Wilson
  • Reverberation – Jonathan Leeman
  • The Girl With All the Gifts – M. R. Carey

June

  • The Dip – Seth Godin
  • Linchpin – Seth Godin
  • The Wonder-Working God – Jared Wilson (audio)
  • Turning Pro – Steven Pressfield

July

  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport
  • Husband-Coached Childbirth – Dr. Robert Bradley
  • Family Worship – Dr. Donald Whitney

August

  • Teammate – David Ross
  • Call for the Dead – John LeCarre
  • Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
  • The Cubs Way – Tom Verducci

September

  • Secret Identity – Kurt Busiek / Stuart Immonen
  • Horrorstor – Grady Hendrix
  • DC Rebirth Deluxe Ed. – Johns/Frank/VanSciver/Reis/Jimenez

October

  • Why We’re Protestant – Nate Pickowicz
  • Reformation: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow – Carl Trueman

November

  • The Down-grade Controversy: Collected Writings of CHS – Spurgeon
  • Playing Saint – Zachary Bartels
  • Playing Saint: All Souls Day – Zachary Barrels
  • Can I Be Sure I’m Saved? – RC Sproul

December

  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  • Life Together – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Desire and Deceit – Al Mohler
  • Parnassus on Wheels – Christopher Morley
  • Batman: I Am Gotham – Tom King / David Finch
  • The Haunted Bookshop – Christopher Morley

 

Final Tally: 44 books

Genre Breakdown:  

  • Non-fiction: 26
  • Fiction: 13
  • Graphic Novels: 5

Thoughts on This Year’s List: 

  • I thought I had read more fiction than that. I guess it seemed like more because it ran in spurts. But over a third is still a pretty good ratio, I guess.
  • I read a LOT of short books this year. If we break it down by pages read and average length, it would be significantly down from years past. Honestly, I’m okay with that. This year, I didn’t have the benefit of long commute times, so I squeeze in reading where I can. I have to admit, I also gave a lot of time away to TV–I don’t watch a LOT and I try to be discerning and specific with what I will watch, but there’s some good TV shows out lately, and those stories have been eating up reading time for me as well.
  • What’s not included on this list are about a dozen books I started and never finished, either because I ran out of year or just decided to give up. That never used to happen; once i’d start a book, I would grit it out to the end. However, in recent years, I’ve realized that life is too short to muddle through books that can’t hold your interest. It’s better to walk away from a book you’ve invested 100 pages in, so that the time it would take to read the other 200-300 pages can be devoted to another book you’ll enjoy more.
  • I also attempted some theme-months, with mixed success. I was able to finish 4 books about the African-American experience in February, and I have a list of others to check out in the future. That was really helpful to me, to walk in someone else’s shoes for a bit. I tried to make October “Reformation Month,” but didn’t get through much. Finally, I had a bound collection of five “Christmas tales” by Charles Dickens. I made it through “A Christmas Carol” (which I loved), but immediately got bogged down by “The Chimes.” I just stopped caring. Maybe next year!

My Top-Five Recommendations from This Year’s Reading List (in no particular order):

The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B DuBois — This book helped me start to understand how black experience and thought began taking shape and being expressed in the 20th century. I could recognize ideas and phrases that would be echoed in other writers (like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ work that I read last year). I found this to be a challenging and informative read, and I was the richer for reading it. It also emphasized for me personally how important it is to read widely and read outside your own experience (something I would have acknowledged abstractly but now see the importance of in a new way).

The Cubs Way – Tom Verducci — Yes, I’m a Cubs fan, so a book about their world championship season is a no-brainer. But even if you’re not a Cubs fan, if you like sports writing AT ALL, this book is well-worth your time. Verducci takes the reader inside the nuts and bolts of a major league organization and tells the individual stories that make sports so inspiring and exhilarating. Verducci is a gifted writer, and this book is one of my favorite sports books ever (subject matter aside).

Playing Saint / Playing Saint: All Souls Day – Zach Bartels — I’ve praised Zach Bartels’ work before, but I’m here to do it again. These books are just great. Bartels takes the supernatural mystery/thriller genre and just works it like a master. If you want a thrilling, dark page-turner, these two books are right up your alley. (Sensitive readers should note that both books deal with serial killers, and some of the crimes are described…if not graphically, then at least effectively. So, be advised of the content concerns there.)

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens — This is like picking the Patriots to be Super Bowl contenders. “No, duh, Dave, are you for real? A Christmas Carol is good?” Yes, it is. But I’m picking it because I think people forget exactly how good it is. Dickens is an incredible writer, who spends pages on description because he wants the reader to see and hear and smell his London setting. Plus, the novel gives you details and side comments and scenes and conversations that are always cut out of film or stage adaptations of the story, and it’s a delight to re-discover those elements of the story that we don’t see in other media. I hadn’t actually read this story since high school, and I’m glad I revisited it. You should, too.

Honorable Mention: Secret Identity – Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen — This graphic novel was better than I expected, so I wanted to give it a shout-out. It’s the story of a boy from the Kent family who grows up in Kansas–no, not that boy. This boy lives in a world where Superman is a comic book character–yet, his parents decide to name him Clark anyway. Young Clark Kent grows up to resent his super-powered namesake…until he develops strikingly similar superpowers of his own. He then must decide if he actually wants to take up the fictional mantle in the “real” world. I thought this take on the Superman mythos was a lot of fun, and would definitely recommend it to even casual fans of the original character.

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What’s Up for Next Year: Next year, I’m going to do battle against tsundoku by reading only* books I physically own as of December 31st, 2017.  I will also be doing something new for next year’s reading list — I’m going to try writing a capsule review (or longer, if I feel the urge) for every book I read in 2018. (Yay! More blog content!) So that means, by the end of the year, if you’ve been hanging tough with me, you’ll already have a good idea what my top-five will look like! As always, this is subject to change; I am a fickle fellow when it comes to New Year resolutions and reading plans. But why not try, right?

 

[*I’m leaving myself a little grace/wiggle-room in case I “have to” read things for church purposes (e.g. book studies, men’s groups, etc.). But I’m not going to seek out any recreational reading other than what is on my TBR shelves as of this coming Sunday. Probably. I’ll try.]

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So there you have it. My 2017 reading list.

Did you read anything great in the past year? Comment below and let me know!

Good gravy, two and a half MONTHS?!?

I’ve let you down, bloggy blog. I’ve been neglectful.

Let me esplain — no, there is too much, let me sum up:

  • I’m a daddy to an almost-five-month-old, and that’s still an amazing thing. She’s an absolute delight. I’ve got 3 pictures of her staring back at me around my desk, and even in those 3 pictures, she has already changed more in appearance than I care to consider. It’s still a bit surreal to me, having a daughter. Part of that is because I don’t get to see her for long stretches every day (unlike my beloved wife, who can’t get away from her for more than a couple hours at a time). But it’s also because she’s starting to develop her own personality, and it’s now catching up to me that in the next few years, this fifteen-pound, wriggling, squealing, squeezable little person is going to push out teeth, crawl, walk, run, start speaking words and then sentences, learn to dress herself and feed herself, and eventually learn to read and count and create. She’s a person made in the image of God, a person with a soul, a person whom my wife and I are tasked with shepherding and caring and disciplining. It’s…daunting. Exciting. But intimidating.
  • Marriage is excellent, 3 1/2 years in. I think we’re out of the “honeymoon” phase, but that is in no way meant to indicate anything negative. I think we’re really settling in and getting to know each other and serve each other better. I’m also seeing how intention is paramount when it comes to being a husband. It’s easy to coast and give half-effort. But that isn’t loving my wife well. I’ve got to try harder, be better than I am naturally. That can be a challenge, on days when I want to be lazy and selfish. It is a choice to walk out the role I’ve been given: “die” first, in all the little ways I need to in order to love and care for my family. Die to my own agenda, die to my own selfish desires. Be like Jesus.
  • Work is good. Busy. I feel like I’m contributing. That’s pretty cool.
  • Church is good. I’ve been getting opportunities to preach, both at my home church and elsewhere as there is need. That’s been a challenge and a blessing. And I’m back to being part of the Sunday School teaching rotation, though I’m sharing the load with more people, which is both good and bad.
  • Creatively, not much is happening. There is still a book or three I’d like to write, and those ideas keep bubbling up to the surface, but I’m in a season where other things need to take precedence. And I’m part of an upcoming web series that is still “upcoming,” since post-production has hit some delays with staffing and resources, but we’re hoping for a release by the summer. I’ll let you know about that when I have more info. But that’s just it. Basically, all my creative energies are being diverted into just taking care of what’s in front of me. Hoping for more in the future, but other things must take precedence.

That’s pretty much it for an update.  I’ll have a post up tomorrow with my end-of-year reading list (you didn’t think I’d forget about that, did you?) and maybe another short post about my 2018 reading plans.  (Holy cow, 2018, kids.)

Until then, I remain your obedient servant, T4D.