A year-end tradition here at the 4thDaveBlog, so here ya go–what I read in 2017 (in dozens of bulleted lists)!
- A Year of No Sugar – Eve Schaub
- Why Pro-Life? – Randy Alcorn
- Silence – Shusaku Endo
- 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
- The Long Walk – Stephen King
- The End of the Affair – Graham Greene
- The Circle – Dave Eggers
- The Truth of the Cross – RC Sproul
- The Final Days of Jesus – Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor
- Year of No Clutter – Eve Schaub
- Unparalleled – Jared Wilson
- Reverberation – Jonathan Leeman
- The Girl With All the Gifts – M. R. Carey
- The Dip – Seth Godin
- Linchpin – Seth Godin
- The Wonder-Working God – Jared Wilson (audio)
- Turning Pro – Steven Pressfield
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport
- Husband-Coached Childbirth – Dr. Robert Bradley
- Family Worship – Dr. Donald Whitney
- Teammate – David Ross
- Call for the Dead – John LeCarre
- Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
- The Cubs Way – Tom Verducci
- Secret Identity – Kurt Busiek / Stuart Immonen
- Horrorstor – Grady Hendrix
- DC Rebirth Deluxe Ed. – Johns/Frank/VanSciver/Reis/Jimenez
- Why We’re Protestant – Nate Pickowicz
- Reformation: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow – Carl Trueman
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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.]
So there you have it. My 2017 reading list.
Did you read anything great in the past year? Comment below and let me know!
2 thoughts on “My 2017 Reading List, and Top Reads of the Year!”
I just realized I forgot one! Sometime in the fall, I also read “March: Part 3”–the graphic novel series about the Civil Rights movement co-written by Rep. John Lewis. Somehow, I couldn’t find Part 2, but I read Part 3. I really enjoyed the art style!
SO: Final book tally–45!
Honestly, looking back at this list, there were about 7-8 other books that could have just as easily fit into the top five list. There were so many books that I enjoyed thoroughly or that I thought should be read more widely, it’s hard to make a definitive list of five! For example, here are some equally worthy candidates:
–“Silence” was rather good, but I read it long enough ago that some of the impact has dulled. But it was a challenging and tragic novel about missions and hope.
–“Silent Night” by Stanley Weintraub is a short book about the Christmas Day truce during the first year of WW1. It’s a fascinating event in world history that should be more well-known.
–“Linchpin” by Seth Godin and “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport are both excellent books about how to pursue excellence (and happiness) in your work. I took away valuable ideas from both.
–“Call for the Dead” is the first book in LeCarre’s “George Smiley” series, and I really enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be picking those up, even if I have to wait until 2018 to do it.
–“Life Together” by Bonhoeffer was excellent and should be read more often. I read it slowly and discussed it with a couple of men from church over the course of several weeks. That’s the best way to read it, I think.