Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reading List 2010

I'm a slow reader. Which leaves me reluctant to read as well as forever reading once I start! And because I read so slowly, I end up reading quite a few books at the same time. I'm sure it reflects a lack of discipline, but I simply find that because it takes me so long to finish books I start, as I'm plowing through one book, I get distracted by another, and possibly another (and sometimes even another!). But I eventually get back to most of the books I begin reading.

This is a list of the books I read in 2010 (in the order I completed them). Apart from all the books listed here, I also read the Bible through each year. I believe the Bible is God's inspired Word to us, and of all the things I read, I see the Bible as what is most essential for me to be feeding on. Most of the postings I add to my blog are a result of my time spent reading God's Word.
Perhaps there's a book listed here that you'd enjoy reading. And please feel free to leave a comment if there's a book you'd like to recommend that I read in 2011. Just give me plenty of time to do so if I decide to read it!
  1. Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson. I read this book during a 3-day spiritual retreat in January.  It was a particularly timely book for me to read, as I was struggling with some issues that this book addresses for pastors. Though I struggled with the blanket judgments that Peterson sometimes seems to make about other pastors, I found his urgent emphasis on finding a spiritual rhythm that keeps God as more important than ministry extremely helpful.
  2. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Had a hankering for a little Dickens, and I decided to finally discover how much of the book wasn't included in the movie. It was an enjoyable read, but I often find Dickens novels more than a little contrived by how every little thing comes together in the end and by how every character seems more like a caricature of either good or evil.
  3. Brothers, We are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry by John Piper. This book is a passionate call to Christian leaders to keep first things first and to minister out of a life in God rather than out of a professionalization of the ministry. And with thirty chapters, it's more about keeping the first thirty things first! But Piper makes a clear case for each issue, and leaves me wanting to grow in all of them.
  4. Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor. Amazing.  Faith building. Life-changing. This book has changed the way I pray. It has given me a higher view of God and a greater sense of my oneness with Christ.  This particular book is an abbreviated version (half the length) of a longer biography written by the same authors about one of the most fruitful pioneer missionaries in the history of Christianity. Hudson Taylor's profound commitment to living an "exchanged life" as he depended on God for his every need has made the story of his life a great example to anyone who desires to live their life fully committed to Jesus.
  5. Spiritual Leadership:  Moving People on to God's Agenda by Henry and Richard Blackaby. This is the best book on leadership I've ever read. That said, I found it a great challenge to complete (after beginning it over a year ago!) due to how densely packed each and every chapter is. It was so full of relevant leadership principles that I found myself underlining stuff on nearly every page!
  6. Finally Alive by John Piper. This book became more and more helpful as I read it, and was truly meat to be chewed on. It deals with the flippant and demeaning way the term "born again" has come to be used in North America. And it affirms how being born again is a profound supernatural event that leaves a person radically changed, despite what careless telephone surveys may say to the contrary! God has made us "truly, invincibly, finally alive", and knowing the implications of that is a great encouragement.
  7. God is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself by John Piper. This was the second time I'd read this book, this time as a part of a small group book study.  It is a book that unflinchingly nails a blessings-based North American Christianity right between the eyes! The question it asks again and again is do we truly want God or do we simply want His salvation blessings of peace and forgiveness?  But what has made it such a compelling book to me is the way John Piper exalts Jesus Christ as the only One who can truly satisfy our deepest longings. It's a book that leaves you hungry for Jesus!
  8. When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles by Bill Johnson. After watching a video of Bill Johnson, I felt prompted to want to find out more about his theological approach to the issues of healing and the sovereignty of God. But more than that, I've been feeling a growing hunger in my heart to see God's power at work in the lives of people who are in desperate need of miracles. This book is about the reality of God's Kingdom invading earth, and my prayer is that that reality will become more real to me than the keys I use to type these words!
  9. The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind by Bill Johnson. I have found my struggling faith strengthened by Bill Johnson's fresh perspective on what the Bible has to say about God being an active, invasive, here-and-now God who does the miraculous as we take up the authority He has given us. I've been encouraged as I've been processing the Biblical teachings of a man who has regularly seen God move miraculously.
  10. Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson. This is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel written as an autobiographical letter from an aged father to his young son. It is both random and reflective in many ways, but has much to do with the theme of father/son relationships and has a strong spiritual pulse in the many fatherly musings and memories. Some of the father's memories go back to his grandfather's time in the Civil War, and ever since I lived in the United States, I've always appreciated reading about that period of American history.
  11. Discipleship on the Edge: An Expository Journey through The Book of Revelation by Darrell W. Johnson. I began reading this book in the fall of 2009, and even though it took me awhile to finish it, I really enjoyed it. It was given to me as a gift, and I wanted to read it because of how impacted and excited I've felt the last couple times I've read Revelation. I wasn't disappointed. Every chapter clarified my understanding and made the Book of Revelation much more relevant in my everyday life.
  12. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder. The story of a remarkable man who narrowly escaped from the dangers of a chaotic civil war in Burundi only to find himself lost among the dangers of NYC, America. But through the kindness of strangers who were willing to help him, he not only flourished in America, but was able to eventually return to Burundi to offer help that would transform an impoverished community.
  13. What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper. Fifty demands, all drawn from what Jesus said in the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament. Fifty chapters, all relatively brief, each one unpacking a command Jesus instructed us to observe. If you want a book that will challenge you while also emphasizing the grace of God we need to meet the challenge, this is the book for you. There's no shortage of application in this book! So much so, that I typically only read one or two chapters a week lest I'd have too much to work on all at once!
  14. Father to the Fatherless: The Charles Mulli Story by Paul H. Boge. The true story of a Kenyan man whose life began in desperate poverty, and who eventually became a highly successful businessman who then felt called to reach out to help orphans and street children in a way that would give them the same hope in Jesus and the same hope for their future that he experienced.
  15. The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger. Every so often I pick up a book to read simply as a diversion -- a book about some faraway place or some extreme circumstance. In such instances, I'm fond of books about the desert or the sea. This book has been sitting on my shelf for years, and I suddenly felt inclined to read it. As usual (when I read such books), I was impacted by the courage of those who risk their lives at sea.
© 2010 by Ken Peters


Coralee said...

this is an incredible list considering you're so busy - good for you!

josh.gaudreau said...

I see you've been reading a lot of Piper; never a bad choice!

You mention that you often turn to books about the desert or the sea; you may enjoy a book called The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality, by Belden Lane. He looks at why the desert Christians and later the Anabaptists were drawn to the places they were.

For faraway places reading, I like Ernest Hemingway and Paul Bowles, though they can be bleak at times.

I appreciated the list! There's a few on here I'm interested in checking out now.

Ken said...

Hey Josh, I'll look into that Solace of Fierce Landscapes book. If you like desert books, you may enjoy The Fearful Void, which is my personal favourite for desert-reading. I once posted some clips from it at
You may want to check it out.

Coralee, I hardly ever watch TV, and my kids are older than yours. You too may read more once your kids are teens!


Paul Martens said...

Ken, I'm still trying to finish Spiritual Leadership. I have found it to be a struggle as well but having finished it you have challenged me to complete it!

Ken said...

It's worth it Paul. I found so much in that book worth underlining. If only I could put into practice everything I underlined!