a list for friday: books to read this winter (or, Amazon gift cards welcome)

For some reason, despite my complete inactivity on the site for two years, dozens of people have recently “friended” me on goodreads.com, a site where you share and rate what you’re reading. I’m not sure what incentive the site offered to create such sudden activity, but the resurgence of interest did push me back online to update my profile.

It also reminded me how much I like learning what other people are reading and why, so it seemed like a good time for another book list. Last year it was my favorites; today it’s my good intentions for the rest of this year. As usual, my list is more ambitious than realistic, so this may become a book list to take me through until next spring. Which is fine—after all, reading something wonderful while curled up under a blanket is pretty much the only pleasant experience January has to offer.

P.S. The October issue of Christian Standard is all about reading, writing, and what other leaders are finding helpful. I’ve seen a sneak preview and it’s good stuff. You can subscribe at christianstandard.com.

The Story of Christian Theology (Roger Olson) — This is ginormous, but interesting; it’s the main curriculum for Jen U this fall.

1776 (David McCullough) — I have a tendency to quite suddenly become fascinated by specific subjects, get totally obsessed, and read and learn everything I can before losing interest completely. When I moved to Philadelphia, I knew it was only a matter of time before the American Revolution joined this list.

500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars (Kurt Eichenwald) — Eichenwald is one of my favorite writers ever because of his ability to combine intense research with good writing to create real-life narratives more fascinating than anything fiction can offer. His best book so far is Conspiracy of Fools, which I devoured in three days during my everything-Enron obsession; if this new one is half as good, I will be in heaven.

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (N.T. Wright) — No, I have not read this yet. Yes, I should have read it ages ago.

Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel) — Historical fiction is usually not my genre of choice, but this won several prestigious awards and now the sequel is also making critics swoon. Also, I like reading books about royalty and pretending I’m a princess.

When I Was a Child I Read Books (Marilynne Robinson) — A book of essays by one of our country’s most gifted living writers. Robinson questions the divisions within our moral climate and our “habit of mutual condescension”—it’s worth reading for that phrase alone.

My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals (Melanie Dunea) — Just for fun.

God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) — This might be a “kill two birds” kind of thing that I’ll introduce as a family devotional book after Thanksgiving.

If there’s time left over (oh, who am I kidding?): The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture; The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind; The Sacredness of Questioning Everything; Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis; The Kingdom and the Power: Behind the Scenes at the New York Times; The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos.

What’s on your must-read list these days?

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