My Reading List

Yesterday, I recommended books that I think everyone should read; here’s my list of books I should read. Many of these appear on AP reading lists, are bestselling books, or were recommended by friends much smarter and well-read than I. I have quite a few of these books on my shelves, but I’ve just never read them.

Fiction:

  • Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart
  • Richard Adams: Watership Down
  • Mitch Albom: The Five People You Meet In Heaven
  • Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Laurie Anderson: Speak
  • Julian Barnes: A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters
  • Jorge Borges: Ficciones
  • Ray Bradbury: Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • Albert Camus: The Stranger
  • Truman Capote: In Cold Blood
  • Willa Cather: Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • Miguel de Cervantes: Don Quixote
  • Tom Clancy: The Hunt For Red October
  • James Fenimore Cooper: The Last of the Mohicans
  • Roald Dahl: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Crime and Punishment
  • Theodore Dreiser: An American Tragedy
  • George Eliot: Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss
  • Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man
  • William Faulkner: Absalom! Absalom!, As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury
  • Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald: Tender Is The Night, Babylon Revisited
  • Margaret Mitchell: Gone With The Wind
  • Robert Graves: I, Claudius
  • Thomas Hardy: Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  • Joseph Heller: Catch-22
  • Earnest Hemingway: A Farewell To Arms, The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Kazuo Ishiguro: The Remains of the Day
  • Henry James: Portrait of a Lady, The Turn of the Screw, The American
  • James Joyce: Dubliners
  • Ken Kesey: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
  • Rudyard Kipling: Kim
  • Milan Kundera: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • D.H. Lawrence: Sons and Lovers
  • Sinclair Lewis: Babbit
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love In The Time Of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Toni Morrison: Jazz
  • Bharati Mukherjee: Tree Bride
  • Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita, Pale Fire
  • Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife
  • Michael Ondaatje: The English Patient
  • Marcel Proust: Swann’s Way
  • Ayn Rand: Anthem, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead
  • Erich Maria Remarque: All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses, Midnight’s Children
  • Louis Sachar: Holes
  • JD Salinger: Catcher in the Rye
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn: The Gulag Archipelago
  • John Steinbeck: East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men
  • Bram Stoker: Dracula
  • William Styron: Sophie’s Choice
  • Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • Robert Penn Warren: All The King’s Men
  • Eudora Welty: The Optimist’s Daughter
  • Edith Wharton: The Age of Innocence, The House Of Mirth

Drama:

  • Edward Albee: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot
  • Henrik Ibsen: A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler
  • Arthur Miller: The Crucible
  • Eugene O’Neill: Long Day’s Journey into Night
  • Peter Shaffer: Amadeus
  • George Bernard Shaw: Pygmalion
  • Neil Simon: The Odd Couple
  • Tom Stoppard: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead
  • Tennessee Williams: The Glass Menagerie

Poetry:

  • W.H. Auden
  • Anne Bradstreet
  • Robert Browning
  • Emily Dickinson
  • John Donne
  • T.S. Eliot
  • Robert Frost
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • Langston Hughes
  • Ben Jonson
  • John Keats
  • John Milton
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • William Carlos Williams
  • William Wordsworth
  • William Butler Yeats

Non-Fiction:

  • George W. Bush: Decision Points
  • G.K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy, The Everlasting Man
  • Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers, What the Dog Saw
  • C.S. Lewis: The Abolition of Man, The Four Loves
  • George Marsden: Jonathan Edwards
  • Sarah Palin: Going Rogue
  • Mark Twain: Autobiography of Mark Twain

Christian Living:

  • Jerry Bridges: Respectable Sins, Transforming Grace, The Disciplines of Grace
  • D.A. Carson: The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story
  • Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Choosing Gratitude
  • Kevin DeYoung: The Good News We Almost Forgot
  • D. Martyn Lloyd Jones: Spiritual Depression
  • Bob Kauflin: Worship Matters
  • Tim Keller: The Reason for God, Ministries of Mercy, Generous Justice
  • David Kinnaman: unChristian
  • Eric Metaxas: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
  • Beth Moore: Praying God’s Word
  • J.I. Packer: Knowing God
  • John Piper: Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy, Let the Nations Be Glad! Battling Unbelief
  • Paul Tripp: A Shelter in the Time of Storm

Recommended books

A little while ago I wrote a post about some book lists and noted which ones I had read, and then I asked which books you think everyone should read. I’ve also been working to put together a list of books I think everyone should read.

Now, the books I have listed below were chosen based on a variety of factors. Many of these books are personal favorites that I have read several times. All of these books have made some kind of impression on me and have affected my view of literature and the world. In some cases, the worldview is overtly anti-God or amoral/immoral, but the book helped me understand other cultures and how other people think. The point of this list was to recommend a variety of books from a variety of perspectives, not to give recommendations of “squeaky clean” literature (though some are pretty free of graphic, offensive elements, they may have philosophical issues I don’t agree with).

With the exception of the poets and preachers, whose works I have only sampled (their body of literature being so large it is hard to read their complete works), I have read all of the works listed, so please feel free to ask, if you’d like a more specific analysis of the book.

I’ve chosen a wide variety of books for this list. Some are modern popular fiction; some are ancient epic poems. Some are “classic” modern fiction, with many potentially offensive elements; some are books by Christian authors generally written for a Christian audience.

I’ve also had to reconcile myself to the fact that this list is not going to be perfect. I’ve pondered the choices for far too long and keep making changes. Okay. Disclaimer over. Here’s the list.

Fiction:

  • Louisa May Alcott: Little Women, Little Men
  • Laurie Anderson: Chains, Forge
  • Jane Austen: Emma, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice
  • Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451
  • Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre
  • John Bunyan: The Pilgrim’s Progress
  • Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Game
  • Kate Chopin: The Awakening
  • Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone
  • Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe
  • Don DeLillo: White Noise
  • Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities
  • Tim Downs: The Bug Man series
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes stories
  • Alexander Dumas: The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby
  • E.M. Forster: A Room with a View, Passage to India, Howards End
  • Thomas Hardy: Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
  • Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns
  • Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Les Misérables
  • Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
  • Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
  • C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia, Space Trilogy, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce
  • Jack London: The Call of the Wild, White Fang
  • Lois Lowry: The Giver
  • Daphne Du Maurier: Rebecca
  • Baroness Orczy: The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • George Orwell: 1984, Animal Farm
  • Alan Paton: Cry, the Beloved Country
  • J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter series
  • Salman Rushdie: Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Shalimar the Clown
  • Alexander McCall Smith: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective series
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Cancer Ward
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings
  • Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  • Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Jules Verne: Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Virginia Woolf: To The Lighthouse
  • Markus Zusak: The Book Thief

Drama:

  • Anton Chekhov: The Cherry Orchard
  • Johann Goethe: Faust
  • William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, The Tempest, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing
  • Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest, The Ideal Husband

Poetry:

  • Dante Alighieri: Inferno
  • Beowulf
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Sonnets from the Portuguese
  • Robert Browning
  • Amy Carmichael: If
  • E.E. Cummings
  • Emily Dickinson
  • John Donne
  • T.S. Eliot: The Waste Land
  • Robert Frost
  • George Herbert: The Temple
  • Homer: Iliad, Odyssey
  • John Milton: Paradise Lost
  • William Shakespeare: Sonnets
  • Sophocles: Oedipus Rex
  • Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Queene
  • Walt Whitman

Non-Fiction:

  • Mitch Albom: Tuesdays with Morrie
  • James Bradley: Flyboys
  • Frederick Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  • Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt: Freakonomics
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Malcolm Gladwell: Blink, The Tipping Point
  • Ron Hall and Denver Moore: Same Kind of Different as Me
  • Marcus Luttrell: Lone Survivor
  • Greg Mortenson: Three Cups of Tea
  • Barack Obama: Dreams from My Father
  • Dave Ramsey: Total Money Makeover
  • Lynne Truss: Eats, Shoots & Leaves
  • Virginia Woolf: A Room of One’s Own

Christian Living:

  • The ESV Study Bible
  • Valley of Vision
  • Jerry Bridges: Trusting God, The Pursuit of Holiness
  • Francis Chan: Crazy Love, Forgotten God
  • Henry Cloud & John Townsend: Boundaries
  • Mark Dever: What Does God Want of Us Anyway?
  • Kevin DeYoung: Just Do Something
  • Jonathan Edwards: sermons
  • Elisabeth Elliot: The Path of Loneliness, A Chance to Die: Biography of Amy Carmichael, Through Gates of Splendor, Shadow of the Almighty, Let Me be a Woman
  • John Fawcett: Christ Precious to Those That Believe
  • Greg Gilbert: What is the Gospel?
  • Nancy Guthrie: Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross; Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
  • Joshua Harris: Dug Down Deep, Stop Dating the Church
  • Ronald Horton: Mood Tides
  • Mary Kassian: Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild
  • Tim Keller: Prodigal God, Counterfeit Gods
  • C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity, God in the Dock, Surprised by Joy, The Problem of Pain
  • C.J. Mahaney: Living the Cross-Centered Life, Humility: True Greatness, Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World (ed. Mahaney)
  • Carolyn Mahaney (and daughters): Shopping for Time
  • Carolyn McCulley: Radical Womanhood
  • John Piper: Desiring God, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, Don’t Waste Your Life
  • David Platt: Radical
  • Layton Talbert: Not by Chance
  • A.W. Tozer: The Knowledge of the Holy
  • Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
  • Philip Yancey: What’s So Amazing about Grace?

40 before 40

A little while ago, Jon Acuff posted a 40 before 40 list on Stuff Christians Like; my friend Jenni told me about it and we both created lists of things we’d like to do before we turn 40. I just turned 30, so I have 10 years to accomplish the things on this list. Some of these things I know I’ll be able to do soon, but others will take a while (buy a house and write a book, for example).

I decided not to put goals about spiritual growth on this list because it is difficult to quantify and measure “know and love the Lord more every year” and sometimes God has different lessons for me to learn than I planned. Actually, I realize that all of these dreams and goals need to be held loosely, because God is in control of my life and His plans for me often differ from my plans for myself. I believe it is good to make plans and to dream of the things I could do for the Lord, the church, and others, but I also have to be submitted to God’s will and not view the things on this list as the markers of what makes life complete and satisfying. With that caveat, here’s my list!

  1. Write a non-fiction book
  2. Write a book of poetry
  3. Write a hymn
  4. Read through my list of “books I should read” (coming soon to a blog near you)
  5. Get another master’s degree or a Ph.d.
  6. Get out of debt and stay out of debt (with the exception of a mortgage—see below)
  7. Buy my own place to live
  8. Volunteer at a shelter for women and children or a rescue mission
  9. Visit missionary friends and work in an orphanage in Africa
  10. Support an orphan
  11. Support a missionary
  12. Become a mentor and/or foster parent
  13. Learn how to play the guitar
  14. Learn to speak a language fluently
  15. Run a 1/2 marathon
  16. Run a 5k in less than 28 minutes
  17. Run a marathon
  18. Visit the empty tomb, the Temple Mount, and see the Dead Sea Scrolls
  19. Visit Petra and Amman, Jordan
  20. Ride the Eurail across Europe (a 21 day pass is $900–anyone want to donate?)
  21. Visit my friend Jodi when she’s a missionary in Spain
  22. Visit Andorra (with Jodi) and Luxembourg
  23. Climb one of the Swiss Alps
  24. Visit the Sistine Chapel and ride a gondola in Venice
  25. Visit England with a literary-minded friend and visit Stratford-Upon-Avon, the Globe Theater (and see a play), the Brontes’ home, Oxford, Cambridge, and  a host of other sites
  26. See the Mona Lisa at the Louvre
  27. Drive on the autobahn
  28. Walk on the Great Wall of China
  29. Go on a safari in Africa
  30. Run across the Golden Gate Bridge and run up a hill in San Francisco
  31. Hike a 10,000+ foot mountain near Lake Tahoe (if I visit in the summer) or ski at a resort there (if I visit in the winter)
  32. Take my mom to Colonial Williamsburg
  33. Visit the Grand Canyon
  34. Go on an Alaskan cruise
  35. See a Broadway musical
  36. See an opera at the Met (preferably one by Puccini)
  37. See Placido Domingo perform live (I hope he doesn’t completely retire before I get a chance to hear him!)
  38. See Evgeny Kissin perform live
  39. Skate in Rockefeller Park at Christmas time
  40. Learn how to use the manual settings on a nice camera (should do this before all the traveling)

What are some things you’d like to accomplish before hitting the next mile-marker age?

Start your New Year’s Resolutions Early!

I recently read about starting your New Year’s resolutions early, so this morning I figured out a Bible reading and study plan, created a budget, and determined my exercise and reading goals. I have a couple other plans for this year that I need to think through some more, but I had already been thinking about these things during the month of December, so I thought, “Why not start early?”

I wouldn’t call the things I listed new resolutions, because I strive to be disciplined in these areas all the time, but I needed to refocus and make a plan for how I want to accomplish these things. Some of my goals for this year include reading the ESV in one year; making extra payments on my school bill, so I can finish paying it off before May; running a 1/2 marathon in February; and reading a book a week.

What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? Do you have any brand-spanking new resolutions, or are you like me and resolve to do the same things every year!

Things I’m Thankful For

Spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3-4)

1. The Gospel–I’m thankful for salvation through Christ Jesus and that He continues to save me from my sins (I Cor. 15:1-3). I’m thankful for a renewed understanding of and appreciation for the Gospel.

2. God’s grace and mercy–Except for God’s grace, I would be lost in my sin (Eph. 2:8-9). Except for God’s grace, I would have no interest in spiritual things or have any growth in godliness at all.

3. God’s Word–The Bible is alive, powerful, and able to change lives (Heb. 4:12, II Timothy 3:16)

4. God’s forgiveness–Because of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, I have been forgiven and justified before God (Romans 3:25-27).

Family

1. My parents–I am thankful my parents were saved before I was born. They raised me in a godly family, encouraged me to love and serve God, sacrificed for a Christian school education, and led by example.

2. My brothers, Nate, Ben, and Zeke–My brothers are all living for the Lord and serving Him in their respective vocations. I’m thankful Nate and Ben both married godly women who love them and edify them. I’m thankful for Zeke, who is working hard in school to become a Marine Corps officer and hopefully a pilot; his discipline and dedication are an inspiration to me. (He’s also a marathoner.)

3. My niece, McKenna–McKenna is such a special little girl and I’m so thankful that the Lord miraculously protected her during her birth and preserved her life. I can’t wait to meet her (hopefully this summer!).

Friends

1. The Filipiaks and Abels–Both of these families invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them, and I enjoyed the time of fellowship and relaxation with them.

2. Friends on Guam–Elizabeth, Karen, Leah, Julie and so many others challenge me to think biblically and are a constant source of encouragement to me.

3. Friends in distant places–Jenni, Dawn, Jodi, Joanna–Even if communication is sporadic or infrequent, these friends have kept in touch and encourage me from afar. Each one challenges me in specific ways and have been such a help and blessing to me.

4. My students–While not friends, my students don’t fit in any other category . . . I’m thankful for the many things I’ve learned from my students and I’m thankful for the privilege of teaching them. God has used my students to teach me many lessons.

Common graces

1. Books–I love to read almost any type of writing: fiction, poetry, Christian living, history, political science, economics, science. Books are so comforting and edifying.

2. Music–I love music of all kinds. I enjoy listening to the same song over and over, analyzing each line of harmony and accompaniment (weird, I know). I like analyzing the words and philosophy of a song. I’m thankful for the things I’ve learned about God and man through listening to music.

3. The internet–I’m thankful for this means of communicating God’s Truth, of interacting with friends, and even seeing family and friends who are tens of thousands of miles away.

4. Coffee and tea–There’s nothing like curling up with a good book and a warm beverage for a relaxing afternoon.

5. Sleep–I don’t get enough of this, but I’m thankful for what I do get!