Reading Choices

A couple friends have asked me how I decide what to read. For the most part, it’s random and I read whatever appeals to me! I am forever making up reading lists for myself and then just picking up whatever looks interesting at the moment.

A few years ago, I made a list of Books Everyone Should Read; I based the list on recommendations from a variety of sources and also listed books that I loved or were influential in my life. While I was working on that list, I wrote a post about a meme that was going around (100 Books: A short rant and a long post) and referenced several book lists there. Then I made up my List of Books I Should Read, and updated the list last year.

I try to read a variety of classic and modern fiction and non-fiction in various disciplines (Christian living, theology, history, education, literary analysis, psychology, science). I generally read Christian living type books in the morning as devotional literature and fiction or light non-fiction in the evening before going to bed. I usually read the lengthier, more difficult non-fiction works throughout the day as I have time.

This year, I am going to try to be a little more organized in my book reading. I want to read more from my List of Books I Should Read, so I am going to bring some of those books back to China with me next semester. I am also going to focus on specific topics in my devotional reading (holiness, missions, emotions) and non-fiction reading (China, biography/autobiography, teaching), and I plan to read more poetry and drama.

Here’s a sample of some of the books on my reading list for this year. As usual, my list is too long to be feasible, but it reflects my goals for the year and my plans to read more strategically.

Fiction

  • Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Ray Bradbury: Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • Roald Dahl: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Crime and Punishment
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald: Babylon Revisited
  • Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man
  • William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury
  • Robert Graves: I, Claudius
  • Joseph Heller: Catch-22
  • Earnest Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea
  • Kazuo Ishiguro: The Remains of the Day
  • Rudyard Kipling:  Jungle Book
  • C.S. Lewis: Till We Have Faces
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love In The Time Of Cholera
  • Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife
  • Vladimir Nabokov: Lolita
  • Michael Ondaatje: The English Patient
  • Erich Maria Remarque: All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses
  • John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn: The Gulag Archipelago
  • Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • Edith Wharton: The Age of Innocence

Drama and Poetry

  • Eugene O’Neill: Long Day’s Journey into Night
  • George Bernard Shaw: Pygmalion
  • Tom Stoppard: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead
  • T.S. Eliot
  • Robert Frost
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • John Milton

Non-fiction

  • Robert Alter: The Art of Biblical Narrative
  • George W. Bush: Decision Points
  • Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking
  • Li Cheng: Song of a Wanderer
  • Malcolm Gladwell: David and Goliath
  • George Marsden: Jonathan Edwards
  • Eric Metaxas: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Christian living

  • Jerry Bridges: Respectable Sins; The Disciplines of Grace; Pursuit of Holiness
  • D.A. Carson: The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story
  • Tim Challies: The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment
  • Bryan Chapell: Holiness by Grace
  • Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Surrender; Holiness
  • Elisabeth Elliot: The Path of Loneliness (re-read)
  • Ronald Horton: Moodtides (re-read)
  • D. Martyn Lloyd Jones: Spiritual Depression
  • Tim Keller: The Reason for God; The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness
  • 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! 

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?

Books I read in September and October 2009

Since school started, I haven’t been able to read as much as I would like. 

I’ve been reading from several Christian Living books, but haven’t finished any of them yet. 😦
Christian Living books I’ve been reading:

Winning the Inner War by Irwin Lutzer
We’re reading this book for the HBBC class I’m auditing. It’s a great book. Hopefully, I’ll be done reading it by the end of the semester. . . I haven’t been doing a such a great job at keeping up with homework assignments!





Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
I’ve only read a few chapters of this book, but so far it has been a great book. I wasn’t prepared for this to be a book of solid doctrine (I really didn’t know much about Driscoll before starting this, but I expected something along the lines of The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. I was pleasantly surprised. I’ll write more when I finish it.  




Culture Shift
by Al Mohler

Again, I haven’t finished this, but so far, I’ve really enjoyed this book and have learned a lot.










Toward Jerusalem by Amy Carmichael
This collection of Christian poetry by missionary Amy Carmichael expresses the timeless truths of God’s Word and life lessons in beautiful poetry. 
















Listed below are some novels I’ve read:

At Home in Holly Springs: A Father Tim Novel by Jan Karon
I love the Mitford series and this first book of the new series about Father Tim’s childhood and young adult years was no disappointment. I enjoyed this book as much as the others, if not more, because she gives the back story to events merely alluded to in the Mitford series.











Saint by Ted Dekker
This is an awesome book! I loved it! I watched The Bourne Ultimatum the same day I read this book and there were some interesting similarities–it was a good pairing of book and movie.













Showdown by Ted Dekker
This book was a bit gruesome in places, but has an incredible redemption story. It fills in important details of the Circle Trilogy. I wouldn’t have understood Green if I hadn’t read this book first. 















Plague Maker by Tim Downs
Tim Downs just keeps getting better and better! I love this book. The plot moves quickly and the story line is intriguing. I was glad the Nick Polchack made an appearance in this book, but I liked the new character, Nathan Donovan, he introduced.














Non-fiction:

A Leap of Faith by Queen Noor
I’d been wanting to read this for a long time and I’m so glad I finally did. I learned so much about the Middle East conflicts. It was helpful to read about the wars and conflicts from a Muslim perspective, since I grew up always hearing the Judeo-Christian perspective. This is a well-written, engaging memoir by the American-born queen of Jordan.

Summer Reading

I always come up with a huge list of books to read, but then I go to the library and just pick up whatever looks good. Here’s what I’m planning on reading in the next few weeks.

For the flight, I’m packing:

1. The MacArthur Study Bible and a notebook

2. Essential Virtues by Jim Berg

3. Let Me Be a Woman by Elizabeth Elliot

4. A novel, to be chosen randomly from my bookshelf before I walk out the door. I’m open to suggestions.

For Bible study, edification, or professional development:

1. The God of Comfort by Hannah Whitehall Smith

2. Mountain Breezes by Amy Carmichael

3. A Chance to Die by Elizabeth Elliot

4. Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman by Beth Moore

5. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty

6. The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry

7. Glencoe Literature: British Literature

For fun:

1. Plague Maker by Tim Downs

2. Redwall by Brian Jacques

3. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

4. Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

5. Reread The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


So what are you reading this summer? Any recommendations?

Earlier Posts on Books or Poetry

I’m Back, November 1, 2006, reviewing The Man Who was Thursday, Condi: The Condoleeza Rice Story, A Light in the Window, These High, Green Hills, and Jennie Gerhardt.

Magnetic Poetry, August 28, 2007.

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, August 30, 2007.

Introduction to Poetry, August 30, 2007.

Serious Humor, August 31, 2007.

January Book Review, February 4, 2008.