This is the first year that feels, in a way I can’t quite explain, familiar. There was certainly some intentionality in my reading choices before this, but somehow things really seem to come together in this year.


  • Jesus and the Victory of God—If this was the first book I finished in 1391, I must have started it pretty early in the year before. All of NT Wright’s books are worthwhile.
  • A Graded Reader of Biblical Greek
  • Beowulf (Heaney)—I read this aloud to my son Abraham (then six, I guess). I think it was mostly relational for him, though he made it through the language even when the other boys lost interest.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—After Beowulf I dialed it down a bit, and started
  • Incarnational Ministry—By Hiebert. Excellent books, but oddly titled: it’s a book on cultural anthropology. The distinction between tribal, peasant, and urban societies was enlightening.
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Great Game—This had been recommended to me probably four or five years previously. I wish I’d read it earlier, it was extremely entertaining.
  • The Old Testament—Salutary, no doubt, but thinking back, what I really should have read first was a solid book on biblical theology.
  • The Golden Key—Here it is in the list; but in spite of reading a plot summary just now I can’t recall a thing about it.
  • Heart of Darkness
  • The Road—McCarthy; the only book I’ve read I think with a vaguely hopeful ending.
  • My Man Jeeves—Probably read as a reaction to McCarthy
  • Robert Falconer—This is probably my favorite George MacDonald book. His plotless novels don’t always work, but in this one the character development was strong enough to carry it. As for his universalism, he comes by it honestly.
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • George MacDonald, a biographical and critical appreciation
  • The Great Transformation—By Karl Polanyi; I took some interesting ideas from this—especially the idea that in traditional societies economic activities are submersed in culture—but most of this was beyond me.
  • The Odyssey—(The Pope translation) I enjoyed this far more than the Iliad. I was reading this in the Wakhan, among people who are materially poor, and who were offering me hospitality constantly. This line from Book 14 (spoken by a poor man offering hospitality to Odysseus) hit home: “Little, alas! is all the good I can // A man oppress’d, dependent, yet a man”
  • Fundamentals of Clinical Nutrition—There’s so much quackery around about nutrition, I was curious what the reality was. It turns out that the consequences of vitamin deficiency are not subtle.
  • Mud, Blood, and Poppycock—A curious book that tries to put a happy spin on the U.K.’s involvement in WWI.
  • Analyzing Discourse
  • An Introduction to Persian
  • Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters
  • Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-1945—My first Max Hastings book. Incredible, well-researched history. Unfortunately this was the first of four extremely depressing books I read one after the other, which notably affected my mood.
  • Things Fall Apart—I thought this was good, though somewhat heavy-handed.
  • My Bondage and My Freedom—Douglass is always worth reading, but I remember being disappointed that there wasn’t much in here that wasn’t in the Autobiography. The first post in this blog was a review of this book.
  • The Good Earth—I enjoyed this a lot, though I have yet to read the sequels. The blog post contrasts it with Things Fall Apart, which I had just read as well.
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way
  • Understanding How Others Misunderstand You
  • Hostage—Elie Wiesel
  • Bill Bryson’s African Diary
  • Exclusion and Embrace (here, here,  here, and here)—The blog posts are obviously my efforts to engage with a serious book. (NT Wright said this was the best book he’d read in the last twenty years, which is why I read it.) My recollection five years later is that there were a lot of emotive passages, but it was intellectually unsatisfying.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone—What a fun series!
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—I started reading Roald Dahl books aloud to the boys
  • The Place of the Lion—The first of many Charles Williams books I didn’t get. 🙂
  • A Boy’s Will—Frost
  • Flying to the Moon: An astronaut’s story—Read aloud
  • The Cultivated Mind—This was a great little book; it really motivated me to cultivate my mind intentionally.
  • The Silver Chair
  • Barnaby Rudge—Probably reading The Cultivated Mind made me feel like I should be reading Dickens.  I asked my friend Matt to recommend one, and he recommended this one, which was a lot of fun.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy—The book was fine; I was ambivalent about Bonhoeffer, though.
  • Introduction to Christianity (here and here)—This was a really, really good book.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • The Prophetic Imagination—I always find Brueggemann a mixed bag, but this book helped me to articulate some feelings I had about how necessary it is to articulate one’s feelings.
  • The Deutercanonical Books
  • The Last Battle
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban