A couple of times a year I try to give an update on the books that I’ve read or am in the middle of reading. I noticed that it has been quite a while since I last wrote about “books” so I thought it might be fun to share with you some of the books that have been influencing me these last months. The only criteria I had for the list is that I would recommend them. Also, the reason I make the list is that some of these books are not as popular as other Christian books and so might awaken an interest in reading something that you didn’t know about or hadn’t thought much about.

Regardless, here we go.

We all know The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning but he also has a number of other books that I’ve lately re-read. Abba’s Child and Ruthless Trust are two of the best.

I haven’t read much Max Lucado lately but I picked up his newest Anxious for Nothing while I was visiting in Toronto and wanted something to read. All of Max’s books are good and this one reminded me what a good writer he is and what good insights he has into the Bible. Makes me regret not picking up a whole collection of his books at a discount store the other day.

Outlaw Christian is another book I picked up in Toronto. This is a book by the director of the Forum on Faith and Life who plunges into the world of suffering. Jacqueline Bussie gives a straight forward approach to honest Christianity in the light of our struggles. The book is worth reading if for no other reason than reading the list of lies we tell ourselves about our relationships to God and others.

I’ve been reading a number of N.T. Wright books lately (the smaller ones). If you want to spend a pleasant month of November relaxing and reading I think you couldn’t go wrong with, Simply Good News, The Challenge of Jesus, Justification, and The Day the Revolution Began. I haven’t read Simply Jesus but it’s on the pile by the bed. Wright’s insight into the world of 1st Century Judaism and Christianity really help give insight into what is happening in the Bible stories. You cannot read a book by Wright and come away disappointed.

Bad Religion by Ross Douthat is one of those books I’ve been reading off and on for months. I always seem to have something else to read so I forget about this amazing book. Douthat’s thesis is that Christianity isn’t struggling in North America because of secularism but because of the bad religion that is promoted in the name of Christianity. When I finally sat down and read the book I couldn’t believe I had this sitting on my shelf so long and hadn’t read it. It is an eye opener and really makes a person think about the mess we’ve made in the name of Christianity.

What Is the Bible? is Rob Bell’s latest and what an enjoyable read it is. He gives a fresh and very interesting approach to reading the Bible. I’m sure all the Rob Bell haters will hate the book but for the rest of us it is a fun, informative, and interesting read.

I have to admit I had never read anything by Dallas Willard until recently. I am working my way through The Divine Conspiracy and though I find it slow going I have found many wonderful and dynamic insights in his writing. I still have over half the book to read so I’m sure there are even more gems ahead.

I recently re-read Philip Yancey’s book The Jesus I Never Knew and have decided to read the book every couple of years. This book is well worth reading and re-reading.

My friend Angela introduced me to the writings of Carl Medearis and what a joy they are. Having spent most of his ministry in the Middle East his books are packed solid with stories of encounters with Islam and God’s work in that part of the world. I would recommend Speaking of Jesus, Tea With Hezbollah, and Adventures in Saying Yes. If you want a preview of Carl’s talents look him up on Youtube and listen to any of his talks.

I have a background in Church History so I’m always interested in books that make the history of Christianity come alive. Two books that I’m now reading do just that. Turning Points, by Mark A. Noll and Medieval Christianity by Kevin Madigan are both excellent reads. Turning Points looks at twelve decisive points in Christian history and Medieval Christianity gives an easy to read and clear insight into Christianity leading up to the Medieval period and the church and society during the Medieval world. Ive not quite finished either of these books but will finish them both in the next few weeks.

I’m just finishing reading Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler. This is the story of his travels and heart felt changes while trying to pin down the locations of Old Testament stories from Abraham through the conquest of the Promised Land. In the new year I plan to read his books Abraham and Where God Was Born. PBS did a series with Feiler called “Sacred Journeys With Bruce Feiler” and I’ve watched some of them on Youtube and they are very interesting.

An older book that has had a real impact on me is Leon Morris’s book, Testaments of Love, A study of love in the Bible. I can’t say enough good about this wonderful book by a great theologian. Please find a used copy on Amazon and order it, then read it.

I’ve got to end with a book that falls more into the secular world of books but is so much fun and entertaining and informative I had to add it. The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli causes a person to think and think clearly. The book is available at most bookstores.

Well that’s what I’ve been up to lately in my reading. How about you? Share with us what you’ve been reading and help us build up our lists of reading for the winter.