2013 in Review: Books

I’ve been out of pocket. Sorry.

Honestly, I’ve been in a funk, and haven’t been focused on writing so much.

(As I’m writing this I’m listening to Rush for crying out loud!)

But that being said, I’ve been kicking around a few ideas, and I figured I’d start by doing a somewhat haphazard book and music review of 2013.

I’m just going to list everything that I’ve bought and read/listened to, and throw out some notes where something strikes me.

Enjoy, and feel free to ask me questions about anything you see on the list.


  1. Leadership Jazz. Max DePree. I’ve had this a long time, and just decided to review it for the heck of it.
  2. The War of ArtStephen Pressfield. If you do anything creative (and let’s face it: it’s all creative, isn’t it?), this is a must read. I’ve read it twice already, and I only bought it in 2012.
  3. Sabbath. Dan Allender
  4. Spiritual Direction and Meditation. Thomas Merton.
  5. Catching Fire. I have a daughter; deal with it.
  6. New Seeds of Contemplation. Thomas Merton. Very impactful book. God broke me down, grew me and stretched me in unbelievable ways in 2013, and this was one of the things that “primed the pump.”
  7. Giving Church Another Chance. Todd Hunter. An evangelical-turned-Anglican describes the impact of the liturgy on his spiritual life.
  8. Mockingjay. I still have a daughter; deal with it.
  9. Life of the BelovedNouwen. This was the first book I read when I started in vocational ministry. It still hits home with me every time. Highly recommended.
  10. Slam. Nick Hornby. Great fiction by my favorite modern English writer.
  11. Getting Things Done. David Allen. My approach to productivity; I try to read this once a year.
  12. Courageous Leadership. Bill Hybels. A great overview of leadership in ministry.
  13. Bread & Wine. A devotional for Lent. Variety of writers.
  14. The History of Christianity, Vol 2 (Gonzalez). Read it for Asbury, but it’s a great book.
  15. Reason and Religious Belief. Read for a philosophy of Christian religion class. Made my brain hurt.
  16. Philosophy of Religion. Same. Brain hurt more.
  17. The Wounded Healer. Nouwen. Another tiny book with heavy truth in it. Addresses empathy and openness in pastors.
  18. Last Argument of Kings. Joe Abercrombie. Fantasy/fiction.
  19. The Illumined HeartMathews-Green. This tiny book will rock your world if you let it. If you are looking for practical ways to make your faith a day-to-day (moment-to-moment?) experience, grab this and open your heart and mind.
  20. Born to Run. A great book on running. It inspired me to actually commit to a 5k.
  21. Ruthless Trust. Brennan Manning. I always make sure I read one Brennan Manning book per year. This is a brilliant, challenging book on trusting Jesus to love us in spite of brokenness.
  22. Open Heart, Open Mind. Thomas Keating. A game changer. Given to me by a spiritual mentor, and it’s changed the way I view prayer, and my spiritual journey. This is deep, deep stuff.
  23. The Way of Men. Martin Buber. I went through a brief fascination with hasidic writing. This is a very short book, but a good introduction.
  24. King Leopold’s Ghost. Inspired by a conversation with a good friend, combined with an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. It’s a recounting of the tragedy of the Belgian Congo. Millions of Africans murdered in the name of … well, nothing. Genocide. Sad, but necessary reading.
  25. Sacred Treason. Historical fiction.
  26. The Creative HabitTwyla Tharp. I’m always up for a good read on creativity, and this book is spot-on. Great, practical advice on developing habits for creativity.
  27. Introduction to Christian Doctrine. Lawson. Seminary reading.
  28. Introduction to Christian Theology. Gonzalez and Perez. Seminary reading, but a great basic intro to theology and doctrine.
  29. Leonardo and the Last Supper. Ross King. Ross King is a great historian and story-teller. Good study of Di Vinci’s efforts to paint the last supper. (Ross King’s book Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling is a big inspiration for my on-again, off-again book on spiritual disciplines).
  30. Facing East. Mathewes-Green. This is about a family’s journey into the Orthodox faith.
  31. David and Goliath. Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve always been a fan of Gladwell’s, and this book is more of the same. Not quite as many brilliant insights as in some of his previous works, but great stories all the same.
  32. The Solace of Fierce LandscapesBeldon Lane. I really enjoyed this book. It’s about desert spirituality, and really impacted me this year. A lot of my reading came together around common themes, and desert monasticism loomed large for me. It was very healthy and healing.
  33. Managing Your Day-to-Day99U. This is a great collection of essays on creative productivity. Full of tips and strategies to stay focused on “getting stuff done.”
  34. Breathing Underwater. Richard Rohr. This book on recovery and 12-step spirituality had a deep impact on me. Rohr really has a grasp on spiritual growth.
  35. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Ben Witherington. Witherington’s New Testament commentaries are really good and useful. Challenging, but also pretty solid scholarship.
  36. Divine Therapy. Thomas Keating.
  37. Spirituality of ImperfectionJust wow. A new perspective of life, and what it means to be human. One of my main influences this fall.
  38. 11/22/63. Stephen King. An odd book for me, but King is a great writer, and I decided to take a chance. About Kennedy’s assassination. And time travel. And creepy buildings.
  39. Gone Girl. Another odd choice, but a thriller. Well written.
  40. Heroes and HereticsThomas Cahill. I pushed to get this read before Jan 31. Cahill is a brilliant writer, and this is another book in his “Hinges of History” series. It’s all about identifying turning points in history—including social, spiritual, cultural, artistic movements—and showing how they came about and what kind of influence they had. I highly recommend any of them, but if you want to start somewhere, look at either The Desire of the Everlasting Hills or How the Irish Saved Civilization

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