Thursday, December 27, 2007

Top Books of 2007

I hope you guys had a great Christmas.

I thought it would be fun to share the top 5 books I read in 2007. Some are from previous years, but these are ones I have read in the last 12 months. Feel free to offer your own recommendations, the best books you read in the 2007.

Honorable Mention #1: New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus by David Bivin.
This is a great introduction to the Jewish roots of Jesus that most of us miss. Bivin, who is a Christian who has studied in Palestine for decades, is a good writer who keeps you interested while he offers great insight about the teachings and culture of Jesus.

Honorable Mention #2: The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

I saw this on one of those tables at Barnes and Noble and had to pick it up. A.J. Jacobs, who is a writer and editer for Esquire, does this sort of thing, where he will undertake a mammoth project, and then write a memoir about it. One he wrote before this (that I'm reading now) is called The Know it All where he reads all the way through the Encyclopedia Britannica and writes about it.

The book is hilarious, insightful, informative, and entertaining. Jacobs is a Jew (who doesn't really practice) but is fascinated by the Bible and undertakes to live all of his life by it for an entire year. This includes (and perhaps centers around) the esoteric commands in the Old Testament like not clipping the edges of your beard and wearing tassels on the edge of your garments. He does a good job of combining both the ridiculous and the practical. It is a fun read.

The Top 5 (In no Particular order)

The Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd

This is one of the best books I have ever read. I got it for Christmas and read it in just a few days. Boyd does a great job of defining the differences between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of the World, and then pointing to how our culture (particularly Evangelical Christianity) gets it wrong. There were several times when I would read a sentence and think "I have thought that for years." He says things that need to be said, but have not been.

The entire book was good, but perhaps the highlight for me was chapter 7, called "When Chief Sinners become Moral Guardians." It was one of the best chapters I've read in any book. The book is a must read, but you may also be interested in the sermon series that proceeded the book, that contains much of the same information. You can find those sermons here.

The Shack by William P. Young

I have already written about this here, but suffice it to say it is the best book of its kind I have even come across. A must read and a touching tale.

More Ready Than You Realize by Brian McLaren

I picked this up on a whim at half priced books. I am always looking for good teaching resources on how to better share your faith. What I got was completely different than I had expected, but much better.

I was aware of Brian McLaren and who he was. I had heard and read quotes by him and commentary about him. I have learned that most of his quotes by his critics are taken out of context and twisted to mean something that he is not saying. I am now a huge Brian McLaren fan. He is a great thinker and remarkably relevant to the culture in America. He has a great grasp on the shifts that are taking place in the culture and in Christendom. I have had to add about four more McLaren books to my reading list. I can't wait to read more of him.

Adventures in Missing the Point by Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren

Another Brian McLaren contribution. This came recommended by a friend, and when I was told the idea behind the book (i.e. looking into the ways Christians have missed the point over the years) I had to check it out. They divide up chapters, but take time at the end of each to critique the other. Campolo's chapter on homosexuality alone is worth the price of the book. He has revolutionized the way I think about homosexuality. In addition, the chapters on Evangelism and the Bible by McLaren are very good as well.

Catch Me if You Can by Frank William Abignale

This one is a change of pace. This is the book that spawned the movie by the same name. Frank William Abignale was a con artist who posed as a Pilate, a lawyer, a doctor, a University professor all before his 22nd birthday, all the while writing fraudulent checks to make himself rich. The movie was largely true, but as you can imagine, parts were left out and other parts were embellished. The book offers the true story, from the horse’s mouth.

In addition to it be a very exciting read, the end of the story is great. After Frank's run comes to an end and he spends some time in jail (in several countries), he begins to help catch con artists and stop fraud. He pays back all the money he stole over the years from banks and individuals, and goes on to make 20 times the amount he stole on his books and security consulting business. He thought crime paid, but in reality, going legit paid much more.


Matt Brinkman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Brinkman said...

You may also be interested in unchristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. You can read more about the book at

Nick said...

Thanks Matt. Yeah, I have seen a little bit on that and my curiosity has been stimulated. I will have to add it to my list (which grows quickly).

Nate Watson said...

I haven't read any of those, although I have read work by some of the authors. I will try to check them out. Not haveing a working television anymore has blessed me with more reading time.

Have a happy New Year!

If you get a chance, check out "the life of Pi" by Yann Martel. An interesting novel with a pluralistic agenda.


Nick said...

Hi Nate.

I read about a third of The Life of PI before I kind of lost interest. I would like to go back and finish it at some point, but we will see if that happens, as i have a lot of other stuff I'm excited about reading. I heard the ending is supposed to be amazing. So, you would reccomend it strongly, huh?

Bill Blackrick said...

Thanks for the book suggestions, Hope You have a great new year!

Nick said...

Thanks Bill, you too brother.

Tim said...

Nick, I agree that The Myth of a Christian is a great book. Very well written, and I, too, had some of the same reactions like "Yah, I do think like that, but maybe I really shouldn't be..."

I've been wanting to read Catch Me if You Can for years but it's never in the library. I'm going to have to look harder for a used copy, I guess. Thank you for the other recommendations.

Happy New Year!

Nick said...

Cool, Tim. It would be neat if you offered up your commentary to help suppliment the review of Myth....

Happy New Year to you as well!