Darren The Foulds

2017 Reading Challenge: 52/52

I participated in Tim Challies' Christian Reading Challenge for the first time in 2017. And I read (on average) a book a week, all year long!

In the past, I've read very little. Maybe 6–8 books a year, and mostly Zane Grey Novels or other fiction. This year, I decided to read 12 books from The Light Reader plan, but by March decided to try for one book a week and do The Committed Reader plan. Amazing what reading can be done when Netflix is off.

Lessons learned: I can read a lot of books if I put the effort into it. It was work to do it, but not hard work. This was never (or at least, very rarely) a chore. in 2018 I think I'll be more focused in my reading (fewer authors and fewer actual books.)

Books 27–52 (Jun-Dec) The Committed Reader

27A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree withThe Augsburg ConfessionDec 10★★★⋅⋅Appropriate for such a “Reformed” year. Helpful for me to understand my Lutheran friends' theology better.
28A book about Christian livingDisciplines of a Godly Man: R. Kent HughesOct 3★★★★⋅Pastor Al quotes Hughes often. A great (though not profound) book that I'll re-read in coming years.
29A book about apologeticsEvidence for the Historical Jesus: Gary HabermasSep 20★★★⋅⋅Something has piqued my interest in this topic, so I'm starting to read on it.
30A book of your choiceThe Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ: Gary HabbermasOct 14★★★★⋅An excellent book expanding on the other Habbermas book I read. Strong case set forth with lots of evidence.
31A humorous bookThe Secrets of the Vine: Bruce WilkersonDec 16★★⋅⋅⋅This one seems slightly better than Jabez. Some interesting thoughts on abiding in Christ. Still not a fan of Wilkerson though.
32A book based on a true storyCapricornia: Xavier HerbertDec 7★★★⋅⋅The best Australian historical fiction I've ever read. Took over 100 pages to get into, but was great and I devoured the last few hundred pages.
33A book about prayerThe Prayer of Jabez: Bruce WilkersonDec 15★⋅⋅⋅⋅While some of the principles seem Scriptural and Godly, it's surrounded by phrases like "use this prayer" and "it works, it works" language. See: Challies' video for his thoughts.
34A book of poetryOn The Anvil: Max LucadoDec 25★★★⋅⋅Better than I expected. And a quick read. So, yeah, good.
35A book with a one word titleChalk: Doug DiaczukSep 10★⋅⋅⋅⋅Found this local author in a neighbourhood "Little Library."
36A book by Sinclair FergusonThe Last Pueblo: Zane GreyDec 27★★★⋅⋅How fitting to end the year with a Zane Grey novel. Good times with classic ZG structure, themes, etc. I've missed ZG this year.
37A novel by an author you have never read beforeThe Name of the Wind: Patrick RothfussAug 23★★★⋅⋅Sort of like Harry Potter crossed with Lord of the Rings. I'll read the rest of the series.
38Another book about Christian living7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness: Eric MetaxaJul 28★★★⋅⋅Enjoyed Washington, Wilberforce, Liddell, Bonhoeffer and Colson. Robinson was a stretch and John Paul II?
39A memoir or autobiographyTurtles All the Way Down: John GreenDec 14★★★⋅⋅I always enjoy a John Green novel. This was his best yet.
40A play by William ShakespeareThe Tragedy of MacbethSep 28★★★⋅⋅My first audiobook of the challenge. Brought back memories of OAC English class.
41Another book of your choiceGod's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?: John C. lennoxOct 28★★★⋅⋅Pretty "thick" and a tough slog. But good stuff. I might try (parts of) it again, sometime.
42A book writen by an author with initials in their nameThe Science of God: Gerald L. SchroederJul 28★★★⋅⋅This was a neat read with concepts I've never encountered before.
43A book by a female authorThe Scars that Have Shaped Me: Vaneetha Rendall RisnerDec 9★★★⋅⋅Very helpful book on Christian suffering. I'd highly recommend it. It's not a hard read, but worthwhile.
44A book about theologyCaptive to the Word of God: Miroslav VolfSep 17★★★⋅⋅This was a tough read, but the sections on John's gospel and the insatiable appetite of man were thought provoking.
45A book published by CrosswayThe Barbarian Way: Erwin Raphael McManusDec 21★★⋅⋅⋅No. Subtly undermining the Church, and using Scripture to support his ideas. Did not like it.
46A self-improvement bookThe Forgotten God: Francis ChanNov 29★★⋅⋅⋅Not "bad" but we're different, Francis and I. Still, I can learn from him.
47A graphic novelBone: Jeff SmithAug 27★★★⋅⋅After reading many grade-two level graphic novels with my boys, a slightly more mature one was a treat.
48A book you own but have never readA Baptist Catechism: John PiperSep 18★★★★⋅Four-stars because I want to catechize myself and I think this is the one for me.
49A book targeted at the other genderLove or Die: Christ's Wake-up Call to the Church: Alexander StrauchDec 11★★⋅⋅⋅Pilgrim's Progress also got 2-stars. Like a magazine article, stretched to almost book length. Not bad, just light.
50Another book about Christian livingThe Pursuit of Man: The Divine Conquest: A. W. TozerOct 29★★★★⋅Always a challenging, worthwhile read. Tozer has become one of my favourite authors this year.
51Another book of your choiceMiracles C. S. LewisOct 24★★★⋅⋅This has been on my shelf for years, Habbermas quoted it, I read it.
52A book about race or racial issuesThe Last Night of the World and Other Essays: C. S. LewisDec 19★★★⋅⋅I particularly enjoyed Lewis' thoughts on "being Cultured" and his essay on extra-terrestrial life.

My First 26 Reads (Jan-Jun) The Light & Avid Reader

1A BiographyHere I Stand A Life of Martin Luther
Roland H. Bainton
Jan 29★★★⋅⋅My Lutheran friends tell me this is the Luther bio. Being my first one, I can certainly say, it was well worth reading.
2A Classic NovelA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
James Joyce
Mar 7★★★⋅⋅Unique writing style, faithful to the heart and mind of a young man. Reading JE's FotW and the Luther bio prepared me to read this.
3A Book About HistoryStrict Rules: The Blackfella—Whitefella Tour
Andrew McMillian
May 29★★★⋅⋅Does a story of a band touring the Australian Outback in the 1980s count as history? As a fan, it was a great read.
4A Book Targeted at Your GenderThe Best Dad is a Good Lover
Charlie W. Shedd
Apr 9★★⋅⋅⋅Not a bad book. A number of good “tips” for being a more thoughtful husband. Lots of funny 70s groove-talk.
5A Book About TheologyAccording to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Graeme Goldsworthy
Feb 15★★★★⋅Good introduction to Biblical Theology. Helpful to correctly understand chapter and book in the context of the entirety of Scripture.
6A Book with at Least 400 PagesChurch History in Plain Language
Bruce L. Shelley
May 10★★★⋅⋅I want to give this 4★s because I'm sure I'll read it again. I wanted a bit more detail but as an overview (of everything) it's great.
7A Book Your Pastor RecommendsSurprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels
Tullian Tchividjian
May 11★★⋅⋅⋅It read like a light sermon series. Which is probably what it was. It wasn't bad, but there are other good books to read. Pastor Al, why did you recommend this? :)
8A Book About Christian LivingThe Pursuit of God
A. W. Tozer
Mar 14★★★★★Incredible! I will come back to this often, and soon. I pray that as Tozer's words inspire me to Follow Hard After God that He will answer my prayers and draw me deeper and closer to Him.
9A Book More than 100 Years OldPilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan
Mar 12★★⋅⋅⋅One dimensional characters, repetition, Bible verses shoe-horned into the narrative. The ending was uplifting, but overall, it didn't capture me.
10A Book Published in 2017The Curious Christian
Barnabas Piper
May 21★★★⋅⋅This was a solid "Glad to read it" book. And I'd recommend it to others. Helpful in causing me to look at my role as a dad and husband and Christian in general.
11A Book for Children or TeensThe Silver Chair
C. S. Lewis
Feb 19★★★★⋅A short, relaxing read. Haven't read SC in years, so it was glad to come back to an old favourite.
12A Book of Your ChoiceWillie's Bar and Grill
Rob Hirst
May 18★★★⋅⋅A really fascinating look into the touring world of one of my favourite bands, written by one of my favourite drummers. An easy "FAN" favourite.
13A Book About a Current IssueSeeking Allah, Finding Jesus
Nabeel Qureshi
Apr 6★★★⋅⋅A wonderful, engaging read. Full of apologetics, but reads like a Christian Living book. Helped me understand eastern/western differences a lot more. Happily recommend to others.
14A Book Written by a PuritanFreedom of the Will
Jonathan Edwards
Feb 25★★★⋅⋅Incredibly thought provoking and insightful and persuasive. Only 3★s because of my reading level.
15A Book by or About a MissionaryEvidence Not Seen
Darlene Deibler Rose
Mar 1★★★⋅⋅I was expecting a 2★ rating, but by the end, I found this to be a very encouraging book worth 3★s.
16Another Book About Christian LivingDon't Waste Your Life
John Piper
Mar 28★★★★⋅Classic Piper that I've waited too long to read. Reminded me a lot of Tozer's PoG in his call to not waste the life God has given me.
17A Commentary on a Book of the BibleRead/Mark/Learn JohnMar 25★★★⋅⋅Read this devotionally and can see myself using it to lead a study or prep sermons.
18A Book About the ReformationThe Reformation in the Sixteenth Century
Roland H. Bainton
Apr 29★★★⋅⋅Really neat look into the reformation by a solid author. You can't go wrong with Bainton.
19Another Book About TheologyDig Deeper
Nigel Beynon & Andrew Sach
Mar 19★★★⋅⋅A quick read. Probably not “theology” but a good reminder of solid Bible reading/study methods.
20A Book Recommended by a Family MemberThe Knowledge of the Holy
A. W. Tozer
Jun 5★★★★⋅Have I mentioned that Tozer has quickly become my favourite author this year? A great little “book on doctrine/theology” written with Tozers honest, earnest, passion. Not brain-y, but heart-y.
21A Book with a Great CoverPerelandra
C. S. Lewis
Mar 17★★★⋅⋅Glad to revisit and I'm sure I'll read again. I didn't remember exactly how the book ended. Reminded again of the persistence of temptation senselessness of evil.
22A Book on the Current NYT List of BestsellersThe Stranger in the Woods
Michael Finkel
Jun 24★★★⋅⋅Fascinating! I read the magazine article a while back so was familiar with the story. Loved having more details filled in. A quick read. Happy to recommend.
23A Book About Church HistoryThis Dominion, His DominionJun 23★★★⋅⋅Probably of limited interest, but a lot of neat stories and a pretty satisfying read for this Canadian Baptist.
24A Book of 100 Pages or LessA Grief Observed
C. S. Lewis
Mar 21★★★⋅⋅The forward was more than a little flakey. Chapter three didn't seem like Lewis at all (but I guess he was suffering and his writing was raw.) By the third chapter he was back to true form.
25Another Book of Your ChoiceBeds Are Burning
Mark Dodshon
Jun 13★★★⋅⋅Super niche, but a fascinating read (for me) on my favourite band.
26A Book that Won a PrizeAn Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth
Chris Hadfield
Apr 17★★★⋅⋅Chris relates stories that display his attitudes and perspectives on life. Engaging, helpful and positive reading.

What is the proper reading order of the Chronicles of Narnia? Simply, it is the original publication order. This preserves the order of revelation in the books. It allows the reader to discover and learn about Narnia and Aslan as the story itself assumes we learn about them. For example, The Horse and His Boy should be read after the author introduces and commends the story to the reader in The Silver Chair, not several books before, making the author's comments in SC incorrect.

A. W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God grabbed hold of me from the first chapter. I'm sorry I didn't read this book years ago. I think this will be one of my favourite books for years (maybe for my life.) And I really do commend it to everyone. I pray that what God has stirred in me, through this book, will continue to move me closer to Him.

What do my ratings mean?
★★★★★ = WOW! That was incredible!
★★★★⋅ = That was a really good read. I'll probably read it again.
★★★⋅⋅ = That was good. I'm glad to have read it.
★★⋅⋅⋅ = I have some reservations and don't think I'd recommend it.
★⋅⋅⋅⋅ = I finished this book.
⋅⋅⋅⋅⋅ = I haven't rated this book yet. (This is not a BAD rating, it's just not a rating.)
(Obviously I try not to read 1 or 2★ books. Before I start I try to ensure that it'll be worth the read.)