Summer Reading List (2014)
A long tradition at ChurchandCulture.org is the summer reading post – meaning the once-a-year list of ten books that might be worth your while to peruse during some (hopefully) extra reading time over your summer.
It’s a very subjective list.
Mine, to be exact.
Meaning, these are usually the ten I really liked and would encourage others to consider.
Last year I did things a bit different. I selected ten titles from among the box (actually, boxes) I took with me on my annual summer study break. Which means they were new and old, popular and obscure, just released or evidence I was behind on a few titles. But what the selections represented were those books I felt were worth my investment.
So I picked a random ten, and offered the reason why I was going to invest precious time reading them.
Let’s do it that way again.
So in no particular order, welcome to ten from my upcoming summer reading:
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. Okay, the world now knows this is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. But if it’s anywhere near as good as the first Cormoran Strike novel, it’s going to be terrific. It’s not even out yet – I’m having it shipped direct. Gee, that sounds like what I used to do with the Harry Potter books.
Masters of the Word: How Media Shaped History from the Alphabet to the Internet by William J. Bernstein. I saw this on display at a bookstore in London, spent ten minutes or so perusing its pages, and knew it had to be added to my list.
The Army of the Potomac: A Stillness At Appomattox by Bruce Catton. I read that David McCullough credited this book for igniting his love for history. That’s enough for me.
Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle. I consider Turkle one of the leading experts on how the digital age is shaping us. Based on extensive research, this should be benchmarking. I might even turn my cell phone off while I read it.
Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense by Francis Spufford. Better known in the UK than in the US, this promises to be not only a different approach to making the case for Christianity to a secular world, but a refreshingly earthy one. Rumor has it he even drops an F-bomb or two. I wonder if that’s like Jesus calling Herod a she-dog.
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull. Okay, read that title again, only this time, with the understanding that Ed Catmull is co-founder and president of Pixar Animation. Borrowing from When Harry Met Sally, “I want what he’s having.”
The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words 1000 BC-1492 AD by Simon Schama. If you read and enjoyed Schama’s trilogy on the history of Britain, you are biting at the bit for this first installment on his history of the Jews.
The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief by George Marsden. One of the best academic history books ever written was Marsden’s Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism 1870-1925. I’ve tried to read most of what he has written since, and this seems particularly in line with his classic.
Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson. My oldest daughter, Rebecca, convinced me to add this to my list. And then to see the movie.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. The topic never gripped me: a woman had her cells taken by doctors without asking, the cells never died and launched a medical revolution and a multimillion-dollar industry. More than twenty years later, her children found out and their lives were never the same. Yawn. Yet I’ve heard this book heralded by so many; it’s time I got around to finding out why.
I know I will be.
James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is now available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit www.churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.