I love the quote from George R.R. Martin in his book A Dance with Dragons. One of the characters says, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” Someone else once told me that reading is an act of love. While reading we are listening to one man or woman’s story, thoughts, perspectives, hopes, dreams, fears, ideas, and anecdotes for hours on end. We let them have the floor. Theirs is the only voice we hear. And we don’t talk back. (Well, some of us do talk back to our books…just be careful doing that in public.) We surrender our right to be heard in order to truly listen to the other. We give them our full mental capacity and concentration. Many of us even experience the real world grow more distant as we follow the author into the world inside their head.

It breaks my heart to hear about people who never read. We’ve probably all seen the statistics. A very large percentage of the adult population never reads a book again after college. I would gather that a large percentage never even read a full book throughout their high school or college careers. What a shame.

Anyway, I refuse to be one of those people. Several years ago I set a goal for myself to read at least 2 books a month. I have kept that goal going every year since. Some years I have read way more than that. Other years, I’m barely at my quota. 2016 was not a big reading year for me. But I did manage to read more than 2 books per month. My wife puts me to shame on this, but she is a much faster reader than I am, so….yeah.

Here is a list of the books I read last year in order of completion. Some were great. Others not so much. A few were life-changing. Others were rather forgettable. Regardless, we become the sum total of the stories we experience.

  1. The Day I Met Jesusby Frank Viola and Mary Demuth
  2. Man of Godby Charles Stanley
  3. How to Start a Riot, by Jonathan Storment
  4. More or Less, by Jeff Shinabarger
  5. God’s Pursuit of Man, by A.W. Tozer
  6. Magnus Chase: The Sword of Summer, by Rick Riordan
  7. Taking Theology to Youth Ministry, by Andrew Root
  8. Jesus > Religion, by Jefferson Bethke
  9. An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
  10. King of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence
  11. Emperor of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence
  12. Searching for Sunday, by Rachel Held Evans
  13. All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir, by Brennan Manning
  14. Love Does, by Bob Goff
  15. Jesus Creed, by Scot McKnight
  16. Accidental Saints, by Nadia Bolz-Weber
  17. Paper Towns, by John Green
  18. A Farewell to Mars, by Brian Zahnd
  19. Deeply Odd, by Dean Koontz
  20. The Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Golan, by John Flanagan
  21. The Ranger’s Apprentice: The Burning Bridge, by John Flanagan
  22. Finding God in the Waves, by Mike McHargue
  23. Saint Odd, by Dean Koontz
  24. The Road Back to You, by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile
  25. Magnus Chase: Thor’s Hammer, by Rick Riodan
  26. The Trials of Apollo, by Rick Riordan
  27. Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
  28. The Deborah Club, by D.W. Pierce
  29. The Bible Tells Me So, by Peter Enns
So that’s my list. Looking back, I can remember where I was in life while reading these books – trips I was on, emotions I was wrestling with, how I was growing and changing as a person. When reading a book, a little bit of that author remains with you, becomes part of you – just like eating a meal.


Some books I look forward to reading (or am currently working on) this year: 

  • Water to Wine, by Brian Zahnd
  • God’s Favorite Place on Earth, by Frank Viola
  • How to Survive a Shipwreck, by Jonathan Martin
  • The Day the Revolution Began, by N.T. Wright
  • Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist
  • In addition to reading the whole Bible in somewhat chronological order
What would you add to that list? What good books have you read that you would recommend?