The following is an idea I received from this post by Kevin DeYoung who got the idea from Doug Wilson. The idea is to list the books one has been reading over the past however so long and then to write whatever comments may be helpful for summarizing, describing, critiquing, praising, or ripping the book. Also, the comments are supposed to stay relatively short.
Reasons why to do a book roll: (1) Not to show how much I read. I really do not read that much. Some days 40-60 pages and some days 5. It is not a jewel on the crown of my heart that I read a lot, and I realize it is a gift from the Lord that I read at all. (2) Since I began book rolling I have found it to be a helpful exercise for retaining the book. It may only be one sentence blurb, but it still helps capture what most you received from the book. Writing the blurb as well as going back to read them weeks later has been good for me. (3) It is always interesting to me what books people are reading. No matter who the person is I love to ask, "What are you reading right now?" Books simply become more interesting when you know someone who is reading it or has read it.
This book roll covers from last December to present.
Desiring God by John Piper:
Paradigm shifting on how men are to find pleasure and how God is to be glorified, and it is well argued that these are the two most important and inescapable realities: men will seek pleasure and God will be glorified. It is at times dense, and only in a few spots seriously intellectually challenging. In other parts the concepts are explained more lightly and are not as difficult to grasp. In other words any one chapter could range from Beginner to Intermediate to Expert in level.
Future Grace by John Piper:
Crucial in understanding what the root of sin is: unbelief. Crucial in understanding what the solution to fighting sin is: belief. Wonderful 31 chapter structure that leads one to work through the book relatively easily in a month. The propositions are heavy but clear and most importantly soul-edifying in the cause of crucifying our flesh.
To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee:
An interesting look into an interesting family’s life. A powerful story of a sad era in American history. A funny and accurate description of life in small town south Alabama.
Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis:
Simple directions with profound implications. A penetrating but brief overview of the church by two committed house-church pastors in England. A fun sub-title might have been, “How to keep Christians from drowning in programs and being lost in big churches.”
A Call to Spiritual Reformation by D. A. Carson:
Largely includes exposition of Paul’s prayers in his epistles. It focuses on what Paul prayed for and why. There is strong exhortation and correction from Carson. The book also has a good opening chapter that consists of general words of wisdom concerning prayer. Also worth noting is a section on God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in which the author says he would die defending a compatabilist view of these doctrines.
Atheism Remix by Al Mohler:
A quick book of four lectures put in print. They are helpful in understanding the main thrust of each of the four horseman of the New Atheism. A nice summarization of McGrath and Plantinga’s critiques of Dawkins followed by a unique critique of their critiques. Overall, a helpful book in continuing to think through atheism/theism and biblical theism/evolutionary theism. This book is for discerning Christians (especially chapter four), not atheists necessarily.
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever:
An easy read (100 pages) with a ton of challenging encouragement to engage with the lost and communicate the gospel in everyday interaction. I keep thinking that for many reasons this would be a wonderful book for a new follower of Christ. It is easy to read, it focuses on clarifying the gospel, and will keep the main thing the main thing: making disciples. Chapter 4, “How Should We Evangelize?” was the most helpful chapter for me and extremely so.
The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henri Scougal:
Whew! How the mind must focus when reading legit Puritans or any book for that matter that is over 300 years old. Wonderful thoughts on true religion or the “divine life.” The meditations on the worth of the object of our affections determining the strength of our affections (Part 2) and the thoughts on “setting our minds on heavenly things” (Part 3) are very profitable. The brief sections help you keep moving.
Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life by Donald Whitney:
A most challenging and comprehensive introduction to the spiritual disciplines. The challenge begins in chapter one as the author argues well for the centrality of discipline in the Christian life. Also, he peppers the book with thoughtful but direct questions asked of the reader in regards to whether he will be obedient or not. Appropriately the last line of the book is, “Where and when will you begin [disciplining yourself for the purpose of godliness]?”
Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God by C.J. Mahaney:
Tremendously helpful in practical ways. It is as helpful in “practical marriage” as Momentary Marriage is on the theology of marriage. Oddly enough for a book supposedly about sex, it has some wonderful meditations on death, and the effectiveness of thinking often on eternity. As bad as I am at marriage and as much time as I spend with my wife means I will read it over and over.
God, Family, and Marriage by Andreas Kostenberger:
A theology of marriage and family that examines current issues from homosexuality to marriage, divorce, and remarriage to birth control all in one work. The key word for this work is “integral.” Seeing these topics and issues as they lay side by side gives an added ability for the book to be profitable. It was indeed and will be excellent for referencing because of its comprehensiveness.
Momentary Marriage by John Piper:
Because of the importance of marriage for the church and society and because of Piper’s insistence on understanding and applying God’s Word, this may be one of the more important books he writes on the whole. Everyone should read this book. Quick chapters, sweet quotes from Bonheoffer, and the foundation is laid for a sound, Biblical conviction and understanding of marriage.
The Apostle Paul’s First Letter to Timothy by God:
Until I committed to extensively studying the pastoral epistles last April this letter remained such a mystery to me. I would randomly read through the letter and think, “What? Huh? Why did you say that? But this doesn’t work with that? What about what you wrote to the Ephesians? This is weird?” I am definitely still working through a lot, but how enriching Paul’s words are for the soul, how instructive for the church’s leaders, and what a model of commitment to “life and doctrine.”