Thursday, January 5, 2012

Books of 2011

Sometime last summer I realized I had been reading more books than usual.  I decided to start writing down the books I read. Now it’s the time of year when every media outlet publishes year-end lists so here is my list of 2011 books in the order I read them. I realize 14 books in a year might not be a lot for some people, but it’s probably triple my personal average. I’ll include my thoughts and a grade for each one.

Ministries of Mercy (Tim Keller)—Very practical insight for Benevolence Ministries. It addresses several key balances to guide deacons (i.e. Conditional vs. Unconditional giving) and contains a lot of Biblical, realistic insight for helping the needy. A

Decision Points (George W. Bush)—A good recap of American history 2001-2009.  I gained more respect for Mr. Bush and a better understanding of the office of the president in general. A-

Child Training Tips(Reb Bradley)—As the title implies, it’s pretty heavy on the nuts & bolts with a strong emphasis on “what” and “how”, but very little about “why”. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more.  Bottom Line: Say it once and expect obedience. B+

The Great Gain of Godliness (Thomas Watson)—I read this for Men’s Spring Training 2011. Yes, it’s hard to grasp 250 year old verbiage, but I did understand several clear principles on gaining a proper fear of God. Convicting. B

Family Driven Faith (Voddie Baucham )—We read this as a D-Team.  It is loosely written, but Voddie is passionate about getting families to persevere in following Jesus.  Family devotionals is one habit the Neidert family has applied after reading this book. B

48 Days to the Work You Love (Dan Miller)—Pretty standard job seeking advice. I probably would have liked it more had I actually been seeking a job while reading. C+

Crazy Love  (Francis Chan)—Covers many topics from God’s nature to bold gospel sharing to sacrificial giving to the needy (ironically, I read it on a cruise ship).  Overall, the most challenging book on this list. A

Bringing Up Girls (James Dobson)—A mishmash book of different articles and transcripts Dobson has collected. Some chapters really resonated with me…others not so much. Overall it stirred my heart for what it means to lead a little girl. It also pointed out some potential major blind spots. B+

End of Days Survival Guide (Philip Mackey)—Written by the husband of a friend of Faith’s.  It took me a couple chapters to be sure that it is total satire and not at all meant to be taken seriously.  After that, I appreciated some of the humor, but it loses major points for parts that mock Biblical end times. D

Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl (N.D. Wilson)—I’m a pretty concrete guy.  This is a pretty abstract book. C

Radical (David Platt)—Very similar to Crazy Love in theme, subject matter, style and length. As I think back there are some points which I can’t even remember which book I read them in. However,  I think Chan did slightly better (but that might be just because I read Crazy Love first) A-

The Prodigal God (Tim Keller)—The only repeat author on this list and also the shortest book.  I was very challenged and convicted by this book. I am an “elder brother” in every sense. This should be required reading for any person who has been (or thinks they have been) a Christian for more than 5 years.  A+

The Act of Marriage (Timothy and Beverly LaHaye)—I read large parts of this book the month of our wedding and put it back on the shelf. It’s a COMPELETELY different book now. B+

Blink (Malcolm Gladwell)—A pop psychology book that has me overanalyzing my own subconscious decision making process.  The first half was interesting, but then the repetition got annoying.  One would think a book about snap judgments wouldn’t have to belabor each point. C+

Note: This list doesn’t include dozens of titles such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? and God Makes Nighttime Too which I’ve read dozens of times each (and in some cases memorized). 2011 was a high water mark for these types of books as well, but they have been omitted from this post for my own sanity’s sake.


  1. Would you consider Watchman Nee's "The Spiritual Man"? Pretty heavy, and challenging, to say the least. I have a hunch you can take it. If you decide to delve into this one, please keep me updated on your thoughts and opinions as you read it! Thanks Travis! :)

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