These are the books I finished, started, put on my shelf, and found interesting in 2011.
These are the books I finished reading in 2011.
33 David Brown recommended a video by Chris Martenson. Because of that, I found Martenson’s book, The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy, And Environment — it was the first book I bought after getting a Nook for Christmas.
This is an eye-opening book, discussing how our economy is based on exponential growth, soon to collide with decreasing energy and resources. Let’s hope Martenson is overly-pessimistic while preparing for tougher times.
32 I bought The Enemy by Lee Child after swearing off Child’s books a few of his books ago. It’s always a crapshoot whether the ending is going to be a ridiculous machofest. I looked inside a checked the copyright date. Huh? It says 2011 but it’s not the latest Lee Child book. How did I get two books behind? Oops! That wasn’t the copyright notice. This book is seven years old and I was 50 pages in or so before before I started remembering bits and pieces. Oh well. People watch movies more than once. I guess I can read a novel more than once.
Finished December 6.
31 Flying to Sacramento, I read an inflight magazine article about three northwest authors. Stopping by a brick and mortar store later that same day (until I get my e-ink reader), I bought Executive Privilege by Phillip Margolin, one of the authors mentioned. Living near Portland, it was fun to read a plot that occurs partially in Stumptown.
Finished November 30.
30 I re-read Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels — apparently the second time reading it this year. Huh.
Finished November 14.
Finished November 4.
28 I re-read If God Is Love: Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. This is the “sequel” to If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person. Both are great reads, and this one focuses on living a graceful life, full of humility, openness, and compassion.
Finished October 28.
27 I found Raid on the Sun: Inside Israel’s Secret Campaign that Denied Saddam the Bomb by Rodger Claire in my library/closet. Judging by the name on the inside flap, I borrowed it from brother Bob some time ago, long enough ago to have forgotten the borrowing. Oops!
Although this book documents Israel’s Operation Babylon, which occurred in 1981, it continues to be relevant today in understanding Israel’s attack on Syria’s nuclear reaction and the difficulties Israel would face in attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Started October 16 or so and finished October 21.
26 I read If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person near the end of last year and read it again this year. I like the graceful view of God that Gulley’s and Mulholland’s books on Universalism portray (though you might disagree with the basic premise).
Finished October 15.
Finished October 3.
25 I re-read The Bible: A Biography by Karen Armstrong after having another Bart Ehrman book recommended to me. Armstrong goes through the origins, authorship, and manners the Bible has been interpreted through the ages. And where Ehrman might advocate throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or even arguing that there is no baby to begin with, Armstrong might argue that you’re looking for the wrong baby, or even that the bathwater is what’s of value. “Midrash and exegesis were always supposed to relate directly to the burning issues of the day, and the fundamentalists should not be the only people who attempt this.” “What would it mean to interpret the whole of the Bibles as a ‘commentary’ on the Golden Rule?” “Today we see too much strident certainty in both the religious and the secular spheres. Instead of quoting the Bible in order to denigrate homosexuals, liberals or women priests, we could recall Augustine’s rule of faith: an exegete must always seek the most charitable interpretation of a text.” And the closing sentence: “The development of a more compassionate hermeneutics could provide an important counter-narrative in our discordant world.”
I dare say I’ll be lending this book to the person who recommended Ehrman to me. ;-)
I finished re-reading The Bible: A Biography on September 27.
24 I read The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees) by Patrick Lencioni as I re-read Lencioni’s books. They’re all quick reads with easily understood points.
Finished September 23.
23 I read The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson to continue to series I recently started. One more book in the series to go.
Finished September 22.
22 I bought Star Island by Carl Hiaasen in the airport on the way back from IDF and finished it the next day. Preposterous! And I mean it in the best way. Hiaasen’s books are always a bunch of stupid fun. :-)
21 I borrowed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson months ago and finally got to reading it while traveling for business to IDF.
Finished September 14.
20 I bought Damaged Goods by Heather Sharfeddin while on vacation in Sunriver. It’s not the style of book I’d typically read, but I’m a sucker for a book that takes place where I live. It was fun to read about Scholls, Dundee, Newberg, Hillsboro, etc. (Who knew Amazon has a list of movies filmed in Oregon?) I should have read this on vacation instead of trying to read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A Novel by John le Carre by the pool.
Finished September 8.
19 I decided to read The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni after finishing his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Like all Lencioni’s “leadership fables,” Four Obsessions uses a story to illustrate the points to be learned. In this case, although the story is interesting, I don’t think it teaches the points as well as Lencioni’s other books do. Fortunately, there is an appendix summarizing the points for reviewing later without re-reading the entire book.
Finished September 2.
18 I re-read What the Gospels Meant by Garry Wills. It’s an interesting book describing the different emphases and purposes of the four gospels.
Read from mid-July to the end of August.
17 I read An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison because Melissa finished it on her way to college and recommended it to me. It is an open, honest, and interesting look at manic-depressive illness from the inside. I wish I’d read it years ago. I will read other books by the same author.
I devoured the book, reading it from August 25 through 27.
16 I bought Fragile by Lisa Unger in Portland’s airport on the way to Sacramento.
I finished it August 24, a couple days later, in the wee hours of the morning.
15 I bought Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A Novel by John le Carre in preparation for our vacation in Sunriver. I’m not convinced it was entirely the right choice. I’ve sworn off reading a certain author because his characters are shallow and the plots are predictable. Yet, his books are billed as good “beach reads.” After attempting to read Tinker at the Sunriver pool, I think I understand the value of a beach read. John le Carre’s books are the opposite of beach reads. I found myself re-reading pages multiple times to keep the story in mind.
I finished the book August 10, after returning from vacation. Even then, I think I would catch more by re-reading the book. Yet, I don’t think I will. The payoff’s not worth it.
I think it’s time to return to non-fiction books (he says after buying a sci-fi book yesterday…
Hell’s Corner is an entertaining book with a lot of twists, but in my opinion, one twist too many near its end. It was clumsily introduced, ignored, and then reintroduced in an unbelievable fashion at the end. Sad. It wasn’t even necessary.
Finished July 26.
13 I re-read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni Zornberg while on a quick day trip to Folsom. It’s probably worth re-reading the entire series. Which one will be next?
Started and finished on June 15.
12 Melissa lent me Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis. It’s a book she read at college this past year. It’s an entertaining story, but I’m not sure I really understood it. I either need to re-read it or find an online discussion of it (or both).
Finished early June.
11 I bought Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card at the Sacramento airport on May 20 and finished it May 24. Ender in Exile is the direct sequel to Ender’s Game, or as Card calls it, a “midquel” to the Ender series of books. If you liked Ender’s Game, you’ll enjoy Ender in Exile. If you haven’t read Ender’s Game, don’t read Ender in Exile (and go read Ender’s Game).
10 I bought Worth Dying For: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child at Costco, and finished it the next day. It’s not literature, but it is a page turner.
Lee Child must be reading my book reviews, because we weren’t blessed with details of Jack Reacher buying clothes, taking showers, carrying only a toothbrush, and throwing down his gun so he can fight man-to-man with a bad guy. Actually, the last one occurred in this Worth Dying For. Maybe it won’t in the next.
9 Suzi asked me to preview Mortal Evidence: The Forensics Behind Nine Shocking Cases by Cyril H. Wecht. This is an interesting book, but I’d like more detail.
8 Suzi asked me to preview Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. Started near the beginning of April.
It was a hard read, for a couple of reasons. First, Platt applies the Great Commission to everyone, specifically going on foreign missions. I know that’s not an uncommon interpretation, but Platt interprets it to mean foreign missions to be the role for all Christians. Second, Radical is a convicting book. That’s not an easy message.
There’s more info at radicalthebook.com, the book’s website.
7 Relevant Magazine interviews Rob Bell about Universalism in response to the “trailer” for his new book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. I want to read this. Added to my shelf April 5, finished two days later.
Bell is accused of being a universalist because of this book. From his interview, it’s clear he’d disagree. Instead, he quotes the many texts in the Bible stating that Jesus has saved all. I particularly like his interpretation of the Prodigal Son parable. It was a quick read, worth a re-read.
6 I originally read Dune by Frank Herbert in 1979. I can’t hear “Fantasy” or, for that matter, any song by Earth, Wind & Fire, without thinking of this book, they played so often while I was reading it.
Dune is as good as I remembered it. Now to find the rest of Frank Herbert’s “Dune trilogy.”
Read March 6-10.
4 Time to change the topic. I ordered Mastering Communication at Work: How to Lead, Manage, and Influence by Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann last year but didn’t read it.
I finished with it on the plane to Sacramento. Wow! This book is great. I’m going to have to read it more than once.
3 I purchased The Bible: A Biography by Karen Armstrong after discovering it in a brick and mortar bookstore in Roseville, Calif. I read The Case for God by the same author last year. I started reading The Bible: A Biography on January 29.
I have two complaints, but first, a positive: The Bible: A Biography has lots of endnotes. There’s a lot of information to explore while reading it. Now for the complaints. (1) The book has endnotes. I wish publishers would use footnotes instead of endnotes. Yeah, the book will look more “scholarly” but those who actually want to read the notes could then do so without flipping back and forth to the end of the book and having to use two bookmarks. (2) Many times, the notes are just a Bible text citation. Why not take the extra effort to quote the Bible text?
I really enjoyed this book. Karen Armstrong writes with such loving understanding of her subject. She also increased my vocabulary (thankfully, there’s a helpful glossary in the back of the book).
I finished reading The Bible: A Biography on February 7.
2 I purchased Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography by John Dominic Crossan sometime in late 2010, while reading a couple of Marcus Borg books on historical Jesus. Borg cites Crossan often. I finished reading Jesus on February 6.
Crossan’s method for determining which events regarding Jesus are historical takes two steps: (1) nothing’s true unless it has at least two independent sources; and (2) even those that do aren’t true if Crossan doesn’t believe they could happen. You’d be right in assuming that Crossan doesn’t believe anything miraculous is historical. You might be surprised to learn that Crossan doesn’t believe Jesus was buried — maybe because Crossan would consider that miraculous as well.
Even under these extremely narrow definitions of history, there is a lot to learn.
1 Brandie Kajino recommended reading something by Marcus Borg. I bought The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions and Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith during the same trip to the book store and started Meeting Jesus first. I ended up starting Meaning December 10, before finishing Meeting Jesus. I didn’t finish the book until a business trip to Anaheim January 23rd.
These are the books I was reading at the end of the year. I don’t know why I often try to read more than one book at a time. I guess because different moods or places call for different types of books. Some books just sit in this status until I decide I’m not going to finish the book.
This year was especially crazy as I visited Powell’s mid-December and bought a bunch of books (and started a couple of them) and also got a Barnes & Noble Nook for Christmas (and downloaded a bunch of free samples, starting many of them, and not including any of them in the list below0>
This must be the year of the re-read for me. I started re-reading Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell on December 17.
During a lunchtime visit to Powell’s books (the same as for the book below), I bought a used copy of The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong. I love reading books by Karen Armstrong. She is able to describe religious movements with such understanding and compassion. Highly recommended.
Started early December.
During a lunchtime visit to Powell’s books, I bought a used copy of Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography by Bruce Chilton. Started December 6.
I discovered The Beginning of Desire: Reflections on Genesis by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg while wandering through my local Barnes and Noble.
Started April 19.
I received Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations by Martin Goodman as a present from Heather. She bought it for me when she was on a history trip to England. So far, it’s very interesting.
Started March 15.
I received The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin for my birthday. I had mentioned the book to Ashley. :-)
Started February 22.
On the Shelf
These books just sit while I continue to buy newer, more exciting books that push ahead of these. But I’ll get around to these … maybe. With an e-reader, this might just get worse.
During a lunchtime visit to Powell’s books, I bought Rabbi Paul: An Intellectual Biography by Bruce Chilton, Jesus for the Non-Religious by John Shelby Spong, and The Battle for God by Karen Armstrong. All of the books were used so it wasn’t an expensive lunch. I would have paid much more to get electronic editions.
Cube neighbor Pam is cleaning out her cube in preparation for moving to HF. In the process, she gave me The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This book has been recommended to me by multiple people. I’m glad to have it in my library. :-)
I bought The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: The Spiritual Classic & International Bestseller; Revised and Updated Edition by Sogyal Rinpoche while shopping at Barnes & Noble with Ashley on February 13.
I know very little about Eastern religions. This book looks interesting.
These are books I’ve read about, that I’ve been told about, or that I’ve run across in the bookstore and don’t want to forget about. I use this list when perusing book stores and the local public library.
Brother Bob recommended The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics by Leonard Susskind while dropping off a bunch of other books for me to read. Looks like I’m going to be busy.
I discovered The Evolution of Faith: How God Is Creating a Better Christianity by Philip Gulley while looking up Philip Gulley’s (other?) books on Universalism to recommend. Looks like this is more of the same, which in my opinion, is a high compliment.
I learned about Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It by Lawrence Lessig while watching his talk on how money corrupts politics.
I discovered Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman while wandering through Barnes & Noble one evening. It will be one of the first books I get on my eReader.
Daniel H. Pink recommends The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer.
Dennis Prager recommends In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity by David Brog.
Online friend Duane Scott recommends A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran by Reza Kahlili.
Online friend Charlene Kingston recommends Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.
It’s not very often that I finish a book and want to start rereading it immediately! But that happened last night with Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. I learned so much about why I choose what I choose, and how to understand why other people choose what they choose! It’s fascinating.
On March 16, I watched a live webcast by Guy Kawasaki talking about his book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. Looks very good.
Charlene Kingston recommends Man and His Symbols by Carl Gustav Jung.
Stories like Bonhoeffer’s, as Mataxas has written it, should give us pause to consider how we may be inadvertently colluding with that which is evil and destructive to ourselves and others.
Art recommended The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley.
Cube neighbor Pam recommends The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. After reading the first chapter on The Morning Pages and The Artist Date, I’m intrigued. I will definitely search this book out.
Cousin Todd’s goodreads notice share a couple of books that look interesting, one which is The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. Allegedly, 4% are sociopaths, so statistically, I should know a couple. Maybe having done criminal defense, I met more than my fair share.
This is the second book from cousin Todd’s goodreads notice. I wonder if my local library has Slaves to Faith: A Therapist Looks Inside the Fundamentalist Mind by Calvin Mercer.
Frank Viola interviews author Craig Keener about his new book The Historical Jesus of the Gospels. It looks very interesting, though I typically wait for books to come out in paperback before buying them.
Just finished The Big Short by Michael Lewis, and it ends with a chilling thought about how f_____ we are. There’s no other way to put it.
It looks like an interesting book to read to understand credit default swaps.
Do you have any books you’d like to suggest I read?